- The villages around Bourne, Lincolnshire, England -


Photographed in 2000

SOUTH LINCOLNSHIRE is full of hamlets, tucked away in isolated locations, but still full of interest and often of mystery. Stainfield is just off the A15 three miles north of Bourne and is little more than a few houses dotted around a crossroads but is part of Haconby parish, two miles to the east on the other side of the main road, and in past centuries it was known as Hacconby with Stenfield (sic) 

It is reputedly the site of a particularly violent skirmish while the Vikings were trying to establish a foothold in England after their hunting economy collapsed in Scandinavia and they were seeking pastures new. The east coast of England was a favourite destination for the long boats during the 8th and 9th centuries although their invasions were repelled by the Saxon inhabitants and the confrontation that took place here left the field where the opposing parties met stained with blood, hence the name.

However, this is probably only local legend because the name Stainfield actually originated from Steinstone which was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and by 1202 this had become Steynthweyt meaning "the clearing on stony ground", from the Old English stein and the Old Norse thveit. There is some confusion in these early spellings but the thveit in the name was certainly replaced by field by the end of the 17th century and so there may be a grain of truth in the old legend that has been passed down the years by oral tradition and will most certainly be recounted by those who live there now.

Many Roman coins have also been found in the locality because Stainfield was once the site of a Roman station and then in 1720, Dr Edward Greathead of Lincoln discovered the existence of chalybeate springs in the vicinity and a well house was built for the convenience of the many visitors. The water was noted for its remarkable purity and abundance of gaseous constituents, rending it eminently suitable for drinking and for dietetic purposes. It was also reputed to exert a beneficial action, used externally for certain affections of the skin but the venture was short-lived and today, only the name Spa Farm remains to remind us of it.

The village once had a chapel together with a post office, both now closed. There was also a National School, built in 1866 by Lord Aveland for 80 children and with an average attendance of 50 and supported by a voluntary rate but this closed during the middle of the 20th century and the premises have been converted for use as a private house although the school crest can still be seen on the wall. In 1885, the poor from Stainfield hamlet shared out 47 6s 2d every year, the interest from a bequest left by Henry Fryer in 1822.

There is also evidence that Stainfield was once the home of several prominent Roman Catholic families at a time of Protestant rule in England when non attendance at church was a civil offence punishable by heavy fines, a situation that led to Robert Catesby initiating the Catholic conspiracy to blow up the Houses of Parliament and assassinate James I, known today as the Gunpowder Plot. The Catholics became the largest group of non-attenders, centred on Irnham, and in 1676 a total of 56 recusants were recorded in the area at Corby Glen, Lound, Haconby and Stainfield. 

There is another Stainfield in the north of Lincolnshire, four miles from Bardney, and the two are often mistakenly identified.

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