Snarford snap

editorial image

This charming picture from days gone by is one of many used by former Rasen Mail editor Teddy Sharpe for his many in-depth articles on the changing face of the area.

And as such, there is very little information attached to it.

The caption reads: A mud and stud cottage revealed a style of living now beyond the oldest memory.

The full transcript of the article is given below.

Market Rasen Mail - Saturday, March 11, 1978

Yesterdays: Moving forward the hard way

Our Rasen Showed Enterprise, Caistor Slipped Back

We have already stated what a surge forward there was in the population of our whole district between 1800 and 1850 and what competition developed between such places as Rasen and Caistor in seeking to become the acknowledged centre and half way between Lincoln and Grimsby.

Between 1800 and 1850 there was little to choose between the two places, though Rasen may just have had the edge on its rival not so much in the speed of its growth as in its conscious lay-out as a market centre.

When Market Rasen was enclosed about 1780 after having an open field lay-out earlier Albany Wallis was named as lord of the manor but the lordship passed to Sir A I Aston, who cleared the market place and may have roughly paved it.

Round about 1860 the lordship passed to the Conway Gordon family of Linwood and Captain William Conway seems to have erected more or less simultaneously the Gordon Arms Hotel and the large Queen Street house which today serves as the town post office.

A sudden flurry of enthusiasm which seemed to show that local people were being won over to the thought that Rasen’s future was now really assured led to two rival corn exchanges being put up at the same time in the late 1840s. The two companies, consisting of independent shareholders, amalgamated early in the 1850s when it was announced that the market hall in the market place was henceforth to be used for the sale of meat, vegetables, butter and poultry while corn exchange No 2 in Queen Street would be utilised for the sale of corn only.

In 1872 White’s directory described Market Rasen as “a thriving and well built market town” which had a new gas works a new fair ground, a new police station and two new bridges which had been built by the county council.

Leaving out of account the new railway station, which was supposed to bring trade to the town but didn’t always seem to do so, Rasen was clearly drawing ahead of Caistor in an organisational sense in the mid-term period of the Victorian era.

Equally also it had triumphantly established itself in the leadership as against Tealby and Binbrook. Tealby, because of an uncertain amount of domestic industry, could almost have been bracketed with Rasen up to the time of the enclosures. So could Binbrook, which was well placed as a Wolds centre. The various estate villages, by contrast, never amounted to much as far as real enterprise was concerned.

It was the enterprise of a whole lot of small people, sometimes overrunning itself, which really put Rasen on the map.

Caistor, not to put too fine a point on it, wasn’t the equal in enterprise to Market Rasen at this important formative period. Rasen could be said to have expanded in this era beyond the bounds of ordinary credibility.

A few years after the Market Rasen Mail was established by a Walesby family in 1856 the paper regularly carried the advertisement of six firms of auctioneers, though the market for what was called horned stock was then only held fortnightly.

With the paper as with the town there was no doubt whatever of the extent of the town’s area of influence which was probably a good ten miles at that time in every direction. The root cause of the prosperity and expansion then enjoyed wasn’t, of course, the railway. It was the carriers’ carts, coming in from every point of the compass, which helped us no end.

While Rasen went up, such places as Caistor, Tealby and Binbrook organisationally went down. This was an age of transition continuing right into the 20th century and the pull of geography and agricultural supply and marketing was first highly favourable to Rasen and then, as the carriers’ carts passed away, there was some later questioning about smaller market town function.

In a country environment like our own in which some were going up and some were going down such a village as Tealby had doubled in size between 1800 and 1850 but then Tealby’s domestic industry of papermaking seemed gradually to be undermined because of changes which can be supposed to have been taking place in manufacturing technology.

The old Tealby papermaking relied upon the water power supplied by the river Rase and it is to be supposed that the water-flow from so small a stream wasn’t sufficient to keep the mills going and to supply a corner of what was certainly a rising market.

The Clarkes of Tealby, who had lived in this village from the time of Henry VIII, always seemed to have had a lot to do with the paper mills but Mr Henry Clarke, chairman for a long period of the Market Rasen bench of magistrates, was unable to pinpoint exactly what had caused the old mills to go out of business when he was interviewed by the Mail in 1935.

What seems to be clear is that the Tealby Mills went right back to the time of the Domesday Book and until perhaps the 1830s papermaking at Tealby had continued to be in full swing. Mr Clarke could remember clearly where the old mills were situated.

Among the old village names recalled were Paper Mill Lane, Hanging Mill, Mare and Foal close, the Turnhills, Temple Garth and so on. Over the longer term, looking at the framework of the Rasen area, there seems to be no doubt about it that Rasen went up, Tealby went down.

Perhaps paper couldn’t be made at Tealby for just the same reason that beer couldn’t be brewed at Rasen when we got into the 20th century. This had nothing to do with the purity of Tealby water. According to Mr A J Tillett, who was interviewed at the time when Market Rasen Brewery Company was closed down, there wasn’t enough water in the Rase month by month through the year for it to be relied upon as a regular source of supply.

A remarkable example of how life was lived at the personal level in the age to which we are now referring was contained in a long notice of the life of William Taylor, of Tealby, who is believed to have lived in one of the papermill cottages at Tealby and who died at Tealby in 1882, aged 79. The great bell of Tealby church was tolled on this occasion said the Market Rasen Mail of the day. But the newspaper also told more or less the full story of William Taylor’s life running to many hundreds of words in a way which would be quite unacceptable to the newspaper readers of today.

