The Fossdyke – Ian Morgan — 9th May 2016.

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.