Bourne Archive: Bourne: Moore’sBourne.htm                       Latest edit 14 Nov 2010  

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The Bourne Archive

John Moore’s Notes on Bourne

from his Account of the Hundred of Aveland.

Published at Lincoln in 1809.

This document was transcribed from a book lent by the Willoughby Memorial Library, to the trustees of which I offer my thanks.

It is presented here as an historical document so the credibility of what it says should be assessed. The reliability of old essays on history is usually best on points to do with the writer’s own time.

The symbol system of Moore’s footnotes was devised for insertion, up to three at the foot of the page on which they arose. Here, repeated symbols are numbered in the sequence in which they appear in his book but appear, each at the foot of its relevant section.

The numerical superscripts without symbols refer to my notes in the commentary.


The small book is divided into two parts: dealing respectively with Aveland generally and with Bourne. This page deals with the smaller, Bourne part from which I have already separated the paragraphs concerned with the castle and the abbey, onto their own web pages. Those given here cover what Moore says about the town and some of its smaller features.

In his preface, Moore says the following:

“It may, perhaps, be expected (as is generally customary with authors) for me to assign my reasons for publishing the subsequent account. My first is the desire of seeing a history of the place of my nativity laid before the public, on which account I have made it my chief study to render the account of Bourn, correct and satisfactory.”

So, he was born there and as a fairly educated man, he is likely to have been taught as a boy, in the Grammar School. He demonstrates a fashionable antiquarian interest so he looks to his education to explain the past but for us, what he says about his own time will be more interesting as it is more likely to be accurate. However, he may know a thing or two, from what to him was history, which has been forgotten since his time.

Collections for a Topographical, Historical, and Descriptive Account of the Hundred of Aveland. by John Moore. Lincoln, 1809.



Bourn, or Burn, was evidently built on a Roman foundation, by the Saxons, “who it is highly probable had some place of defence here,” as we may judge from the ruins, coins, pavements, 2 &c. which have at various periods been discovered. “At least their coins shew that it was possessed by the Britons when the legions were drawn home;”*1 but with respect to its name at this period, I am unable to give any satisfactory account.

The earliest notice on record respecting this place, is in a time of the Saxons, when Camden states, on the authority of Leland, that it was noted for the inauguration of Edmund, king of the East Angles. A.D. 838. This, however, is proved to be an error by Mr. Gough, †1 who (with more probability) says, that the Saxon monarch was crowned at Buers in Suffolk.‡1

We are informed by Ingulphus that Morcar, lord of Brunne, 3 with his numerous family and attendants, fell in defence of their country at the battle of Laundan (Threckingham), A. D. 870, when the Danish marauders destroyed this, a principal town of Kesteven, with fire. Some authors are of opinion that it received its name from the above event; but in ancient records it is called Brunne, Burn, Borne, and Brun, all Appellations used by the Saxons 4 to signify a river; from whence they often assigned the names of places situate near them.

In Richard II. reign, 5 it is described as a flourishing town, thickly inhabited. “At this time (says Dugdale*2) the marsh or fen land belonging to Bourne, did extend from a certain place called 6 Arfthwenth to Potter-street, in Brunne, thence to Merton, thence to Littledyke, and thence to the ditch belonging to the prior of Spalding; and the profits of the turfs digged yearly there amounted to C shillings; 7 and the profits of strangers’ cattle there agisted to annually as much. And moreover there was a certain yearly commodity, called poundage, taken in the said fen, for the strange cattle, for greshyre,8 from Merton to Sekholme, and thence to the gates of Wrigbolt, and thence to Dewehurne, and thence to Brunne Eau to Goderhamscote, and thence to Estcate, and thence to the cross at Esthawe, and thence to Meaylhawe, and thence to Arfthwenth, 6 which poundage was worth by the year, IV shillings.”

We have the following account of Brunne, when the castle was seized by lady Blanche Wake, widow of Thomas Wake, of Lydel, the 4th of Richard II. A. D. 1380. 9 At this period, “Brunne consysted of VII. streets, wch was called Manor-street, Potter-street, East-street, West-street, Water-street, North-gat, and Southgate. There was in ye toune IIIICXIII (413) houses and IIMCCXCV (2295) inhabitants wthoute ye garrison, wch  was about CC (200).”*3

This town has twice suffered severely by fire. The first occurred on the 23d of August, 1605, by which that part of the town called Manor-street, was destroyed, and not a single house left standing. It continued burning for three days.

