Author Archives: wdheritage

Casting light on West Deeping’s 250 years-old chandelier

August 1st 2020 is Lammas Day – and on this day, two hundred and fifty years ago, St Andrew’s Church in West Deeping was presented with the magnificent brass chandelier or candelabrum which hangs above the centre aisle of the nave.

Candelabrum a

Brass chandelier at West Deeping

With two tiers, each with twelve branches, the chandelier measures about 48 inches/ 122 cms across and 40 inches/ 101 cms in height.

It was commissioned in 1770, when farmer Robert White tenant to Charles Bertie of Uffington, donated £31 to Richard Figg for the benefit of the church, to show his gratitude for being allowed to leave crops standing in the fields for 24 days after Lammas.  August 1st was the date of the festival of the First Fruits, when the grain harvest began.  It was the start of the period during which villagers would normally have been allowed to graze their livestock in the fields once the crops were harvested.

(Read more about Robert White’s candelabrum and similar ones in the local area, the origins of Lammas, Charles Bertie, Robert White and Richard Figg.)

Despite restrictions on access to the church during the COVID-19 pandemic,  the church is open for private prayer so you can still view the chandelier – but from a distance!  You might wonder why it has what looks like a shower cap over the top and cardboard saucers on each of the candle holders – they are to protect the brass from bat droppings.

But once the church is fully in use again and the bats have gone into hibernation,  it will look even more splendid than before the lockdown – due to several tins of Brasso, many hours of polishing and the efforts of Allan Crowson, former churchwarden for 36 years and resident in the village since 1972.

He writes: “It has been the practice in the past to polish the candelabrum before the Easter and Christmas celebrations. This has been particularly important after the summer months, when the resident bat population is very active!

With a view to celebrating the 250th year of our candelabrum this year, I decided to give it a thorough clean.  I commenced the task at the end of February, intending to have it completed for Easter Sunday, 12th April.  But with the Covid19 lockdown and closure of church buildings I was able to spend more time on it. To achieve this, I removed the branches in pairs and cleaned them at home and then finally took down the main structure and cleaned it on the church floor.

On close inspection I could see the extent of the corrosion and pitting, mostly on upward facing surfaces, particularly on the saucers under the candle holders. There was also a small amount of damage. Two of the branches had been broken off and repaired, (probably many generations ago), some of the saucers were slightly bent and there is a dent in the orb that bears the inscription relating to the gift.

Each branch, including the saucer and candle holder took at least one and a half hours to clean to a standard that I considered to be acceptable. I achieved this by immersing the saucers in vinegar, melting the candle wax with boiling water and vigorously rubbing the surfaces with washing-up sponges soaked with Brasso and then polishing with a soft cloth.

There are twelve upper branches and twelve lower branches. Each is stamped with a number from 1 to 12, near the inner end of the branch. The square end fits vertically into a square hole in the hub, which is stamped with the same number. Due to variations in size each one must be matched with its own number. It may be because some of the stamped numbers on the branches had been hidden by dirt that an alternative numbering system using filed notches was introduced. I suggest that this has caused some confusion when reassembling after cleaning sessions, as three of the branches had been filed to make them fit into different holes. By adding solder where brass had been removed, I have been able to return each to its original position. The stamped number was missing from one of the repaired branches, but by process of elimination I was able to return it to its original position. I also improved the edges of the saucers that were bent. The dent in the orb remains as evidence of its long history.

I completed it on 4th May. Hopefully, it will glow with lighted candles this Christmas.

Allan Crowson. 13.07.2020

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101 years ago – 21st July 1919

The school holidays hadn’t started yet; it would be another few weeks before the children of West Deeping had a month off, to coincide with the harvest – when many of the older children would be helping local farmers to bring in the crops. So on Monday 21st July, the children must have been thrilled to find they had an unexpected half-holiday!

Saturday July 19th had been a public holiday across the whole country – celebrating the proclamation of peace, the official end of the Great War of 1914 to 1918. Stamford & Rutland News 23rd July 1919The villagers of West Deeping had gone to great efforts (as they still always do!) to put on a suitable event.  An outdoor tea party was organised for the children – in a field belonging to Mr Porter from the Manor.  But as is so often the case on these occasions, “the clouds burst“, “the rain fell unceasingly during the evening” and everyone “sought shelter in the schoolroom“.  But  “the rain did not pour cold water on the rejoicings” and the entertainment arranged by the headmistress, Miss Grassam, was “tip-top“. But the children’s sports had to be postponed until the Monday – hence the half-day holiday from school!

It was that summer, or early autumn,  that this photograph was taken of all the school children and teachers outside the village church.

1919 School group Original enhanced PC Archives

1919 West Deeping school children and teachers, in original mount

The photo has been amongst the village archives for many years but it’s only recently that an accurate date has been established for this photograph.   Maggie Ashcroft was doing some research at Stamford Mercury Archives for her book West Deeping remembers 1919  when she came across a very brief news item in The Stamford & Rutland News for October 10th 1919. “The schoolchildren and teachers were recently photographed outside the church.   A mounted copy has been presented to each child in commemoration of signing the Peace, this course being adopted instead of giving mugs or other souvenirs.”  The amateur photographer was George Henson,  who had only recently been de-mobilised from the Royal Flying Corps where he had served as an Air Mechanic.

