Barholm, Greatford and Braceborough #RunMyAge

During January 2021, I am participating in Age UK’s ‘Run Your Age’ event by running a total of 51km. It would be great if you would SPONSOR ME to raise funds to support older people in Lincolnshire and across the UK!

On 7th Jan, I ran from Greatford to Barholm then back to Greatford, then on to Braceborough and then back to Greatford. This was a total distance of just over 5km bringing my ‘running total’ to 23km.

I arrived in Greatford at about 8am on a cold and frosty morning. I was barely out of the car before two people jogged past me (very socially distanced from me and each other) adorned in hi-vis and flashing lights which made me less self-concious about the high-vis beanie hat I had bought for just this type of occasion.

I set off along the straight-line footpath South towards Barholm. Almost immediately I was at the edge of the village and young rabbits were chasing each other across the frozen ground (It would  have been more poetic if they were hares heading toward the Hare and Hounds PH but I’m pretty sure they were rabbits). A large bird was coasting on the thermals overhead and the whole scene gave me some idea why so many runners choose to exercise in the early morning. I am not usually one of them.

A couple of stiles and a footbridge brought me to Barholm church whereupon I turned round and headed back to Greatford where I ran through and past the church which lies between two sections of the River West Glen. You must understand that this place used to be a ‘great ford’.

On one of my previous visits, I had noticed two prominent gravestones close to the door of the church, one of which had a latin motto. Intrigued, I did a little research and discovered it was the grave of Harry Dowsett who was one of the former residents of Greatford Hall which is adjacent to the church. To say Mr Dowse was a ‘character’ is an understatement. He made his early fortune during WW2 supplying motor launches and landing craft to the Royal Navy.

In 1944 he registered a patent for pre-stressed concrete which was first manufactured in Tallington where concrete products are still made today.

In later life he was celebrated as a captain of industry but in 1977 was caught in a controversy that sounds like the plot of a PG Wodehouse story. He was at home in bed when his faithful chauffeur-valet of 25 years popped in. Mr Dowsett demanded a drink and, when the valet entered an adjoining room, Dowsett shot him shouting “I’ve got you, you bastard!”.

In court, Dowsett’s QC claimed that the chauffeur-valet was “the last person in the world Mr Dowsett would ever normally want to injure” but, despite this defence, Mr Dowsett was found guilty of unlawful wounding and paid a fine of £1,500 which was apparently the going rate for shooting one’s chauffeur in the 1970s.

The last house to the North of the village is the Old Rectory which is a surprising distance from the church. Beyond lay the frosty footpaths that took me to Braceborough which I entered via a farmgate. I heeded the sign which explained that the gate needed to remain closed to keep the local deer from entering people’s gardens.

A few hundred yards further on brought me to St Margaret of Antioch church in Braceborough which overlooks a picture postcard village green.

According to the Golden Legend, St Margaret was a native of Antioch and the daughter of a pagan priest named Aedesius. Her mother died soon after her birth, so Margaret was nursed by a Christian woman five or six leagues (6.9–8.3 miles) from Antioch. Having embraced Christianity and consecrated her virginity to God, Margaret was disowned by her father, adopted by her nurse, and lived in the country keeping sheep with her foster mother (in what is now Turkey). Olybrius, Governor of the Roman Diocese of the East, asked to marry her, but with the demand that she renounce Christianity. Upon her refusal, she was cruelly tortured, during which various miraculous incidents are said to have occurred. One of these involved being swallowed by Satan in the shape of a dragon, from which she escaped alive when the cross she carried irritated the dragon’s innards. The Golden Legend describes this last incident as “apocryphal and not to be taken seriously”

The church stands to the East of the village facing out towards the manor house and open fields. The reason for the importance of the village in days long gone was the existence of a spa about a mile from the village. The healing waters of this spa drew people in from far and wide, and George III was drawn here, visiting the church in 1770. It seems like a long time ago but it has recently become quite topical because it was a previous famous occasion that the people of the America were concerned about the mental stability of their supreme ruler.

The Royal coat of arms adorns one wall of the nave, which commemorates his visit. George III was looking for a cure for his mental illness, and was treated by the famous doctor Willis, with the Royal patient being treated in a wing of the nearby Shillingthorpe Hall, now demolished. The hall later became a private lunatic asylum.

Back to the run and, once again, about-turn and back to Greatford where the Hare and Hounds PH was sadly shut due to the pandemic (and it being very early in the morning). I’ve been to the Hare and Hounds a few times and it’s a lovely pub that normally used to have a friendly Tuesday evening quiz and absolutely awesome pizza. I look forward to visiting again when the pandemic is over although it seems villagers can currently order takeaway food as per the sign in the photo.

Uffington to Barholm #RunMyAge

During January 2021, I am participating in Age UK’s ‘Run Your Age’ event by running a total of 51km. It would be great if you would SPONSOR ME to raise funds to support older people in Lincolnshire and across the UK!

