Swallow, Lincolnshire

Swallow, Lincolnshire

Swallow is a small village in Lincolnshire, on the A46 road just northeast of Caistor. The village has a small war memorial.


The name Swallow has been variously written as Sualan ("Domesday Book"), Suawa, Swalwe and Swalewe (all twelfth century). Most peopleWho|date=August 2008 seem to agree that the name derives from the Old Norse "svel", meaning "to move dartingly" (the same derivation as the bird name), The compilers of "THE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF PLACE NAMES" equate it with Swale, suggesting that the village is called after a fast moving river of that name with eau being Norman French for water; however unless Swallow’s beck has changed dramatically in the last millennium this theory would seem somewhat difficult to substantiate!Fact|date=August 2008 OthersWho|date=August 2008 believe that the root is the Old English "swillan" "to wash". Bob Willey, who used to live in the village, put forward the theory that it is closer to the German "schwall" ‘flood’ in meaning suggesting that water gathered on the clay bottom land below the fast-draining chalky hills. Another theory suggests that the first part of the name could be Celtic deity Sul from the same source as Aqua Sulis (Bath). On the other hand, for generations teachers at the village school told children that the name came about because the water here was swallowed into the ground.

Swallow doesn’t get much of a mention in the Domesday Book, but in 1086 Lincolnshire was remote from the rest of the kingdom, cut off from the south by the undrained Fens, and occupied by hostile and rebellious Danes (Vikings).

In Swallow the important landowners were Norman (the Bishop of Bayeux was William the Conqueror's half-brother Odo of Bayeux), but low in the Norman hierarchy, but those most likely to be actually resident in the village have distinctly Anglo-Danish names.

"Sualan: Archbishop of York; Bishop of Bayeux; Count Alan and Picot from him; Roger de Poitou and Wimond from him; Alfred of Lincoln."

ynopsis from the Domesday Survey

During the Middle Ages the manorial tenure of Swallow is complex, not to say confused. By the thirteenth century Count Alan’s manor had passed into the hands of the Lascelles family who may have been resident landlords, and were closely involved with the Parish Church. However, their successors, the Conyers family, were certainly non-resident.From around 1200 the Manor of Swallow was held by the Augustiian Abbey of Wellow in Grimsby, and the Cistercian Nuns of Nuncotham also had a holding, and by the time of the Reformation Thornton Abbey and S. Leonard’s Priory (Grimsby) also had lands in Swallow. In 1530 George St.Pol bought the former Lascelles Manor, and in 1543 he acquired the former Abbey lands from John Bellewe and Robert Brocklesby, to whom they had been granted a year previously following the Dissolution.

In 1086 Swallow consisted of at least 35 households, with 26 and 31 taxpayers recorded in the early fourteenth century, with a Poll Tax count of 110 people over the age of fourteen in 1372. There were 18 taxpayers in 1525 but only 12 in 1543, and 20 households in 1563. (These numbers remained fairly constant for the next three centuries, although the number of communicants dropped from 76 in 1603 to 45 in 1676 which could indicate a drop in population but is more likely to be a result of political/religious change.)

Apart from the Church, there is little to see of the Mediaeval village. A few earthworks visible only to the trained eye show a village of two centres. To the west there was a series of narrow closes and yards fronting Caistor Road with a back lane near where the present A46 runs. This and the ploughing strips are cut through by the much later Limber Road. Towards the end of the mediaeval period there were further closes on the South side of the road running down to the stream.

Chapel Lane may also lie along the route of a mediaeval village street, but nineteenth century farming and twentieth century building have virtually obliterated any conclusive evidence.

The Eastern Settlement shows signs of one or more monastic farms, a moated manor site and a mill. It seems possible that there were no buildings along the Beelsby Road until after Enclosure (1809). There have been several interesting archaeological finds in Swallow,including . . ."Assorted Flint Tools (Swallow Vale Farm)Great Langdale Stone Axe (Field next to Old Rectory)Roman Pottery, Coins and a Brooch (Rookery Farm)Roman Bronze Coin (Near Church)Roman-British Pottery (Opposite Grange Farm)Mediaeval Pottery and Coins (Rookery Farm)Mediaeval Pilgrim Badge (Swallow Vale Farm)"

As well as the artefacts there are some traces of early settlements. On the Cuxwold Road cropmark traces of four possible barrows, a pit and a boundary ditch have been observed, with similar barrows behind Grange Farm and on the eastern edge of the village south of Grimsby Road. Straddling the Limber Parish border are the remains of an undated ring ditch in Swallow Wold Wood.

