Category Archives: Family History

Stories about former village residents; village archives to help with family history (baptisms, marriage banns, burial records, census returns)

The Tennyson’s Arms – one of West Deeping’s three pubs

West Deeping’s pub, the Red Lion, is well-known; but fewer people remember the George and Dragon and even fewer have heard of the Tennyson’s Arms!

The building is no longer there – it was demolished in the 1940s – and on the site, at the north end of King Street, are now two pairs of semi-detached bungalows built by the council not long after the end of World War 2.

With the help of  various archival resources, but mainly thanks to the memories and photographs of Bernard Roffe, who was brought up at the Tennyson’s Arms, we can piece together some of its history.

Cropped to print

The Tennyson’s Arms, West Deeping – painted by Karl Wood in 1939                                       Courtesy of the Usher Gallery, Lincoln

The Tennyson’s Arms  is the first one to be written up since the page Village Buildings 
was launched.  Follow the link to read the whole article.
Any further information about the Tennyson’s Arms would be welcome from readers.

Midsummer Heritage opportunities

It’s “Midsummer Magic” in West Deeping from 17th to 25th June – and it’s a great opportunity to get to see some of our fascinating village heritage.

Starting with the weekend of 17th to 18th June, there will be fifteen village gardens open to the public.  All of them have history attached and five of them incorporate parts of the former Welland Navigation or Stamford Canal which cannot normally be seen.

In the following week, there will be two Midsummer Heritage Walks – on Wednesday 21st June along part of the route of the canal and on Saturday 24th June, following the “Figg trail”!

Continue reading

Fun and games in West Deeping – past and present!

Past: from the 1960s until 2009, a highlight of the week for some West Deeping residents and visitors from neighbouring villages was the Evergreen Club’s meeting every Tuesday afternoon.

Their annual scrapbooks (kept from 1973 to 1985) bring on waves of nostalgia for those of us who are old enough!

One of their members would send a report of the meeting to the Stamford Mercury each week. Very often it would start with:  “The usual table games were played …”. Whist drives and games of rummy, dominoes and scrabble brought out the competitive spirit in this group of over 60s, most of whom have now passed on.  Every so often, there was  “Prize bingo”  and every week without fail there was a raffle – to raise funds for good causes, members’ birthday parties, outings and celebratory lunches.

These are just two of the photographs we have of members of the Evergreen Club –  at a Christmas concert (we’re not sure where) and on a club outing, (perhaps to Sandringham, with the rhododendrons in the background?). We don’t know the dates but we do know a few of the names – Mr and Mrs Fisher, Mrs Goodliffe, Mr and Mrs Neale, Mrs Griffin, Mrs Shipp and Mrs Walker – for example.  If anyone has more photographs or recognises parents or grandparents, please get in touch!

Present: on a Sunday afternoon in February 2017, we had a go at re-creating the fun and games that used to go on in the Village Hall, for all ages  – with a Beetle Drive and Vintage tea to follow.

“Beetle drives” were particularly popular during the 1950s and 60s as fund-raising events. Many of us will remember, as children, playing the game of Beetle at family parties – our frustration at not getting a six on the dice before we could draw the body and collect the wings and legs; our hasty efforts at drawing a recognisable beetle with a blunt pencil!

It was just the same on Sunday: the noise levels got higher with the furious throwing of dice, the groans as people got the wrong number yet again and the cheers when they successfully got the number they needed – then the yell of “Beetle” and everyone stopped and counted up their score. The final winner was one of our most senior citizens, Myrtle Cummings and the runners-up were the youngest there, Emma and James.

After all the fun and games, everyone was ready for their vintage tea – no-one took photos until it was too late and there was nothing left of Annie’s sandwiches (crusts cut off, of course) Gill’s cream scones, Maggie’s filled bridge rolls and the cakes donated by several home bakers .

