Click for Lincolnshire map.
Boultham, Lincoln.

St. Helens Church, Boultham. Lincoln, Lincolnshire

The Origins of the Parish.


The Parish of Boultham

Please see also: Holy Cross Church

Boultham (pronounced Boot-ham) originally started in Roman times when a group of potters worked the clay and available firewood in kilns which stretched in a row from the Carholme Racecourse over to Swanpool, up to the fields south of the Pike Drain thought Boultham Park and St. Helens churchyard site (there are three there) and then on to the allotment sites east of Boultham Park Road and Hall Drive. A burial of cremated remains in an urn were found in a kiln flue in the fields south of the Pike Drain, and also some years ago a perfect Roman Grey ware pot containing fine cremated material was unearthed in St. Helens churchyard by a gravedigger. The pottery industry is thought to have been at its height in the third and fourth centuries AD.

The Domesday Book records that "In Buletham Osmund has 9 bovates (135 acres) of land rateable to gelt (land tax). There is one villein (peasant farmer) with one ox and 8 acres of meadow. The value in King Edward’s time was 13s and 4d (about 67p) and it is now 6 shillings. (30p)" In Anglo-Saxon times, after 449 AD, it would seem a man called Bule had his ham (home) there, so Buletham would be roughly translated as ‘Bules Homestead’.

The Church

St. Helens Church circa late 1960's. Picture coutesy of The Lincolnshire Echo.

The first church is mentioned when Gilbert of Ghent, a nephew of William the Conqueror, endowed newly founded Bardney Abbey with the Manor or Estate of Boultham amongst many others. Gilbert’s grandson, Robert, Earl of Lincoln, gave the care of the church and the appointment of a Rector to the Abbott and Convent of Bardney, plus 18 pence yearly out of the Rectors income. This happened in about 1150 AD, Robert obviously reasoned that the Abbey would appoint a monk as Rector.

Round about 1200 AD a new church was built. The oldest parts of the present church are the arches which are Early English; two blocked arches in the south wall show the church was much bigger with a south aisle.

The earliest register of Incumbents started about 1209-1218 on rolled strips of parchment sewn together. It said then that:-

"Bultcham; Master Leo, presented by the Abbot and Convent of Bardney to the church of Bultcham after an enquiry made by Master W. de Brauncewell and was admitted and instituted saving them 18d per year." (7½ p) The priest or Rector retained the tithes and glebe rents & income except for the 18d or 7½p which had to be paid to the convent.

The Rector of Boultham in 1288 had an income of £5-6-8d (£5-33p) per year out of which he had to pay one tenth for the next six years as a levy towards the cost of sending an expedition to the Holy Land. At that time local land was let for about 3d or just over 1p per acre.

On the 3rd of July 1349 Godfrey, son of Robert le Garlykmonger was instituted as Rector in place of one Simon de Thrikingham and on the following September 15th Thomas de Willyngton was inducted. This quick turnover of priests is thought to be as a result of The Black Death.

The church was always poor as is shown in 1451. Bishop Chedworth of Lincoln granted an indulgence of 40 days (meaning forty days less in purgatory) to anyone who went to the church and repeated the Lord’s Prayer and the Angelic Salutation in reverence to the Blessed Virgin St Petronella. This, plus a donation of goods to aid repairs of the church, was granted each time they did it. The church was then said to be in "Notorious Poverty."

The church at Boultham contained at that time a shrine to St Petronella who, according to legend, was a daughter of St Peter. She is said to have died rather than be forced to marry a heathen by force. All of her known shrines have since disappeared.

"Bolthame" as it was known in King Henry VIII’s time was still poor. The Rector Thomas Sampey who had tithes of 10 percent of all produce of the parish was said to have:-

For lambs and wool £2-6s-8d. (£2-33p)and for various oblations 18s-4d (91½ p), for hay and corn £2-11-2d (£2-56p) for calves, poultry, milk, hemp and flax, tithe of fish £1-9-2d (£1-46p) offerings at the Chapel of St Petronella £1.

This represents a clear value of £7-15-2d (£7-76p) after deducting 10s-2d paid to the Archdeacon. Tenths were 15s-6 ¼. (78p).

When Henry VIII. Dissolved the monasteries and convents the land in Boultham which was owned by St Catherine’s Convent went to The Duke of Suffolk. Bardney Abbey had a farm with a chapel to St Mary Magdalen at Swanpool but this also disappeared at the dissolution.

Alterations to the forms of service under Queen Mary and back to The Book of Common Prayer under Queen Elizabeth meant they needed a communion chalice or cup. This was provided in about 1563-70 and is still in the church silver pieces today.

There were Church wardens then as now but they had the further duty of notifying the Archdeacon of anyone not going to church for communion. One who they reported or "presented" was " Henry Abbott said to be a "common swerer and brawler with his neighbours and a sleeper in the service and sermons." He got away with a caution!!!.