The most interesting find of recent times was a skeleton unearthed when a drain was being dug at Wold Farm. Examination of his jawbone showed him to be a Saxon leather worker. There are some interesting ridges in the field above where he was found which may be indicative of some sort of lost pre-conquest settlement. To the children on the farm the most intriguing notion is that there was somebody making bridles and harness on the very spot where a thousand years later they keep their ponies.


The oldest part of the church undoubtedly dates from the period of the Norman Conquest or even a little earlier. The lower portion of the Tower is in the Saxo-Norman style; the small west door has a rounded Romanesque arch, as has the window above it. The much wider arch dividing the tower from the Nave has typically Norman dog-tooth carving, but this may be partly or wholly Victorian restoration.

On the south wall of the tower there is a carving which may be part of the original fourteenth century Rood. This was probably broken up at the time of the Reformation. William Andrew, the Rector from 1564 to 1612, was a firm supporter of reform and may well have been responsible both for this and for the change of dedication from S. Salvatoris (Saint Saviour) to Holy Trinity. The remains of the Rood were unearthed in the churchyard and placed in the tower early in the twentieth century by someone with antiquarian interests .

In 1553 Swallow Church was reported to have three ‘gert bells’ and one sanctus bell, but just over a century later things were sadly changed.

"You must pity poor Swallow People" "Who sold the bells to mend the steeple" runs a local rhyme.

This refers to the collapse of the tower sometime before 1663 when the steeple and bells fell destroying the South Aisle. In 1670 both aisles were demolished (the North Aisle being reported as ruinous even before the collapse) and the following year the ‘three riven bells’ were sold to defray the £140 costs of demolition and restoration to Sir Philip Tyrwhitt. Sir Philip is at the time reported to have bought one bell and promised faithfully to buy another. Of these bells there is no trace. The single extant bell was cast by Thos. Warner and Sons of London in 1864.

Did history repeat itself in 1700? Or is the story of the steeple blowing down and the five bells being sold to Barrow Church to pay for rebuilding simply a mis-telling of the earlier and better documented incident?

The steeple was again restored in 1868 when the upper part of the tower was built in the neo-norman style.

The Nave was originally built in the thirteenth century, but much of what we see today is Victorian restoration. The carving around the south door dates from the 1880s, but may be a copy of the original tympanum. The Font, however is genuinely Norman dating from the late eleventh or early twelfth century.

The window in the south wall is Edwardian, given in memory of the Rector, James Wallis Loft, and his wife.

The North Aisle was built during the restoration of 1883-4 when the old horse box pews, the gallery and the three decker pulpit were removed. The pillar was added at this time, but may be of reused stone as it appears to have early masons’ marks and/or graffiti faintly on its surface.

There is no South Aisle now, but traces of it and the Lady Chapel built in the thirteenth century can be seen on the exterior of the south wall.The thirteenth century Chancel was largely rebuilt in 1868 at a cost of £350. Again, traces of the original doorway can be seen on the exterior of the south wall. The Pillar Piscina is a lovely example of Norman stonework.

The East Window in memory of the Farrow/Bingham family dates from the 1883 restoration and shows very clearly the excellent and, until recently, undervalued quality of Victorian craftsmanship. Less good is the spelling. See if you can spot the mistake.

There are several nineteenth century memorial tablets in the chancel. In 1968 it cost £650 to do the first major repairs since 1884, and a further £2,100 was spent in 1976.

Now, over thirty years later, the church is once more in desperate need of restoration with the Victorian slate roof having reached the end of its useful life with village residents Stuart Brown and Paul Hewins in charge of the fund raising. (See the village website [www.swallowpc.co.uk] )

