Village sign

Photographed March 2009

The grand battlemented tower of St Andrew's Church which is depicted in the village signs at Rippingale, five miles north of Bourne, stands on the edge of the fen, a distinctive landmark from the 15th century with its tall pinnacles and built in the Perpendicular style. Inside, the church is chiefly Decorated in style with a spacious nave of six bays and large traceried windows and contains an exceptional display of mediaeval monuments and effigies which speak of the importance of this village in the Middle Ages.

There is also a church chest of some age and dated 1785, the numbers picked out in bright studs on the front. The chests of the 18th century were plainer than the elegant examples of the earlier century which are now known as Jacobean, although smoothly finished designs such as this were extremely popular, almost always dated and sometimes also bearing the initials of the churchwardens.

The limestone war memorial in the churchyard which was built after the Great War of 1914-18 as a tribute to the fallen from the village had deteriorated so much by 2006 that a refurbishment scheme was initiated with £5,000 from English Heritage and the parish council. Previously hidden lettering was restored and frost damage repaired.

Photographed in March 2009

St Andrew's Church is pictured above and the churchyard below where one of the attractions in past years has been a large weeping ash near the east entrance gate but the tree was cut down in the summer of 2002 because it appeared to have died and was in danger of being toppled by high winds.

The churchyard

Although the tower of St Andrew's Church is 15th century, much of the building is older with a 13th century porch leading to a 14th century aisle separated from the nave and chancel by an arcade of six pointed arches on clustered pillars. A simple brass inscription in the aisle tells of a remarkable lady, Elizabeth Hind, who died in 1921 in her 102nd year and the church registers record the death in 1815 of Anne Hardy, a girl of 16 who was a giantess 7 ft 2 in tall. One of the features of the church interior is the font of golden mellowed stone and dating back to the early 15th century.

The parish bier

Photographed March 2009

The parish bier on which coffins were carried to the church for the funeral and then to the graveside for burial is on display in the church. It is made of wood and is thought to date from 1900 but has been superseded in modern times by the motorised hearse.

A sundial can be seen on the wall alongside the south porch although this is a copy of the original which was originally installed in the late 18th century. The church records state: “One sundial located on the south wall to the east of the main porch. The dial is rectangular with black painted numerals on a light background and a metal angled arm protruding from the centre. The date on the dial is 1793. The face is angled towards the south west.” The sundial weathered badly over the years and was removed on the recommendation of the church architect during one of his quinquennial inspections but it was replaced in September 2001 by the parochial church council and the original preserved in a glass case, temporarily kept in the vestry pending the required permission from the diocese to place it in a permanent position against one of the walls, probably in the nave, where it can easily be inspected by visitors.

The old Methodist chapel

Methodism began in Rippingale about 1817 due to influences from Aslackby and the first services were held in an old barn but despite opposition from local tenant farmers, a chapel was built in 1832 with a stable adjoining for the preacher's horse, most of them visiting from elsewhere. The site was owned by Sir Gilbert Heathcote who was paid a land rent of 10s. a year. There were 13 members in 1820 but this number had risen by 1851 when 88 adults attended afternoon service with 79 children meeting in the morning and 75 in the afternoon. Attendance however declined towards the end of the century and by 1890 it had dropped to 23 but had risen considerably by July 1932 when the chapel's centenary was celebrated with a special service followed by a tea in the barn owned by local farmer Mr William Sands attended by more than 100 people.


But the chapel needed extensive repairs and so members decided to build a new one which was erected in 1935 at a cost of £1,050. Several stones were laid to mark the occasion by local residents and 29 bricks by Sunday School scholars. The new chapel was registered for worship on 18th November 1935 and for the solemnisation of marriages on 10th June 1957. In August 1982, a large number of members marked the 150th anniversary of the building of the first chapel with a weekend of special events culminating with celebratory services on the Sunday.


The new chapel however did not survive long into the 21st century. Falling attendance figures and subsidence in the building brought about its closure in 2004. Huge cracks had appeared in the walls and repairs were costed at £75,000, an impossible amount to raise at a time when the congregation on some Sundays was down to only eight worshippers. The final service of thanksgiving was held on Sunday 11th January 2004 to mark the end of its 68-year life and ironically, the chapel was full including some people who had been there when the first service had been held in 1935. The building was eventually demolished and the site used for new houses, built in 2007, while Methodists from Rippingale now attend the chapel at Bourne.


The Bull Inn


The village pub at Rippingale is the Bull, built as a coaching inn at the turn of the 19th century while the name is a reminder of an old and popular so-called sport now long gone, that of bull baiting which almost certainly took place in the vicinity. The bull was tethered to an iron ring and then the dogs were loosed upon the poor beast but the law forbade this practice in 1835.