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We had a raffle, of course, which raised over £100 for the village’s Jubilee Fund , set up in 2002 to fund events like the Jubilee celebrations and village fetes and pay for village amenities like the bench and daffodils in the Tinsley Field.

May the village fun and games continue!

West Deeping remembers Joseph Anstee

IMG_6299 (3)This morning, July 1st 2016, a dozen of us gathered in the porch of St Andrew’s Church at West Deeping.

At 7.30 a.m., Brian Marsden, a staunch supporter of the Royal British Legion, Langtoft, Deepings and Districts Branch, blew 3 short blasts on his ARP whistle.  This was the signal for ‘zero hour’ for the British troops lined up along the trenches in Picardie in Northern France, exactly 100 years ago.

We remembered all those 19,240 killed and 35,493 wounded on July 1st 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme  but West Deeping particularly remembered one of its own soldiers who fought and died on the first day on the Somme, July 1st 1916.

West Deeping Mill2nd Lieut. Joseph Anstee  was the younger son of William Anstee, the miller at West Deeping Mill, just next to the church. He had grown up in the village and judging by frequent mentions in the local newspapers seems to have been talented as a singer and pianist. He was often complimented for his flower decorations in the church and was involved with activities at the village Reading Room. He was in his early 20s when he signed up for a short military training with the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps in Berkhamsted and in October 1915 he was commissioned to the 2nd Lincolnshire Regiment. It is possible he went to France soon afterwards as the Army had an urgent need for troops after their losses at the Battle of Loos


2nd Lieutenant Joseph Anstee 2nd Lincolnshire 1890 – 1916

The 2nd Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment was part of the 8th Division when the British Army attacked the German front near Albert, in Picardie, Northern France. Together with the 2nd Royal Berkshires, they were at the centre of the line, leading the attack on the village of Ovillers-la-Boisselle.

 Joe,  a 26 year-old subaltern, would have been the one responsible for getting his men out of their trench and forming them up to set off across ‘no man’s land’ towards the German front line, 800 yards away. Charging into the full weight of an artillery barrage, the attack halted before it even got half way.

It’s most likely that 2nd Lieutenant Anstee died in the first hour of the first day of the battle that was to last another 140 days.

 “One of the cheeriest and best boys”

Joe’s parents, William and Mary Anstee read about their youngest son’s death in a letter from his commanding officer who had the eye-witness account of comrade Lieutenant Hubbard. “2nd Lieutenant Anstee was hit with shrapnel half-way across during the assault. I bandaged him up, and whilst awaiting him to be taken back behind the line he was hit again in the chest and died almost instantaneously. We were moved out of the trenches into another area that afternoon, so were unable to collect our dead and wounded… I can’t express what his loss is to us. He was a splendid officer and loved by all, and one of the cheeriest and best boys I have ever met, and can well understand what a terrible loss he is to you, as he is to us.”

One of 72,194 men who have no known grave, he is commemorated at Thiepval (Face C of Pier 1). If you go almost to the end of the King Street Cemetery in West Deeping, you will find an Anstee family memorial not far from the right hand fence. Joseph’s parents are buried here but the inscription on the gravestone also commemorates ‘Lt J Anstee Killed in action in France July 1st 1916 Aged 26′.

A Remembrance Cross was placed by the grave this morning.

If there are any Anstee descendants reading this, we would be most interested to hear from them.

Not just the AGM!

West Deeping Heritage Group’s last meeting of the season is on Tuesday April 19th at the Village Hall, King Street, West Deeping. With refreshments from 7 p.m., the Annual General Meeting will start at 7.30 p.m. The aim is to deal with the Agenda as quickly as possible! Then we can spend time looking at some of the village archives.

Take your pick from the collection including old photographs, newspaper cuttings, West Deeping Burial Board registers and the minutes of the first Parish Meeting.

p63 001

Undertaker, William Ackland’s Ledger

Another example is the Ledger of William Ackland  who was Parish Clerk from 1919 to 1969 as well as the village wheelwright, carpenter and undertaker. Some people might consider it rather lugubrious or even inappropriate to read the details of funeral arrangements but others will be fascinated – this is village history!

