Memories of Hackthorn by John Franks (formerly Mann)


I moved to Hackthorn with my parents from South Kelsey in 1951 when I was aged 6.

My home the Manor House was owned by the Goffin family; we lived in the servant’s quarters – my bedroom had bars on the window! We think it was to keep the girls in away from the boys at night! The kitchen had a large black cooking range also a sink set in the wide stone window with wooden shutters barred at night.  The ceiling had massive half trees as beams.  The rear of the Manor seemed a lot older than the front part; it could have had a Saxon beginning. It is now restored to a high standard by the Albones family after very nearly falling into ruin.

The Manor farm was one of the last farms in Lincolnshire to have working shire horses in use – pulling wagons and carts – cutting corn with Binders.  I rode on the horses when given the chance.

The Manor was a two-part farm – one part being called the Whales Jaws with a gateway leading onto the Ermine Street having one Whale Jaw each side as gateposts.  This small farmyard also boasts an old Roman tithe barn

The shepherd was my uncle Albert Mann.  He used a horse and a small cart called a Float to shepherd the sheep.  I spent a lot of my spare time with him at lambing time.  One of the breeds we had then was Lincolnshire long wools – The Dutch barn was put in use at lambing time with wire net tied round with straw packed in to make shelters for the new born lambs.

The farm also had a breeding herd of Lincolnshire red cattle.

One of the fields was called the horse paddock it had a large pond that legend said had no bottom! A horse was drowned in it and completely disappeared never to be seen again! I walked over it on the weeds lots of times as a boy with no problem,


I remember a big fire.  The Dutch barn at the Manor caught fire so a lot of the old implements like wagons, seed drills, a tractor, a Thrashing Drum and Elevator as well as straw and hay went up in flames.  The fire brigade had to run hoses almost half a mile across a field to reach the farmyard but it burnt to the ground.  Some tin sheets my dad rescued are still forming a shelter in our garden I was involved in letting out livestock in case the fire spread – some buildings did start smoking!

Dad had 2 pigs to fatten up each year; this provided most of our needs for meat and a very large vegetable garden – milk from the farm – free-range chickens meant we lived healthily on a low wage.

The Village in the 1950s

Hackthorn School was half the size it is now.  I remember using slates as writing tablets.  It had benches as seats with trestle tables.  School writing books where just coming in at that time, our teachers was called Miss Allen, followed by Miss Leather. The school toilets were out in the yard – best avoided unless it proved urgent! A cast iron coke stove in the corner was the main heating and in the winter our milk allowance, being a third of a pint, was all emptied into a large pan to make a chocolate drink called Co-Co and very nice it was too. The old school bell is still there on the side of the building it was a prime target for our air rifles. We had hot school meals costing five shillings a week, the main cook being Mrs Taylor.

The green Bedford OB coach taking us on to Welton secondary school we nicknamed the chicken crate due to being fitted out with wooden slatted seats with the boys separated from girls.

The Well

Hackthorn like all villages had a public well – this was a ruin in my day and was down by the beck in the centre of the old village.  A piece of wasteland is still in evidence which may have given public access to the well near Bradshaw’s gate.  It had fruit trees growing on it  – good scrumping time for apples now gone.

We had 2 shops one being a Co-Op the other a Post Office run at this time by the Zealand family – a Co-Op van did home deliveries.

The Blacksmith’s forge next door to the post office is not in use at this time.

The carpenter’s shop was in use by Mr Colin Moore and Mr Eric Teather.

Hackthorn village was and is an estate and village life revolved around the grounds and parkland which included the Lovely church.

Village Hall

I was, with others under the supervision of Mr Kerry, involved in making the old tithe barn (the Village Hall) into a more modern venue this included sanding down the old floor boards to make a polished floor and painting the walls and beams.  Mr Kerry fitted out a new kitchen.

It was our small group that formed a social club from a youth group in 1966 approx (we just got older!) Robin Hall, Ian Hall, Mike Ransome, Peter Taylor, Ken Taylor, Peter Zealand, John Butler, Roy Butler, John Mann, Nina Baxter, Wendy Baxter, Rita Margraves, Colin Moore, Fred Illingworth, Denis Wright, Linda Wright, Bill Toynton, Peter Teather, Mr Kerry’s son, David Greenfield, Roy Bellamy and others.

Social Club Members – Can you name them?


Every year we had the drama presentation.  This was a highlight – a not to miss event enjoyed by all.

We also had whist drives.

Garden fetes were held in the beautiful Hall grounds with Teas in the village hall.

It was at one of these events (1970 I think!) – I brought our marching band called the “Lincoln Imps drum and bugle band” I being the bass drummer at the time.  This Lincoln band started life as a church lads brigade then was re-formed under a Mr Bernard Vince into the Lincoln Imps band the idea being to give children a place to learn instruments and keep them of the streets and hopefully out of trouble.

We had a small Wesleyan chapel down by the stream but a very low attendance.  My mother and Mrs Graves played the organ in turns; Mrs Daubney was the Sunday school teacher and made wonderful cakes; Mr Vick Graves was a local preacher and often took the services.  He also worked at the Manor Farm with dad. Mr Jack Hall was the main funding provider but it closed its doors after Mr Hall died.  The chapel has since been gutted and made into a travel centre.

My late father George Mann now lived at Craigrossie (now Manasseh) he became well known for topiary on his hedges.  This has now died away due to bad winters but bus loads of people travelled to see his creation; also mum and dad had a deep litter chicken hut and kept our village supplied with eggs.

I had over 20 New Zealand white breeding rabbits with a stud buck to give me some pocket money on the sale of the ever-increasing stock

The field next to Manasseh is the wash-dyke where sheep came to be dipped: part of the brick dam structure is still to be seen.  While digging out an area behind the house to use for growing vegetables I found an old stone wall or at least the base of one running up the centre of our garden.  It would have been part of the old field boundary our plot being part of the fields for penning sheep.

The field to our right is owned by Mr Robin Hall.  It once had a row of almshouses but most of the evidence has gone.

Our main mode of transport was the pushbike; the green road car buses running as they do today – one in the morning, one at night to Lincoln.

I am sure some dates are not accurate but all these things are true and I have put them down as best I can from my memory.

John Franks