Records of baptisms were kept and Boultham’s go back to the seventeenth century. Also records of "correction" such as; "Leonard Jackson, a wandering boy, inhabitinge in Beverly, was whipped and sent away with a passse, January 8th; Dorothy Farrars, a wanderinge girle, inhabitinge in Lynwood was whipped and sent away with a passe." The next item of correction was about 5 years later so it didn’t happen too often.

Boultham didn’t get away with much expense despite it being so poor. Archbishop Laud ordered a "Voluntary" house to house collection for the building of St Paul’s Cathedral. 4s-1d (nearly 21p) was collected (none from the Rector). A later "Ship Money" collection was made, this time compulsory (The Rector paid this time) but it was a big £6 which was demanded!!

There was no Rector during Cromwell’s rule but Matthew Rogers was appointed at the Restoration of Charles II in 1660.

Early in the 18th Century Boultham went further and further down the slippery poverty slope. Canon James Debia served the Parishes of, St Botolph, St Martin, St Michael, St Peter in Eastgate and St Paul as well as The Rectory of Boultham and The Vicarage of Skellingthorpe and was still far from wealthy. The Parish was poor but contained a well wooded park and. In the early 19th century the Ellisons came.

The Ellison Influence

See also: The Ellison Family of Sudbrooke Holme and Boultham

Leiut - Colonel Richard Ellison had the ornamental lake dug in 1857 finding Roman remains in the process and rebuilt and enlarged the hall in 1874.He also built a private road from the High Street along roughly the course of Boultham Park Road.

In 1887 the little "Birdbath" font which stands at the church door was replaced by the large one at present in use. The "Birdbath" was used in the Hall grounds until it was returned to the church in 1913. The Church was totally restored with additions of windows in memory of various members of the Ellison family, turret and the whole lengthened also in 1887 by the Ellisons.

In the Churchyard just near the gate stand two large monuments. One is a broken column with the "broken off cap" lying near its base. This normally denotes the end of a family line. There is also a very large block of granite from the walls of Sevastopol with an inscription to the men of Colonel Ellison’s Regiment. If one looks carefully at it there is a round depression with small cracks radiating out from it. This is typical of a strike by a shell. In front of the block are a pair of defused mortar bombs of the sort used in the Crimean War.

In the churchyard are a few Grave markers with some unusual inscriptions, such as:- "But in the dark and silent grave Find all her struggles o’er." Or "My time was short you here may see, Therefore prepare to follow me". As well as the usual "Rest in The Lord." Amen!

The Cross Angel

Copyright 1999 Peter Fairweather.The Ellison Angel is a fine figure of an angel clinging onto a cross all carved in Marble. A year or two back some idiot thought it amusing to topple her off her pedestal. She was returned and a while later she was toppled again, this time doing quite considerable damage to her arms, hands and the cross. As it was apparent that the pieces were being pelted round the churchyard I collected all of them up and kept them at home till it could be restored. I obtained a quote which was too much for me to pay. Just a month or two before Christmas 1998 the last of the local Ellisons, Mrs A. Faulding contacted me and was very pleased that I had thought enough of the figure to have saved the pieces. These were collected by a mason just before Christmas and they were restored to the figure! The Angel now clings once more to her faith!

A Light Memorial

Some years ago I did a rescue operation on the Ellison Memorial window in the south wall of the church. There had been a theft of one of the panels of the window and instead of having the rest of it removed properly the powers that be let a glass butcher loose on it who just ripped it out into pieces and replaced by clear rippled glass. The result being that what could have been restored for a couple of hundred pounds or so has now cost fifteen hundred pounds. Once again I had gathered up all the pieces I could find. Some were still lying in the grass outside and the major remains were in a cardboard box in the vestry, a sure candidate for being thrown out as rubbish. An appeal for funds for both the church bell* restoration and this window was launched. The window has now been successfully restored and cleaned by the glaziers department at Lincoln Cathedral and is back in all its glory.

* The church bell is the oldest in the city being from the late thirteenth century. The belfry has been strengthened and the bell rehung on its stock so that it can be tolled in future.


St Helens, May 1922, the funeral of four young men killed on a ratting expedition, when hit by an express train in fog at Skew Bridge, Lincoln.

Five young men went down to Skew Bridge refuse tip one night early in May in 1922 with their dogs for some sport killing rats. The youngest who was about 16 was cleared off home early as his 'Mam will be worried where you are if you are out any later.' Later on in the evening the young men made their way home through fog which had descended. When they got to the railway crossing at Coulson Road they heard a train and waited for the slow goods to slog its way past them, they then stepped out and the unheard express swept past in the opposite direction scattering their bodies for many yards up the track. All four were killed instantly.

The cortege of four Shillabier Hearses and attendant carriages stretched the whole length of Coulson Road ( about 350 yards) and the front vehicles had turned into Boultham Park Road and the tail end of the group had not left Waterloo Street. All were buried near each other in front of St Helen's Church as can be seen in the photograph of the four coffins being carried above.

This site is a work in progress. Last updated 30th April 2000.

Back to the Main Page.