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Coordinates: 52°46′06″N 0°22′39″W / 52.7684°N 0.3775°W / 52.7684; -0.3775

Bourne is located in Lincolnshire

 Bourne shown within Lincolnshire
Population 11,933 [1]
OS grid reference TF094202
District South Kesteven
Shire county Lincolnshire
Region East Midlands
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BOURNE
Postcode district PE10
Dialling code 01778
Police Lincolnshire
Fire Lincolnshire
Ambulance East Midlands
EU Parliament East Midlands
UK Parliament Grantham and Stamford
List of places: UK • England • Lincolnshire

Bourne is a market town and civil parish on the western edge of the Fens, in the District of South Kesteven in southern Lincolnshire, England. The town owes its origin to the Roman road upon which it was built, and also to the exceptionally fine-quality water supply derived locally from natural springs. The name “Bourne” (or “Bourn”, as the town was originally known) is a common name for a settlement and derives from the Anglo-Saxon meaning “water” or “stream”. The town lies on the intersection of the A15 and the B1193 (formerly A151) roads at 52°46.0920′N 0°22.6320′W / 52.7682°N 0.3772°W / 52.7682; -0.3772 (Bourne, Lincolnshire cross roads). As well as the main township, the civil parish includes the hamlets of Cawthorpe, Dyke and Twenty.

The town's economy was based on rural industries. The coming of the railway opened up a market for mineral waters bottled locally. Today the local economy is still mainly rurally-based, revolving around agriculture and food preparation and packaging geared towards the modern system of supermarkets, but there are also important light engineering and tourism activities. The district as a whole has one of the fastest-growing housing markets in the whole country, with much of the new building taking place in Bourne. The town's population is now (2006) nearer to 15,000 than the 12,000 or so given in the 2001 Census data. There are approximately 5,424 households in Bourne as of 2007.


Bourne people

Bourne is reputedly the birthplace of Hereward the Wake (in about 1035), although the 12th century source of this information, De Gestis Herwardi Saxonis,[2] refers in this connection only to his father as being 'of Bourne' and to the father's house and retainers[3] there. Charles Kingsley used the De Gestis text for his lively novel which repeats the fundamental story with much descriptive embellishment.[4]

Orm (or Ormin) the Preacher (flourished 1180) worked at Bourne Abbey during the 12th century, about a century earlier than Robert Mannyng (see below) but his presence here has only been revealed during recent research. His collection of homilies known as The Ormulum has been well known to linguists and language historians ever since the 17th century but its source has only recently been established as Bourne Abbey. Orm's language provides a glimpse of the English vernacular of the time and before it was strongly influenced by the French. It is assumed that the manuscript remained at Bourne Abbey until the Dissolution of the Monasteries between 1536 and 1540 and after various owners, it is now in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, where it is kept in conditions in keeping with its age and fragility.

Robert Mannyng (1264–1340) is perhaps the most notable of the town's past citizens. He is credited with putting the speech of the ordinary people of his time into recognisable form. He is better known as Robert de Brunne because of his long time residence as a canon at Bourne Abbey. There he completed his life's work; he popularised religious and historical material in a Middle English dialect that was easily understood by the people of his time. His work Handlyng Synne is acknowledged to be of great value because it gives glimpses into the ways and thoughts of his contemporaries and even more, shows us the language then in common use.

William Cecil (1520 – 1598) became the first Lord Burghley after serving Queen Elizabeth I for forty years, during which time he was the main architect of Britain's successful policies of that period, earning a reputation as a master of renaissance statecraft with outstanding talents as a diplomat, politician and administrator. He was born at a house in the centre of Bourne that is now the Burghley Arms and a plaque on the outside reminds us of this event.

Job Hartop (1550 – 1595) was a farmer's boy working on the land near Bourne but hankered after a life of adventure and ran away to sea when he was twelve years old. After a short apprenticeship with a gunpowder manufacturer in London, he signed on with the English admiral Sir John Hawkins and sailed the Spanish Main in the company of the young Francis Drake. He was captured by the Spanish on his third voyage and spent ten years as a galley slave and thirteen years in a Spanish prison but managed to escape and make his way back to Bourne where he spent his final days recounting his adventures in the town's taverns, although the privations he suffered had taken their toll and he died at the age of only 45.