Only two surviving original copies of the photograph have been discovered, but there would presumably have been at least fifty more. Many of the fifty-one children have been identified – the key is on page 85 of West Deeping remembers 1919, to be published in August 2020.

For more details about the book and how to obtain your copy, contact

Stay at home: March & April talks postponed

Our talks for the remainder of this season are, regrettably, postponed.  An AGM will be held when we start up again, which will hopefully be in September

Pease, Puter and Piggs: a Lincolnshire village in the 16th and 17th centuries

Strangers in Thorney

All best wishes for the health and welfare of all our supporters.  We look forward to seeing you again, as soon as it is safe.

A saint for every sinner

The subject and timing for West Deeping Heritage Group’s forthcoming talk on Tuesday 25th February have nothing to do with St Valentine, whose day, in case anyone has forgotten, is today.   It is very appropriate though, that it should be on Shrove Tuesday, ‘shrove’ being the past tense of ‘to shrive’, derived from the Old and Middle English words for being absolved or having done penance, after confessing all one’s sins  in preparation for Lent.

Dr Avril Lumley Prior’s tantalising synopsis of her talk might lead you to research some of the lesser-known saints’ names – who knew for example about  St Wilgefortis?  She was also known as St Uncumber, and could reputedly rid women of unwanted husbands, the antithesis of St Valentine!

The name and the story of  St Guthlac will be well-known to the Market Deeping folk in the audience, as will be that of St Swithun, to anyone who knows their weather folklore.

Would-be West Deeping historians might want to go and check out the saints depicted on the stained-glass windows in St Andrew’s Church.   The familiar ones – St Andrew, of course, and disciples St John, St Peter and St James are all there.  So too are St Augustine and St Edward the Confessor, St Alban and St Osmund. These saints were the ones chosen by our  Victorian predecessors responsible for the restoration of the village church in the 1870s. The architect was William Butterfield and the stained glass designer Alexander Gibbs – both well-known for their work in churches nationwide.

We look forward to seeing you at the Village Hall, King Street, West Deeping, from 7 pm for light refreshments, and for the talk starting at 7.30 pm.  As always, everybody is welcome; £2.50 at the door.




West Deeping’s prehistoric next-door neighbours

West Deeping Heritage Group’s next talk is  on Wednesday 20th November 2019: Prehistoric Settlement in the Welland Valley

at the Village Hall, King Street, West Deeping

Refreshments are available from 7 p.m. for a 7.30 p.m. start

Everybody is welcome; there is no membership subscription.

Admission is £2.50 at the door


The Welland valley was a focus for prehistoric settlement, as is being discovered by archaeological excavations in advance of gravel extraction –  which then removes all traces. The speaker, Andrew Hatton (known as Bob) was involved with the 1990s excavation at Stowe Farm near Greatford.

Stowe FarmMore recently, as part of his research for an M.Phil. at Sheffield University, he has analysed the different phases of settlement to be found on the site and completed a review of Bronze Age field systems located along the Welland Valley, including the Rectory Farm site at West Deeping. The aim of the research was not only to record and interpret the archaeology but to place the site at Stowe Farm in a local and regional context. Previously Archaeology Supervisor for Cambridgeshire County Council’s Archaeology Field Unit, Bob is now a lecturer and Coordinator for Archaeology and Landscape History at the University Centre, Peterborough

Growing bulbs – a talk for local & gardening historians

It’s the time of year to be planting bulbs to flower in the spring  and so it’s appropriate that the first of our Autumn season of heritage talks on Tuesday 24th September is the History of bulb-growing in East Anglia.  It could hardly be presented by anyone more knowledgeable and closely involved in its history than Johnny Walkers. (For further information about him, see the Programme page)  

He might not, however,  mention the village of West Deeping, so let’s not forget the contribution made to the area’s bulb-growing heritage by three commercial growers in the early 1900s.

Reverend John Carpenter, the rector of St Andrew’s Church between 1899 and 1918, wanted to provide employment for women and children and hit on the idea of letting out allotments in the ‘Six Acre’, one of the fields to the west of King Street.  Apparently he grew bulbs for sale in the winter months and for their flowers in the spring and early summer.  Selling bulbs by mail order was evidently quite common in 1902, and even with free carriage, was probably quite profitable.  The rector advertised a range of bulbs and other plants in The London Monitor and local newspapers, but narcissi were obviously his speciality – a dozen bulbs of the highly prized ‘Horsfieldii’ daffodil, with white petals and a rich yellow trumpet, were priced at 1 shilling or 100 for 5 shillings.  The more common Pheasant Eye, (narcissus poeticus) were 1s 6d for 100.  The Rector was apparently famed for the flowers of double white narcissus, which were picked, bunched and dispatched all over the country.