Again on the 25th of March, 1637, another fire destroyed the greater part of Potter-street; it also did much damage to the East-gate or, as it is written in records, Eaugate. The cause of the first was never known; but the second happened through the carelessness of the persons entrusted with the management of the potteries, (from which the street received its name) which were destroyed with the street, and never rebuilt. 10

Bourne in its present state is low, and meanly built; and though the town is large and well situated, yet the market is but indifferently attended. 11

The town is situated in a flat country, adjoining the fens, and consists of four streets, exclusive of out-streets; its length from east to west is about a mile and a quarter, and its breadth from north to south three quarters of a mile. In the centre of the market-place is an ancient Town-hall,12 said to have been erected by one of the Wake family; but from the arms of Cecil, carved in basso relievo, over the centre of the east front, it is more probable that it was built by the treasurer lord Burleigh. The petty sessions for the parts of Kesteven, are regularly held here at Michaelmas and Christmas. Under the hall is the butchers’ shambles. 13 On the west side of the Market-place formerly stood the cross; the shaft of which was octangular, and elegantly formed, and stood upon a deep basement, ascended by three steps. Gough says “the shaft was ten feet in height, out of which grew an ash tree; but both the shaft and tree are now removed.”*4

It appears that the same “cross was worshiped by ye parishens ther as crosses be commonly worshipped in other places.”†2

The cross lately destroyed was built with the ruins of the basement, and placed on the east side of the Market-place; of this there now only remains a heap of loose stones and earth.

Bourne contains a parish church dedicated to St. Simon and St. Jude, and a meeting-house for general baptists; also two alms-houses, each endowed with £30 per annum – one for six poor men, 14 and the other for six poor women. 15 Here is also a free-school founded A. D. 1625, 16 by William Trollope esquire, and endowed with a salary of £30 per annum for the master. It is now in the gift of sir John Trollope, bart.


*1. ^   Salmon’s New Survey of England. Vol. I, page 249.

†1.     Camden’s Britannia Vol. II, page 164-Edit. 1806.

‡1.     Edmund was king of the East Angles, in which kingdom Buers was situated; it is therefore more probable he was crowned in that place than in Bourne, which was in the kingdom of Mercia.

*2.     History of Imbanking and Draining the Fens, by Cole, Page 197, Edit.1772.

*3.     Peak’s M. S. account of the towns in Cestevern, Page 10, 11. It appears that the Monks and other Inhabitants of the abbey and castle are included in the number of inhabitants, as no other account is given of them, but only under their respective heads.

*4.     Camden’s Britannia, Vol. II, page 353, Edit. 1806,

†2.     Peak’s MSS. entitled “towns in Cestevern.” These crosses, many of which still remain in various parts of the kingdom, were erected, some of them for boundaries of property, parishes, and sanctuary; and others commemorated battles, murders and other fatal occurrences: but they were principally intended for devotional purposes, and are commonly seen near churches, or in the crossways leading thereto, where they were undoubtedly regarded with idolatrous adoration. 17 Antiquarian and Topographical Cabinet, Vol. III, Storer and Grieg.


Here is part of the description of the church.


REd hall

THE present edifice consists chiefly of brick work, and appears to be of the date of James I. 18 It is partly surrounded by a deep moat, and partly by a morass. 19 The present owner and occupier is James Digby*5, esq. one of the deputy lieutenants for the county of Lincoln.