Robert Harrington (philanthropist) (1589 – 1654) made large bequests to Bourne from which the community benefits to this day. Legend has it that he walked to London to seek his fortune and was most successful in his endeavours and when he died, he remembered his home town by leaving shops and dwelling houses in the Leytonstone area "for the benefit of his own people", namely the citizens of Bourne. The charity established in his name is by far the greatest currently administered by Bourne United Charities and fittingly, Harrington Street was named in his memory.

Dr William Dodd (1729 – 1777), was an Anglican clergyman, a man of letters and a forger. He was also the son of the Rev William Dodd who was Vicar of Bourne from 1727–56, graduating with distinction from Clare College, Cambridge, and then moved to London where his extravagant lifestyle soon landed him in debt and worried his friends who persuaded him to mend his ways and so he decided to take holy orders and was ordained in 1751. He became a popular and fashionable preacher but was always short of money and in an attempt to rectify his depleted finances, forged a bond in the sum of £4,200. He was found out, prosecuted and sentenced to death and publicly hanged at Tyburn on 27 June 1777.

Charles Frederick Worth (1825 – 1895) was born in this town, the son of a local solicitor who lived at Wake House in North Street which survives today as a community centre. He left Bourne when still a boy to seek his fortune in Paris where he became a world-renowned designer of women's fashion and the founder of haute couture. His reputation was such that the French government awarded him the Legion of Honour and when he died, 2,000 people, including the President of the Republic, attended his funeral.

Robert A Gardner (1850 – 1926) was a bank manager in Bourne and also a talented artist whose work was exhibited in the Royal Academy. He never aspired to public office but his interest in the community inevitably resulted in a number of appointments, notably as a magistrate and chairman of the Bourne bench. But he is best remembered for his paintings and many of his works survive to this day, mostly in private ownership although some can be found hanging in the Red Hall.

Frederic Manning (1882 – 1935) wrote what is considered to be one of the finest novels dealing with the Great War of 1914–18 and much of this work was completed while staying at the Bull Hotel in Bourne, now the Burghley Arms. Manning was an Australian who chose to live here after a spell at Edenham where he stayed with the vicar, the Rev Arthur Galton, who had been his tutor. Her Privates We (Hogarth Press, ISBN 0-7012-0702-7) was at first published anonymously, to much critical acclaim, but eight years after his death, it was published in 1943 under his own name and is still in print almost 70 years later. In the book, Manning acknowledged his affection for this town by calling his hero Private Bourne.

Lilian Wyles (1885 – 1975) was a major influence in the acceptance of women into the police force. She was the only daughter of the Bourne brewer, Joseph Wyles, and after a spell of duty on the streets of London with the new women patrols to assist young girls at risk, was promoted inspector in 1922, becoming the first woman officer of the Metropolitan Police's CID.

Charles Sharpe (1889 – 1963) was a farmer's boy from Pickworth, near Bourne, who ran away from home and joined the army. During the Great War of 1914-18, an act of conspicuous bravery earned him the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest decoration for valour, and he subsequently inspired many young men to enlist. On return to civilian life, he worked at a number of jobs, notably as a physical training instructor to boys at the Hereward Camp approved school, who regarded him as a role model.

Raymond Mays (1899 – 1980), son of a local businessman, achieved fame in the world of international motor racing, both on and off the track. After a successful career as a driver, he opened workshops in Bourne where he developed the BRM, the revolutionary car that eventually won the world championship in 1962. Mays, who lived at Eastgate House in Bourne all his life, was honoured with a CBE in 1978 for his services to motor racing.

William North founded North Shoes in 1876, William was a boot maker from Haconby, a small village just outside Bourne. It is believed that it was his wife Sarah who instigated the business. She saw the property for sale whilst visiting the market in Bourne and proposed they sell shoes as well as make them. Boots were made on the premises until 1914 when demand became too high for the 12 employed boot makers and boots had to be sourced elsewhere.


The Ancient Woodland of Bourne Woods, although much reduced, is still extant and is now managed by the Forestry Commission.