Rectors of Swallow and their Patrons

11?? - 1218 William Bleys 1218 - 1229 Thomas de Lacell 1230 - 1277 Henry de Scardenburg Thomas de Lacell 1278 - 1278 Thomas de Lascelis Sir Robert de Lascel 1285 - 1316 William de Stuteuill Sir Robert de Lascels 1316 - 13?? William de Swallowe John de Lasceles 13?? - 1335 William de Elsham 1336 - 13?? Thomas de Lemyng Sir John de Lasceles 13?? - 1339 Sir John 1339 - 137? John de Swaleu Philip de Lasceles, Lord of Swallow 1376 - 1393 William de Lymbergh Sir Lawrence de Mowmesforth 1393 - 1406 Hugh de Suthwell Walter Hanwyk 1407 - 1432 Walter Nedyrton Margaret de Hanwyk 1432 - 1434 William Haukswell Margaret relict of John Conyers 1434 - 1448 Nicholas Humberston Margaret relict of John Conyers 1448 - 1456 Richard Byrd Christopher Conyers 1456 - 2478 William Odelyn Christopher Conyers and others 1478 - 1482 Peter Con John Conyers, Knight 1482 - 1505 William Shirwyne John Conyers, Knight 1506 - 1538 Walter Curteys William Conyers, Lord of Conyers, Knight 1538 - 156? Christopher Richardson George Sayntepolle 1564 - 1612 William Andrew Thomas Seintpolle 1612 - 16?? Thomas Kettlewell George St.Poll of Snarford, Knight & Baronet Civil War 1661 - 1668 George Barnard Sir Philip Tirwhitt Baronet 1668 - 1670 Benjamin Newborough Sir Philip Tirwhitt Baronet 1671 - 1717 Watson Forman Sir Philip Tirwhitt Baronet 1717 - 1732 Ralph Baynes Thomas Holles Duke of Newcastle 1732 - 1739 Ralph Baynes jr. 1739 - 1778 Henry Thorold 1778 - 1822 George Holiwell Charles Anderson Pelham 1822 - 1854 George Marshall Holiwell Lord Yarborough 1854 - 1880 Sir Charles McGregor (Bart.) Earl of Yarborough 1880 - 1909 James Wallis Loft Earl of Yarborough 1909 - 1935 Arthur Henry Askey Helen Askey 1935 - 1963 Cyril Henry Jacoby 1964 - 1968 Arthur William Thomas Nestor 1969 - 1972 Walter Wilson 1982 - 1985 William Barnes 1988 - 1994 Peter Caleb Walker 1997 - 2002 George Senior 2004 - 2006 Lisbet Magnusson

A few of Swallow’s Rectors have proved more memorable than others. J. E. Wallis Loft was a cricketer of National repute, and Arthur Askey made a comprehensive study of oral history which has proved invaluable to later researchers. On the other hand, Watson Foreman led a tragic life and was a notable drunkard. The United Benefice

In 1931 Swallow was united with the parish of Cabourne, and in 1979 Swallow with Cabourne was amalgamated with the benefices of Rothwell with Cuxwold, Thoresway with Croxby, and Nettleton as the Swallow Group of Parishes.

The Churchyard

The churchyard in Swallow has been a burial site for well over a thousand years, and has not changed much in either size or shape in all that time. The Turnpike of 1765 cut through some of the ancient (pre-Christian?) burial ground, and in 1954 a road straightening and widening scheme on the then A46 took a further slice of the churchyard replacing the hedged bank with the distinctive high retaining wall. It was during these excavations that the famous Swallow Giant was unearthed - a man convert|7|ft|2|in|m tall (well over 2 metres), and said by some to be a Viking Warrior.

Unfortunately the legend proves as usual to be far more interesting than the truth, and correspondence between the Reverend Mr. Jacoby and the County Archaeological Department suggests that, whatever the locals wanted to believe, scientific measurement of the bones showed a tall man of between convert|6|ft|m and convert|6|ft|4|in|m whose bones had spread out in the earth as apparently all skeletons do.

In 1970 the eastern and northern parts of the churchyard were levelled. In theory the old gravestones were preserved by being placed around the church, but far too many were damaged or defaced in the process, and no proper record was kept of their original positions. A complete survey was made of the remaining graves in 1978. The early 1980s saw a major tidying of both the churchyard and the neighbouring corner green to remove rotten trees and facilitate mowing. Since then there has been extensive tree-planting throughout the village including the graveyard and green. The Copper Beech was planted to commemorate the opening of the by-pass, and the seat, flanked by chimney pots from the demolished Rookery farmhouse, was placed there in 1998.

The War Memorial

The War Memorial has just three names on it from the Great War:

Lieutenant CECIL WALTER HENRY ASKEY8th Battalion Lincolnshire RegimentWho died in the Great War, aged 19 on 5th April 1918The son of the Rev’d A.H.Askey and Mrs. Askey

Gunner WALTER DAY (821200)"B" Battery. 155th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery Who died in the Great War on 25th September 1918The husband of Charlotte Day and father of Cyril Walter Day

Stoker KERDON WILKIN (297698)H.M.S. "Coquette."Who died in the Great War aged 33 on 7th March 1916 Born 1883, the son of Thomas William and Sarah Wilkin

The Rectory

The Old Rectory, now a private residence, was built in 1864 to a design by James Fowler of Louth, the diocesan architect, at a cost of £1,700. Unlike the farmhouses which were all built in variations on the vernacular style, it is clearly identifiable as a mid-Victorian building with its gothic ornamentation.

