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Founded in 1884 by Louth Naturalists',
Antiquarian and Literary Society
Registered Charity No. 1145436

A Local Independent Museum
Nationally Accredited
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Ruth's Blog 2014

Welcome to Ruth's Blog, where I'll tell you about what we have in Louth Museum.

15th December 2014

'Victorian Christmas Card'

Victorian Christmas CardNoticeably different from today’s Christmas cards, this once-elegant Victorian card dates from about 1870 is in Louth Museum. It has an elaborate embossed paper frame surrounding a white silk picture of a robin above an arch, with posy of flowers. The ribbon bears the greeting “Compliments of the Season”.

Christmas cards began to be sold in shops in about 1862, and after the halfpenny post started in 1870 they became an established part of the seasonal festivities. Early cards were merely decorated visiting cards, but it became fashionable to mount cards in albums, and the picture became all important.

Victorian Christmas cards rarely showed religious themes, instead favouring robins, cosily-dressed children, Christmas trees, presents and family scenes. This Christmas card forms part of a collection of cards that can be found at Louth Museum.

10th November 2014

'Miss Kent'

Louth’s Victorian Sewer PlanThe Museum is fortunate to have been given this picture of well-known Louth character, Miss Kent. It is an oil painting by local artist Elaine Drewery, dated 1985, and as Miss Kent died in 1983 it must have been painted posthumously.

Born in Lincoln in 1893, Mary Kent became a teacher, and her career included a spell as Governess in the Royal household of Spain. Her later years were very different - she lived a reclusive existence in a caravan up the London Road. An eccentric character she shouted at cars and hurled buckets of water at passing lorries.

Elaine Drewery's portrait of Miss Kent - dated 1985

9th October 2014

'Louth’s Victorian Sewer Plan'

Louth’s Victorian Sewer PlanA battered document in Louth Museum, but one which is highly prized is the “Sewer Plan”. This book of detailed maps of Louth was drawn in the 1870s to show the sewers of Louth, but it also shows the frontage of every building, the location of pubs and other institutions, and gives the house numbers. It is invaluable to those researching family history in Louth.

The image above from the Sewer Plan shows a detail of Eastgate, with the Free Methodist Chapel (now a car park) and the Woodman Inn (now Louth Funeral Service).

Thanks to Ollie Smith of Louth’s Cordeaux School who recently undertook Work Experience in Louth Museum, the Museum now has digital scans of every street in the Sewer Plan.

If you would like to look at the Sewer Plan or just browse the books in Louth Museum’s Library, come to an Open Library morning on 17th October, 14th November or 12th December 2014. Booking essential - contact Louth Museum.

4th August 2014

4th August 1914 – “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.” said the then Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, on the declaration of war 100 years ago today.

'Percy Wolfe - a World War I Soldier from Louth'

War MemorialWe recently had a query from Grayscroft Coaches, who for the last 20 years have been visiting Essex Farm Cemetery in Belgium with school groups. They found that one of the casualties buried there was Percy Wolfe of Louth, and they asked if we could find out the story of this man who died in Flanders on 23rd December 1916.

By looking into the records we did indeed find out about Percy, an ordinary citizen who died for his country.

Percy Wolfe was born in Louth in 1879. His parents were Beecher Wolfe and his wife Susanna. Beecher was originally from Hull, and Susanna was a local girl, the daughter Rebecca and Charles Riggall who lived in Northgate – Charles was a tanner and then a farm journeyman. The Riggall family lived in Northgate in 1851 and in Spout Yard in 1861 and 1871.

Beecher and Susanna Wolfe had married in 1872. By 1881 they had six children – Percy was the fifth – and they were living at 46 Newmarket. Beecher was working as a “Roper”, presumably making ropes in one of the rope factories in Louth.

By 1891 the family had moved to Grays Road near Broadbank. Percy’s father Beecher and his younger brother Ronald had died and his widowed mother Susanna was working as Seamstress, Percy’s sister was in service and two of his brothers were employed.

