Photographed in 2001

Photographed in 1999

The Car Dyke, built by the Romans and connecting Lincoln with Peterborough and beyond, runs through this village which is how it gets its name. Henry Penn, the famous 18th century bell-founder, cast one of the bells for Lincoln Cathedral at his foundry in Peterborough in 1717 and sent it to Lincoln on a raft, passing through this village. The bell, weighing just over 12 cwt, was transported at a cost of £8 13s. 0d (around £2,000 at today's values), which indicates that the waterway was still navigable more than 1,500 years after it was built and is still known by some as the Bell Dyke. The Penn bell is now the sixth in the ring of eight bells hanging in the south west (St Hugh's) tower of the Cathedral.

Small but not insignificant appears to be the motto of Dyke village whose heritage is proclaimed in this new carved sign that was erected in 2001. It depicts all that this place is famous for, the old smock mill, the Car Dyke and a mention in the Domesday Book of 1086.

The village hall is a strange looking building but perfectly functional for its current purpose. It is built of corrugated zinc and was originally erected at Belton Park, near Grantham, where it was known as St George's Mission and had been used for church services by army personnel stationed there during the First World War. After the Armistice, many of these military buildings were sold off or given away by the War Office and in 1920, this one was moved in sections by tractor and trailer to a piece of land at Dyke supplied by the Bettinson family where it was re-erected and used by the community for social events and meetings.

In 1978, when its future came under review, a village hall committee was formed and since then almost the entire village has been involved in its running and upkeep, extending the floor space by an additional building at the rear to cope with an expanding population, and it has become the centre of social life in Dyke ever since. 


Photographed in 2001

The village hall is built of corrugated metal and stands on brick columns but its cold external appearance gives way to a warm and welcoming interior which is one of the reasons for its popularity, being used on most evenings for a wide variety of social events and in recent years it has become the focal point of village life.

Photographed in 2001

Photo courtesy Don Fisher

The 15th annual general meeting of the Dyke Village Hall Management Committee on Monday 24th April 1995.

In the picture left to right: Seated - Sheila Bailey (secretary), David Stubbs (chairman) and Pat Broxholme (treasurer); standing - Councillor Janet Sauter, Olixe Laxton, Councillor Don Fisher, Christine Woods, Steven Dodson, Susan Barnett, John Carlton (vice-chairman), Marion Cropley and Charlotte Stubbs.

Photographed in August 2009

The village green dates from mediaeval times and as the centre of a self-sufficient community, its main purpose was probably to enclose the village livestock that were impounded at night against predators, both wild and human. They survive in all shapes and sizes, some large enough for a game of cricket on a Sunday afternoon while others barely have room for a war memorial or a maypole, yet they are still the heart of the village and to know something of their origins is to understand more about their role in the history of the community they serve. The green is now far too small to accommodate today's summer festivities that are now held on the nearby recreation ground, but it survives as a reminder of the way things were.

The most recent addition to the street scene has been a water feature on the village green known as the Dyke Millennium Well. There is an artesian well at this point that once supplied water to the community through standpipes in the street but these became obsolete when mains water was installed in 1953. The bore was tapped again towards the end of 2001 to create the present feature under the direction of David Stubbs, a lifelong resident of the village who acted as project engineer. It took several attempts and seven tons of concrete to contain the bore within a test tank and once this was done, Peter Machin completed the surround in yellow brick. The operation was a difficult one but water from the bore is now fed into the stainless steel tank housed within the structure through a four-inch pipe and is afterwards piped into the Car Dyke. The entire water feature is maintenance free and cost £3,000.

This was one of several new features to mark the millennium, the others being the carved oak sign, a copse planted by children on the playing field and a flagpole outside the village hall which was used for its first important occasion to fly the Union Jack at half mast to commemorate the death of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on 30th March 2002. All were financed by four years of social events and other fund raising activities.


Village green in 1999

Village water feature in 2002

Britain House in 1999

The Dovecote in 1999

Council houses in 2009

Stubbs Close in 2009

Redmile Farm in 2009

Overlooking the village green is Britain House, a Georgian property with an untouched front façade and a flat roof and once one of the grandest houses in the village and it still retains its original windows and front door with a glazed sunburst above while further along the main street is Redmile Farm, a beautifully restored stone and thatched farmhouse.

