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Village History

Beckingham Origin – “A Dictionary of English Place-Names” (A D Mills, Oxford University Press, 1991) has the name Beckingham being from the Old English Becca+inga+ham, or “homestead of the family or followers of Bassa” and is of Anglo Saxon origin.

Beckingham was part of Roger de Busli’s domain after the Conquest and became a typical medieval village. The land was farmed in strips in some variation of the Three Field System. There were two manors, one held by the Duke of Newcastle and one by the Archbishop of York.

The whole pattern was altered in 1776/79 when the enclosures took place. The main owners of land then were the Meynell family, Thomas Waterhouse, who had inherited the Hall family’s land, the Prebend of Beckingham and the Chapter of Southwell, and the Vicar. The Meynell estate was then bought by William and Robert Cross of Gringley and William Flint of Beckingham; Thomas Waterhouse’s land was divided when his daughter Elizabeth Hawksmore Massingberd died, and much of the Church land has been sold off. So for the past 300 years, Beckingham has not been dominated by any very large landowners.

The Ramper Toll Road and Gainsborough Bridge opened in 1790, and in the nineteenth century engineering firms became established in Gainsborough and this gave the farm labourer an alternative form of employment. There was also a chemical works at West Stockwith, work on the railway and in 1887, Joseph Spencer Compton Watson established his shipyard on the Trent Bank.

Since 1958, the Shipyard and Railway Station have closed; The Crown Inn and Hare and Hounds have closed and most of the farmsteads are no longer part of farms; but oil has been found; even so we cannot buy petrol here. Numerous houses have been built since 1958 and the Village Shop/Post Office thrives today. The working population has increased enormously over the last few years, mainly due to people commuting to nearby towns (Gainsborough, Lincoln, Retford, Scunthorpe, Doncaster etc). Only the Church and farming have had continuity through the centuries.

Saundby Origin – Saun+by (+by – farmstead of) Danish origin, possibly when the Danes travelled inland up the River Idle and settled in the area.

Saundby is a small hamlet adjoining Beckingham with a population of approximately 100.

It lies on the Beckingham to Retford A631 road and was once accessed via a Toll Bar situated at the top of Ramper Road.

The land in Saundby originally belonged to Lord and Lady Middleton but they sold the farms and land c1921. The only industry than the smallholdings/farmsteads was the cheese factory that once existed on the main Beckingham to Retford Road and a Mink Farm which was run from Saundby Park Farm in the 1960s and 70s and was owned by a Mr Emmerson.

The church of St Martin of Tours, built around the 16th Century, is now a closed church and only open for special occasions or by appointment eg the day of the Nottinghamshire Historic Church Trust Sponsored Cycle Ride held in early September. The remainder of the village is taken up with residential houses and smallholdings/farms.

A Brief History Of Beckingham

It is believed that the village of Beckingham was founded by the Angles and is generally accepted that a building for Christian worship existed on the site of the present church.

The Church is dedicated to All Saints and dates from the 12th century. It bears some interesting features, including a 13th century Sedalia with moulded arches and detached shafts, with capitals of foliage that provided three seats for priests. There are a number of memorial tablets, specifically one dedicated to Mrs Marion Parkinson, a survivor of the 1852 Birkenhead Disaster, happening off the Cape.

Beckingham has a small but attractive village green with the remains of an old ash tree, the tall stump of which has been carved into a large barn owl. Also on the village green is a large stone inscribed with Beckingham cum Saundby Parish Council erected to commemorate the millennium 2000 This is flanked by two capstans originating from the local Watson’s Shipyard. The millstone and anvil were from the village blacksmiths and represent the rural employment history of our village.

Today there are some 500 households and a population of around 2000. There was a Methodist Church which closed August 2007 but the small Post Office cum General Store survives and is the hub of the village. Unfortunately Beckingham does not have a pub although the Trent Port by the river just before Gainsborough is theoretically within the Beckingham boundary although not particularly within walking distance!

Beckingham is one of the most northerly villages of Nottinghamshire. It lies in the Trent valley within a triangle of counties – three miles to the east of the village lies the River Trent and the County of Lincolnshire – ten miles to the North is Yorkshire. The Trent has long provided a source of income for the village residents, with the Willow Works on the riverside originally prior to a purpose built works being erected on Old Trent Road. This provided a cottage industry for the villagers housing willow-strippers and basket-weavers.

It is the drying and storing shed that is the last remaining feature of the Willow Works on Old Trent Road and a major effort is being made to restore it to something like its original condition. Should this be achieved then the village would have a valuable resource at their disposal with the possibility of a museum to record and preserve the details of the willow and basket making industry and a centre from which visitors to the village can go and see the proposed reinstatement of Beckingham Marshes.

The Watson Shipbuilder’s were the principal employers from 1889 and during the height of their business they were building craft to be exported all over the world. The shipyard closed in 1962. The village will be forever grateful to the Watson family for donating land to enable a school to be erected in 1901 for 150 children and for the Institute, Reading Room and Library in 1908.

Beckingham continued to benefit from the philanthropy of the Watson family when in 1944 they gave a 10 acre field for a sports field and assisted in the building of the Village Hall. They were also responsible for the acquisition of the Recreation Room (old Primitive Chapel) for the village. Beckingham still benefits from the above today.