The burials recorded for 1944 appear on page 63 – a boy of 11 who had fallen from a train, and Susanna Smart, who lived in The Row and died  at the ripe old age of 89. We have her photograph too.

Have you any requests? Have you any village archives to share? Send an email to


Wade relative sets the record straight for Deepings WW1 Roll of Honour

Now the list of names, regiments and dates is online, relatives from all over the world can check to see whether members of their family are listed in the Deepings Roll of Honour. They can also put the record straight if the details are incorrect or if a photograph has been wrongly identified!

A photograph of Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, Francis Rowland Wade (1899 to 1982) from Market Deeping, has just been added.  We had a picture which we thought was Richard Wade, but we are most grateful to the relative who corrected us.

Francis’ grandson, William Wade has been in contact with Liz Parkinson of Deepings Heritage to send photographs and a newspaper cutting. Richard and Francis were the sons of Richard Wade, a well-known and respected solicitor in Market Deeping during the First World War period. Owner of Wade Park and the house which became The Deepings Library, Richard Wade senior was one of the prominent townspeople who supported Lord Kesteven’s army recruitment drive.

Any amendments or queries about the Deepings Roll of Honour can be forwarded by leaving a Comment on this post.

Another name and family story for the Deepings Roll of Honour

Bob Atkin of St Neots, Cambridgeshire, happened to visit the Peterborough Evening Telegraph website recently and found the publicity for the launch of the commemorative book The Deepings Remember 1914 to 1918. He immediately got  in touch with The Deepings Commemoration Group – not only to order a copy of the book but also to add another name to the Deepings Roll of Honour.

His grandfather Thomas Atkin was a milkman in peacetime, but during the First World War he was a Sapper with the Royal Engineers, service number 289740. He lived at Horsegate, in the cottage directly opposite The Walnut Tree public house, with his wife Nettie.

P1 Roll of HonourResearchers have done extensive research over many months and have more than 400 names on the Deepings Roll of Honour for those who served. We know there are still more names to be discovered; it will be an ongoing job to update the spreadsheet of details, and to revise the Roll of Honour.  This is the first of what we expect will be several additions: Thomas Atkins’ name and regiment now appear on the first page of the online version.

April talk and Annual General Meeting

Wednesday 15th April 2015

7 p.m. for 7.30 p.m. start, at the Village Hall, King Street, West Deeping

Annual General Meeting

Ginny's shoebox full of Great Uncle Norman's letters

Ginny’s shoebox full of Great Uncle Norman’s letters

followed by an illustrated talk by Ginny Cook about her family history research and getting “Great Uncle Norman’s letters” into print.

Two years ago Ginny brought along to show the group a shoebox full of letters written by one of her relatives who emigrated to Australia before the First World War. Encouraged by everyone’s interest, she set out on a “self-publishing” project – putting the letters in order and transcribing them were just the beginning!

Everyone is welcome. This is a chance to meet up and review our past year. We promise to keep the formalities to a minimum. Refreshments are served, but there will be no charge as it is the AGM.

AGM agenda – 15 April 2015 and AGM minutes April 2014 can be read or downloaded.

The Deepings Remember 1914 to 1918

If you haven’t already visited the exhibition The Deepings Remember 1914 to 1918 – today is the last day!

The Deepings Community Centre in Douglas Road, Market Deeping will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, Sunday 9th November.

Mr and Mrs Roffe with their daughter Maureen Plant visit  "The Deepings Remember 1914-1918"  exhibition

Mr and Mrs Roffe with their daughter Maureen Plant visit “The Deepings Remember 1914-1918” exhibition

One of the visitors to a preview on Friday was 89 year-old Bernard Roffe, former resident of West Deeping and nephew of Richard Roffe, who died in 1917 at the Battle of the Dunes at Nieuport in Belgium.

