Horncastle Town Walk
- 0.00 Miles
- 1 hour
A walk of 2.33 km (1 ½ miles) around the home town of Sir Joseph Banks.
This walk will take you on a short route around the town, highlighting some of the town’s rich history.
- Distance: 2 1/3 km (1 ½ miles)
- Time: Approximately 1 hour at a leisurely pace.
- Maps: OS Explorer 273 and OS Landranger 122.
- Terrain: This level walk uses surfaced town paths. The busy A158 is crossed twice.
- Parking: Pay & display car parks are located at the Bain (Tesco) and St Lawrence Street, Horncastle.
- Public Transport: The Interconnect 6 bus service operates between Lincoln and Skegness and stops in Horncastle. For further information and times call Traveline on 0871 2002233 or visit www.lincsbus.info.
- Refreshments: There is a wide range of shops, cafes and pubs in Horncastle.
- Public Toilets: St Lawrence Street, Horncastle.
This walk and leaflet have been compiled with the assistance of Horncastle Civic Society.
- Let's set off!
At the Pagoda and bridge over the River Bain, follow Watermill Road alongside the river. This area is the north basin of the canal.
Stevenson’s Watermill can be seen straight ahead, and the outline of the mill wheel can still be seen on the west wall. The basin was also used by the Horncastle Baptists in the early 19th century for baptisms.
Turn right into Dovecote Alley, just after Mill View Court, to emerge on North Street.
Look out for the Court House and Angel Inn on your left, and the War Memorial Hospital building over the road. The Hospital Building was the town’s second dispensary and has a plaque above the entrance in memory of Edward Harrison MD, Sir Joseph Banks and Sir Henry Dymoke.
Turn right along North Street. Cross Conging Street and continue past The Admiral Rodney Hotel and Old Nick’s Tavern, formerly the New Inn, to the junction of North Street and High Street, the area known as the Bull Ring.
This was the terminus for passenger and Royal Mail coaches. Two old posting Inns can still be seen, the 17th century Red Lion and the older 16th century Bull Hotel. Sir Joseph Banks convened many meetings at the Bull Hotel and organised annual fundraising balls in The Assembly Rooms on behalf of The Dispensary.
Turn right onto the High Street and walk to the Market Place.
Admire the diverse architecture along the High Street. The building on the right just before the Market Place has two blue plaques on its wall. One celebrates the installation of the town clock in 1889 and the second shows the property was once the town house of Sir Joseph Banks (1743 – 1820), botanist and president of the Royal Society.
Enter the Market Place.
The Gothic-style Stanhope Memorial stands in the middle of the Market Place and was erected in 1894 and commemorates the Lord of the Manor, MP for Horncastle and local benefactor Edward Stanhope, who cleared the Market Place of its old buildings in 1890 to improve the market.
The buildings here are a mix of late Georgian and Victorian and it is worth looking above the shop frontages to appreciate them. In particular look out for the former George Inn, with the archway, where coaches from Lincoln, Boston and Louth stopped. It is said that the author George Borrow stayed here and wrote of his experiences at the horse fair in ‘Romany Rye’. Also look out for the Italian-style curved façade of the ‘Punch House’, which was built on the site of the 17th century vicarage and attached dram house.
Continue to walk in the same direction and cross the Market Place and follow the road to the right, Bridge Street. Cross the River Bain.
Look out for the stone mooring post close to Hares Warehouse. Built in 1865 the warehouse was used to store corn.
Continue along Bridge Street and turn left as it becomes West Street.
There are a number of fine buildings along West Street. Look out for the Fighting Cocks; The Crown Inn; the home and asylum of physician Edward Harrison at number 30 and Watson’s Infant School (1786 – 1918). Admire the stone sculpture at the end of West Street, erected as a tribute to Sir Joseph Banks.
At the traffic lights cross the A158, with care, and continue straight ahead along West Street.
The last building on the left was The Great Northern Hotel, built at the same time as the railway. On the right is the site of the old railway station.
Keep left past the houses and then follow the footpath to the banks of the River Bain and a footbridge.
Turn left over the bridge.
The bridge crosses the Horncastle Canal. The canal was completed in 1802 at a cost of £45,000, nearly four times the original estimate. It links Horncastle to Tattershall and is 11 miles (17 ½ km) in length. The main cargo was coal, lime and farm produce. The decline of the canal started with the arrival of the railway in Horncastle in 1854. During the severe winter of 1855 the canal froze and the railway started delivering coal. Although struggling financially, the canal stayed open until 1889.
Follow the footpath left onto Coronation Walk. A board provides more information on the history of the canal.
Continue along Coronation Walk alongside the River Waring and a row of lime trees.
At the old Weslyan School turn left and cross the river and road, and continue into St Mary’s Square.
Above the gate at the first cottage on the right is a stone inscribed WM 1877. This apparently refers to William Marwood, the Crown Executioner, although there is no evidence to suggest he lived there. Once in the church yard there are two cottages on the right, both with blue plaques. Both date from the 18th century and were the first Lincolnshire dispensary, started by Sir Joseph Banks in 1789, and the first Horncastle Workhouse.
St Mary’s Church dates from the 13th century and is built from local green sandstone. It was restored between 1859 and 1861. It is worth looking inside to see the memorials and the famous scythes, reputedly from the Civil War. On the left is the National School, started by Sir Joseph Banks on land that he owned and built with over 20 trees from his estate at Revesby Abbey.
Keep to the left-hand path to emerge on Manor House Street.
Turn left along the front of the school. View the Manor House and its plaque, then continue to the entrance of Banovallum House.
At the end of the school there is a short section of Roman wall visible. In total the wall enclosed approximately 5 acres of land. The 18th century Banovallum House is now the headquarters of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust but was built on part of Sir Joseph Banks’ estate. (There is a circular walk around the grounds should you wish to explore.)
Turn around and return to the church. Turn left to walk in front of the church and emerge on Church Lane.
Look out for the small building on the left marked with a blue plaque. This was the workshop of the cobbler and Crown Executioner William Marwood. Between 1872 and 1883 he dispatched 178 prisoners across the United Kingdom. He introduced the “long drop”, and his likeness appeared in the Chambers of Horrors in Madam Tussauds.
The building at the end of the road on the right is the old Free Grammar School, built in 1778, and was in use until 1908 when the school moved to its current site on West Street. The building at the entrance was the town’s first fire station!
Follow the road as it bends left and becomes Wharf Road with the River Waring on the right.
The busy wharf and south basin of the canal was located on this stretch of the River Waring. The town’s position between two rivers means it has always been susceptible to flooding. It suffered a number of serious floods in 1889, 1912, 1920 and 1960. The level of the 1960 flood is marked on the last building along Wharf Road, opposite The Ship.
Turn left along the far side of the library. Look through the window to see part of the Roman Wall inside. Continue into Lindsey Court, where William Marwood perfected his “long drop”. Walk through the alley known as Tinkers Entry to emerge onto the High Street and the Market Place.
Cross the road and walk down St Lawrence Street at the side of the Post Office to return to the starting point.
St Lawrence Street, or Pudding Lane as it was formerly known, was once a busy area of the town and home to a variety of industries and trades including a tannery, saddler, basket maker and blacksmith, to name a few. There were also many beer houses and brothels.
- You made it! Well done.