Its successor, the present rectory, built on Beelsby Road in 1958 is an altogether more modest house in the rather drab post-war style.The earlier rectory or rectories are somewhat mysterious. A County Directory of 1872 states clearly that the rectory dates from 1856 - presumably a mistake - and that its predecessor was built in 1834. It has been suggested that this was a short-lived house on the same plot, though possibly closer to the road, as the Old Rectory. Another possibility is that Glebe Farm was originally built as a rectory.


As in many Lincolnshire villages in the nineteenth century, the people of Swallow embraced Methodism with fervour. At first they met in private houses, but later they built two chapels.

The Primitive Methodist Chapel was the first to be built in 1844 at a cost of £98. Its site on the Cuxwold Road was donated by the then Lord Yarborough. In 1855 it had to be enlarged, but thereafter numbers declined and it closed in 1916. The building remained, used as a barn and increasingly derelict, until it was bulldozed in 1994.The Wesleyan Chapel was built on the north side of Back Lane (subsequently Chapel Lane) in 1863. An altogether more ambitious building than the Prims’, it was designed to hold a congregation of 140, although in fact membership never rose above forty. The chapel closed in 1967 and was demolished shortly afterwards. A small fragment of the base of the wall remains between Solitus and Wishing Well.


The Parish Registers (dating back to 1671 and now kept at Lincoln although there are a number of transcripts in the village) tell a fairly typical story of an estate village. It was rare for a family to remain in the village for more than two generations, and the majority of labourers would move on after a few years to get a better job or to leave farming altogether. Even the better off farmers tended (being tenants rather than owners) to remain no more than two or three generations.

In the spring of 1841, during the Hungry Forties, fourteen children under the age of ten died (about a quarter of all the children in the village); they came from seven families, but one of those families lost five children in the space of a single week. No adults in the village died that year suggesting that the epidemic, whatever it was, was a particularly virulent form of some childhood ailment such as measles, whooping cough or diphtheria.In 1870 there was another epidemic when six children died in the space of a month between October 20th and November 20th. The Rector, Sir Charles McGregor, records that the last two died of scarlet fever. 1909 saw the burial of an unknown man of about fifty whose decayed remains had been found in the Jubilee Plantation after 12 to 2 years exposure.


The census provides an interesting snapshot of a rural population. The census of 1851 shows 127 males and 90 females in 57 households. Ten years later the number of dwellings had reduced to 41 (hardly more than the "Domesday" level of 35) while the population had risen by 22 (all female!).

Analysis of the 1881 census shows 78% of all working males in farming, with 16% in allied trades - 92% in total. Of the adults only 10% were born in Swallow although just three women and no men were born outside Lincolnshire.

Today’s picture would be very different with fewer than twenty men working the same farms, the majority of both working men and women employed outside the village, and residents born not merely outside the county, but outside the country.


Swallow as we know it today dates from the nineteenth century enclosure. Until 1805 agriculture was based on the Two Field System, with the majority of villagers having strips in the two great fields, as well as grazing rights on the Wold, the Moor and in Horse Pasture - at least that was the theory.

However from as early as the Tudor period the old system of agriculture was becoming less viable, and from the middle of the seventeenth century various Swallow residents were describing themselves as farmers rather than cottagers which suggests a degree of consolidation in their land use. By the end of the eighteenth century the Agrarian Revolution with its improved agricultural methods and animal husbandry, together with the need to move from subsistence farming to large scale commercial production of food for the ever growing numbers of city and town dwellers had combined to make change inevitable.

Swallow was enclosed by parliamentary act in 1805, and the award was completed in 1809. Apart from two small parcels awarded to the Bishop of Lincoln and Trinity College, Cambridge respectively, and the Rector’s Glebe of 96 acres, virtually all the land in Swallow was awarded to Lord Yarborough. The corn rents from what now forms the western halves of Swallow Grange and Swallow Mount farms were to go to the Rector in lieu of tithes. There were also about 65 acres in the village and around the Church which were old enclosure, and four acres were for roads.Within a few years the farms we know today - Vale, Wold, Mount, Grange and Rookery - had been built. Hedges were planted, new roads and lanes were built (Limber Road was built at this time to provide access to the new farms), and Lord Yarborough had begun the tree planting which so radically altered the countryside.


