- The villages around Bourne, Lincolnshire, England -


Photograpged in 2003

A REMINDER OF past times greets the visitor to Swayfield, seven miles north east of Bourne, in the shape of a beacon, once used to light the countryside across the land to mark special occasions or to warn of impending peril to the nation. This modern reproduction bears the inscription FIRE OVER ENGLAND and was erected on the 19th July 1988 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the sighting of the Spanish Armada. It is part of a national chain of beacons similar to that which was used in 1588 to alert the local militia to the arrival of the invading fleet and was erected by South Kesteven District Council with the help of villagers and of British Telecom. 

The church is dedicated to St Nicholas with a 13th century tower and sits surrounded by farm buildings on sloping ground a few hundred yards from the main east coast railway line. The building is small and humble and largely rebuilt between 1875 and 1878 by F H Goddard in the Early English style. When I visited the village five years ago, I found both the church and churchyard badly neglected and the fabric in need of serious attention but in the intervening years there has been a drastic change and today it is a joy to see. Much work has been done to the building and its surrounds and the church is now one of the neatest in the district with newly mown grass and gravestones kept in trim while those that have toppled have been neatly placed underneath trees and around the perimeter. This church is now well worth a visit.

The financing of the new village hall at Swayfield which opened in 1999 is typical of the voluntary effort to be found in many of our villages to meet community demands and despite financial restraints is proof that the will can find a way.

Photographed in 2000

The village hall was built at Swayfield at a cost of 126,000 to mark the new millennium. The old hall for the previous fifty years was an ex-army corrugated iron-clad hut that stood on the same site and was demolished before construction work began but its replacement is much bigger with modem facilities for communal events including a kitchen, a committee room and toilets and, later on, perhaps a stage for theatrical productions with lighting and a sound system. Contributions towards the cost came from the local authorities and various other organisations but the village had to raise 10 per cent of the total and among their fund raising efforts were fetes, quiz nights, raffles, bring-and-buy sales and a buy-a-brick scheme at 10 apiece and each buyer is being recorded for posterity. This community participation is a test of the strength of village life today and the success of this building venture should augur well for the hall's enduring appeal for community events in the future.

Among the donors were the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust which gave 1,000 to provide carpets and equipment for indoor bowling which became a weekly activity. The trust donated more than 32,000 since 1991 to update facilities at village and community halls around the country, mainly for new activities and services that will benefit the entire community. The new hall was officially opened in September 1999 by the High Sheriff of Lincolnshire, Mr Francis Dymoke.

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