A quaint red-brick building dating back to the 19th century lies at the end of a cart track off the main street in Dyke and it is known to villagers as the Dovecote. It was not built for birds but for a Victorian farm labourer and his family which is why it stands next to the fields and several large families were subsequently raised there but it has been standing empty these past fifty years and now attracts pigeons and doves which is why it has earned its nickname. 

Three small estates of council houses were built in the village during the 20th century, firstly in the main street at the eastern end where the eight properties dating from 1937 are still in useful occupation. At the western end of the village, a complex of ten bungalows was built in 1960-62 on the site on ten farm cottages that had been condemned as being unfit for human habitation and was named Stubbs Close after local councillor Cecil Stubbs although he died before the work was complete. A further four houses were built on a site across the road in 1952.

There was also a Methodist meeting place here, established in a private house in the Main Street adjoining No 63. In 1835, there were only five members, rising to 30 by the mid-19th century but membership then gradually fell away. There were moves in 1878 to secure a piece of freehold land to build a permanent chapel but this did not materialise and during the 1980s, membership dwindled and when the then owner of the house, William Morton, died, the new occupants did not encourage the Methodists to stay and consequently the cause was closed in Dyke and the chapel became a private residence.

The Methodist meeting place was established at a cottage in Main Street adjoining No 63 and rented from Mr William Morton. It was in use for 100 years with services every Sunday afternoon although attendance was rarely more than ten or twelve. The cottage had previously been used as a schoolroom during the 19th century and the old desks remained until well into the 20th century.



Photographed in 2001

Roads in farming areas such as here at Dyke were disinfected to prevent the spread of the contagion by passing vehicles during the foot and mouth outbreak of 2001 which caused a crisis in the farming industry with 2,000 cases of the disease in farms across the country and the slaughter of 10 million sheep and cattle in an eventually successful attempt to halt the disease.



Photographed circa 1925

The main street in Dyke photographed circa 1925 by Ashby Swift showing the level crossing with a crowd of inquisitive village children.

Hay making and harvesting were the times when everyone pitched in to help down on the farm for when the sun shone, it was essential to get the work done before the weather changed. This picture was taken at Dyke around 1910 by a British-born American, Arthur Wilkinson, whose mother, Esther Ann Tory, was born in the village and who made an annual pilgrimage to keep in touch with relatives. The photograph was sent to me by his son Robert Wilkinson of Newton, Massachusetts, who thinks that it may have been taken on Cooper's Farm because one of the people his father used to visit was farmer's wife Ethel Cooper. He is also intrigued that some of the women appear to be wearing uniforms or were they merely in their Sunday best posing for the photographer?

Photo courtesy Robert Wilkinson

This colour photograph was taken by Arthur's older brother, Mr Fred Wilkinson, who went to live at Bradford in Yorkshire, where he became an architect, and also taught at Bradford Technical College. His two eldest sons emigrated, one to Kenya and the other to Canada. He served in the army in Italy during the Great War of 1914-18 and in 1962, made a sentimental trip back to Dyke where he had enjoyed so many happy memories of his childhood and took this and several more pictures. Fred died in 1975 at the age of 86.


Stolen or strayed on the 7th of this instant December, a black-brown cow marked with the Dyke town brand and an I S on the horn. Whoever gives notice of the said cow to Elizabeth Young of Dyke, near Bourne, so that she may be had again, shall have ten shillings reward. - public notice from the Stamford Mercury, Thursday 11th December 1740.

The annual treat to the children of the Baptist school in this hamlet was given on Tuesday afternoon, July 20th: the old-fashioned barn of Mr C Redmile was kindly lent for the occasion. After the children had had their tea, between 50 and 60 persons sat down to partake of the beverage which "cheers but not inebriates". Addresses were delivered to the children, their parents, and visitors, by Messrs Fox, Peggs and Todd. Every scholar received a present of a book, and all departed well pleased with what they had seen. One person present liberally subscribed to the school; and it is intended to expend the donation to the purchase of bibles for the children, which through the happy abolition of the bible monopoly may now be purchased at one shilling and sixpence each. - news report from the Stamford Mercury, Friday 30th July 1841.

