High Street Swineshead Lincolnshire April 2001
Swineshead derives its name from the River Swin, long since a casualty of Medieval drainage schemes which turned wild and mysterious Lincolnshire fenland into the country’s richest agricultural area. Although the ‘Jack-O’Lantern’ days are gone, when stilt-walking brigands lured travellers to their doom in the dark marshes, Swineshead and its adjacent villages are awash with fenland history.
Amongst the most attractive legends, and there are many, is the loss of King John’s Treasure. In the year 1216, whilst en route to Swineshead Abbey, John lost part of his baggage train in the fens. Reputed to have contained several of his crowns of State the treasure has been at the forefront of the mind of many a fenland farmer as they ploughed around the district. The King himself was unable to mount a recovery expedition as he died soon afterwards , supposedly poisoned by the monks of Swineshead. In more recent times Swineshead was the home of Sir Herbert Ingram, founder of the London Illustrated News, who returned to the village after making his fortune and lived in the Abbey house himself.
Not far from the Abbey ruins , in open fields on a public footpath, there is an old Danish encampment known as the Manwarings (Man-war-rings or Manor-ings) This is a protected site consisting of a grass-topped plateau surrounded by two large and deep moats. It is said to have been a secure resting-place for Hubba the Dane, from whom the nearby village of Hubbert’s Bridge takes its name, although Swineshead residents may well have taken to it themselves when they heard that the marauding Hubba was on his way! Historians connect the site to Turkil the Dane in the reign of Canute and to de Gresley in the twelth century.
As with most English villages the church has been at the centre of procedings for centuries.
St. Mary’s is still today the most prominent and important example of village architecture, set on a rise of ground in the village centre and surrounded by the village Conservation Area and Marketplace
With roots in the early twelth century the building has been modified through the ages according to the wealth of its benefactors and is one of the largest parish churches in the country. The peal of eight bells was cast by Thomas Osborn of Downham Market in 1794 and the fine organ was built by Brindley of Sheffield .
St.Mary’s , Swineshead, from South Street
A King guards an entrance Doorway in a north wall
From the inside whilst renovations were ongoing during the last century (which wasn’t as
long ago as you think ! )
A Church mouse’s view of the organ
From the inside whilst renovations
were ongoing during the last century
(which wasn’t as long ago as you think ! )
For an in-depth study of the history of Swineshead there are three publications by local publisher Richard Kay Publications of 80 Sleaford Road,Boston. All are written or edited by historian Pamela Southworth, herself once a Swineshead resident. See; A History of Swineshead (1996) Swineshead Remembers, (1999) and The Autobiography of Tansley Huffer of Swineshead, (1970 and 1988) which describes the life and times of Mr.Huffer from 1828 to 1901. A wealth of other books about Lincolnshire are available from the same publisher.
Toward Swineshead from the Manwarings, a dual-concentric moated
earthwork English Heritage No. 22744
Founded in 1987 as the Jack O’Lantern Café, Swineshead’s art gallery has always specialised in original paintings by Lincolnshire’s artists. Early popularity forced a move to larger premises next-door, the old Red Lion public House, which was once the meeting-place for the Foresters Society.
Renamed Foresters Court the galleries still follow the original policy and have been largely responsible for the upsurge of interest in Lincolnshire painting of modern times. Foremost amongst the local artists is nationally renowned painter Andrzej Kuhn, once a fisherman, who beached at Frieston Shore over 30 years ago to sail the inner seas.
Fisherman returning home c. Andrzej Kuhn Troubadors Reunion c. Andrzej Kuhn
Rosi Coutts and Colan Campbell are directors of the Swineshead art galleries and resident in the village. Rosi is a muralist by profession and has painted for several corporate groups including commissions at home and overseas for Holmes Place Health Clubs. Colan Campbell is a self-taught painter whose previous occupations include guitarist/songwriter for Extradition, the legendary 70’s Australian folk/jazz band.
‘Suzi’ © Rosi Coutts ‘On Golden Grove’ © Colan Campbell
‘The House on Golden Grove’ © Colan Campbell ‘Still life with Urn’ © Rosi Coutts
With assistance from the Borough Council, the Rural Development Agency and the European Development Agency, Foresters Court Galleries are developing a new site for housing fine art. This will be known as the Courtyard Galleries and will show many of the exciting artists working around Britain today. Keep looking in on us for the Opening announcement. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
These pages give just a glimpse of Swineshead village. Many other contributors such as the village magazine, ‘Swineshead Life’, the Christmas Celebrations Group, the Swineshead 2000 Committee ( Email email@example.com ), Swineshead Institute Football Club, the Youth Club and the Silver Band will all, no doubt, have something to pass on.
The village is situated 6 miles southwest of its nearest town, Boston , which enjoys many coastal features associated with the Wash. Swineshead is accessible by train via Swineshead Bridge Station or daily bus services from Boston and Spalding. Services are infrequent, however, and visitors are advised to travel by car. There is good parking in the village and the Wheatsheaf Hotel affords comfortable lodgings. (Telephone 01205 820349 for booking advice and a list of beers ! )