Swallow Vale Farm Swallow Vale is probably the oldest of the farmhouses, and was begun even before the Enclosure Award was completed, the back premises and the cellar still being more eighteenth than nineteenth century in style. In the Yarborough Archive at Lincoln there is a sketch plan for a ‘New House and Yard on Horse Pasture’.

This yard remains almost exactly as it was in 1806 (right down to the uses of some of the buildings) to this day. The house was extended and refronted in 1824/5, and it seems probable that it was at this time the upper floor of the old house (entered from an external access ladder) became sleeping quarters for the farmworkers. A further £2,700 was spent on the farm in 1856/7 when a vast amount of work was done. It was at this period (1851 to 1866) that Stephen Gibbons, Lord Yarborough’s steward, lived at Swallow Vale so there was probably a considerable incentive to make it a model farm setting a standard for others. He was succeeded by his wife, Eliza, and briefly by his son William Robert on her death in 1881, to be followed by Thomas Kirkby in 1882.

In the twentieth century Swallow Vale has been farmed by William Wilkinson and Edward Lamming. Since 1967 Basil Thompson has been the tenant, with his brother, Guy, and - as each grew up - his sons Denzil and Glenvyl, and grandsons Roger, Jacob and Joshua.

There is a story of the murder by her lover of a young servant girl from the Vale, and his subsequent suicide, but nothing in the Parish Records seems to bear this tale out.

The cottages at the Vale show very clearly the progression of styles in the Yarborough estate cottages. Swallow Cottage was built about 1830; in the 1960s Fred Smith bought the pair (one lived in and one derelict) and converted them into a single dwelling, adding a large sun-room and garage and demolishing the wash-house, coal store etc. Like the farmhouse, it is now Grade 2 listed. The foreman’s cottage was built around ten years later in a similar style. Towards the end of the century another pair of cottages was built; they too were knocked into a one when the Thompsons took over the farm tenancy in 1967, and are now called Henholes Cottage after the wood opposite. Originally the corners were decorated with rusticated brickwork but this was removed and re-used in Limber or Brocklesby when the end wall was rebuilt following subsidence due to the nearby chalk pit. Finally, the two Swallow Vale Drive cottages were built in the 1930s. The detached coal store and wash-house still pertained, but there was now an integral downstairs bathroom.

Swallow Mount Farm Swallow Mount, arguably the grandest of the farmhouses, was built in the teens of the nineteenth century, and is now grade 2 listed. It has since the 1930s been farmed by the Robinsons, as it was by the Willows family for much of the nineteenth century. The farm’s cottage is a modern bungalow.

Rookery Farm Rookery Farm, at convert|800|acre|km2, was the largest of Swallow’s nineteenth century farms and flourished throughout the century under the Borman family, but its glory days came to an end when Charles Campion went bankrupt in the 1930s. After an upturn in fortunes it was sold in 1979 to Sir Richard Sutton Settled Estates. The farm continues to flourish, but the house, derelict for many years, was demolished in 1996. It dated primarily from the 1850s, although earlier maps show buildings on that site which may have been incorporated into the later house. The back premises (pictured below) included an impressive dairy, and dormitories for the itinerant gangs of seasonal workers for all the farms of the village. A new house was built on the site in 1996/7.

Grange Farm The present Grange Farmhouse was built in 1820, and is said to be a replacement for an earlier house in the village on the opposite side of the road. The Farrow family who farmed at Grange make their first appearance in the Parish Registers in 1747 and were well enough established to be listed as ‘gentleman’ or ‘gentleman farmer’ in various nineteenth century directories - unusual for a tenant farmer in those class-ridden days. In 1807 Sarah Farrow married Thomas Bingham, and the line continued unbroken until their great-grandson, James Edward Quibell Bingham, retired in 1970 ending the longest unbroken tenancy on the history of the Yarborough estate, and when he personally was the estate’s most senior tenant. He died in 1996. Grange is now farmed by Michael Kendall.

The farm buildings predate the house by several years, and are of particular interest, especially the hexagonal pumphouse/horse-gin. The cottages are modern replacements.

