Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for GRANTHAM

GRANTHAM, a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district, in Lincolnshire. The town stands on Ermine-street, near the river Witliam, among some long wolds, 25 miles SSW of Lincoln. Railways meet at it, and give it communication toward the four points of the compass; and the Grantham and Nottingham canal goes westward from it to the Trent near Nottingham. The town is said, in Stow's Chronicle, to have been built by Gorbomanus, king of Britain, 303 years before the Christian era; and it is thought, by some, to have been a Roman station; but it is pronounced by Lambard to be more likely to have begun with the Saxons. It was, at an early period, the site of a suffragan bishop; it was also a mint town, under Canute; it is mentioned, at. some length, in Domesday book, and was then royal property; and it was mortgaged, together with Stamford, by Henry III., to his uncle, William de Valence, Earl of Pembroke. The royal forces, under Colonel Cavendish, took it in 1642, and afterwards demolished its fortifications. "About this time, " remarks De Foe, "it was that we began to bear of the name of Oliver Cromwell, who, like a little cloud, rose out of the east, and spread first into the north, till it shed down a flood that overwhelmed the three kingdoms. When the war first broke out, he was a private captain of horse, but now commanded a regiment; and, joining with the Earl of Manchester, the first action in which we heard of his exploits, and which emblazoned his character, was at Grantham, where, with only his own regiment, he defeated 24 troops of horse and dragoons of the king's forces."

The town shows no vestige of fortification; yet it appears to have been walled, and to have had a castle; and hence it retains, for four principal streets, the names of Castle-gate, West-gate, Water-gate, and Swine-gate. The streets are well-paved and clean. Spittlegate on the south, and Little Gonerby on the north, are suburbs. Ancient architectural features were, not very long, ago numerous enough to give artistic and historical interest to the town's appearance; but they have, in large degree, been swept away by modern improvement. An elegant cross, erected by Edward I., in memory of his queen Eleanor, formerly stood on St. Peter's hill. A commandery of Knights Templars, with some grotesque carvings of cherubs and allegorical figures, was converted into the Angel inn. A priory of grey friars, founded in 1290, and afterwards known as the Grange, or Cistertian's place, occupied a pleasant site on the west side of the town, and was pulled down about the beginning of the present century. An hospital for 1epers is supposed to have stood at Spittlegate. The guild hall was rebuilt in 1787; is a handsome edifice; and contains a spacious assembly-room. A new town-hall, after designs by Mr. Watkins, was built in 1869. The borough jail has capacity for 10 male and 4 female prisoners. A corn-exchange, of recent date, of handsome appearance, and built at a cost of £6, 000, stands in West-gate, fronting the market-place; and another corn-exchange, called Exchange-hall, also of recent date, but much larger, with upper story used as a 1iterary institute, stands in High-street. A self-aiding dispensary has been established for several years. A bronze statue of Sir Isaac Newton, set up in 1857, in memory of his having been a native of the neighbourhood and a pupil at the grammar-school, stands on St. Peter's hill. Public baths were constructed in 1854. The grammar school was founded by Bishop Fox of Winchester; was endowed, with the possessions of two dissolved chantries, by Edward VI.; and has an income of about £900, a portion of which is appropriated to exhibitions at Oxford and Cambridge. There are national and other schools, some alms-houses, and other charities. The workhouse is in Spittlegate, and has accommodation for 300 inmates. The parish church dates from the 12th or 13th century; measures 216 feet by 80; is surmounted by a tower and elegant spire, rising to the height of 273 feet; contains a fine, sculptured, octagonal, ancient font, and some handsome monuments; and was restored in 1865-9, at a cost of about £16, 500. The vestry is fitted up as a public library. Spittlegate church was built in 1841, and is in the early English style. There are an Independent chapel, founded in 1869, five other dissenting chapels, and a Roman Catholic chapel.