But a couple of years later in 1893, Percy’s mother also died – she was only 42 years old. Teenage Percy now an orphan moved to London, where the 1901 and 1911 censuses show he was a grocer’s assistant.

Military records show that Percy enlisted in Croydon, in the 17th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters.

However, Percy’s connection with Louth had not ceased and he was not forgotten here. Herbert Wolfe, one of Percy’s brothers, became a confectioner, and had a shop in Upgate. Private Percy Wolfe was killed in action at Ypres in December 1916, and is commemorated both on Louth War Memorial and in London Road Cemetery.

The photograph of Louth War Memorial was probably taken in the early 1920s as it does not bear the shields recording the names of those who were killed during the World War II.

12th June 2014


Claribel's Trowel The success of Saltfleetby singer Thomas Leak in the musical theatre group Collabro in the Britain’s Got Talent contest prompts a look at an earlier sensational musician from Louth.

More than 160 years ago Claribel was a Victorian composer who became the pop star of her day – two of her enduring creations are the song "Come back to Erin" and the hymn tune "Brocklesby" (her husband was rector of Brocklesby).

In 1847 young Claribel was chosen to open the newly-built railway station in Louth - the engraved silver trowel she used to perform this ceremony is now on display in Louth Museum, which also has some of her sheet music.

Born in 1830, Claribel (Charlotte Alington Pye) was the daughter of Louth solicitor Henry Pye, and they lived in some style in The Cedars in St Mary's Lane. Unwise financial transactions forced Henry to flee the country, and after visiting him overseas Claribel contracted typhoid and died.

30th May 2014

'Stewed Pigeons'

Stewed Pigeons Louth Museum has recently been given an exercise book which contains handwritten details of the murder of a young Louth woman in 1875. Louisa Hodgson was murdered by her jealous boyfriend, Peter Blanchard, who was subsequently tried and executed in Lincoln Jail.

Twenty-two-year-old Louisa and her family lived in Louth's Newmarket – her father was a maker of agricultural implements. The book seems to have been started by Louisa's family to record details of her murder and the fate of Blanchard. Later, poetry was added, and the back of the book was used for recipes.

One such recipe is for Stewed Pigeons:

  • Put in the stew pan a slice of ham.
  • Chop the liver with a sprig of parsley. Roll an ounce of butter thickly in flour. Add pepper, salt and cayenne. Mix all these together, and put a ball of it into each pigeon.
  • Then truss them, lay them on the ham, and put another slice of ham over a bunch of herbs, sprig of parsley and a bay leaf, sliced onion, half a small carrot, a bit of mace, a few peppercorns and a pinch of gelatine.
  • Pour over all ½ pint of stock for two pigeons. Keep them simmering not boiling for ½ an hour. When the pigeons are done take them out. Keep them hot.
  • Reduce the gravy to about 4 tablespoonfuls add a glass of port wine and a tablespoonful of ketchup.
14th May 2014

'Grounsell of Louth - Makers of Agricultural Implements'

Grounsell Works For more than a hundred years, from the 1820s to the 1930s, agricultural implements were made by the Grounsell family in Louth. There were three generations: William, Frederick and Harry Grounsell.

William Grounsell, who came from Hull sometime before 1830, had a yard in Westgate, on the western side of what is today known as “Irish Hill”. In 1838 he won a prize from the Lincolnshire Agricultural Society:

“Mr William Grounsel of Louth an improved ridge drill, to sow 2 rows at once, and dust plant with lime when attacked by the fly.”

According to Richard Gurnham a local historian and author:

“In the 1830s and 1840s most farmers still preferred to sow broadcast or to dibble their corn with the aid of children who dropped the seeds in the holes made by a three-pronged dibbler. Labour was cheap and neither farmers nor labourers were keen to see it displaced by expensive machinery.”

However, newspaper reports of 1842 and 1843 suggest that William Grounsell’s business suffered financial problems. The business premises were advertised as vacant in 1857 and William died in 1859.