Wold Farm Wold has always been the smallest of Swallow’s outlying farms. In the nineteenth century it was farmed by members of the Tomlinson family (whose history in Swallow is almost as long as the Farrow/Binghams), and then by William Marshall Bucknall. In the 1930s it was taken over by Ben Wright who ran it as a stud farm. His wife, Mary, was the daughter of Charles Campion of Rookery Farm. On Ben’s retirement in the 1980s, the Thompsons of Vale took over farming the land, and in 1996, following Mary’s death, Glen and Helen Thompson moved into the house.During the war Ben Wright was a Home Guard Commando trained as a resistance fighter should the Germans invade. His secret hideout can still be seen in the woods if you know where to look, and spent ammunition can be picked up.

Village FarmVillage Farm has always been, at about 80 acres, the smallest of Swallow’s farms, and for generations it was tenanted by the Tomlinson family which rivals the Farrow/Binghams for length of time in the village with the name appearing in this form or as Thominson as early as 1679 when Elizabeth and Richard Tomlinson died within a few months of each other, and 1685 when William Tomlinson (a farmer) married Susannah Odling, although the line is only directly traceable from Edward Tomlinson (1748 to 1830) and Sarah, his wife (1765 to 1839). After Sarah, who was a tenant in her own right, died, her son Edward is listed in Trade Directories as a farmer living at Wold, while another son John was a carpenter and wheelwright living in the village. The wheelwright’s workshop which was demolished in the 1960s, had living accommodation consisting of a room and tiny kitchen with a loft above not tall enough to stand up in, but with room enough to lie down to sleep. For three generations, throughout the nineteenth century, the Robinson family were carpenters and wheelwrights in the village; in the 1881 census their address is given as Grimsby Road so it may be that they were never connected with this workshop.

The cottage, built in 1839 and now the back premises of Village farmhouse, still retains the stone sink, fireplace and ladder up to the bedroom.

By 1861 the Tomlinsons had gone from Wold (to be succeeded by the Bucknalls) and not long after John was being listed as ‘farmer’ or ‘farmer and wheelwright’. He was succeeded by his son Alfred, who died in 1926. The Misses Tomlinson took over the dairy farm; neither ever married, but one had a live-in lover because under the terms of a will she would lose everything if she married! Tomlinson Close was built on the site of the farmyard in 1949. Ethel, the last of the Swallow Tomlinsons, died in 1959 aged 73.

Glebe Farm Glebe Farm, demolished in 1970, may have been the 1834 rectory. In 1851 the farmer was called Holliwell and was almost certainly a member of the rector’s family. It was the only farm in Swallow not to belong to Lord Yarborough. The site had been occupied since mediaeval times and can still be identified (opposite Keeper’s cottage) by the remains of the old orchard and a few mounds in the field.

Glebe’s history is closely linked with that of Village Farm, particularly in recent times when Glebe was farmed by William Dixon from 1939-65, and then by his sons until Keith and Mary Dixon moved to Village Farm.

Moggs Hollow Strictly speaking Moggs Hollow isn’t in Swallow, but in Irby, although the neighbouring house is is within the parish boundaries and is Swallow’s only barn conversion. Some people derive the name Moggs Hollow from ‘Monk’s Hollow’, a reference to the lands of the mediaeval monastic grange which probably included this site. Some go further and endow it with a monkish ghost.


The village at the time of Enclosure appears to have been very scattered; unfortunately the plan gives no indication as to what are dwellings and what are farm buildings; nor can the scale be judged accurately with the distances between known landmarks inconsistent with modern Ordnance Survey maps. The route of Beelsby Road is particularly mysterious, but could be no more than careless draughtsmanship. It appears that at this time there were still houses along Caistor Road where the crofts of mediaeval times had been.

Village houses at enclosure and for some time afterwards would have been simple one storey buildings of mud and stud. The brick tied cottages of the Yarborough Estate gradually replaced these older dwellings, with the majority of those on Grimsby Road and Chapel Lane being built around 1875. Of the 45 houses in Swallow listed in the 1881 census, about two thirds survive.

In early 2008, an housing development project was completed in the village on the meadow by the beck where there had previously been houses from the middle ages until around the time of enclosure.

Shops in SwallowIn 1976 the last Post-Office-cum Village-Shop in Swallow finally closed, beaten by the motor car and supermarkets, leaving the less mobile villagers reliant upon occasional buses and good neighbours.

The earliest recorded shop in the village was at the Forge in 1856, and it had become a post-office by 1889. Presumably the blacksmiths starting with John Lawrence, then Charles Henry Brown, and finally John James Johnson saw the running of a shop as a useful augmentation of income as more farm implements were mass produced, although his services both for repairs and as a farrier would have continued in great demand until well into the next century. The success of the business may be judged by the size and quality of Forge House which is predominantly nineteenth century, although parts of it may date from the eighteenth century. Many of the shop fittings remained in situ until the early 1970s when Geoff Baxter removed them from his dining room to his studio and store-room.

