Lyndon Village

The Village Scene

The name Lyndon first appears in the Pipe Rolls of 1167. The place name is Anglo-Saxon in origin, deriving from the words lind, meaning lime tree, and dun, meaning hill, combining to mean Lime Tree Hill.

Victoria County History records that Lyndon is a parish of 911 acres. The highest point is on the northern boundary towards Manton at 400 feet above sea level, and along this boundary there are fine views over Rutland Water. The level falls to 200 feet on the southern boundary along the River Chater. "The subsoil", so runs the account, "is upper lias and inferior oolite: the surface soil varies. In digging a trench in 1780 to lay a drain, talc was found in the stiff blue clay, and there are ancient stone pits."

In medieval times the village would have been in the middle of the Royal Forest of Rutland, which stretched from Caldecott and Withcote in the west to Stamford in the east. The Forest would have provided not only sport but venison for the king and his courtiers - today there are many pheasants and only the occasional muntjac! Within the Royal Forest there were hunting parks at, for example, Barnsdale, Oakham, Ridlington and Lyddington (where the Bishop of Lincoln was fortunate to have had a deer leap in the park bank to allow the deer in but not out).

There are also signs of village earthworks in a paddock to the north of the cross roads and of fish ponds below Top Hall.

The most significant houses in the village are Lyndon Hall and Top Hall. Abel and Thomas Barker of Hambleton bought the Lyndon estate in 1662 for £9400. They then pulled down the old Manor House and to the west built the present Lyndon Hall. It took ten years to build and was completed in 1677. Additions made later on the west side were mostly demolished in 1950, suffering from dry rot, but some of the additions made by E Browning of Stamford in 1867 (two years after the major restoration of the church) still remain. It seems that Abel Barker was his own architect - he took advice from the well known architect-surveyor of the time John Sturges (who had connections with Chatsworth House, Belton House and Milton Park) but according to the records only paid him 30 shillings: even in 1672, an unlikely sum for the whole project! The influence of Thorpe Hall, not far away near Peterborough and built 20 years earlier, is apparent and, according to Abel Barker's notes on the architectural books he read in the winter of 1667-68, Palladio may well have been another influence. According to Victoria County History it is "an excellent example of the transition between the Jacobean and the more pure classic style of architecture" then coming into fashion.

The field to the west of the Hall, called Home Close (see the 1663 and 1794 maps), provided the income for Barker's Charity , which is mentioned on the plaque in the church.

The construction near Lyndon Pond is not, as many people imagine, an ice house, but a roofed water tank which is fed by the adjacent spring and formerly served the whole village (as mentioned in the records of the Revd T K B Nevinson).

Top Hall, which is of similar design to Lyndon Hall, was built at about the same time by the Barker brothers, Abel and Thomas. It is simpler and plainer than Lyndon Hall. Part of the older seventeenth century house with the gabled roof still stands in the north-west corner .

The estate boasts some interesting trees, including a very fine swamp cypress in the Hall gardens, a semi-evergreen Luscombe oak, and a good collection of other oaks.

Reputedly the oldest house in Lyndon is the old Post Office. It appears on the 1663 map of Lyndon (which is more pictorial than precise, making definite identification very difficult), along with No 4 Church Road, Periwinkle Cottage (on Shellaker's Close), and a building on the site of Bay Tree. There is of course no certainty that the present buildings are those that appear on the map. The 1794 map is very much clearer. Here we can see Bay Tree (with its outbuildings), Home Farm, No 4 Church Road, Periwinkle Cottage, the Old Rectory by the Church, No 7 Post Office Lane, The Old Post Office, Park Cottage, Rose Cottage, (smaller now than on the map), and the Rectory, before the south-facing wing was added.

Another interesting house is Beech House, formerly the Blue Boar Inn. This was opened in the 1840s for the workers on the railway. It was later closed by the squire because the employees of the railway became so drunk that they impeded the villagers on their way to church.

The roads in and out of the village have changed over the years. The maps of 1663 and 1794 need to be compared with an up-to-date Ordnance Survey to see some of the changes. It is clear that the road which continued from what is now called Post Office Lane to the south of the Hall and on to Manton has disappeared; likewise the road running south from the Hall to Pilton and Wing no longer exists.

Up to 1940 the roads to Edith Weston and North Luffenham were gated. Between these two roads lay Weston Barn. The remains of the farm buildings, which are still visible from both roads, stand above the little stream. Behind it was the village bakehouse. On the Luffenham road there was a lime kiln, which closed in 1880. In the village itself there appear to have been three wells: one at the cross roads where according to the 1663 map there was a market cross, one opposite No 4 Church Road, and the third beside the east doorway to the churchyard.

The Village Hall was erected in 1922. A paragraph in the Grantham Journal runs: "The village has lately been enriched by a most generous gift, a fine Village Hall, built by Mrs Conant in memory of her husband, the late Mr E W Conant, JP". The building was used for the first time when the vicar, the Rev E Vere Hodge, who was leaving the village, gave a farewell party to the villagers.

The population of Lyndon has remained remarkably stable over the last hundred years. In 1891 it was 112, it was 103 in 1921, and fell to its lowest level of 85 in 1991. Recent estimates (1995) put it at 116. Whilst the figures are fairly stable, the nature of the population has changed from being largely agricultural in 1891 to a village mostly composed of newcomers and commuters in 1998.