The Bourne-Morton Canal or Bourne old Ea connected the town to the sea in Roman times.

Bourne Abbey, (charter 1138), formerly held and maintained land in Bourne and other parishes. In later times this was known as the manor of 'Bourne Abbots'. Whether the canons knew that name is less clear. The estate was given by the Abbey's founder, Baldwin fitz Gilbert de Clare, son of Gilbert fitz Richard, and later benefactors. The abbey was established under the Arrouaisian order. Its fundamental rule was that of Augustine and as time went on, it came to be regarded as Augustinian. The Ormulum, an important Middle English Biblical gloss, was probably written in the abbey in around 1175.[citation needed]

Bourne Castle was built on land that is now the Wellhead park and South Street.[5]

Bourne was an important junction on the Victorian railway system, but all such connections were severed after the second world war (see Rail heading). The business stimulus it brought caused major development of the town, and many of the buildings around the medieval street plan were rebuilt, or at least refaced. Improved communications allowed a bottled water industry to develop, and to provide coal deliveries for the town's gas works.

The then local authority, Bourne District Council, was very active in the interests of the town, taking over the Gas works and the local watercress beds at times of financial difficulty and running them as commercial activities. Large numbers of good quality council houses were built by them in the early 20th century.

Bourne sent many men to both world wars, as did any other town in Britain, but was otherwise only lightly affected. During World War II a German bomber crashed onto the Butcher's Arms public house in Eastgate, after being shot down. Nine people were killed, including the bomber's crew. In a separate incident a number of bombs were dropped on the Approved School, a row of wooden huts adjacent to the woods that may have been mistaken for a military camp. Charles Richard Sharpe was injured in the second incident, but he was no stranger to fighting the Germans, having been awarded the Victoria Cross in the first conflict of the century.




Sugar beet was first successfully grown as an English crop, in the fenland east of Bourne, after trials elsewhere in the country had proved unsuccessful, by British Sugar Ltd. It had been developed in Germany and France in he early 19th century. Although Britain's ravenous demand for sugar was mostly fulfilled by European beet imports until shortly after 1900, the successful sugar beet production in areas such as that around Twenty, fulfilled the nation's sugar requirements during the 20th century's two world wars.

Local government

Lincolnshire County Council

Bourne has two County Council wards:

Bourne Abbey:

  • Mark Horn (Conservative). (Economic Wellbeing Scrutiny Panel): (Economic Development Policy Development Group).
Councillor Horn resigned the Conservative Party whip at Lincoln over a disagreement with his colleagues on 25 June 2008.[6] Following a further dispute involving a possible reference under the Standards Code, Councillor Horn resigned from Lincolnshire County Council on 1 August 2008,[7] precipitating a by-election. The by-election between seven candidates will take place on 2 October 2008.[8]

Bourne Castle:

Mrs Farquharson was elected after a by-election was held on 6 July 2006. The previous Councillor, Ian Croft (Conservative), appeared before the Adjudication Panel on 31 March 2006 and was found guilty on several charges of misconduct. He was an associate of disgraced former Leader of the Council, Jim Speechley, succeeding him as Leader. The Panel ordered that Mr Croft be suspended from office as a Councillor for fifteen months. He did not lodge an appeal, and resigned from the Council.

South Kesteven District Council

Bourne has two District Council wards, each electing three councillors:

Bourne East:

Bourne West:

Councillor Mrs Neal is the current Leader of South Kesteven District Council.
Signpost in Bourne

Bourne Town Council

Bourne Town Council has two wards which are identical to the South Kesteven District Council wards. Bourne East elects seven councillors to the town council and Bourne West eight.

From 1899 to 1974, Bourne had an Urban District Council in the former Parts of Kesteven. Under the Local Government Act 1972, Bourne UDC was dissolved into the newly-formed South Kesteven district. Urban districts which disappeared in this way formed successor parishes and were given a dispensation to call their "parish" councils "town" councils, and the chairman is given the title Town Mayor. These town councils were allowed to adopt the Coat of Arms granted to the former UDC.