It has been claimed that Ambridge, the village featured in the long running BBC Radio serial The Archers, was based on Rippingale and that The Bull is the public house because Henry Burt, the agricultural adviser who came up with the idea for the programme, lived at nearby Dowsby Hall. But this is unlikely and the village of Inkberrow in Worcestershire with its own Old Bull Inn is the more favoured candidate. Not only did Godfrey Baseley, creator of the daily soap opera live nearby but the BBC has also used the village in its publicity shots for the Radio Four programme. Nevertheless, rival claims break out in the newspapers periodically and although villagers at Rippingale agree that Inkeberrow is the modern day Ambridge, its birthplace was Rippingale where the idea, original scripts and characters were conceived and born.


Photographed in September 2001

Rows of council houses are to be found in most of our villages although many have now been sold to sitting tenants such as here in Station Street where this terrace of solid Victorian homes typical of the late 19th century has been given a new tiled roof to replace the original blue slate while the public seat at the roadside is a welcome amenity for passing pensioners. These houses are among the mix of red brick properties in the village reflecting styles from different periods while bext door is an attractive Georgian house (bottom left), largely unaltered with ashlar quoins and a pantiled roof, a broken pediment and sunburst over the door and (bottom right) No 14 High Street which has a new pantiled roof and rendered frontage yet retains much of its old world charm including the Victorian iron railings on the pavement boundary while the Virginia creeper that covers the house is a delight to see in its glorious seasonal colours of early autumn.

Photographed in September 2001 Photographed in September 2001
Photographed in March 2001

A row of red brick cottages was built in Station Street 1869, the year after William Ewart Gladstone was elected prime minister for the first time, and so the terrace was named after him and although much improved, remains in useful occupation today. Gladstone was to serve three more terms between then and 1894 to become our greatest reforming statesman and there is now hardly a town in England without a street or building named after him.


Rippingale railway station was built in 1871 and opened for goods traffic on the line between Bourne and Sleaford in October of that year while passenger trains started running the following January. The services closed completely almost a century later and the Victorian building through which generations of travellers had passed has since been turned into a private house but many of the artefacts of the steam age can still be seen in the vicinity. 


The solid red brick building which stands in Fen Road almost a mile outside the village is being sympathetically restored and extended but has retained its original appearance and the platform is intact although the rails and sleepers have been removed but the old British Railways sign still hangs on the wall. The village lost its passenger service on 22nd September 1930 which was quite an event at the time because ninety-nine stations and seventeen lines closed nation-wide on that day. The line and the station however remained open for goods and special passenger trains, the last of which was in 1951 when local people were picked up here for a visit to the Festival of Britain in London. Potatoes, grain and sugar beet were carried along the track in the ensuing years until the final closure came on 15th June 1964.


Rippingale railway station


The old goods shed and other outbuildings remain on site and are also being renovated by the owner, railway enthusiast John Scholes, while rails and sleepers are piled up nearby. One short stretch of track can also be seen with a steam locomotive standing on the rails, once rusting and deteriorating but it may not be the end of the line because it is now being restored. This engine is in fact an Avonside locomotive, Works No 1972, built in 1927, and called Stamford and will soon be moved into the goods shed for further refurbishment work. It was once in service with the Ketton Cement Company which is based near the town but was purchased by Mr Scholes when its working days were over. The Stamford is sister to a consecutive locomotive called Dora which is currently in service at the Rutland Railway Museum.


The village school was built in 1856 by Lord Aveland (formerly Sir Gilbert Heathcote), lord of the manor of who owned large estates in the area.. Prior to that, classes were held at the village church in St Anne's Chapel which was boarded off from the rest of the building. Financial support was provided by the Brownlow family and as a result of this, an annual payment of £5 is still made to the governors by the owner of Manor Farm. The school was opened on Tuesday 28th October 1856 with due celebration, as reported by the Stamford Mercury:


This village was enlivened on Tuesday last by some slight manifestation of rejoicing and gaiety in commemoration of the opening of the new school erected by Lord Aveland. Early in the morning and during the day, the church bells pealed merrily and flags and garlands were displayed around the festive spot. 110 children were regaled with roast beef and plum pudding at one o'clock, under the presidency of the Rector [the Rev William Cooper], assisted by his churchwarden, Mr Richard Quincey. The overseers, Messrs Edward Healey and Henry Chapman, acted as vice-presidents. After dinner, amusements of a most jovial nature were indulged in by the children and visitors and in the evening, fireworks were discharged. The schoolroom was tastefully decorated by the ladies of the village and great praise is due to the Rev W Cooper and his lady for the zeal and exertion manifested by them to procure such a "day of remembrances". The day's proceedings concluded with "God save the Queen". The dinner was provided by voluntary subscriptions from the parishioners.