The forge also seems to have had some land attached as these shopkeeper/blacksmiths are frequently referred to as ‘farmer’; according to the 1881 census C. H. Brown farmed convert|105|acre|km2 of ‘Brown’s Farm’. The next shop was a tobacconist’s kiosk near Crossroads Cottages which was somewhat surprisingly run for a time by the Reverend Mr. Askey’s son. The remains of this building can still be seen in the garden of no.8 Grimsby Road.

Swallow’s penultimate shop was the post-office in Chapel Lane at number 1 Cottage (now the Watsons’ house). Until the recent extension (1998/9) it was possible to see marks in the brickwork where the post-box used to be. After a brutal robbery and assault on the Post Mistress, Fanny Hanson, in 1958 a new shop was built at the corner of Cuxwold Road and Chapel Lane (now Maple Tree Bungalow) opening in 1961.

The Pub In 1953 the old pub, The White Hart (now Keeper’s Cottage), closed, to be replaced by the much larger pub and restaurant, The Swallow Inn. Although popular with the locals, it was passing trade from the A46 upon which the Swallow Inn relied initially until its reputation made it the hostelry of choice for people from a wide area around.

It is hard to imagine the tiny White Hart doing much casual trade except when a cast shoe or broken axle necessitated a lengthy unplanned wait in Swallow. Even among villagers trade cannot have been thriving in days when pubs were predominantly a male preserve and half the adult population of the village were Methodists, leaving a maximum regular clientele of perhaps thirty. It had a six day licence, and was presumably dry on Sundays. Small wonder that the innkeeper frequently had a secondary trade to support him. In 1882 Mr. Osburn was doubling as innkeeper and wheelwright, and its time as a saddler’s workshop remains quite strongly in evidence with offcuts of leather and broken tools still frequently dug up in the garden.

Houses since the War After the Second World war, Swallow saw a number of changes. Like many similar villages, it became less of an estate village and more of a commuter-cum-retirement village with a number of cottages passing into private hands as the more intensive and mechanised agriculture necessitated by the need to feed the country during the war made them redundant as the homes of farm labourers. It isn’t until the 1970s that the Parish Registers begin to show any real variety of trades and professions.

From 1965 parcels of land were sold for building, and since then new houses have been built at the rate of about one a year in a wide variety of styles and materials. All have been built on good sized plots and enjoy open views on at least one aspect.


In 1949 Arthur Mee wrote:-"SWALLOW: In a pretty Wold valley it lies, between Caistor and Grimsby, serene with its pond by the green; a delightful little avenue leading to one of its houses, and a tiny church on a high bank." The King’s England - Lincolnshire

The Church and the avenue remain, although the house (Rookery) is gone, and the high bank is largely replaced by a retaining wall, and the pond was filled in during the 1960s and the land sold to make a garden for Pond Cottage. The site now has a modern house on it.

The reasons for filling in the pond are somewhat obscure. The most prosaic reason given is that as the water table dropped, the pond, always shallow, simply became dry for most of the year, and was filled in as a logical part of Mr. Metcalfe’s garden plan.

More interesting (and borne out by newspaper cuttings of the time) is the story that the then rector, A. W. T. Nestor, had spent some part of his life in India and was in mortal dread of a typhoid outbreak. Until 1949 the village was served by a parish pump near to the entrance to the present playing field, and you had to be up by 5 o’clock on Monday washday to be sure of sufficient water, although many houses had - and still have - their own wells. Rookery Farm’s water was pumped by a windmill which also seems to have served a pump on Grimsby Road. In 1949 piped water came to the village, pumped from Barnoldby and then fed to Swallow by gravity from Beelsby Top. Electricity followed in 1950. Mains sewerage did not arrive until 1970, and mains gas later still. Outlying houses are still served by septic tanks and are without gas, although most now have mains water.


Prior to the Grimsby Turnpike Act of 1765 the road (track) through Swallow seems to have followed a line close to Chapel Lane; a green road ran from Swallow to Rothwell until the Second World War when it was ploughed up to grow crops and never re-instated. The new turnpike road cut through the ancient burial ground and tolls were paid to travel along it.

