Holy Cross Church, Boultham, Lincoln.

The following is an excerpt from "A Short History of the Parish of Boultham Lincoln". The late Canon Dalby, Rector of Boultham, in 1969 made the following acknowledgement:

Acknowledgements and thanks are due to Canon W.W.Leeke for invaluable notes in the Parish magazine; to Mr.L.Elvin for advice and help and information about the Ellisons and Boultham Hall; to Mr.F.T.Baker for a note on Roman Boultham; to the "Lincolnshire Echo" for photographs; and to Alderman and Mrs.F.R.Eccleshare without whose generous help this publication would not be possible.

THE Transformation of Boultham from a hamlet to a large suburb began at the very end of the 19th century, when houses were built on Spike Island (the name is a reminder of what the land used to be like...). These houses with Waterloo Street as the main street, are still called "New Boultham" though by now they form the oldest part of the parish (These houses no longer exist, the area has since been much redeveloped and the Tritton Road extension runs through most of it). There was clearly a need for a Church to serve the new inhabitants and so St. Matthew's "Mission" was built in 1912 and a Hall added later.

The Rev. (later Canon) W. W. Leeke, became Rector in 1911 and his long incumbency of fifty-three years saw most of the transformation of the parish. The old village had contained not more than twenty-five houses with the Hall and the Rectory which stood across the street from the Church. Now "New Boultham" had come and in 1920 the parish was taken into the city of Lincoln. The building of the "Swanpool Garden Suburb" put a sizeable group of houses in another area and between the wars more and more dwellings and more and more people came to fill up Boultham Park Road (transformed from a private way to the Hall) and the streets off it, the Hunt Lea Estate, Boultham Moor, Rookery Lane and the Lakeview Road Estate and Skellingthorpe Road.

Canon Leeke began a parish magazine in 1915, and with admirable forethought preserved copies of them so that we have a very full record of the details of Church life since then. Two things that have much prominence in the magazines of the twenties are the need to enlarge S. Helen's Churchyard and the League of Progress. The first was triumphantly carried out in 1929; the second did a fine work of social service. It is an interesting comparison with our days that one of the benefits offered was 8s. a week for 8 weeks in case of sickness; small but much appreciated then.

The growth of population meant that St. Helen's Church was now too small to serve the greatly increased number of parishioners; further, its situation was away from the development of housing. As early as 1921 a site was acquired on Skellingthorpe Road and S. Helen's Hall was erected (it stood until 1967) for Sunday School work, worship and social activities. The need for a new Church was clear and at last on September 16th 1939, the foundation stone was laid and the building consecrated by the Bishop of Lincoln on 21st December 1940. A public competition had been won by Mr. H. T. Rushton, an architect from Birmingham (the judge was Sir Charles Nicholson), the building was erected by Messrs. T. Bowman of Stamford, and since in tradition S. Helen had discovered the true Cross on which Christ had died the Church was dedicated in the name of the Holy Cross. It is an excellent Church, light and airy, modern and yet in traditional style.
Holy Cross church in the 1960s. Photograph: Lincolnshire Echo.
Holy Cross church in the 1960s. Photograph: Lincolnshire Echo.

Building continued after the second World War, especially in the Hartsholme estate where the dual purpose Church and Hall of S. Mary Magdalen (the reason for the title will be clear from these notes) was provided and dedicated in 1958. This was the third place of worship to be dedicated or consecrated during the incumbency of Canon Leeke-a remarkable record. A new Church Hall was opened in 1967 when the old S. Helen's Hall was demolished.

By now the population had risen to 13,000; along with the houses had come schools and shops and other places of worship. Along a short stretch of Skellingthorpe Road is the Parish Church of the Holy Cross, the Moorland Park Methodist Church (opened in 1952 though there had been a Methodist Society in the parish since 1926)-and the Roman Catholic Church of St. Peter and St. Paul (consecrated in 1968). Further down Skellingthorpe Road, just in the Hartsholme estate, is Prospect Hall, a church of the Brethren, opened in 1955 and later extended.

St. Helen's Church which had been the centre of so much of the history of the parish was closed for regular worship when the Church of the Holy Cross was opened. On that site Almighty God has been worshipped for more than eight hundred years-and perhaps for much longer. Boultham is fortunate to have both a modern Church and an old one, to be a twentieth century parish with a long and interesting history behind it. May God give it a long and fruitful future.


This site is a work in progress. This page last updated 4th April 1999.

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