http://boar.org.uk/abiwxo3Venables’Castle.htm Latest edit 15 Nov 2009
Web page & commentary© 2007 R.J.PENHEY
The Bourne Archive
Edmund Venables’ Lecture of 1889
Bourne, its Castle and its Abbey.
Reports and Papers read at The meetings of the Architectural Societies of the Counties of Lincoln and Nottingham, County of York, Archdeaconries of Northampton and Oakham, County of Bedford, Diocese of Worcester and County of Leicester during the year MDCCCLXXXIX.
General Secretary, The Rev.
This document is one of several dealing with Bourne Castle and to Bourne Abbey.
It was transcribed from a book lent by the Willoughby Memorial Library, to the trustees of which I offer my thanks.
It comes more
specifically from the section of the book, concerning the Architectural and
Archaeological Society of the Counties of Lincoln and
This version is annotated by RJP and contains hyperlinks. A direct transcription is to be found here.
My original purpose in undertaking this Paper was to confine
it to the Abbey of Bourne,
a monastic house of which the history has never been fully written. I had hoped
that the documents relating to the Abbey in the Public Record Office, and at
To begin with the name
of your town—Bourne, Brunne, Brunna, and other aliases—this is derived from the
copious spring to the south-east [sic] of
the church, burne in Anglo-Saxon, now known as St. Peter’s Pool, which
from all time has been one of its most remarkable features, the supply of water
being so large as to drive three mills within a quarter of a mile of its source
and to form a stream declared navigable by statute [Bourne Eau Navigation Act, 1781] and called the Bourne Eau, debouching
into the Glen at Tongue End. Not a few English local names have like origin.
Sometimes the word stands singly, as in our Lincolnshire example, and in
parishes in Cambridgeshire
[which then included
nor Huntingdonshire], Hampshire and Surrey; but it is more found in
composition, sometimes as the former half of a name, as in Bourne End, in Herefordshire and Buckinghamshire, and
the familiar Bournemouth, Eastbourne, Westbourne, Hurstbourne, Pangbourne, and
a host more. In early times the name of your town was written indifferently,
with the “r” before or after the vowel, Burne or Brunne. This “metathesis,” as
the grammarians call it, or shifting of a letter, is very common in English.
But it is particularly common with the letter “r”. The old form of “bird” was
“brid” or “bryd;” “brent” was as usual as “burnt;” and in many parts of
From the name I pass to the history of the town. The discovery in 1808 of a Roman urn containing a gold coin of Nero, and some of the Constantines and Maximian II., and other similar discoveries, mark out Bourne as a Roman settlement, if not a station. It stands on the Roman road, called the Kings Way, so clearly marked down in its undeviating rectilinearity on our Ordnance Map, running from the important station of Durobrivæ or Castor, by West Deeping and Thurlby, crossing the Glen at Kate’s Bridge, to Bourn, and thence by what is known as Mareham Lane, to Sleaford. To the east runs the great Roman navigable canal, the Car Dyke, connecting the Nene with the Witham near Washingborough. An abundant supply of fresh water was always an attraction to the practical Romans in forming a station, and your overflowing wellhead may not unreasonably have led to their establishing one here, traces of the earthworks of which in the vicinity of the castle have only recently disappeared. [This will relate to the digging (between 1861 and 1884) of the Horse Pool which destroyed part of the remains of the middle bailey curtain wall and of part of the Civil War gun emplacements. Some of the latter is still visible and more remains but is buried by the spoil bank from the Horse Pool.]
The first certain mention of Bourne is in the Domesday survey. With
this we emerge from the cloudland of fiction to the solid ground of historic
fact. From this we learn that the celebrated Morcar,
Earl of the Northumbrians,
brother of Edwin,
earl of the Mercians,
and grandson of the celebrated Leofric and Godiva, had land at Bourne,
which at the time of the taking of the survey had passed from the hands of the
rebel earl to one of William’s transmarine adherents, Oger the Breton. Ivo Taillebois,
another of William’s warriors, of a far mightier stamp than Oger, held lands in
Bourne among his other immense possessions in South Lincolnshire which in large
part came to him through his marriage with Lucy, the daughter and heiress of
Earl Thorold, and after Ivo’s death, the wife of Roger de Roumare,
and of Ranulph Meschin. If we can credit the historical romance of the pseudo Ingulph—which
probably contains some golden grains of fact among the tinsel of the
story-teller—Bourne in the ninth century belonged to one Morcar, of the same
name as the great Earl of the Mercians, in the eleventh. Morcar, according to
Ingulph’s narrative, contributed materially, by his own valour and that of his
large and courageous band of followers, to the victory of Algar and his army
over the invading hosts of Danes in 869, which cost the enemy the loss of three
of their chiefs. The following day Guthrum
came up with an overwhelming Danish force. Algar posted him in command of the
right wing, assigning the left to Osgod, the Eorlderman