- The villages around Bourne, Lincolnshire, England -

Castle Bytham

 Photographed in 2001
 

ALL THE ATTRACTIVENESS of a hillside village can be found at Castle Bytham, eight miles south west of Bourne: a little stream in the valley, flowing to the River Glen, the houses on one side climbing to the hilltop church, and on the other side the great earthwork remains of a castle built by Norman lords but long since vanished.

The huge grassy site is still an impressive spectacle and it is not difficult to picture a strong fortress standing here, dating back to the Norman invasion of Saxon England in 1066. The Saxon owner of this site was Morcar, a Northumbrian earl who vainly tried to resist William the Conqueror and died in prison while his stronghold, finished by the Conqueror’s own half-brother Odo, stood until it was swept away in the Wars of the Roses and today the site is occupied only by the sheep. 

The short stretch of road immediately below the village High Street is Heathcote Road, one of the most attractive in Castle Bytham and is named in memory of the Heathcote family who were landlords here in centuries past. Their interest in this village dates back to the 18th century when they had already become major landowners in the parish.

A map of 1858 shows that Robert Heathcote had by that time bought out most of the smaller landowners but when he died in 1917 his entire estate was sold at public auction, a total of 46 lots comprising 1,285 acres of land, several farms, the lime quarry, the Post Office, two inns and many private houses, cottages and woodland. The sale led to the slow but inevitable demise of the landlord and tenant relationship and to the situation today in which the majority of these properties in the village are now privately owned.

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