KETTLETHORPE, LINCOLNSHIRE, ENGLAND

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Kettlethorpe, Lincolnshire

Kettlethorpe is a village in Lincolnshire, England, some 12 miles west of the county town of Lincoln and 8 miles south of Gainsborough.

The village consists of 13 dwellings with a population of just 55 people.

A history of Kettlethorpe

The earliest documentary evidence to the existence of the hamlet of Kettlethorpe appears within documents relating to the lands of the Bishop of Lincoln dated to c1225, (Cameron 1998). The prefix "thorpe", meaning a small outlying settlement of 9th or 10th century, indicates that it had earlier origins although it is not mentioned in the Domesday records of 1086.

As its name suggests, Kettlethorpe was originally a Danish settlement, probably dating from the 9th century. In 1356, the manor of Kettlethorpe came into the hands of Sir Thomas Swynford, who also owned the manor of Coleby in Lincolnshire.

The settlement achieved some fame in the medieval period when the medieval Kettlethorpe Hall was home to Lady Katherine Swynford (d.1403), ancestress to the present Royal family by the Beaufort line and the third wife of John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster. The hall was rebuilt in the 18th century and again in 1863 and all that remains of the medieval building is the stone gateway, with battlements, and the 14th century sunk mouldings. Earthworks representing moats dating to this period can also be seen to the east and south of the present building.

Katherine

Sir Hugh, who succeeded his father in 1361 and died 10 years later, gave Kettlethorpe its place in history by marrying Katherine Roelt, who became the mistress of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the third son of Edward III. In 1396 John married Katherine, a remarkable proof of devotion in the days of dynastic marriages. the historical novel "Katherine", by Anya Seton, chronicles her extraordinary life

Katherine's sister, Philippa, is believed to have been the wife of Geoffrey Chaucer. Katherine's four children by John of Gaunt were legitimised under the name of Beaufort. Katherine appears to have been treated with due respect by both Richard II (John of Gaunt's nephew) and Henry IV (his son). Richard granted her the right to enclose a deer park of 300 acres, which survived until 1830. But it was a strict term of the legitimation of her children that neither they nor their heirs should ever lay claim to the throne.

This condition was simply ignored by Henry VII, whose mother was Lady Margaret Beaufort, great-grand-daughter of Katherine and John and Henry's only claim to be in the direct line of descent.

Katherine died on 10th May, 1403, and was buried on the south side of the Angel Choir in the Cathedral in Lincoln. The Swynford line continued at Kettlethorpe until the late 15th century. Only the gateway, some of the original stone wall of the manor tower, parts of the moat and cellar remain from this time.

Parliamentarians

The next owner of importance was Charles Hall, in the early 17th century. Charles's ownership lasted throughout the Civil War, when on the 26th July 1645 a skirmish took place at Kettlethorpe, at which (according to Roundhead accounts) the Royalists were routed, suffering four casualties and being chased to within three miles of Newark. Charles was returned to the Commonwealth Parliament in 1654. The brick walls surrounding the garden date from this period, and his arms feature on one of the gate pillars, which shows a talbot together with the initials CH.

In the 18thcentury, Kettlethorpe passed from the Hall to the Amcotts family, whose arms are displayed over the door. In this period Kettlethorpe became a very large house, and the obituary for Sir Wharton Amcotts (another MP) in 1807 asserts that "...at no place was the old English hospitality kept up with greater spirit than at Kettlethorpe park".

But shortly thereafter it fell into disrepair, and the present house was essentially reconstructed out of the old manor by Weston Cracroft-Amcotts (who represented mid-Lincolnshire in Parliament) in the 1860's. The church, St Peter and Paul, was rebuilt in the early 19th century.

The house remains something of a history lesson in miniature, with some remarkable features preserved. As well as the medieval gatehouse, walls and some curious carved heads, there is a small oak-paneled room dating from the 17th century. A paneled dining room situated in the old tower dates from the early 18th century, with a fine marble fireplace from later in the same century. The drawingroom has a particularly beautiful stucco ceiling from the end of the eighteenth century, while the library and front hall are Victorian.

Kettlethorpe today

In the 1980's, Kettlethorpe passed back into the hands of a Parliamentarian, the Rt.Hon. Douglas Hogg, QC, MP. In the 1990's his wife was given the title of Baroness Hogg of Kettlethorpe in recognition of her work in Downing Street. It is a curious coincidence that the Hogg arms, like the Swynfords', consist of a shield bearing three boars' heads.

Last updated : 5th July 2006