Ian, an excellent speaker/entertainer, furnished us with many, many facts and stories starting with the construction of the canal and then tales about the houses and structures found alongside it.
The Fossdyke canal connects the River Trent at Torksey to Lincoln and is maybe the oldest canal in England that is still in use. It was thought to be built by roman armies overseeing the slaves of Boudicca. However, it was difficult to maintain and often silted up. It was refurbished in 1121 during the reign of Henry I, but in 1620 the ownership was transferred to the City of Lincoln who had to maintain it. The City of Lincoln did not have the expertise to manage the waterway so it was leased to a Richard Ellison who paid £75 per annum to maintain navigation. It generated £100 per annum in toll charges for him. The improved canal, two years later, made £595 in toll charges. These continued to increase and his son made £2367 in 1789, and his grandson made £5159 in 1811. After being in partnership with the Great Eastern Railway Company it was eventually nationalised in 1948 and is now owned by British Waterways.
Ian then told us tales of the houses and structures situated near the canal.
Torksey Castle is really a manor house 400 yards from the village of Torksey. It was built in 1550 for the Jermyn family. It fell victim to the Civil War in 1645 and ended up burnt and in ruins. Torksey was also a place where fuel tanks, disguised as haystacks, were sited in World War 2.
Doddington Hall. This is a very smart brick built residence in the style of Haddon Hall. A Tommy Taylor negotiated with the Bishop of Lincoln and bought nine thousand acres of land. It was built with one and a half million hand made bricks. It was renovated in 1750 and then passed through numerous family members and eventually became the property of George Jarvis. He left it to his eldest daughter and son-in-law.
Saxilby. This is a nearby village which has, in the church of St. Botolph, a Norman font carved with coloured coats of arms.
The Sun Inn of Saxilby is famous for the murder of Mary Kirkham. Mary Kirkham was pregnant and forced into marriage with a Tom Otter. Later that day they went for a country walk and he killed her. He escaped and was eventually captured and found guilty of her murder. After being hanged his body was tarred and hung on a gibbet where it stayed for many years. It is said that the ghost of Mary Kirkham still haunts the pub today.
Ian related stories about the building of Lincoln Cathedral, Lucy’s Tower, and the Judges’ House and tales of hangings and executions that had occurred over the years.
In all it was a very comprehensive and wide-ranging talk enjoyed by all.