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The History of the Deepings

History of the Deepings

The History of the Deepings

The Deepings have a long and rich history as thriving communities and fortunately many buildings remain today as testament to that proud heritage.

The Deepings is the collective name given to Market Deeping, Deeping St James, Deeping Gate, West Deeping and Deeping St Nicholas (originally Deeping Fen). Deeping was the Saxon word for deep fen or low place. East Deeping was the name used for what we now know as Market Deeping and Deeping St James.

The River Welland (bubbling or roaring water – but not today!) has influenced the development of the settlements and provided transport for people and for heavy goods as well as fish, eels and wild fowl for food. Crossing points of that river became important and the two bridges, one in Market Deeping and one between Deeping St James and Deeping Gate were crucial in the development of the settlements.

Bones of an unusual straight-tusked elephant, mammoth teeth, Stone age flint axes, the Welland Bank Bronze Age settlement, burial mounds, Roman ritual crowns, the Frognall coin hoards, the Roman Carr Dyke, a Saxon cross........and many more, are all evidence of our rich archaeological past. People and animals have been in the area continuously from Prehistoric times. Who knows what else may be found beneath our feet?

The turning point for the communities came when the Norman Richard De Rulos married into the Wake family of Bourne and took control of the area. He raised a “high bank (for the river often overflowed) creating a great village”. The fen became “the most fruitful fields and a garden of pleasure”. The early settlement was Deeping St Guthlac, now known as Market Deeping. St Guthlac’s Saxon chapel was converted into a parish Church in the 1120s. Similar work was carried out by his son-in-law, Baldwin Fitzgilbert, in what is now Deeping St James and in 1139 the Benedictine Priory and Church of St James was consecrated (The Priory was dissolved by Henry VIII in the 1530s).

The Wake family continued to own the two settlements throughout the Middle Ages. Between 1220 and 1308 Charters were granted for a weekly market on a Wednesday and a yearly fair of 8 days starting on the vigil of the feast of St Michael, so the name Market Deeping was used and a market still takes place on a Wednesday.

In 1352 the Wake lands passed to Joanna Wake, “the Fair Maid of Kent”, who went on to marry Edward the Black Prince. As a result, the manor of East Deeping passed to the Crown and remained a royal manor into the 19th Century.

East Deeping became a wealthy place and gained guildhalls, a court house, market crosses and schools. Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry VII) was Lady of Deeping and took an active interest in her lands. Her coat of arms is on the tower of St Guthlac’s Church. She had to intervene in disputes with the monks of Crowland and was a formidable Lady to be able to restrain the men of Deeping!

In 1537 Queen Elizabeth I ordered a survey to be made of her lands in East Deeping. That survey included two bridges, a Vineyard Close, a Wakes Manor House, three corn mills, a highway ford and a live town bull! also the Bull Inn that remains today.

Both Market Deeping’s fine Georgian Church Street and Market Place reflect the impressive growth of the Deepings, with a combined population of over 2,000 by 1801.

The Deepings continued to develop in the 19th Century. The river trade and the two bridges made the Deepings vibrant and wealthy. Barges and lighters boats; wharves, granaries, maltings breweries, mills and eight coaches travelling through the Market Place daily – it was busy! William Holland’s Essential Oil Distillery

was world famous and in the 1870s the Rector of St Guthlac’s wrote that “here were the largest wheat stacks in the world and the greatest goose breeder in England”!

The 1960s saw another period of rapid expansion, filling the fields with houses, businesses and services. In 1998 the by-pass opened and eased the traffic through these ancient settlements, helping to preserve our ancient heritage.

The Deepings continue to thrive and to be independent, proud and friendly communities.

Information supplied by Deepings Heritage Group- 2013

Market Place

Lined with many fine buildings and former coaching inns, a reminder of Market Deeping's strategic position on the main road to Lincoln. The current Town Hall dates from 1835, designed in Tudor Gothic style by Thomas Pilkington.

The Cross, Deeping St James

An ancient village market cross, converted into the local lock-up in 1819. There is enough room inside for three disorderly persons.

The Priory Church of St. James , Deeping St James

Once part of a larger medieval complex, founded in 1139 by Benedictine monks from Thorney Abbey Many periods of architecture are represented here, including Norman, early English and a rare 18th century tower. Stones from the orginal priory were incorporated into domestic houses around the village.

Manor House, West Deeping

In late medieval times, this site was owned by Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII. The current building dates from 1643 and comes complete with a moat (now privately owned).
Nearby is the church of St Andrew, restored in the 1870s by the celebrated Victorian architect William Butterfield, who was also responsible for Keble College, Oxford.