The heretofore quiet village of Dyke has latterly followed the fashion of more populous places and established a "night jury" whose pranks have been various. The little unpretending chapel has been entered and ransacked; sundry chimneys have been stopped up at the top, to the dreadful annoyance and wonder of the inmates of the houses who were raving for their breakfasts; some of the inhabitants were fastened into their dwellings; whilst on top of a chimney of one might be seen a huge gate. These sundry other misdoings have sadly disturbed the gravity and good feeling of the inhabitants. - news item from the Stamford Mercury, Friday 24th March 1848.

Mr William Edwards, coroner, held an inquest at Dyke on the 3rd inst., on the body of a child named John Cooper, aged two years, who was unfortunately drowned in a washdyke [drainage channel] upon the farm of Mr Edward Hardwick. The mother of the deceased was gleaning within a few yards of the accident, and the child had, unperceived, wandered away with some other children and was found in the water within a few minutes, but too late to restore life. His cap had fallen into the dyke and in trying to recover it he lost his footing and fell into the water and the side being steep, he was unable to extricate himself and his companions too young to assist except by giving the alarm and calling for help. Verdict, accidentally drowned. - news report from the Stamford Mercury, Friday 6th August 1858.

INQUEST: On Friday, the 16th inst., an inquest was held at Dyke before J G Calthrop Esq., coroner, on the body of Mrs Baines, the wife of a waggoner in the employ of Mr George Bettinson. It appeared that the woman had but a few weeks previously ceased to be an inmate of a lunatic asylum, and had recently been much depressed. On Wednesday morning (the 14th) she went into a neighbour's house and excitedly said: "I have taken poison" and a few hours afterwards died in great agony. A verdict of "temporary insanity" was returned. - news report from the Grantham Journal, Saturday 24th November 1877.

HORTICULTURAL: Such weather as we have lately experienced proves the value of cold houses, frames, and plant protectors generally, for sheltering from the rigours of our climate. A box of flowers before us, gathered in an unheated house, in Mr Benoni Gilbert's Anemone Nursery at Dyke, near Bourne, contains a delightful array of blossoms of Anemone fungens, Anemone King of Scarlets, a beautiful new double scarlet of the brightest hue; the very fine white primrose, Harbinger, Marie Loiuse, and Compte Brazzas double white violets, etc., all of great size and purity of colour and which with Mr Gilbert are flowering in great abundance. - news item from the Gardening World, Saturday 27th March 1886.

Clement Laxton, aged 29, an army reserve man, who has been working as a farm labourer at Dyke, was found dead by the roadside on Wednesday night. He had made arrangements about the next day's work and was gathering green food for rabbits when last seen alive. - news item from the Stamford Mercury, Friday 5th May 1899.


Photographed in 1951
Newspaper photograph of the fatal crash

A Prentice trainer crashed in a field at Dyke Fen, near Bourne, on Tuesday barely half a mile from the spot where another training plane came down early last month. The occupant, Cadet Officer Arthur Edward Short, aged 43, of Oxford Road, Thornaby-on-Tees, who was stationed at Cottesmore, was killed instantly as the plane buried its nose deep in the earth. No person actually witnessed the crash although the plane was seen circling the area and Mr Cecil Stubbs, of Dyke, saw it going into a dive before it was hidden by trees.
Farm workers weeding in a field owned by Messrs Ash and Sons of Dyke, noticed the plane flying in a perfectly normal manner and paid little attention to it as aircraft are a common sight in this low flying area. Frank Bailey, of Dyke, said that he suddenly heard the engine of the plane "rev up". Then he heard a crash and, looking round, saw that there had been an accident. The men left their work and hurried to the scene but thought it better not to attempt to free the pilot. He was later extricated with difficulty by the driver of the Bourne ambulance, Mr E Robinson, police Sergeant Green and P C Swann, all of whom were swiftly on the spot.
The propeller and engine of the plane had been forced underground, the cockpit was a shambles and the remainder of the fuselage and tail pointed skywards as a landmark for miles around. - news report from The Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, Friday 6th July 1951.

A CRIME FROM THE PAST: The body of a woman who had been beaten over the head, tied up and dumped in a ditch, was discovered by archaeologists working in Dyke fen in August 1997. The skeleton was found in a Roman trench and forensic investigation established that the crime had taken place 2,000 years ago.


See also

Dyke Chapel      Dyke Mill     Dyke village in 1965

Jane Redmile     William Garner     Philip Ash     William Walpole  

Dick Sellars, gardener     Charlie Broxholme     The Wishing Well

The Dyke Scarecrow Festival 

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