1902 12 12 London Monitor and New Era

1902 advertisement; London Monitor

In 1908, landowner and farmer John Benner, who lived in the three storey stone house on King Street (now number 30), was also advertising double white narcissus, pheasant eye and rugilobus (also known as narcissus bicolor).   Seth Stevenson, listed as a florist in the 1911 census and as a ‘Flower and bulb grower’ in  Kelly’s Directory for 1909 and 1913, lived in The Lane but used the field behind the cemetery, just south of the Six Acre.

The rector’s business was sold to farmer T. F. King, who presumably carried on the tradition of using the local labour force.  In June 1920 the Stamford and Rutland News reported ‘Once more the annual harvest of flowers has been gathered in by Mr King and his flower pickers and recently Mr King invited all his employees to a tea-party held in the schoolroom at West Deeping. … After tea a social evening was passed.  Songs were given by Mrs Laud, the Misses Bloodworth , D. Wright and E. Roden.  Miss L King accompanied at the piano and also played for dancing.  At 8 o’clock votes of thanks and applause were accorded the host and hostess and artistes and the party then broke up.’

Find out more about the general history of bulb-growing in the area from Johnny Walkers – as usual the  Village Hall in King Street will be open from 7 pm for refreshments, and the illustrated talk will start at 7.30 pm.  Everybody is welcome; £2.50 at the door.

Any further enquiries should be made to Harriet Gash (01780 740536)

Peakirk Package Tour: paintings, pastries and pottery

Join West Deeping Heritage Group for a summer outing on Wednesday 7th August 2019. Meet at 2 p.m. outside the church or in the church porch if wet.

A guided tour of St Pega’s Church, including the medieval wall paintings, followed by a home-made tea, a tour of the historic village and finishing with the latest  excavation of a test pit by the Peakirk Archaeological Survey Team (PAST).

  • Church tour and refreshments: £6.
  • Village tour and archaeology: Voluntary donation towards Church roof Replacement Appeal
  • Parking alongside the village green or at the Village Hall, St Pega’s Road, opposite the Ruddy Duck Public House

Please email or phone 01778 344768 to book your place by Friday 2nd August

“I can do it” – on Weds 29th May!

“I can do it” is actually the title of Jackie Searl’s talk which follows West Deeping Heritage Group’s Annual General Meeting , on Wednesday evening – 29th May 2019, from 7 pm for a 7.30 pm start, at the Village Hall in King Street, West Deeping. (Refreshments as usual, but no entry charge for this meeting.)

Jackie will be picking out some of the highlights of her Open University course in History. She might inspire you to have a go and take your interest in history and heritage a bit further.

West Deeping Heritage Group’s committee members really hope you might say “I can do it” too!

We hope you will support the group by coming along to the AGM, hear how the last year has gone and perhaps be inspired to help run the group in the future.  Maggie Ashcroft, Liz Noble and Allan Crowson have been doing so for nine years and could really do with some fresh ideas and new energy!

We need

  • Committee members to help to arrange talks and plan projects
  • Someone to help with refreshments at our talks
  • Volunteers to help with village archives

If you would like to help but cannot come to the meeting, contact



This month’s talk: Tuesday 30th April


Stephanie Bradshaw and Andrea Togher are volunteers for Nene Coppicing and Crafts, carrying out conservation work and acquiring skills in greenwood crafts. They will give us a brief history of coppicing in general and some information on coppicing locally.

 Come and find out how it’s done and how the products are used!

loading charcoal burner

Charcoal burning looks like fun!


Tuesday 30th April 2019

7 pm for refreshments and 7.30 pm for the start of the talk, at the Village Hall, King Street, West Deeping PE6 9HP

£2.50 at the door, to include refreshments

WALK: the Stamford Canal: 10 am Saturday 18th May 2019

There’s an opportunity to join a guided walk,  starting from The Bertie Arms, Uffington, along part of the former course of the Stamford Canal, including privately-owned sections not normally open to the public, at the canal’s junction with the River Gwash and at Copthill.

Crayon Drawing of Stamford Canal at Uffington Bridge. A reconstruction by Nelson Dawson 1930s

Uffington Bridge

West Deeping Heritage Group supporters will remember the Heritage Lottery funded project of 2013, when several of us put in a lot of effort to research this historic navigation and raise awareness of its significance. We consulted the experts, created a photographic record of the remaining traces, gathered together copies of the scattered archives, installed interpretation boards, developed this website and published a walk leaflet for the West Deeping and Tallington section of the Stamford Canal. 

For everybody who sticks to the public footpath on the Uffington estate or missed the chance to investigate the Copthill section, here is the opportunity to explore, with the landowners’ permission.

It’s free for anybody who is on West Deeping Heritage Group’s contact list, as well as members of FRAG (Fane Road Archaeology Group).

Please register using the following link to the  FRAG website

Meet in the car park of The Bertie Arms, Uffington at 10 am. The walk will be a circular route of about 4 miles, stopping occasionally for a breather and some information about the history of the canal.  From Uffington Bridge, there is an option of making a diversion into the grounds of Copthill School, and a final visit  to the Bertie Arms for those who would like refreshment! Further details, if required,  from Maggie Ashcroft, West Deeping Heritage Group