A quartet of ‘deep places’

Words by:
Melanie Burton
Featured in:
November 2017

The south Lincolnshire towns and villages which make up the Deepings are fast growing places all with their own identities. However, the one thing they have in common is their caring, big-hearted communities.
On the surface, the area appears to be a quiet rural retreat with an abundance of picturesque and peaceful river scenes. But if you look a little bit deeper you will find plenty going on.

Take Market Deeping for instance, with its attractive old coaching inns and bustling antiques centres. It is one of the largest settlements in the Deepings but is the only one with town status. Home to a variety of independent shops and businesses, it also has two medium-sized supermarkets and an expanding industrial estate.

The town is also known for its stone buildings dating back to the seventeenth century, its largely fifteenth century church dedicated to St Guthlac and the remains of a market cross. Its market has been held since at least 1220.

Market Deeping is also home to the Deepings Library, which has its own story to tell.

The building itself, in High Street, is a Georgian House once called The Park and owned by the well-known local family of the Wades.In 1972 they sold their home to Lincolnshire County Council which opened it shortly afterwards as a public library and it operated as that very successfully, until LCC took the decision to classify its libraries into tiers as part of a programme, to cut £2m from the budget.

Deepings Library was classed as a Tier Three library but a dedicated group of locals got together to secure its future and in January 2016 the group took it over and now it is the busiest community library in Lincolnshire.

The Deepings Community Centre, located in Douglas Road, Market Deeping, was opened in October 2000 after three years of hard work by a group of local people. The acquisition of the Old Health Centre by the South Kesteven District Council provided the base and the centre is now well established.

Liz Noble, who has been a director of the centre for four years said the centre is run by volunteers and is in a ever-growing area.

“The community centre is marking its 20th anniversary this month and we are just going from strength to strength,” she said.

“It was a doctors’ surgery which closed its doors on 15th November 1997 and opened up in a new surgery a mile up the road. SKDC bought the property and a lot of interested people got together to make it into a community centre.”

The building was a maze of little rooms and a lot of work went into transforming it into the central hub it is today.

“There are various side rooms and we have five resident clinics that are experiencing this busiest time ever,” Liz said. “It is run by volunteers including the directors and it is a very vibrant centre now.

“We have twenty-five volunteers on reception alone and it is very much a central hub in the town.”

No-one anticipated that the Deepings would grow so rapidly so the doctors’ surgery outgrew its premises and had to expand.

“The place is still growing like mad. And there is a great atmosphere at the centre,” said Liz. “We have regular groups like pilates, zumba, super senior exercisers, yoga and all sorts of dancing for children and adults.

“There are also craft workshops, iPad and IT workshops and we have a number of regular users like the U3A which is increasing its membership all the time and now has 500 members just in the Deepings.”

Liz said she had been living in the Deepings for forty-six years and it was a good place to be.

“It is a very nice village with a good community. People look after one another and you only have to look at the support the library and the centre get to see what a caring community we have.

“I have been a director at the centre for four years now and I had no idea what I was walking into or what I was able to offer. But it all evolved and we have refurbished everything from new tables and chairs to new fitments.”

The community centre holds a lot of memories for many locals.

“We are still getting people coming into the centre remembering the doctors from when it was a surgery and that was twenty years ago,” said Liz.

The Deepings is the collective name given to Market Deeping, Deeping St James, Deeping Gate, West Deeping and Deeping St Nicholas (originally Deeping Fen).

The villages are mentioned in the Domesday Book and as the area is very low-lying, its name is derived from the Saxon name translatable as either ‘deep places’ or ‘deep lands’.

Deeping St James is another of the largest settlements in the Deepings and boasts three primary schools and a secondary school which also houses the Deepings Leisure Centre including the swimming pool.

There are two limestone churches in the Deepings, and the largest is the Priory Church in Deeping St James. In 1139 Baldwin Fitz Gilbert established the Benedictine Priory of St James as a cell of Thorney Abbey.

The cell was dissolved at the surrender of Thorney in 1539 and the Priory Church remains as the Church of England parish church of Deeping St James.

The smallest of the four Deepings is West Deeping. It is on the border of Lincolnshire with Cambridgeshire and has about 120 homes, and 225 names on the electoral register for 2012.

West Deeping is first recorded around 1086 in the Domesday survey, but there were prehistoric settlements here from the Stone Age, through to Roman times.

