New book looks at the quirky and unusual side of Lincolnshire

Lea Methodist Chapel
Lea Methodist Chapel

A book about what makes Lincolnshire quirky and unusual is now available.

The fifth in a series by Derbyshire author, Andrew Beardmore, Lincolnshire: Unusual and Quirky, has focused on the more obscure aspects of the county and has included many interesting and quirky facts about Gainsborough.

How many of these quirks did you already know about Gainsborough and the surrounding area?

Gainsborough is home to three significant pre-Conquest events. The first occurred in 868 when King Alfred was married in Gainsborough to his queen, Ealhswitha.

The second occurred on December 25, 1013, when Sweyn Forkbeard, King of Denmark, was proclaimed as King of England in Gainsborough, after defeating the Anglo-Saxon King Ethelred, and Gainsborough briefly became England’s capital as King Sweyn took up high office in Gainsborough Castle.

However, the third event occurred less than six weeks later, when King Sweyn was thrown from his horse in Gainsborough, and died there on February 3, 1014. Shortly afterwards, Gainsborough ceased to be the capital of England as Ethelred returned to reclaim the throne.

Andrew also says you could feasibly add a fourth event for it is claimed that King Canute (1016-1035) performed his famous attempt to hold back the tide on the River Trent at Gainsborough, knowing full well that this was the furthest reach of the Trent Aegir, a tidal bore that occurs on the Trent at certain times of the year. The Aegir rises to a height of around 5ft (1.5m) and takes its name from the Norse god of the ocean.

When the English Civil War broke out in August 1642, Robert Pierrepont, Earl of Kingston, stated that if he ever took up arms for either side, a cannon-ball would divide him between them. However, he then found himself holding Gainsborough for the king, and shortly afterwards, the town was taken by the Parliamentarians.

Taken prisoner and enroute down the River Trent to incarceration at Hull, the Earl of Kingston was killed by a shot from the bank, which turned out to be a cannon-ball, and sadly did indeed cut him in two.

In the 18th century, Sir Cecil Wray built Fillingham Castle and enclosed both house and park with a wall, which somewhat controversially blocked a public right of way, and which was a particular favourite route of Squire Whichcot, MP, who lived at nearby Harpswell.

Seriously irked at the loss of his favourite route, the squire made a point of visiting the new wall once a year in his coach-and-four, bringing with him his labourers who would proceed to pull down part of the wall.

He would then drive through the breach, across the park and back again, before disappearing off home, at which point, Sir Cecil Wray would repair the damaged wall, and again the following year, and the year after that, and so on until Squire Whichcot eventually passed away. Thereafter, the wall suffered no further breaches and the right of way lapsed.

Today, it is a fairly common sight to see old chapels converted into stylish modern homes. However, Lea is home to the attractive little Methodist Chapel on Park Close, which for many years was the lodge to Lea Hall but after becoming unoccupied, the home was purchased by local Methodists in 1950 and converted into a chapel.

And finally, Blyton’s church contains the most flags, a tradition started after World War I to mark the death of a mother’s son in France.

Each book also includes a chapter called Quintessentially Quirky where Andrew writes about what he considers to be the quirkiest custom in the subject county, which in this book is the Haxey Hood.

For more information about the book or to order your own copy visit www.halsgrove.com/proddetail.php?prod=9780857043030.