A Bourne Rural District also existed from 1894 to 1931, when it was abolished to form part of a larger South Kesteven Rural District. The parish of Bourne had formed part of Bourne RD from 1894 to 1899. South Kesteven R.D.C. had its own distinct Coat of Arms which disappeared along with that of Kesteven in 1974, and very few copies of either remain in existence.

International links

Since October 1989, Bourne has been twinned with Doudeville, Seine Maritime, France.


Parts of the west of Bourne are drained by one of two Internal Drainage Boards, The Black Sluice IDB[9] and the Welland and Deepings IDB.[10]

Many houses in Bourne pay additional drainage rates to these authorities. Details of the designated flood risk areas can be found on a number of government web sites[11]


Bourne Town Football Club, known affectionately as "The Wakes", plays football in the United Counties Football League and the junior club runs teams for young people at all ages in local league competitions. The cricket team is one of the strongest in the Lincolnshire Premier Division and often provides players for the Lincolnshire Minor Counties team. These teams play their home games at the Abbey Lawn, a recreation ground privately owned by the Bourne United Charities. Also at "The Lawn" are the tennis and bowls clubs, along with a particularly fine open-air swimming pool. Bourne Rugby Club is based outside the town at Milking Nook Drove 52°46.2420′N 0°20.2560′W / 52.7707°N 0.3376°W / 52.7707; -0.3376 (Bourne,Lincolnshire Rugby Club), with senior teams and thriving Junior and Mini sections. The hockey club is obliged to play elsewhere, as there is not a suitable all-weather playing surface in the town. Bourne also hosts a number of other sporting clubs, particularly in the field of martial arts, and efforts to build a skate park continue. The Leisure Centre is attached to Robert Manning College and caters for a number of indoor activities, including a swimming pool.


For the past 80 years, Bourne has been noted in the field of motorsport under the names of Raymond Mays, ERA, BRM, the Hall Brothers and Pilbeam Racing Designs.

The two famous racing car marques English Racing Automobiles and British Racing Motors were both founded by Raymond Mays, international racing driver and designer. ERA started in 1934 and BRM in 1949, when the first car was unveiled at Folkingham Airfield.

The former workshops are now occupied by a firm of auctioneers who use them as a saleroom, but the achievements of Raymond Mays and the motor racing connection with Bourne are remembered with a Memorial Room at the town's Heritage Centre (Baldock's Mill in South Street). The room is filled with photographs, memorabilia and an impressive display of silverware won by BRM cars and drivers on international circuits. Following on from a uniquely memorable Sunday in August 1999 when a collection of BRM cars paraded around the streets of the town watched by hundreds of spectators [1], a superb memorial to Raymond Mays and the town's motor racing heritage was unveiled in South Street in 2003.

Bourne continues to be closely connected with the motorsport industry. In 1975, BRM's former Chief Designer, Mike Pilbeam, set up Pilbeam Racing Designs which is still based in the town. Pilbeam is particularly known for its outstanding successes in hillclimbing in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Culture and attractions

Red Hall, a Grade II listed building in Bourne, Lincolnshire
The Abbey and Parish Church of Saints Peter and Paul

Bourne buildings

There are currently 71 listed buildings in the parish of Bourne, the most important being Bourne Abbey and Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul (1138) which is the only one scheduled Grade I. The others are Grade II, the most colourful being the aptly named Red Hall (ca. 1620), finished in red brick with ashlar quoins, many gabled and featuring a fine Tuscan porch. From 1860 to 1959, it was the town's railway station booking office and waiting room. At two stages, in the 1890s and 1960s, it came close to demolition but the building is now well preserved by Bourne United Charities. The former station booking office serves as the BUC's office.

Baldock's Mill (1800), once a corn-grinding water mill, together with the miller's house, has been converted by Bourne Civic Society to serve as the town's Heritage Centre. It houses many interesting artefacts, most recently a water-wheel has been installed and a newly-created replica of a Charles Frederick Worth dress is on display.

The Baptist Church building dates from 1835 but the church itself was established here in the 1640s. This building, the Methodist Church (1841) and the United Reformed Church (1846) are all still in active use.

