Post Office, Bits & Bobs

Post Office, Bits & Bobs & A Poem

“The mahogany counter was always highly polished,
and nobody was allowed to touch it.

Post office and General store

The village Post Office and shop was in a cottage on land adjacent to The Bell Inn and located in the single storey building to the front of the main house.

This was removed in the early 1970’s when the post office closed. The house still remains and is now purely residential.

It is not known the exact date the Post Office arrived in the village, but information tells us that in 1842 there was no Post Office, and that letters were taken into Spilsby and posted at the White Hart.

The old letter box still remains at the White Hart

Any heavy goods were sent via barge between Toynton and Boston.

The census of 1871 records the Baker family living in the property as ‘grocers’.

1911 Mr Edward Baker’s wife Frances kept the post office. She was very strict with the children- this seems to be a running theme when speaking with people about the post office. The mahogany counter was always highly polished, and nobody was allowed to touch it.   

Mrs Clara Shaw took up residence at the Post Office, acting as sub post-mistress and shopkeeper, in 1935 and stayed there for 32 years, prior to her retirement in 1967. Upon leaving the shop the family made their home at ‘Windrush’ in Northorpe Road.

Mrs Shaw stood at the doorway to the Post Office. It is widely remembered that the ‘arms folded’ stance was usual, especially when leaning on the treasured mahogany countertop.

In April 1967 Mr & Mrs D. Nicholls, along with their 3 children Janet, Diane, and Roger, arrived to take over the running of the shop and Post Office.

When renovations were being carried out at the Post Office in 1967 the new postmaster Mr Nicholls came across an old order book. It had fallen behind a shelf and lain undiscovered for over 70 years.

The first entry in the book was April 4th 1895, 72 years to the day Mr Nicholls took over the shop.

Some items listed were:

Butter 3½lb. – 2s 7½d.       

Tobacco—two ounces—6d.

The April 1968 edition of “Post Offices in the UK” notes its name as Halton Holgate – as in the 1962 postmark shown here– the present spelling is Halton Holegate.

Some residents still use ‘Holgate’ as their preferred spelling of the village.

1969 The Post Office closed.

‘Bits & Bobs’ from Mr Borrill’s folder.

Extracts from a Churchwarden’s Accounts.

1779 To Mr Wm Grantham for learning the parishioners to sing £6.

1831 Six quarts of ale after the bells had been repaired.

Crimes & Punishments

1812 (Age 25) Stealing bank notes & silver watch belonging to ‘another’, guilty of stealing from a dwelling house to the value of 39/- Sentenced to be transported for 7 years.

1812 (Age 26) Stealing 10 sheep – sold at 12/- per head. Sentenced to death.

1822 Convicted of stealing: pair of cord breeches, one coat, one lustre gown, one black silk (bombazine) gown, one silk shawl, one cotton shawl, one spotted shawl. Sentenced to be transported for seven years.

The Baldersons.

On the north side of the school, down Station Road, stood an old mud and stud thatched house, this was the house that went with the farm known as Balderstones farm. Mr John Harry Balderson and his sister Annie lived here.

Both were old and quite a pair of characters. John hardly showed himself and Annie walked about the roads in a dark long skirt and black hat and cape. She was always going for walks up the road and used to pick up or turn over any piece of paper she could find.

The cobbler.

On Northorpe Road, opposite the Old Hall gardens was an old house with a tin roof. A cobbler named Robinson lived there and he had his cobblers shop at the end of the house next to the road.

Mr Bourne of Ashby sent his son Fred when he was a boy to have some long leather boots repaired (No wellingtons then). Mr Robinson lit a piece of paper, put it in the boot and tied the top of the boot. Then he noted where the smoke came out, that was of course where the leak was.


A Poem by Peter Cash

HALTON HOLEGATE

Where this erratic road straightens out
– that is, before the bend that scares you
under an extraordinary arch of trees –
there’s no ignoring it.
Agnostic, it dares you.

But for the blue clock, it still could
attain to a Gothic integrity.
When, then, may it best be glimpsed,
this cathedral on a country road?
In March, it seems to me;

then, its numinous magnitude
appears in a calculating light.
Across a cold field,
an effrontery, in proportion, nude,
anticipates fright.

Put there – yes, to glory God –
a four-square tower, not a steeple:
but not without an ulterior urge
to turn to fierce stone the fear of God
in God-fearing people.

Be daunted, all: they didn’t drag block
after block, slab after slab, up here
without a view to your sudden awe,
your instinct for religious shock.
Building, domineer.

Then, cross the brittle footbridge
from the Rectory. Touch
its harsh and unsubtle stone,
inspect each weather-eaten edge.
Revise that meek approach.

© Peter Cash: Lincolnshire Churches (Shoestring Press, Nottingham 1998
Peter Cash’s other books include Fen Poems (Staple First Editions 1992)
and Pitying the Planet (Waynflete Press 2019)