The school was built to accommodate 130 pupils of all ages and the premises were enlarged in 1899 when a new classroom was added together with cloakrooms and offices, the work paid for by the Earl of Ancaster. In 1876, it was listed as a public elementary school and the master was John Caunce with Miss Jane Hind as mistress but by 1885, his wife, Mrs S F Caunce, had become mistress and the average attendance was 95, a figure that had dropped to 87 by 1900 and to 70 in 1913 when Horace Edmund Sharpe was master. Further extensions to the premises were carried out in 1956 after it had become a junior school in 1949 and it subsequently became known as Rippingale Church of England Primary School. Fifty years later, attendances had begun to decline dramatically and by Easter 2007 pupil numbers had fallen to a mere 20, despite efforts by the governors to attract more from the locality. As a result, Lincolnshire County Council, the education authority, decided that it was no longer financially viable and the school was closed at the end of the summer term in July.


County councillor Patricia Bradwell, executive councillor for children's services, said that although there were 132 children living in close proximity, parental preference was for other schools in the area and this had brought about the closure. "It is always a great disappointment to see schools such as this shut when they should be at the heart of their communities", she said. The closure was marked on the last day of term, Friday 20th July, with a special service for pupils and staff both past and present conducted by the Bishop of Grantham, the Venerable Dr Tim Ellis. The remaining pupils and staff were transferred to the village school at Horbling although some teachers and assistants were made redundant.


An attempt by Rippingale Parish Council to preserve the building failed after an application was turned down by English Heritage who decided that although there was merit in the blue slate roof, the exterior design had suffered damaging alterations and therefore did not merit a Grade II listing. In September 2008, the Diocese of Lincoln, which owns the school building, and Lincolnshire County Council, which owns the adjoining playing field, instructed agents to assess the future of the site and in the summer of 2011, it was sold to the old-established Bourne seed company Wherry and Sons Ltd who planned to convert it for use as their offices..

Sir Richard Brownlow lived at Ringstone Hall, part of the vanished village of Ringstone that is mentioned in the Domesday Book, which was the home of several important families including the Gobauds, Bowes, Marmians and Hazlewoods. When Sir Richard, the last tenant, moved to Belton, the hall was bought by Sir Gilbert Heathcote, a forefather of the Ancaster family. But the property was eventually left unoccupied and fell into decay and nothing now remains except for a few stones although clear markings can be seen of its gardens, tennis courts and cellars. The fish ponds in Lion's Court remain and the old hall field can still be seen together with the spring that provided the household with its water.

The rectory, a large grey building surrounded by trees, is one of the oldest houses in the village, dating from 1725. The first rector to live there was Francis Inman. Down Hall in Doctor's Lane was built about the same time as the rectory and was the home and surgery of the village doctors for the entire 250 years of its existence until 1968 when the last of the line of family practitioners Dr G C Morris retired. The Hollies in the High Street is believed to be the oldest cottage in the village. Built almost 250 years ago, it is long and low with an unusually shaped tiled roof. Inside it has one long beam running right through all the rooms that are small and low ceilinged and which have the old wooden doors with iron latches. 

The mill was once a feature of Rippingale but was demolished in 1920 and the site on the A15 road above the village is now occupied by the Windmill Garage although the old millstone survives. There were several public houses including the Wheel, the George, the Mill, the Angel, the Strawyard Tavern and five others, of which only the Bull survives. Rippingale also had a workhouse but the site of this is unknown.



Rippingale school in 2007

The village school at Rippingale opened in 1856 and closed 150 years later due to a dramatic decline in pupil numbers because parents preferred to send their children to other schools in the locality, particularly Bourne and Sleaford. The crest of Lord Aveland, who built the school in 1856, is pictured below (left) and the school sign as it was in the summer of 2007 (right). After four years of closure, the building was bought by Wherry and Sons Ltd, the old established Bourne seed company, in 2011 for conversion into offices (below).

Photographed in January 2013

Lord Aveland's crest

School sign in 2007


A Post Office was operating in Rippingale from the mid-19th century but finally closed in January 2009 despite a valiant attempt to keep it open by the new owner, Simon Deane (pictured right) who had bought it with the village shop only two years before. The announcement to phase out the rural service was made in the autumn of 2007 and a public campaign was started to keep it open with the support of the local M P, Quentin Davies, and  the Friends of Rippingale Post Office. But the fight was to no avail and official closure followed. Three months after that, Mr Dean also decided to close the village store on the grounds that it was no longer financially viable.