Under threat

The Old Grammar School was housed in a fine red-brick building with a Collyweston roof, built in the 17th century and largely rebuilt in 1738. The school closed in 1904, and the building, which stands in the Abbey churchyard, has since been used for a variety of purposes. Maintenance has been lacking for many years and the roof was condemned as unsafe in April 2003 but has now been repaired. The building is in need of a good use but problems of access make finding one difficult.

At the cemetery owned and run by the town council is a chapel [2], built in 1855. In recent years, the building has not been used as a chapel, and the fabric has deteriorated. This is attributed to a lack of maintenance by the council due to financial constraints, however, the shallowness of the foundations is said to be the principal cause [3]. The chapel now requires considerable expenditure if it is to survive, but on 23 January 2007 the town council took the decision to demolish it [4]. In 2007, local campaigners obtained a Grade II listing from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which secures the building from demolition for the foreseeable future. In 2008, the effort is now under way to identify a source of funding (estimated around £400,000) to render the building fit for long-term community use.

In July, 2008, the Ostler Memorial in the town's cemetery, an ornate Gothic water fountain originally erected in the market place in 1860 to the memory of local benefactor John Lely Ostler (1811–59) but neglected in recent years, was also given a Grade II status by DCMS bringing the total number of listed buildings in Bourne to 71.

Nearby attractions




Bourne Market Place is at the crossroads of the A15 road and the B1193. Strictly speaking, it was a staggered pair of T-junctions where the A15 was met by the A151 from Spalding to the east and the B676 from the west (the article A151 road explains) before the B676 was redesignated as an extension of the A151 to Colsterworth. The A151 was diverted from the town centre via Cherry Holt Road and a newly-opened relief road in 2005. When the rapid expansion of the town was first proposed in the early 1990s, development was scheduled to the north-east of the town, and part of this would have been a north/south bypass on the A15 under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. However, the chosen site was shifted to the south-west of the town, and the proposed by-pass was lost. A large volume of traffic is generated within the town, with the result that the A15 between Bourne and Peterborough is one of the busiest roads in the county. To the west of the town, the A6121 branches from the A151 and takes traffic towards Stamford

The town's bus services are provided by Delaine, a family-owned and run company which has been operating in Bourne for many years.

Confusion: When the relief road opened, the section of the A151 in the town centre was renumbered. However, ever since then some published road maps are incorrect. The A151 now follows Cherry Holt Road, it no longer continues to the town centre. The only reliable map is the Ordnance Survey: TF1020. The error seems also to affect satellite navigation systems, causing large lorries to attempt a tight corner in the town centre rather than keeping to the correct roads.


The railways around Bourne and Stamford in 1915

Bourne had a railway station which was on both the Great Northern line from Essendine to Sleaford and the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway connecting the Midlands to East Anglia. Both these were closed to timetabled passenger service by the end of February, 1959 and the lines were closed to occasional use by the Beeching Axe. With the exception of the Red Hall, the principal station buildings were demolished in 1964, the year after the Beeching Report. The main goods shed survived however, just into the new century and there remains an unusual survival: a goods store of wooden construction. The mechanism of the locomotive turntable is now in the Wansford depot of the Nene Valley Railway.

The first local railway was the Earl of Ancaster's estate railway, which ran from the East Coast Main Line at Little Bytham, through the Grimsthorpe estate to Edenham.


Until the mid-19th century, the Bourne Eau was capable of carrying commercial boat traffic from the Wash coast and Spalding. This resulted from the investment following the Bourne Navigation Act of 1780.



  • Birkbeck, John D. A History of Bourne (1970)
  • Davies, Joseph J. Historic Bourne (1909)
  • Needle, Rex. Tales of Bourne from Past Times (2009)
  • Needle, Rex. A Portrait of Bourne - the history of a Lincolnshire market town in words and pictures (1998–2009), on CD-ROM, including more than one million words of text and 4,000 photographs from past and present)
  • Needle, Rex. The Bourne Chronicle - the town's history in dates and events, people and places (2005)
  • Rhodes, John. Bourne to Essendine (1986) ISBN 0-948017-03-1
  • Swift, John T. Bourne and People Associated with Bourne (about 1925)
  • Pearson, R. E & Ruddock, J. G. Lord Willoughby's Railway (Willoughby Memorial Trust. 1986)

External links


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