Horncastle is a market town of some 6,090 residents in the East Lindsey district of Lincolnshire, England. It lies to the south of the Lincolnshire Wolds, where the (north-south) River Bain meets the River Waring (from the east), and north of the West and Wildmore Fens. The south of Horncastle is called Cagthorpe. Langton Hill is to the west. It used to be part of Horncastle Rural District in the Parts of Lindsey, but is now in the district council of East Lindsey, based in Manby, east of Louth.
North of the town, the civil parish meets West Ashby and Low Toynton, south of Milestone House on the A153 (Louth Road). The boundary skirts the east of the town, crossing Low Toynton Road, following the Viking Way then meeting the River Waring. It briefly follows north of the A158, to a caravan park, where it meets High Toynton. Southwards on Mareham Road it meets Mareham on the Hill, east of Stonehill Farm. South of the town, and north of Telegraph House, it meets Scrivelsby, following High Lane westwards to cross the B1183, south of Loxley Farm, then the A153 and skirts the southern edge of the sewage works next to the River Bain where it meets Roughton (Thornton). It follows the Old River Bain west of the A153 northwards across the river meadows, crossing the Horncastle Canal (and Viking Way). Eastwards it crosses the B1191, south of Langton Hill, where at Lowmoor Lane it meets Langton. It follows Langton Lane northwards, with Mill House Farm (Langton Mill) to the west, meeting Thimbleby. It meets the B1190 where the pylons cross the road then the A158 at the B1190 junction, briefly following Accommodation Road to the east. It skirts the north of the town, briefly following Elmhurst Road, passing south of Elmlea Farm. and straight through Elmhirst Lakes. At the River Bain near Hemingby Lane, it meets West Ashby.
The Romans built a fort at Horncastle, which possibly became a Saxon Shore Fort. Although fortified, Horncastle was not on any important Roman roads, which suggests that the River Bain was the principal route of access.
Roman Horncastle has become known as Banovallum (i.e. “Wall on the River Bain”) – this name has been adopted by several local businesses and by the town’s secondary modern school – but in fact the actual Roman name for the settlement is not definitely known: Banovallum was suggested in the 19th century through an interpretation of the Ravenna Cosmography, a 7th century list of Roman towns and road-stations; Banovallum may in fact have been Caistor.
The walls of the Roman fort remain in places — one section is on display in the town’s library, which is built over the top of the wall. The Saxons called the town Hyrnecastre, from whence its modern name arose.
Horncastle is mentioned in Domesday Book of 1086, when it was listed as consisting of 41 households, including twenty-nine villagers and twelve smallholders, and had 100 acres of meadow and two mills, all belonging to King William.
Dating from the 13th century, the parish church is dedicated to Saint Mary, It is a grade II* listed building which was heavily restored between 1859 and 1861 by Ewan Christian.
Four miles from Horncastle is the village of Winceby, where, during the Battle of Winceby in 1643 – which helped to secure Lincolnshire for Parliament – Cromwell was almost killed. Local legend has it that the thirteen scythe blades which hang on the wall of the south chapel of the town’s church (St. Mary’s) were used as weapons at Winceby. This story is generally regarded as apocryphal, and the accepted opinion is that they probably date from the Lincolnshire Rising of 1536.
Horncastle was given its market charter in the 13th century. It was formerly known for its great August Horse Fair — an internationally-famous annual trading event which lasted until the early 20th century. The town is now known as a centre for the antiques trade.
The great annual horse fair probably first took place in the 13th century. The fair used to last for a week or more every August, and in the 19th century was probably the largest event of its kind in the United Kingdom. “Horncastle for horses” made the town famous – the fair was used as a setting for George Borrow’s semi-autobiographical books Lavengro and The Romany Rye – but the last fair was held in 1948.
In 1894 the Stanhope Memorial was erected in the centre of the Market Place in memory of Edward Stanhope MP by E. Lingen Barker. Built of limestone, red sandstone and pink and grey streaked marble, it is a grade II listed structure.
|Population of Horncastle Civil Parish|
Horncastle is twinned with Bonnétable, a ville de marché (market town) in the French département of Sarthe with a population of 4,000 (approximately). The towns’ relationship is commemorated by a Rue Horncastle in Bonnétable, and a Bonnetable (sic; no acute accent on the ‘e’) Road in Horncastle.
Lincolnshire Integrated Voluntary Emergency Service is based at the Boston Road Industrial Estate and the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust is based in Banovallum House. Mortons of Horncastle is a main national magazine publisher of aviation and road transport heritage titles; it is situated in the south of the town on the industrial estate off the A153 (Boston Road).
Horncastle sits at the crossroads of two of Lincolnshire’s major roads: the A158 runs west-east, joining the county town of Lincoln with the resort of Skegness on the Lincolnshire coast; the A153 joins Louth in the north with Sleaford and Grantham in the south. These two roads meet at the Bull Ring in the centre of Horncastle.
The A158 through Horncastle becomes particularly busy during the summer holidays, as holidaymakers travel to and from Skegness. To alleviate the pressure on the town centre caused by this traffic, a relief road, Jubilee Way, was constructed in the 1970s. Minor roads run out of Horncastle to Bardney, Boston (via Revesby), Fulletby and Woodhall Spa.
The Great Northern Railway’s Lincoln-Boston line ran through Kirkstead, 8 miles from Horncastle, and a branch line from Kirkstead (later renamed Woodhall Junction) through Woodhall Spa to Horncastle opened on 11 August 1855. The last passenger service ran in 1954, with complete closure to freight traffic in 1971. Horncastle railway station was demolished in the 1980s and the site is now a housing estate. Today the nearest station is Metheringham on the Peterborough to Lincoln Line. The Horncastle Branch was a line that ran from Woodhall Junction to Horncastle, and is now the Viking Way.
Horncastle Canal, based upon the River Bain was Constructed from 1792
In 2004, it was suggested that the Horncastle Canal (originally opened in 1802) be renovated and promoted as a route for pleasure craft, but the waterway remains as yet unrestored.
The town is famous locally for its many floods, notably in 1920 and 1960 – with 3 floods between 1981 and 1984. Folklore among Horncastle’s more elderly and religious citizens will tell you how closely these floods coincide with the changing of Horncastle’s vicar. The vicar changed in 1919 and 1959, both less than a year before a flood. The flooding of the early 1980s has been all attributed to the change of vicar in 1980; it must be said however there was no flooding in Horncastle following the latest change in 1999. However both the River Bain and River Waring burst their banks during the 2007 United Kingdom floods.
On 7 October 1960 Horncastle entered the UK Weather Records with the Highest 180-min total rainfall at 178 mm. As of July 2008 this record remains.