Another village in the Deepings is Deeping St Nicholas which at seven miles long has the distinction of being one of the longest villages in the United Kingdom.

The Deepings has more than its fair share of quirky features including the Exotic Pet Refuge and the School of Frying Excellence which offers training courses to fish and chip shop fryers up and down the country.

The Exotic Pet Refuge in Deeping St James has been established since 1984 and now costs more than £65,000 to run. It cares for more than 300 creatures from monkeys and snakes to a lynx.

The School of Frying Excellence is located in Market Deeping and offers various training courses from NVQs to advance, all delivered by award-winning trainers who have a combined 100 years of frying, building and managing quality fish and chip shop businesses.

Community spirit is very much to the fore in the towns and villages that make up the Deepings and the proof is in the pudding when it comes to the area’s community library.

Though located in the heart of Market Deeping, it is very much a place for all Deepings residents and it has already signed up its 1,000th new member since it opened in January 2016.

It is officially the busiest community library in the county and it is all thanks to the dedicated band of volunteers that run the library and saved it from closure when Lincolnshire County Council axed its library provision to save £2m from its budget.

Library co-ordinator Louisa Crowson said without the volunteers giving up their time, the library would not be what it is today.

“We are in our second year of running now and we are doing really well. People are still joining at a rate of knots and we are the busiest community library in the whole of Lincolnshire,” she said.

“We have fifty-three volunteers and without them giving us their time, the library would not be able to stay open. Last year, the volunteers gave more than 3,000 hours which helped make the library as big as it is.”

Its summer reading challenge has just finished and that too saw record numbers taking part.

“We had 120 children taking part this year which is better than last year, when we had fifty-six,” said Louisa.

“We are going from strength to strength, opening up new clubs and having regular events too. We have a bee evening and birds of prey evening coming up and we also have a Frog Pod which has iPads for 2 to 10-year olds to do reading and activities.”

With an increase in the number of volunteers, the library has been able to extend its opening hours and it is now accessible on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am to 5pm and on Saturdays from 10am to 1pm.

“We have made quite a few changes putting in new furniture to try and make it more of a comfortable place to come,” said Louisa.

“There are crafts with a different theme every week and the ideas the children come up with are amazing.”

It has a number of clubs that are based at the library such as the Scrabble Club and the Lego Club which is helping to attract boys into the library.

“It is almost like a community hub,” said Louisa. “It is a library but it is not a ‘hush hush’ place. It is more relaxed and comfortable.”

Everyone agrees that the kitchen is the heart of any home and that you can’t beat a relaxing long soak in a luxurious bath to unwind at the end of a hard and tiring working day.

Nobody knows that better than Stephen and Sarah Devonport, who turned a long-term dream into a reality when they set up their own Devonports kitchen and bathroom design and installation business in Deeping St James.

“It all began nearly fourteen years ago with a desire to provide people with beautiful bathrooms and kitchens married up with expert design, advice and customer service,” said Sarah.

They worked out of a home office and van in the early days of the business but were so driven with the dream of one day having their own showroom, that it was only a matter of time before the couple realised their ambition.

“We enjoyed many years of continued growth and success and our dream finally became a reality in 2009 when Devonports Kitchens & Bathrooms was born,” said Sarah.

“Our initial showroom started out at 45 Bridge Street, Deeping St James and we now occupy the neighbouring two units which has allowed us to expand our existing showroom with further kitchen and bathroom displays.”

Devonports kitchens and fitted bathroom furniture are manufactured in Birmingham by Mereway Limited, which has more than 30 years of continued growth and success.

They have three ranges within their kitchen portfolio and expanding into the showroom next door has given the Devonports the opportunity to display even more options.

The new kitchen settings have been specifically designed to showcase different door styles and colours and different styles of worktop.

“We have included different ideas for islands that incorporate seating at breakfast bar level height and table height to give numerous options and ideas when planning a kitchen,” said Sarah.

“Our existing showroom houses even more kitchen settings with laminate, Granite, Quartz and Corian worktops, all in an array of colours and shapes to show the beauty that can be created from all materials.

“Just a change of worktop in your kitchen can often breathe new life and vitality into a room that perhaps felt tired before.

“At Devonports we strive to offer that something extra to the kitchen and bathroom buying experience.

“We are not driven by a team of sales staff, we have no targets or limits to reach or achieve, only the ones that we set ourselves to make our customers’ experiences enjoyable and personal.

