- The villages around Bourne, Lincolnshire, England -

Thurlby

Photographed in 2001

THE VILLAGE OF Thurlby straddles the A15 on the edge of the fens two miles south of Bourne. One thousand years of history are reflected in the village church and 1,000 more in the Car Dyke which runs nearby, a reminder of the Roman occupation of Britain. The name is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Turolvebi but by 1207 it had become Thurleby, meaning Thorulf's farmstead or village.

The Car Dyke marks the edge of the fen and the line of villages is set back a short distance where stone is still the predominant building material but at Thurlby it has given place to brick for most dwellings. The old tradition remains and one the attractions of the village is its old thatched cottages. Two stand next door to each other in the main street, one with yellow walls and known simply as The Cottage while the other has been given the evocative name of Strawberry Thatch. A third, also in the main street, has pink washed walls with a tiled roof extension.

A substantial private house known as Capstone was built in the High Street during the 19th century and in recent years was used as a hostel for travellers from Britain and overseas. It was left to the Youth Hostels Association in the will of Mr Harry Garwood Sneath, a prominent farmer and businessman who died in February 1979 and whose family had lived there since 1862. He also left 4,000 that helped towards the cost of converting the house for its new role, work that was carried out by local building contractors although the decorating, equipping and fitting out was appropriately completed by youngsters employed under the government's Youth Opportunities Programme. It was closed for a spell but has recently reopened after a major refurbishment programme at a cost of 250,000, funded by the local authorities and now has a new look with 30 bedrooms, additional facilities for the disabled and extra car parking space.

The church stands on the other side of the A15 and is tucked away in a lane alongside the Car Dyke, well maintained and surrounded by a spacious churchyard with the west windows overlooking the fen. The tower may well have Saxon origins and could have been built as a fortress as well as a sanctuary and the patron saint is St Firmin, the first bishop of Amiens who was martyred early in the 4th century, and Thurlby is one of the few churches with his name. A restoration programme for the church windows began in 1992 and the east window seen here has just been completed at a cost of almost 5,000. This window with its intricate decoration of Victorian stained glass was originally installed in 1860 by Thomas Cook Hubbard of Thurlby Grange in memory of his ancestors and his two wives Sarah and Mary.

The earliest record of a school at Thurlby is 1585 but a church school was built in 1853 and attended by eighty pupils. The heating conditions were poor and as a result of the Education Act of 1870, a new building and adjoining headmaster's house were provided, controlled by a board of local parishioners. It was called the Board School and it opened in 1878. The 19th century buildings were replaced by the present village school in the late 1980s when the old premises were sold off by Lincolnshire County Council. The actual schoolroom and playground were demolished and cleared and new houses built on the site but the house where the headmaster lived was turned into a private house, as it is today, and a stone tablet has been preserved on the gable end recording that it was erected during 1877.

Both properties were built with the yellow bricks much favoured by the mid-Victorians although the original blue roof slates that were also used for such buildings have recently been replaced on the house by modern tiles. Villagers still remember the old school as a large building with an assembly hall at the front, a corridor running its entire length and classrooms and a kitchen leading off, with the large playground at the rear, and there is much sadness that such a fine Victorian building was allowed to disappear in this way.

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