The Deepings Roll of Honour poster gallery features 50 men (and some women) who served in WW1 – not only those who died, but many who came back and are familiar names in the area.  Many of their 21st century descendants have already visited the exhibition, so too have people who have come more recently to the Deepings and are interested in finding out how to go about researching their own families in the First World War era and to learn about the heritage of our communities.

Other areas of the exhibition include The Home Front, recreating a typical room-setting of 100 years ago; a Recruiting Room, with an Army Sergeant to persuade visitors to “join the Colours”; Memorabilia and Artefacts kindly lent by several local residents; and a roomful of World War 1 models made and displayed by the Spalding and Fenland Model Club. A display of work by students at the Deepings Academy includes one piece that has moved several readers to tears!

Refreshments today will be served in The Officer’s Mess (the Lionel Beck Room!) by Deeping St James Women’s Institute.

Visitors’ comments yesterday lead us to believe this is the best World War 1 exhibition ever!


World War 1 research: news from the West Deeping Front

We have had two workshops during July, looking at the various sources of information that will help us add more detail to the names on West Deeping’s First World War Roll of Honour.  Many thanks to everyone who came along – 14 of us altogether, with one or two who just popped in to see what we were doing.  For 2 or 3 people it was a chance to get some help with researching their own First World War relatives.

Looking through the 1911 Census information proved interesting.

  • West Deeping had a population of 302,
  • A high proportion of men worked on farms. In earlier censuses they were listed as “Ag. Labs” (Agricultural Labourers).
  • A significant number of men worked on the Great Northern Eastern Railway, as platelayers, signalmen and general labourers.
  • We can get a general idea of village economy – there were 3 public houses, a school, a baker, a butcher, a blacksmith, a carpenter and so on.
  • Jennifer and Liz who were looking particularly at the houses in the Row, off The Lane, were amazed to see a family of 11 living in a “2 up 2 down” cottage.
  • Although house numbering had not yet been introduced, we can work out which were the homes and families of the 45 or more men who were to enlist in the services between 1914 and 1918.

Matching the 1901 Census information to the 1900 Ordnance Survey map was the job that Anne and Melanie tackled. Some of the servicemen listed on our roll of honour were young enough to be still living with their parents and siblings at the time.  The result is as accurate as we can make it based on buildings we know were there over 100 years ago, bearing in mind that it’s not easy to work out from the map what is a separate dwelling or an outbuilding.  It helped to use other information sources such as deeds and indentures which name the occupants.

Baptisms at St Andrew's Church, West Deeping 1914

Baptisms at St Andrew’s Church, West Deeping 1914

The Baptism Register from St Andrew’s Church from the late 19th century proved to be particularly useful.  For some of our servicemen we have details of dates of birth and their parents and siblings.  The pages for the war years provided us with a couple of surprises – details of rank and regiment given as the fathers’ occupations tell us that the Roll of Honour has some gaps!  Details of our servicemen’s children and their wives’ names confirm some of the census information and show associations with the village even if the family has moved away.


Anstee J portraitOne of the servicemen commemorated on the plaque in St Andrew’s Church was Lieutenant Joseph Anstee.  He proved to be of particular interest to Ginny, as he lived at what is now her home – West Deeping Mill.  She trialled a data collection form kindly supplied by local historians working on the “Stamford Boys” project – to collect together all the information we have about an individual.  She also put together a “to-do” list, which included making contact with Peterborough Museum to track down a letter and certificate signed by King George V, sent to Joe Anstee’s parents at the end of the war.  The latest news is that thanks to Teresa and her contacts at Vivacity we are getting copies of the archives so that they can be displayed alongside Joseph Anstee’s story.

Vintage tea and cakes

Vintage tea and cakes

Great-Grandma’s crocheted table cloths and the silver tea service made our vintage tea more special.  Many thanks to Gill for the cakes and scones.

Thanks too – to the Heritage Lottery Grant for supporting the project.