The town has a head post-office, ‡ a railway station with telegraph, two banking offices, and three chief inns; is a seat of sessions, a polling place, and an excise collection; and publishes a weekly newspaper. A weekly market is held on Saturday; and fairs on the fifth Monday in Lent, Easter-eve, Holy-Thursday, 10 July, 26 Oct., and 17 Dec. The chief industry is in the manufacturing of agricultural implements, and in the malting and corn trades; but business is done also in gingerbread-making, coach-making, tanning, and brewing. A mild chalybeate spring, called Grantham spa, is without Spittlegate. The town was made a borough by Edward IV.; has sent two members to parliament from his time till now; and is governed by a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors. The municipal limits-which, till the passit of the reform act, were also the parliamentary ones-include only a small part of the parish; but the parliamentary limits include the entire parish, and also a small portion of Somerby. Borough income, in 1855, £1, 728. Electors, in 1868, 886. Pop. of the m. borough, in 1851, 5, 375; in 1861, 4, 954. Houses, 940. Pop. of the p. borough, in 1851, 10, 873; in 1861, 11, 121. Houses, 2, 254. Bishop Still and the platonist More were natives.

The parish comprises the municipal borough, the township of Manthorpe-cum-Little Gonerby, the township of Spittlegate, Houghton, and Walton, and the township of Harrowby. Acres, 5, 560. Real property, £26, 042; of which £972 are in gas-works. Pop., 11, 116. Houses, 2, 253. Both the parochial living and the living of Spittlegate are vicarages in the diocese of Lincoln. Value of the former, £650;* of the latter, £300. Patron of the former, alternately the Bishop of Lincoln and the Prebendary of South Grautham; of the latter, the Vicar of Grantham. The vicarage of Manthorpe, united with the curacy of Londonthorpe, is a separate benefice. -The sub-district contains also the parishes of Barrowby, Great Gonerby, Londonthorpe, Welby, Belton, Ancaster, Normanton, Carlton-Scroop, Honington, Hough-on-the-Hill, and part of Haydor. Acres, 32, 097. Pop., 16, 270. Houses, 3, 331. -The district comprehends also the sub-district of Colsterworth, containing the parishes of Colsterworth, North Witham, South Witham, Gunby - St. Nicholas, Stainby, Pickworth, Haceby, Braceby, Sapperton, Ropsley, Somerby, Lavington, In-goldsby, Boothby-Pagnell, Bitchfield, Bassingthorpe, and Burton-Coggles; and the sub-district of Denton, containing the parishes of Denton, Harlaxton, Woolsthorpe, Skillington, Stoke, Great Ponton, Little Ponton, Stroxton, Wyville - with - Hungerton, Croxton - Keyrial, Knipton, Harston, Redmile, Bottesford, and Muston, the last six electorally in Leicester, and the extra-parochial tract of Belvoir, also electorally in Leicester. Acres, 103, 929. Poor-rates in 1863, £14, 123. Pop. in 1851, 29, 850; in 1861, 28, 886. Houses, 5, 961. Marriages in 1862, 188; births, 964, -of which 78 were illegitimate; deaths, 532, -of which 205 were at ages under 5 years, and 19 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 2, 118; births, 9, 436; deaths, 5, 504. The places of worship, in 1851, were 48 of the Church of England, with 12, 122 sittings; 4 of Independents, with 1, 044 s.; 3 of Baptists, with 333 s.; 22 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 3, 666 s.; 8 of Primitive Methodists, with 1, 048 s.; 5 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 997 s.; 3 undefined, with 134 s.; and 1 of Roman Catholics, with 100 attendants. The schools were 42 public day schools, with 2, 553 scholars; 35 private day schools, with 917 s.; and 47 Sunday schools, with 2, 956 s.


(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Grantham CP/Tn/AP       Grantham SubD       Grantham PLU/RegD       Lincolnshire AncC
Place: Grantham

Go to the linked place page for a location map, and for access to other historical writing about the place. Pages for linked administrative units may contain historical statistics and information on boundaries.