Photo courtesy The Local newspaper

"The campaign against closure allowed me stay open a little longer than I expected and I also took on an outreach service which also helped but it has meant a substantial loss of income which made it financially impossible to continue and so complete closure was the only answer."
A new post office facility was promised from Thursday 12th November 2009, operating as an outreach service from the Bull Inn in High Street, Rippingale, after villagers lobbied for a replacement. It will be run by the sub-postmaster from Billingborough with opening times from 2pm until 4 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 9 am until 1 pm on Fridays.


New village sign

 A new village sign called Rippingale Past and Present has recently been erected on the village green to remind villagers of their heritage. It is double sided with a street map and sketches of historic buildings on the front including the church and the old railway station, and others that have since disappeared, the pinfold dating back to the 12th century, the 18th century windmill which was demolished in 1923, the old blacksmith's forge, the workhouse which operated from 1776 to 1834, the old bakehouse and the Jubilee Pump, donated to the village in 1897 to mark Queen Victoria's silver jubilee and demolished in 1954. On the other side is a selection of the flora and fauna that can be found in the locality, the animals, birds and plants that give delight each year to the people that live here. The sign was erected in 2000 to mark the millennium and was funded by South Kesteven District Council and voluntary contributions and was entirely researched by the villagers themselves.



Photographed circa 1880

This rare photograph of the village church dates from circa 1880 and was taken by William Redshaw before the clock was installed. It was hidden away in an album which was discovered by his descendants in 2011. A similar postcard photograph from another source is pictured below.

Photographed circa 1880

Photographed in 1906

A picture postcard of the village church from 1906.

Photographed in 1915

Two photographs of the post office in the High Street, Rippingale, the top view taken in 1915 soon after the house had been built by the postmaster, Stephen Laxton, who was also a photographer. By then, the new motorised transport was beginning to replace the horse-drawn mail cart and the Royal Mail van is pictured outside the post office circa 1920 (below). Mr Laxton can be seen with his hand on the mudguard with his daughter, Dora, behind and his wife (far right).

Photographed circa 1920

Photographed circa 1933

Maypole dancing by pupils from the village school during the annual Rippingale Feast circa 1933.

Photographed circa 1930

A postcard view of Rippingale taken circa 1930 (above) and
another (below) taken around 1950.

Photographed circa 1950

Boiler house



A mediaeval shed? Or perhaps where the grave digger keeps his tools? This small stone hut stands behind the village church but it is not as old as one might suppose because it was built this century as the boiler house for the central heating system although plans are now afoot to turn it into a loo.


There is now living in Rippingale, near Bourne, a village which contains little more than three hundred inhabitants, 30 old people whose united ages amount to 2,255 years, making an average of 75 years each. All of them are above 70 and several of them more than 90. - news report from the Stamford Mercury, Friday 22nd January 1819.

At Rippingale on Sunday, two fine young men had a pitched battle which lasted for a long time, to the disgrace of themselves and the standers-by. Where were the police? - news item from the Stamford Mercury, Friday 10th March 1848.

The fine peal of bells at Rippingale sent forth their melodious sounds on Christmas morning, the ringers having completed 5,040 changes without a stop in 3½ hours. The church being on elevated ground off the borders of the fens, the sound of the bells in the stillness of the morning was heard for many miles round. - news report from the Stamford Mercury, Friday 31st December 1858.

Water Street circa 1900


A long-handled brush can be found on display in a glass fronted case on the wall at the end of the nave in the village church. A hand-written notice inside the case tells us that this is a body brush that was presented to the parish by Job Abel Atkinson in 1923 and was used in olden times to brush the soles of the feet of the dying and so have a soothing effect on their passing. The sceptical may be forgiven for thinking that this may not be part of Lincolnshire's glorious past but merely a hoax because it does look more like a horse brush than a body brush and there is certainly no mention of such a practice or artefact in the various books on English folklore and customs. The truth may never be known but who are we to deny that in this part of Lincolnshire, an unusual and unique activity was pursued by those who, in their way, were showing concern and anxiety for those about to leave them although when making our judgment it is also worth remembering that the parish records show that Job Abel Atkinson died in 1900.

Mystery brush


See also

Rippingale and The Archers

German prisoners of war     Ran-tanning     Henry Bromley

The doctor's surgery     The post office

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