On 3rd Jan, I ran from Uffington to Barholm via Casewick Hall. This was only 4.5km so I ran a little bit of the way back to bring my ‘running total’ to 18km.

[You may have noticed that I skipped the step from Tallington to Uffington. This is because I do not know of a safe, sensible and legal right of way to run between the two villages. I said in my previous post that I felt vulnerable running a stretch of the Stamford Road between Tallington and West Deeping; well, sadly, the A1175 leaving Tallington in the other direction is probably more dangerous with very little dedicated pavement for pedestrians and cycles until Copthill farm. I ran ‘there and back’ between the two villages last summer using the South bank of the river Uffington to Tallington which is not a designated public footpath and found parts were inaccessible other than across farmers’ sticky fields, certainly not a choice for January. On the way back from Tallington to Uffington I ran via Casewick Lane, Tallington, most of which I fear was private property. If anyone has a suggestion for another route, I would be happy to try it.]

So, this leg of my ‘tour’ started at St Michael and All Angels Church which currently displays a Christmas star above the village. I like Uffington Church having visited during the annual Uffington scarecrow festivals. One of the graves has some great biblical wisdom inscribed upon it.

Uffington appears to be a meeting point of the local nobility. In the church and around the village various families are celebrated: Earls of Lindsey (the 14th Earl currently lives in Ayrshire); the Trollope baronets of Casewick (the 17th Baronet and current heirs apparent all born in Australia); the Earls of Rutland (who later became Duke of Rutland residing at Belvoir Castle near Grantham); and Barons of Kesteven which I have found a bit confusing – the latest Baroness Kesteven appears to have been Margaret Thatcher but I am sure she is not related to those from Uffington. I am not really the most qualified to speak about the British aristocracy but on this particular run it is unavoidable.

Opposite the church is the school which has an inscription to George Augustus Frederick Albemarle Bertie, 10th Earl of Lindsey. Wikipedia has not been kind to him but the local pub is more friendly having been named ‘the Bertie Arms’ in honour of his family. Lady Charlotte Bertie appears to have been a particular ‘South Kesteven Woman of Achievement’ having given birth to ten children in 13 years, managed an ironworks (which produced the gates to the church), spoke or read eight languages and still found time to knit scarves for London cabbies!

There used to be another pub in the village called the Trollope Arms named after another enobled family which dominate the history of the rest of my route. The Trollope Arms was renamed the Gainsborough Lady but closed in 2006. I wonder if this name refers to the same Gainsborough Lady who is the subject of one of the magnificent oil paintings in Market Deeping Town Hall. I will edit this blog if and when I find out,

A tangled family tree at Casewick Hall

I ran through the village and up Casewick Lane which wend its way up to the gates of Casewick Hall (pronounced ‘Kasik’ or ‘Kazik’). It is said, by estate agents, that there has been a building at Casewick since the Domesday Book and by the 17th century there was a moated mansion. It was at this time that the property was adopted by the aforementioned Trollopes who had it ‘done up’ more fashionably over the next few centuries. The hall has now been split into a handful of smaller, perhaps more manageable dwellings but, from the outside at least, it still looks like a nice place to live.

When I ran through last summer, I took a wrong turn and found a small obelisk with uncertain dedication. I can’t find a listing for it anywhere. Does anyone know for whom it is dedicated?

After Casewick Hall, I crossed a couple of muddy fields to the railway track. The gate was locked even though the Lincs County Council Rights of Way website had no reported closure. It was clear that people were still crossing the line using a combination of the gaps in the fence and common sense, so I joined them and proceeded towards Barholm.

The footpath led to the Old Hall at Barholm which is still a Trollope family residence; inhabited by former Chair of Lincs County Council Martin Trollope-Bellew (Con) and his wife Rosemary Trollope-Bellew (Con) who is the current County Councillor for Deepings West and Rural. The couple have been so much involved in local politics that their engagement began at a Council meeting when, at the very end of his term as Chair of the Council, Martin asked Rosemary to marry him. It was very sweet and was caught on camera!

As you might expect, the Trollope family have been heavily involved in village history over the years and there are memorials in the church remembering Capt Thomas Trollope (3rd Baron Kesteven) who was killed during WW1 and to his nephew Lieut Anthony Trollope-Bellew who was a casualty of WW2 as well as the other men of Barholm who died in conflict.

The Trollope-Bellews are still supporters of the Cottesmore Hunt and though they might have disposed of Casewick Hall, they still appear to own a great deal of property in the area via the Barholm Estate including much of the village including the five horseshoes pub. The pub is a lovely traditional English pub and definitely worth a visit (after the pesky Covid has gone) although I personally prefer the Hare and Hounds in nearby Greatford.

Christmas in Barholm

Coun Mrs Trollope-Bellew also currently serves on South Kesteven District Council where she is Cabinet Member with portfolio for Culture. The Leader of SKDC, Coun Kelham Cooke (Con) also lives in the village so I guess, in some ways, this humble village remains a ‘seat of power’ in South Kesteven.