William’s son Frederick Grounsell, who had been working as an iron moulder in Mansfield in 1861, returned to Louth by 1871. Frederick’s business as an “Implement Maker” was based in Northgate, in the area which is now the Co-op shop and car park. It became known as Northgate Iron Works.

As Richard Gurnham explains:

“For many agricultural implement makers it was only in the 1850s and 1860s that demand for their products and skills was sufficient to really make it possible for such businesses to thrive and expand.”

Harry Grounsell, Frederick’s son, joined his father in the business which was known as “F Grounsell & Son”, even after the death of Frederick in 1916. In addition to the site in Northgate, showrooms were acquired near the Cattle Market.

Contemporary newspapers have many references to the Grounsell’s. A typical example dated 14th April 1905 is:

“FOR SALE, 1 15-coulter Hornsby Hoosier DRILL, £12, 1 10-coulter general purpose drill, £10, 1 15-coulter corn drill, £18, 1 28-coulter small seed drill, £20, Cambridge ROLLERS, 28 rings, 20-inch long (the best made), £7. Apply F Grounsell & Son. Iron Works & Cattle Market, Louth.”

After Harry Grounsell died in 1938 the Northgate Iron Works were taken over first by J Morton, Son & Lock, and later by Burgesses.

16th April 2014

'Boris Johnson might stand for the parliamentary seat of Louth?’'

Winteringham Recent speculation that London Mayor Boris Johnson might stand for the parliamentary seat of Louth and Horncastle when Sir Peter Tapsell retires prompted a look at Louth’s earlier MPs.

Eighty-four-year-old Sir Peter is known as the “Father of the House” because he is the longest-serving Commons MP, having first entered the house in 1959. Sir Peter was preceded in Louth by three Conservative MPs: author Jeffrey Archer (1969–74); Sir Cyril Osborne (1945-1969); and Sir Arthur Pelham Heneage (1924-1945).

Before these, were Liberal MP Tom Wintringham and his wife Margaret. Tom won the 1920 by-election, memorable because it coincided with the disastrous Louth Flood when 23 people drowned. Tom Wintringham’s sudden death in 1921 triggered another by-election which Margaret won, becoming the first female Liberal MP and only the second woman to take her seat in the House of Commons. In her four years in Parliament (1921-1924) Margaret Wintringham, a teacher by profession, campaigned for equal pay for women and for state scholarships for girls as well as boys.

In Louth Museum we have various items relating to our MPs. Shown is Margaret Wintringham’s official postcard.

19th March 2014

'Poem Composed in Louth’s House of Correction by ‘Henry Friday’'

Poem In August 2012 Louth Museum was given copies of various documents dating from the mid-19th Century. One of these was highly intriguing - a poem entitled “Composed in Louth Prison” and signed Henry Friday:

“On Tuesday next I turn my face
Toward the door to leave this place
My spirits too are greatly risen
For I shall soon be out of Prison
For Prison is a horrid place
It brings a man to great disgrace
For with suffering here, I’m very fain
To say I’ll not come here again
The trials we undergo
I meant to have written here below
But as I have little space
I’ll put it in another place
So now good bye I’ll write no more
Until I’m safe outside the door
And then I’ll write with Peace and Joy
If I can find some good employ”

From contemporary newspapers we managed to find some facts about Henry Friday and his association with Louth Prison. On 26th October 1857, two vagrants were committed to Louth’s House of Correction for one month for begging in the village of Clee, now Cleethorpes. The names they gave to the authorities were Robinson Crusoe and Henry Friday, clearly fictitious names taken from the 18th Century novel by Daniel Defoe.

In December of that year, the same two vagrants were again committed to the House of Correction in Louth for three months (with hard labour) by the Grimsby County Magistrates, after pleading guilty to cutting off the manes and tails of twelve horses belonging to a Mr Bingham of East Ravendale and three horses belonging to a Mr Iles of Binbrook. Friday and Crusoe had sold the horse hair to a local marine store dealer in Thoresby who had become suspicious of how the men had obtained the horse hair and who had alerted the authorities.

