SK 963536 and SK 965535


Welbourn is situated above the Lincoln Edge some nine miles south of Lincoln. In 1086 the settlement was held by Robert Malet as of his honour of Eye in succession to a certain Godwin, apparently a thane of Azor son of Sualeva. Five carucates were in demesne, on which twelve villeins and eight bordars were established, and there were 35 sokemen on a further seven carucates (1). Throughout the twelfth and much of the thirteenth centuries the demesne probably remained unenfeoffed, although from time to time its dues were farmed in part or whole (2). Its nucleus was known as 'le Southalle' in the fourteenth century, and it seems likely that it can be identified with the present manor house in the south of the village which still exhibits architectural fragments of the thirteenth century, although not necessarily in situ (3). The sokeland, by contrast, was granted in the early twelfth century to the lord of the honour of Bayeux to become the manor of 'le Northalle' (4). The site of the capital messuage can be identified with the ring work known as Castle Hill which is still upstanding to the south of the church at the north end of the village (Fig 18). The castellum is first noticed in 1158 when it was being walled in stone, but it is not until the next century that details of the structure are found (5). A particularly detailed extent of the estate of 1288 indicates that there was a wall around the court, which was surmounted by a small tower, along with a ditch which is said to be 'in the court', while the domestic buildings and offices consisted of a hall with two chambers, a kitchen and brewhouse, an oxhouse, a cowshed, a sheep fold, and garden (6). The complex was clearly of twelfth century date, but its proximity to the church may suggest that it occupies the site of the eleventh century hall.

          The two manors remained independent throughout the thirteenth century, By 1334, however, both were held by Isabel de Vescy, and the subsequent amalgamation of the estates probably led to the abandonment of le Northalle, for in 1374 the site was said to be waste and entirely without buildings (7). Decay and depopulation may have been more general at this time, for two carucates in a sandy and stony place on the heath were said to be of no value and to have not been tilled for years (8). The earthworks surveyed, which lie at the south end of the village, west of the former Lincoln - Grantham Road, may attest to a consequent contraction of settlement, but they could equally relate to the lost hamlet of Sapperton rather than to the parent settlement of Welbourn itself. Sapperton is associated with Welbourn in the name on the Enclosure Award, although it is otherwise not mentioned, and a small manor house, on the Grantham/Lincoln road which belonged to the Welby family appears to have been associated with the settlement. Little else is known about it, but a notice of a Sapperton in an inquiry into enclosures and depopulation of 1607 probably refers to this hamlet rather than to Sapperton by Braceby. It dates desertion to some forty years before and states that there were then but seven cottages left (9). Photographs exist said to be Sapperton Manor House (10).

          The earthworks consist of a series of ditches, some surrounding closes or crofts and others suggesting house platforms (Fig 19). On the east side near the main road these appear to have been truncated, perhaps as a result of road widening when the turnpike was created. Behind and further north is a circular earthwork some 10 metres in diameter which may be a mill mound. It has a slight bank around the top edge, presumably either overlying, or left from the stone robbing of a wall. The 1871 field names for this part of the village are not informative. There are two fields called Hall Close and Second Hall Close on the east side of the main road slightly north of this site and opposite the present Welbourn Hall (11).


1.       Lincs DB, 58/1.


2.       BF, 188, 1046.


3.       CI vii, 422; Pevsner, Lincs, 704.


4.       'Survey of the Barony of Bayeux, 1288',ed. W. O. Massingberd, Lincolnshire Notes and Queries 8, Lincoln 1904, 59-60; CI vii, 422. The assessment of the manor was seven carucates in the thirteenth century, and there were 34 bovates held in villeinage (BF, 188; 'Survey of the Barony of Bayeux, 1288', W. O. Massingberd, Lincolnshire Notes and Queries 8, Lincoln 1904, 59-60). The services due, however, were those of sokemen, and it therefore seems likely that they represent the 35 sokemen of Domesday.


5.       F. M. Stenton, The First Century of English Feudalism, Oxford 1932, 159-60. Stenton believed that the reference indicated that the castle was being built at this time. It is possible, however, that a stone wall was replacing earlier earthwork defences.


6.       'Survey of the Barony of Bayeux, 1288', ed. W.O.Massingberd, Lincolnshire Notes and Queries 8, Lincoln 1904, 60.


7.       CI vii, 422; CI xiii, 200-1.


8.       CI xiii, 200-1.


9.       LAO, Enclosure Award    ; Lincs DB, lxv; M. W.Beresford, The Lost Villages of England, London 1954, 144. 


10.     LAO, Tallents 2/7.


11.     LAO, Tallents 2/7.