A Little Bit of HistoryThe Church
The building of St Andrews Church began in 1200 and continued until about
1450. There have restorations to the windows, five bells and chancel Pews
were fitted and a fine organ made at a cost of £400. The monuments
are among the most interesting features of the church; there is a tomb
of a 14th century lady, thought to be Lady Margaret Goband (or Colville),
an effigy of a deacon of which there are only two others in the whole
of England and a cross legged knight, perhaps a Crusader, who may have
built part of the church as a thanksgiving for his safe return. There
are other monuments and tablets of interest and are worth taking the time
St Andrews Church. Left of the church, the Old Barn where Harvest Suppers were held.
During the sixteenth century and religious revolution began as a reform movement in the Roman Catholic Church, this evolved into doctrines of Protestantism. Henry VIII rejected papal control and formed the Church of England. This caused a good deal of destruction. Some of the church plate was sold to a local tinker, Johnne Townsend of Haconbie and alter frontals were made into bed curtains, the altar tables broken up and used for paving stones.
By 1854 the church was in a poor state of repair. A restoration of the fabric began. Like so much Victorian restoration the erects were drastic, the removal of much that we wish had been preserved. The pews and choir stalls, which replaced a singing loft at the west end of the church dated from about this time.
‘Our present school was build in 1856. The school was built by Sir Gilbert Heathcote, afterwards Lord Aveland; at the cost of £400. The school was first enlarged in 1894.
…water was drawn from a well in the front playground, the toilets were pans in a building at the back of the school. The children had chalk to write with, they wrote on slates which were surrounded with wooden boarders.
There was one coal fire in each classroom. In winter it was so cold that
the children could hardly feel their fingertips, making it difficult to
Today the school has running water, central heating and water toilets. The main part of the school now has three classrooms, cloakrooms, toilets, staff room, store rooms and offices. The eleven plus exam is still retained and on passing this the children can go to the local Grammar School in Bourne or to other secondary schools, Aveland in Billingborough or Robert Manning in Bourne.
We have included a wonderful poem written by James Stubley, which plants a nostalgic picture in the mind of a village in a bygone era:
I RememberTeddy was our village tailor
He retired many years ago
Teddy had a big shop window
Where he put his clothes on show.
If Teddy made a coat too big
He made good use of it,
Ted would hold a handful at the back
And say “It’s just your fit.”
Harry was an old time farmer
His men used to reap and mow,
Harry liked a glass of whisky,
He used to down it at one go.
Harry sent some boys to clear the dykes
They started off with three,
As well as clearing out the dykes,
They carved their names on every tree.
Our village blacksmith lived in Water Street,
We called him Johnny Tarts,
Next door was Bert the carpenter,
He used to mend the carts.
I found Bert a job one day
I let a carthorse run away,
He was pleased the cart was broken
He said “I’d got nowt to do today”.
Fred was our village butcher,
Fred’s hands were always cold
Our teacher used to cane ours
To make us do as we were told.
Most village people kept a pig
In cosy little sties
Then Bill Marsh our village baker
Used to bake the home made pies.
Maud used to make her own sweet packets
She kept one of our village shops,
Maud was very generous
To us kids she was the tops.
The Bull Inn
There was a Bull Inn in Rippingale in 1798. How long before that we do not know. The Bull Inn would have been very much smaller than it is today. The old part of the building is no doubt the original Bull Inn or part of it.
The Bull Inn 1926
On an inventory dated 1929 there was included six wooden spittoons which were filled with sawdust and kept underneath the benches in the bar ready for customers to spit in. The new owners soon disposed of the spittoons and the dirty habit stopped
Many a tale would be told in the bar over a pint of beer and a game of dominoes.
Rippingale was on the Great Northern Railway. The single route opened for goods in October 1871 and passengers in January 1872. Five passenger trains passed through the station daily, with an extra train on Mondays.
Plate layers trolley at work
Approaching Rippingale Station the train drew up at the platform. A passenger caught sight of the name of the place, boldly lettered on an oblong board on the station. "Ah", he sighed, looking up from the page of the morning paper in which he had been discussing the latest order as to beer. "That's what we all want." "What's that," asked the alighting journalist. "Ripping ale" was the reply.
Drainage of the Fens
Before the fens were drained the inhabitants within the fens received no help with food, nor comfort for body and soul; no aid for a woman during her travail (labour pains), no means to baptize a child or partake of communion, nor supply of any necessity, saving what those poor desolate places do afford.
The air was, for most of the time cloudy, the water putrid and muddy and full of loathsome vermin; the earth spongy and boggy. However, the fenlanders were very much against the fens being drained, they were content with the great quantity of wild life, fish, fuel, osier, reed and sedge. To the commoner these were more valuable than the crops of the coleseed rape grown on the newly drained lands, which they esteemed as "Dutch commodities, trash and trumpery". They believed, not without justification, that the drainage was for private gain and speculation.
So the Fens were drained and divided producing coleseed for oil as well as all kinds of corn. But the commoners were not vanquished; in the spring of 1640 there were riots in Rippingale as well as neighbouring fens. The Civil War gave Rippingale folk a chance to enter into a private war of their own with the adventurers and throw down the banks and ditches in which a very short time restored the fens to their former condition. It was not until the 19th century that the fens were efficiently drained.
First World War
During the First World War fifty six prisoners of war were billeted in Rippingale; twenty eight in the clubroom at the Bull Inn and same at Camp Farm down the fen. They would work on the farms during the day.
The Second World War
Several bombs landed in Rippingale, the first in the parson's paddock, seven more bombs were dropped as the planes flew in the direction of the searchlight, which was near Dunsby Wood. During the war two planes crashed, down Rippingale Fen. Nobody was hurt.
We will let James Stubley have the last word with another wonderful poem:
I was just a lad in forty six
When I started working on the land,
Long before the days of the big machines
And most jobs were done by hand.
I was weeding with the old hands
On one summer afternoon,
When Billy said, “I have no doubt
We were born fifty years too soon.”.
The skylarks were out in force that day,
They were winging way up high.
It seemed to me a long way off
To the day that I would die.
Over fifty years have passed by
Since that long gone summer day.
If Bill could see the changes now,
I wonder what he’d say.
There’s no need for any old hands
To chop weeds down in the corn,
No need for big cart horses
To be fed at early morn.
Just like the old cart horses,
Nearly all the jobs have gone.
On the farm the old hands used to work,
It’s down to only one.
I would like to live some days again,
And that summer afternoon.
I’m not as sure as Billy was
I was born fifty years too soon.
Information and photographs from
"Rippingale Village" with the kind
permission of Rosetta Atkinson and Pat Cottam
All photographs are copyright
For more information about the "Rippingale Village" book and how to purchase it click here
© Christine Rice