William Taylor was born at Tealby, said the Mail, in 1803, two years before the battle of Trafalgar. “In his early life,” the report continued, “times were bad and William worked on the turnip lands for fourpence a day.

There exists at Tealby a charity of £2 a year to assist apprentices with their clothing and this charity was accepted by Taylor’s father.

“William was bound as apprentice to William Trevor on June 24, 1814, for the term of seven years. He said afterwards that he never regarded shoemaking as his hobby but he persevered with it and made the best of it.

“Having become apprenticed at the age of 11, he was still quite young when he got out of his apprenticeship and he then commenced to tramp in search of employment. He tried Gainsborough but couldn’t get a job there. So he tramped on to Doncaster.

“As shoemaker in Baxtergate accused him of being a runaway apprentice and William was beginning to draw his indentures out of his pocket when the shoemaker said to him: ‘ Never mind lad what you are so long as you suit me.’

“William remained at Doncaster as a journeyman for two years and later he used to say that Doncaster was a pretty place.

“From Doncaster he went to London but a Welshman who had also gone to London told him, ‘The devil is here, he is not in the country.’ So, after six months in London, William came back to Tealby where he set up in business for himself in 1824, living then in a room in a house which was kept by an old woman named Marshall to whom he paid a shilling a week.

“In 1825 he got married and he remembered the memorable dry summer of 1826 when trade was exceedingly bad. He used to say, speaking of this period, that he only took measures for two pairs of boots within the space of six weeks.

‘After the dry year of 1826 things began to look up and Mr Taylor was able to buy his own house by the year 1830. Then he speculated in property, sometimes making a profit and sometimes a loss. Then Mr Charles Tennyson came along with his idea of rebuilding Tealby Hall and making it into Bayons Manor.

“Taylor took a lively interest in his work and particularly in the stone carving which fascinated him. Mixing with the workmen and eliciting hints from them, the poor, self-educated village shoemaker might have been seen applying himself in his leisure hours to wood and stone carving, cutting out lion’s heads and other figures.

“There are still numerous excellent examples of his handiwork to be seen scattered about in Tealby Village, furnishing abundant evidence of his ability.

“About this time he was churchwarden and the church was then restored and repaired in several places. All the four windows in the tower were renovated and Taylor cut out two lion’s heads in stone which were fixed over the south window in the tower. At the present time they are to be seen projecting from the wall.

“William Taylor’s museum is today still richly deserving of the attention of passers-by. For the Foresters’ Hall he carved an excellent specimen of the royal coat of arms in large characters cleverly cut out in wood.

“The late Mr Charles Tennyson-d’Eyncourt, becoming aware of Mr Taylor’s ability in carving, took a great fancy to him and when visiting MPs were at Bayons Manor the right honourable gentleman would bring them to see what was regarded as the eccentric village shoemaker.”

According to the writer of the article, Taylor was associated with a village prank which had to do with what was called the Meredith ghost which caused repeated Tealby scares.

He was popular, so it was said, with courting couples but made light of their exploits and especially of the extent of the ground which they covered while they were out walking together.

He would tell them, said the writer of the article, “Young men can no longer walk in these days. I remember getting up once at four o’clock in the summer then making a pair of women’s boots and then soling another pair of boots. Then I set off from Tealby at 12 o’clock midday had arrived at Doncaster at 12 o’clock midnight - just to go sweethearting. But something went wrong and I didn’t marry that girl.

“William eventually married a young woman who used to live with a Mr Lighton, of North Willingham. When she came to him at May Day to give orders for some boots he said to her, ‘What’s your name?’ She replied, ‘Amelia Taylor’. And he at once said to her, ‘Well I hope you will not change your name.’

“Both were immediately love-stricken and in a few months they were joined together in holy matrimony. They lived together until 1855 when she died and after death he remarked that he had had one good wife and would never have another.

“Hi daily habits were always ‘Early to bed and early to rise’. He went to bed at nine o’clock in the summer and eight in the winter. This was what he called his candlestick time.

“He had a favourite walk along the Caistor high street and he and his pet dog Toby might often be seen trudging along there together.

“It was with difficulty that he could be prevailed upon to take any medicine and his son had to coax him or mix the medicine with some other ingredient. If he saw Dr Barton he would always say that he was cured. His knowledge was so great that in the parish he was always looked upon as an authority on local matters.”

We have quoted this story of a bygone village character at some length not only because Mr Taylor lived his life with so much relish but because his story shows how wide is the gap separating his day from our own. The deadening effect of dire poverty early in Queen Victoria’s reign is one of the things which shows up so clearly at every stage.

Working among the turnips (then a new crop) for four pence a day. Walking from Tealby to Doncaster just as if it was something to be done as a matter of routine. Going to bed by candlelight at eight o’clock on a winter’s night.

But, shining out above all this, was a strength of character and individuality which must have livened up the rural background when your restricted daily life was bounded by shoemakers and horse dealers and at Tealby by the carving of the royal arms and some happenings connected with a village ghost which are to be discerned just a little bit uncertainly in the background of a village which was somewhat larger than it is today.