*5.     A descendant of the famous and ancient family of the Digby’s. “Sir Everard Digby who wickedly conspired with these execrable incendiaries to destroy his king and country, at one blow of hellish thunder, branded this family with everlasting infamy. He was one of the handsomest men and finest gentlemen of his time, and was drawn into the powder plot by the priests.*7

Sir Kenelm his son, became very illustrious in the 16th century, for his virtue and learning. King Charles I. made him a gentleman of his bedchamber, commissioner of the navy, and governor of the Trinity house. He was a great lover of learning, and translated several authors into English; and his “Treatise of the nature of bodies and the immortality of the soul,” discovers great penetration and extensive knowledge. In the beginning of the civil wars, he exerted himself very vigorously in the king’s cause; but was afterwards imprisoned by the parliament’s order, in Winchester house, and had leave to depart thence in 1643. He afterwards compounded for his estate, but was ordered to leave the nation; when he went to France, and was sent on two embassies to Pope Innocent X. from the queen, widow to Charles I. whose chancellor he then was. On the restoration of Charles II. he returned to London; where he died in 1665, aged 60. This eminent person was, for an early display of his great talents, and his great proficiency in learning, compared to the celebrated Picus de Mirandola, who was one of the wonders of human nature. His knowledge, however, though various and extensive, appeared to be greater than it really was, as he had all the powers of elocution and address to recommend it.

*7.     Gough’s Camden’s Britannia, II. 325, 328.



WAS built by William lord Burleigh: It is a very specious edifice. In one of the rooms was a pannel with the portrait of queen Elizabeth, habited in black velvet and jewels, long white lawn veil and on the rim of a wooden sieve or colander, in her left hand,”*6 in capitals,




*6.     See this device in Blount’s Jocular Tenures, and Camden’s Remains. In Harl. MS. 374, 24. is a letter from Thomas Cecil, Earl of Essex, to Hugh Allington, Esq. dated London, Nov. 13, 1365, acquainting him that some had called his brother, the Earl of Salisbury, the grandson of a sieve-maker, which he thought a reflection on himself, and desiring him to search among his evidences at Burleigh–house, for certain writings, wherein his grand-father is called esquire,

Q. if this device relates to this reflection, and might be adopted afterwards? Gough’s Camden, II. 353.



IN the 3d of Charles I. A. D. 1627, William Fisher, gent. 21 founded an Hospital in Water-street, for six poor aged women belonging to this parish, and endowed the same, with an annuity of £30, issuing out of an estate at Tumby Woodside, near Coningsby, in this county. And in the 12th of Charles II. (1665) the workhouse was erected.



WAS founded in the 2d of Charles I. by William Trollope, esq. and endowed with a salary of £30 per annum to the master. It is a spacious handsome building, situated on the East side of the church-yard. 22


The subject now turns to Bourne Abbey; as a monastery and as the parish church.

The sections concerned with Bourne Castle follow.

They are here presented on their respective web pages.


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1. ^    The town’s name has been spelt in a number of ways but during most of the nineteenth century it was usually ‘Bourn’. Though the final ‘e’ was used by some at an earlier date, it became the standard form only late in the century after consultation by the railway companies, when they found difficulty in differentiating between the places of the same name in respectively, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire. The former now takes the ‘e’ and the latter does not.

2.      A mosaic pavement was found in the park of Abbey House around the time when the house was built in 1764. (Cooke & Mogg 1st column) Other finds are summarized by Hayes and Lane (12. VII).

3.       We have to be careful when reading of information from Ingulf, of Crowland. It is a retrospective work, written after Ingulf’s time. sometimes, its facts become muddled. The ownership of Bourne by Morcar may be confusing the man of 870 with another who held it in 1066.

4.      In the nineteenth century, as today, historians have used the term ‘Saxon’ to cover anything pre-Conquest and Germanic in Britain. This can work badly against an understanding of what was going on between the fifth and eleventh centuries. For example, some of the terms quoted here will not have been Saxon but Anglian, possibly Frisian or Danish. The Angles and Saxons may have been to some extent similar but they were not identical, nor necessarily, each other’s friends.

5. ^    1377-1399. See Richard II, of England. This ‘flourishing’, ‘thickly populated’ town was described 30 to 50 years after the Black Death first struck the region. In 1369, it had killed Blanche of Lancaster at Bolingbroke, in Lincolnshire.

6.      See Bourne Places. Wrigbolt (Rigbolt) and Dewehurne (Dovehirn) are outside Bourne parish, in Gosberton and Pinchbeck respectively. ‘Merton’ would mean the parish boundary with Morton.

7.       100/-, 100 shillings or £5.

8.      ‘Greshyre’ will become more intelligible if we think of it as ‘grazing hire’, a charge for the use of pasture.

