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The Counties of England by  Charlotte Mason
Table of Contents


 

 

LINCOLNSHIRE

[161] THERE is not much more to be said about this county: farming is the chief business of the people, and famous farmers the Lincoln folk are. The towns, such as Spilsby, Louth, Grantham, and Market  Rasen, are generally market-towns, where the wheat and flour, peas and beans, potatoes, turnips, and carrots produced in the county are brought by the farmers upon certain days of the week to be sold to traders from a distance.

Flax is brought to market too, for there are large fields of flax to be seen in Lincoln. The flax is grown, not for the sake of its pretty blue flower, but for the fibres of the stalk, which, when properly prepared, make the threads of which linen is woven. In most of the market-towns fairs are held for the sale of horses and cattle, sheep and pigs; for all of which Lincolnshire is famous. Some of the farm-produce is taken to the ports to be sent away by sea. Lincoln county has a long, low coast, and but few ports, because there are few safe shelters for ships.: There is the long, flat coast on the Humber, so filled with shifting sandbanks that only skilful pilots can bring ships into it with safety. Grimsby stands at the mouth of the Humber, and may become a great port one day, because good docks have been built there. There is no important port on the low North Sea shore, but on the Wash are Boston, near the mouth of the Witham, and Spalding, on the Welland. There is [164] another Boston across the Atlantic, one of the most famous towns in the United States. In the early days of his reign, before the Civil War began, Charles I. tried to make all the English people belong to the Church of England. The men of the Fens loved liberty too well to submit to any rule about such things, and many of them took ship for free America. Many of these went from Boston, and in honour of them the Boston of the States is named.

Spalding was a favourite landing-place for the black boats of the North-men, as it is the port for Stamford, one of the five great burghs  of Danelagh. Stamford is an important and busy town, with an iron-foundry and machine works. Near it is "Burleigh House, by Stamford town," which belonged to Queen Elizabeth's famous minister, Lord Burleigh. It is a very splendid house, with 145 rooms, and containing many precious pictures and carvings and statues. Beautiful gardens surround the house, and in them may be seen -a labyrinth, and a wilderness, and smooth terraces, and musical fountains, and every sort of rare and beautiful flower and tree.

There is a story about a Lord of Burleigh, which is told by Mr. Tennyson, the poet, who is a Lincolnshire man, and so knows all about it, and who knows, too, how to tell stories in the most delightful way.

This story is about a Lord of Burleigh who married a farmer's daughter, she thinking all the time that he was poor like herself:—

"And a gentle consort made he,

And her gentle mind was such,

That she grew a noble lady,

And the people loved her much.


[165]

"But a trouble weighed upon her,

And perplex'd her night and morn,

With the burthen of an honour

Unto which she was not born.


* * * * * *

"So she droop'd and droop'd before him,

Fading slowly from his side;

Three fair children first she bore him,

Then before her time she died."

Lincolnshire is not without its uplands; there are round, swelling chalk Wolds, which reach from the Humber to Spilsby. Farther west, running in a straight line through the county, are the Lincoln Heights, upon which the Romans made their Ermine Street, which is a good road still.

Lincoln city, with its castle and glorious cathedral, stands upon one of these hills; and the cathedral, one of the finest in England, can be seen from all the flat country round. It has a famous bell, called "Great Tom," which measures more than two yards across at the mouth. This ancient city was once a great Roman town; and a single Roman gate still remains. There are engine works here, where steam ploughs, and thrashing and other machines used in farming, are made.

The little piece of Lincolnshire to the west of the Trent is called the Isle of Axholme; it is low and marshy like the isles of the Fens.


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