Whilst he was incarcerated in the House of Correction for the second time Henry Friday composed the poem. It seems likely that after his release from prison Henry Friday either gave a written copy of the poem, or more likely recited it to Richard Hubbard of Louth; it was Hubbard’s descendants who kept the poem for more than 150 years and gave a copy to Louth Museum.

After their release for the second time from Louth’s House of Correction both Henry Friday and Robinson Crusoe disappeared from all records and no further trace of them has ever been found!

11th March 2014

'The Holy Trinity Bible'

Holy Trinity BibleAfter the devastating fire in Holy Trinity Church in 1991, its large Bible was rescued from the lectern in the smouldering Church and taken to Louth Museum for safe keeping. On Wednesday 5th March 2014, this Bible was formally handed back to Holy Trinity Church.

The Rev. Nick Brown is pictured receiving the Bible from Martin Chapman, Chairman of the “Ants and Nats” the organisation that runs Louth Museum. Also present were Susan Lewis and Ruth Gatenby, who are responsible for accessions in the Museum. Susan commented: “It was Dr Nicholas Bennett, Librarian at Lincoln Cathedral who told us that each parish Bible must remain in the parish church, and he urged us to return this Bible to Holy Trinity Church.”

The Bible was presented to Holy Trinity Church in 1968 by the family of Jack Button a railway worker from Keddington Road, who died in that year.

3rd March 2014

'John Bolle and the Green Lady'

BedcoverThis 16th Century sequinned bedcover was presented to John Bolle of Louth by his admiring Spanish “Green Lady”. In 1596 John Bolle of Thorpe Hall went on an expedition to Spain, and was knighted for his valiant services at the Siege of Cadiz.

While in Spain John Bolle was put in charge of a prisoner, the beautiful Donna Leonora Oviedo. Bolle treated her with chivalrous courtesy and she fell in love with him. Donna Leonora confessed her love but Bolle did not respond to her amorous advances and told her he had a wife in Lincolnshire. She presented him with a chest filled with gold, jewels, a bed, the splendid bedcover and a portrait of herself in a green dress.

The bedcover can be viewed in Louth Museum when it re-opens in April, and it is said that the Green Lady’s ghost can sometimes be seen on the road outside Thorpe Hall searching for John!

6th February 2014

'William Pridmore - Tailor of Louth'

Mr Pridmore's NoteIn the late 19th century and early 20th century, William Pridmore had a tailor’s shop in Eastgate, Louth (it is now part of Luck of Louth). Goods were sent out by carrier’s cart, and if necessary returned with a note. William had come from London, and must have been bemused by the literary style of ordinary Lincolnshire people. He compiled a scrapbook of notes he received, and they give a fascinating view of a bygone era. One such note is shown.

Another reads:

“East Barkwith. Sir I am sending two shilling I will send two more another fornight don trouble to send bill till I pay it all don leave any bill at Mr Holmes”.

Ralph Pridmore took over his father’s business, and when he retired he gave the scrapbook to David Robinson; it is now in Louth Museum where it can be viewed on the monthly Open Library days.

6th January 2014

'The Blue Stone'

Louth BluestoneOutside Louth Museum is an enormous rock, known as the Blue Stone. Originating from the Whin Sill in north-eastern England, it must have been transported by an ice-age glacier. In 1834 Bayley wrote in his book Notices of Louth:

“In the yard of the Blue Stone printing office in Mercer Row is a large blue stone. It was for ages a slander post at the corner of Mercer Row and afterwards the sign of the Blue Stone Inn. From the street it was removed by the late Mr Fotherby to the back of his premises at considerable expense”.

The Blue Stone Inn was a substantial coaching inn which stretched along Upgate from Mercer Row to Kidgate (not to be confused with the later Blue Stone Tavern on the other side of Upgate). The premises became Fotherby’s printing office in 1822, and were demolished in 1912 when Upgate was widened.


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