“We listen, which we believe is quite possibly the most important part of our communication with you, and we offer practical and knowledge-based advice.

“We do not take it lightly that we are welcomed into people’s homes and so we always treat them with the utmost respect, keeping our working environment as clean and tidy as possible at all times.”

Devonports has its own team of kitchen and bathroom fitters, and uses the services of the same tilers, electricians and plasterers that it has for many years.

“Whether you are looking to change your kitchen worktops, replace your bath with a shower or build a brand new extension to incorporate a new kitchen we can take care of it all,” said Sarah.

Multi-award winning Linfords Fish & Chips in Market Deeping has successfully passed the Fish & Chip Quality Award assessment carried out by the nationally accredited assessor from the Federation of Fish Friers.

Linfords was one of the first fish & chip shops in the UK to hold this award back in 1996 and has achieved the highest standard to retain this award ever since. Fish & chip shops achieving this standard are recognised for producing top quality fish & chips in a first class environment.

“Holding this exclusive award officially places our shop amongst the UK’s finest fish & chip shops. To gain this award our shop has undergone a rigorous and in-depth 6-hour inspection by an industry professional and we have achieved or exceeded the quality standard in all areas inspected: product quality and taste, hygiene, food preparation practices, customer service, management controls and operational practices.

“You can be assured that we always strive to achieve the highest of standards.”

Built in 1802 The Stage has been part of Market Deeping since 1802, although it was known under its former name, The New Inn, before brewers Watney Mann completed a £30,000 conversion programme in 1974 when it changed to The Deeping Stage.

The Stage, as it is now known, is a luxurious boutique hotel, serving delicious meals and entertainment. Situated on the River Welland The Stage Garden is perfect for lazy days, sipping wine and enjoying lunch on a quiet afternoon. The Stage Restaurant offers a perfect setting for formal and family dinners, private dining and romantic meals for two. The new autumn/winter menu, created by their new Head Chef, uses the finest seasonal ingredients to create elegant, honest food across a range of classic and modern dishes.

Guests can enjoy a wonderful seven course meal at their New Year’s Eve party. Lincolnshire Life readers who book before the end of November will receive a 10% discount.

Make the most of your visit to the area and book one of their luxurious rooms. Perfect for a weekend away with a loved one or for a business trip, The Stage offers spacious rooms with all the comforts of home.

The Stage, Market Deeping www.deepingstage.com

Whether it is pork reared on the farm or poultry, beef and lamb sourced from a trusted network of local farms – complete tractability and a real care for food values and provenance are paramount at Grasmere Farm.

“We source native breeds of beef including Aberdeen Angus, British Blue, Hereford, Lincoln Red and Red Poll, which is carefully dry-aged on the bone for at least three weeks. This allows the beef to naturally develop a depth of flavour. Our lamb is from Norfolk and Suffolk farms and our high welfare, Red Tractor approved chicken is sourced from Norfolk.

“Our handmade meat pies are cooked daily and we offer meal solutions which are quick and easy for that mid-week dinner. To complement our wide range of meats we also sell a range of Artisan Cheeses in our Market Deeping shop. We have picked several local cheeses such as Lincolnshire Poacher and Cote Hill Blue but also have some from further afield.

“We are proud to be selected members of the Q Guild of Butchers and Guild of Fine Foods, both renowned for their high standards which we also pride ourselves on.”

Classic Fireplaces are a family run business with over thirty years’ experience in fireplace design, manufacture and installation of the highest quality Traditional and Contemporary style fireplaces.

They offer a personal service to their customers in their showrooms, where they can assist you in choosing the right product for your home and you can see for yourself the quality of their fireplaces, fires and stoves.

The team provide a full Installation Service for free standing and inset multifuel and log burning stoves. They also offer a chimney lining service and install flue systems for homes without chimneys.

They are HETAS and GAS SAFE™ Approved and Registered for Solid Fuel Class 1, LPG Bottled Gas & Natural Gas.

Visit Classic Fireplaces at 4-5 Blenheim Way, Market Deeping or visit classicfireplaces.co.uk

Never miss a copy!

Big savings when you take out a subscription.

SEE YOU AT THE SHOW!Join Lincolnshire Life in our marquee for all the fun of the Lincolnshire Show.We have a host of fantastic competitions for you to enter.Find us at Avenue 10, Row 46. ... See MoreSee Less