In 1954 a road straightening and widening scheme on the then A46 (Caistor Road) through the village took a further part of the churchyard, and during these excavations the skeleton of the Swallow Giant was unearthed. (see Churchyard section) For years a traffic roundabout at the cross-roads was promised, but nothing ever came of it.After many years - and far too many fatal accidents on a road far too narrow and meandering for fast heavy modern traffic - Swallow got its by-pass in 1992 (at the expense of one healthy mature tree, but rather a lot of good farmland and hedgerow, and the football field) and Grimsby Road and Caistor Road became quiet cul-de-sacs. At long last it became safe for even quite young children to walk or cycle unattended to visit friends or relatives on the other side of the village, or to go to the playing field, or even play a game of street football.


Prior to 1856 there must have been some sort of Dame School as the census for 1851 lists village children (not only those of the Rector and the more prosperous farmers and tradesmen) as "scholar". This school - so called - may have been little more than a childminding service as many ‘teachers’ of the time were themselves all but illiterate. The new school was built at the expense of the then Lord Yarborough in 1856 for the benefit of the children of his estate workers, tenants, and their employees. The headmistress of the new school was Miss Mary Ann Whitworth. five years later Miss Lucy-Ann Chatterton was the schoolmistress, to be followed by Miss Sophia Swan in 1876By 1881, when the school registers begin, Mrs. Maria Unwin was headmistress, and the first pupil on the roll was Henry Alfred Robinson; eighty-seven years later the final admission, Sharon Redfearn was number 1,068. Teaching at a village school in the early days must have been incredibly difficult with the children of itinerant workers registered for just a few weeks, and the majority of labourers’ children remaining for no more than a year or so.

Initially, the school seems to have consisted of a single room, but early in the twentieth century an infant classroom and cloakrooms were added to the west, and the main entrance appears to have been moved from the north to the south side.

Although Swallow was a two classroom school for about fifty years, numbers fluctuated considerably; in 1941, when the only extant school log begins, it was a one teacher school, and was again on many subsequent occasions. November 1948 brought an excellent report from the School Inspectors citing Swallow as a model for Rural One Teacher Schools; less than a year later Miss Marris was appointed assistant to Miss Frances Cox. On November 4, 1949, the school was on display when Mr. D.R. Hardman, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of education, visited.

In June 1946 work began on installing a school kitchen, but in July 1949, following a huge intake of ten new pupils, the canteen became the infant classroom and the end cloakroom the cookhouse. In January 1959 it was agreed to dispense with the services of a cook and have meals sent from the central canteen. A year later this was reported as being satisfactory.

The school appears to have been closed on somewhat flimsy grounds. It was small, but—with twenty-four children—still within the bounds of viability, and the buildings were in good condition; the only problem seems to have been getting a teacher to stay. The school was closed in May 1968 and the children transferred to Caistor Primary School where they had to join existing classes, in some cases for just one term before going up to secondary school. The whole process appears to have caused some considerable disquiet in the village, and a number of mothers kept their children from school for a period because of the inadequate transport arrangements.Fact|date=August 2008 It wasn’t the first time that Swallow children had been sent to Caistor; from March 31 to November 30, 1945, following the illness and resignation of Miss Joan Marrows as Headmistress, Swallow School was closed. Maybe in 1968 parents hoped that enough fuss would make the closure temporary as in 1945.

After the school closed the ownership of the building reverted to Lord Yarborough, and in 1969 he sold it to the village for a nominal £150 on condition that it would be returned to him if it could not be maintained as a village hall for twenty-one years.

In 1990 it was handed over to the village, the Parish Council (which meets in the hall bi-monthly) taking over the trusteeship shortly thereafter together with responsibility for the day to day running expenses, leaving the Village Hall Committee to raise money for capital projects. There is an irregular programme of social evenings, talks, quizzes and demonstrations on a roughly monthly basis. Most years also see one or more major events - the Craft and Garden Show, an exhibition, or a traditional village fete (usually in conjunction with the Church). The Harvest Supper run by the Church is one of the year’s most popular events. Recently an extension was built to house a bar. The Village Hall Committee is also responsible for maintaining the Playing Field for which the Parish Council pays Sutton Estates a quarterly peppercorn rent. The swings were given by Quibell Bingham when he retired in 1970, and the other play equipment was paid for by fund-raising events in the 1990s.

Since 2005 the hall has been the subject of massive improvements with a small, but excellent catering quality kitchen, modern lavatories, good heating (while not losing its homely open fire) and comfortable chairs making it a perfect place for small conferences, parties, wedding receptions etc.


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