- The villages around Bourne, Lincolnshire, England -

 

West Deeping

 

Photographed in 2006

THERE HAS BEEN a settlement at West Deeping since prehistoric times and the present village is one of the most secluded yet picturesque in the area. It is the smallest of the three Deepings on the southern edge of Lincolnshire, lying in a crook of the River Welland and set back from the high road linking its neighbours.

The best view of St Andrew's Church is across the meadows from the one arched stone bridge over the river while the mellow stone houses of the village line nearly half a mile of the old Roman road known as King Street which crosses the river here on its straight and narrow way northward to Bourne. The church is mainly 14th and 15th century and the present tower and spire were probably built around 1370 while the clerestory was added towards the close of the 15th century and the aisles rebuilt. The outstanding feature of the centre aisle is a magnificent large brass chandelier of twenty-four lights bearing the inscription:

Lammas 1770, Mr Robt White tenant to Chas Bertie Esq paid into the hands of Richard Figg Gent. 1 for leave for sixty two acres of crop to stand. 24 days after Lammas. Twenty guineas was disposed of for this branch, and 10 laid out in coates for such persons as receive no collection. The silver gilt chalice and paten, made from a chalice presented to the parish in 1774, was gilded with gold from jewellery given by the women of the parish, the thank offerings to Almighty God made by a grateful people for his bounty in the harvests of 1867 and 1868.

Water-mills could never have survived in the fens because of their slow-moving rivers and absence of fall but there were many around the edge of this flat expanse of land, particularly adjacent to the great corn growing regions such as Lincolnshire. Some were sited on the main rivers and their tributaries and others on small streams that have virtually dried up today.

Along the western edges of the fens there are several surviving mills on the main rivers although none of them is today using water power to grind corn and many have been converted for other uses, often residential. A perfect example of such preservation can be found at West Deeping where the old water-mill on the River Welland has been beautifully converted for use as a private house. It was built in the early 19th century although there was a water-mill on this site for many centuries before that and at one time West Deeping boasted a total of four water-mills.

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