Ike visits Greatford, Lincolnshire – Part 1

Ike went to visit Geography Cat followers Marian and Martin at their home in Greatford, Lincolnshire.
As you can see on the map below Greatford village is approximately 7km northeast of the town of Stamford, and 8km south of Bourne, south Lincolnshire.

Greatford is a very small village, with only about 270 residents.  The name used to be spelled “Gretford” from the old English groet and ford, meaning a shallow gravelly place where water can be crossed. The water in question being the West Glen River.  The soil around the village is alluvial sand and gravel deposited on the river’s flood plain. 

Ike saw the village sign, which was erected to celebrate the millennium.  Then he walked along Main Street, and noticed that the older houses are built of Barnack stone, an oolitic limestone, with Collyweston slate roofs, actually a type of limestone too, not really slate at all.

Greatford church is dedicated to St Thomas Becket, and is medieval, dating back to the early 13th century in parts.

There is a new stained glass window in the church. Marian drew Ike’s attention to the watercress at the bottom, that and the choughs, are there because they are on the coat of arms of Thomas Becket. But there was another monument, of 1807, that really captured Ike’s attention.  Being a clever cat, he recognised the name Francis Willis – this is the doctor who treated King George lll for his “madness.”

Willis (1718-1807) lived at Greatford Hall, which was originally built in the time of Queen Elizabeth l.   With the profits from his hospital, Willis built Shillingthorpe Hall in 1796, and King George apparently stayed there.  This became a private house around 1900, and was used as an army camp in WW2 before it was demolished.  Ike went for a walk along the Macmillan Way footpath, which goes through a part of the grounds.  He remembered to stick to the footpaths, because the rest of the old grounds are private!

The original Greatford Hall burned down in the 1920s, but was rebuilt in the Elizabethan style, and purchased by Harry Dowsett, owner of a local cement works. Ike saw there are a number of cement crowns, made to celebrate the coronation of King George Vl in 1937, in front gardens around the village. Ike also noticed the ship’s bell of HMS Greatford in the church – the ship was built in the 1950s, and was a fast patrol boat.  She was moved to Singapore in 1965 for minesweeping, and was sold off in 1967.  Next to the bell is the war memorial to men killed in WW1.

Ike continues his Greatford adventure tomorrow.

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