- The villages around Bourne, Lincolnshire, England -
A FEW MILES to the north west of Bourne is a little explored area of South Lincolnshire with winding and inviting tree-lined lanes that criss-cross the landscape and a sparse population. Amid the isolation in this less frequented countryside is Haceby, once a tiny farming community but now even tinier, a decayed and deserted village with only one family living here while the rest of the stone properties stand neglected and falling into disrepair.
The hamlet has an equally tiny church with a solid 13th century tower, Norman at its base and a plain Norman chancel arch with a rood by the late Wilfred Bond and where a 17th century royal arms has recently been uncovered and restored and an eight-sided mediaeval font. In the simple Early English chancel there is a 17th century east window and a tablet to John Lucas-Calcraft who baptised all of the babies that arrived in the village for 55 years during the last century. There is also evidence that a priest here in the 14th century, one John Peny, was set upon and assaulted by several intruders during a service because they disagreed with his teachings.
The name Haceby, or Hazebi, is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and is thought to have derived from the Old Norse for Hadd’s farmstead or village. Other recorded spellings are Hatsebi (1115), Hascebi (1161) and Hacebi (1172). The Romans had a small settlement here and there are signs of this occupation because many Roman remains have been unearthed in the vicinity and the site of a large Roman villa, probably of the courtyard type, was found in an orchard just a mile from the church, partly in this parish and partly in that of Newton nearby. The discovery was made in 1818 and excavations during 1929 revealed six rooms including a bath house at one corner of the site while some of the rooms had tessellated pavements but the remains are now covered and overgrown with weeds.
The church is dedicated to both St Margaret and St Barbara and shares the neglected air of what is left here, standing on the edge of a farmyard and the view blocked from the southern aspect by agricultural machinery. The churchyard and approaches are overgrown and the gate is difficult to find but then this is a little-used church, now purely dependent on charity, and only sees a congregation once a year, usually for harvest festival.
A notice in the porch informs us:
The only regular visitors here are the partridge and pheasant that flock around in abundance. It is indeed a sad sight. In an age in which Christianity and religious belief is in decline, how long before our other churches suffer a similar fate?