9.      For a sometimes tentative location of these streets, see Bourne Places. It is interesting to see the garrison numbered at 200. I suspect that this was the staff generally rather than solely soldiers. The archaeology gives an impression that, about a hundred years before, the castle had been converted into being more a residence, secure against wandering bands of marauders, than a fortress. Even so, men would have been needed as a security guard.

10. ^  Moore uses the modern name for Eastgate but makes it clear that the name used in the seventeenth century was Eaugate, that is the street along the riverside. The document he is quoting distinguishes clearly between Potter Street and Eaugate. Therefore Potter Street can not have been regarded as Eastgate at the time but it clearly adjoined it at one end, or backed onto it, so that the fire could spread from one to the other. This in conjunction with the extent which follows superscript 6, above makes it fairly clear that Potter Street lay between the modern Spalding road and the river at Queen’s Bridge and perhaps, further southwards to Austerby. The first of these is now regarded as part of Eastgate, while the part south of the river is now regarded as part of Willoughby Road. Pottery wasters have been found ‘near the Gas House Yard’, which was adjacent to both this Potter Street and the western end of the main part of Eastgate (TF102199). It became the site of the BRM works.

11.     1809 came during the period of the Napoleonic Wars when agriculture was more prosperous than it became afterwards. Also, mixed and livestock farming were much more prominent than they are today in the area, so it is interesting to see a lack of demand for a livestock market if nothing else. Apparently, farmers were employing drovers, to drive the stock to larger markets, nearer the site of consumption. In 1824 people were attempting to revive Bourne market and again, in 1860 when the railway was newly open.

12.     This was used as the court house and would be replaced in 1821 by the present Town Hall, then demolished soon after. It stood in the middle of West Street, facing the present Town Hall across the old Market Place. It appears in the Enclosure Award map of 1770 but not in the estate maps of the 1820s.

13.     The present Town Hall was designed to accommodate the shambles in the basement at ground level. For many years it housed the fire engine. The space is now enclosed and used as the council offices.

14.     Tudor Cottages, in South Street next to the churchyard. Endowed in 1636 (Birkbeck p. 54) but the present building dates from 1738. (Birkbeck p. 73)

15. ^   On the East side of South Street near its northern end. Endowed in 1620. (Birkbeck p. 29) The site is now occupied by the public conveniences.

16.     The date often quoted for this foundation is 1636 but this was the date when Trollope left an endowment for continuance of the school for which he had already provided a new building in 1626. There are references indicating that its foundation was earlier still (e.g. Foster).

17.     When used as boundary markers, the cross form was evidently used so as to improve the chances of the mark’s being left undamaged. There are remaining examples around Crowland. In towns and villages, the free-standing cross is likely to have originated as a preaching cross, like the one in St Paul’s Churchyard, London. There is one in Edenham churchyard. Though they were very vulnerable, many remained after the puritan zeal of the seventeenth century had passed by and it is likely that the association with preaching saved them.

18.     There is no relevant documentary evidence from before 1633 but Moore’s dating is stylistically reasonable. However, the earliest firmly dated house which, like the Red Hall, was designed around its staircase, was built in 1618, in Chester. Therefore, if the hall is to be dated by reign, it would be in the latter years of James I.

19.     The field to the north of the Red Hall lies in the bottom of the natural valley of the river. The modern houses to the north of the hall stand on the spread remains of a dam which impounded water in the valley, so forming a defensive lake on the south side of the castle. Clearly, by 1809, the lake had been drained but its bed was still soft and wet. When the railway station was built, the ground below the dam was raised to form its entrance road so the former presence of the dam is not now readily noticeable. Traces of the moat are visible in the field but in other quarters, the railway works have obliterated it.

20. ^  Now the Burghley Arms, in the Market Place. It is on the site of the house where Lord Burghley was born in 1520.

21.     Fisher was the owner of the Red Hall when he died and it is very likely that he had it built. These alms houses were replaced in West Road. Water Street has become South Street and the site is now that of the public conveniences.

22.    Trollope’s founding, or at least his building of the school came in 1626 (year 2 of Charles I) but the endowment was part of his will, when he died in 1636. His building, with major, subsequent repairs, still stands but the institution is older: the admission of a master to the school is mentioned in 1330. (Birkbeck p.2)  

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