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Six new stories added to Market Rasen's award winning heritage tour and website focusing on Wolds Women of Influence

Gail Dennis as Louisa Boucherett
Gail Dennis as Louisa Boucherett

Lovers of Lincolnshire history now have a wealth of new stories to discover — online and on foot — as the award winning Market Rasen Heritage Tour and website expands from 14 stops to 20 this April. This has been made possible by the addition of six new stories focusing on "Wolds Women of Influence", taken from an exhibition of the same name which proved a great success when launched in 2018.

The women featured are from all walks of life, from landed gentry to publicans, headteachers to shop owners. Each have left their mark. Some locally, some nationally, and some even globally.

Also included in the update is a fascinating 12 minute video that reveals how local woman Louisa Boucherett helped many children from the Caistor Workhouse, making her, perhaps, one of Lincolnshire's most unsung heroes.

The Market Rasen Heritage Tour website lets visitors explore a vintage map of the town and (from April onwards) find the women's stories by clicking on blue bonnet icons.

Six new plaques have also been placed in and around the town at locations connected to the women to give a companion walking tour. The plaques all have QR codes linking them to the story pages of the website. They join 14 existing plaques in the town, which means Market Rasen now has a 20 stop heritage tour to satisfy even the most ardent history buff.

Launch Saturday 16 April 2022

The enhanced website and tour will be officially launched on Saaturday 16 April 2022 at Pop-Up Market in Market Rasen, with Gail Dennis of the Lindsey Rural Players dressing up as Louisa Boucherett, the woman she portrays in the video created for the project.

The original Market Rasen Heritage Tour and website was launched in 2014, and picked up three heritage and tourism awards at that time. The original Wolds Women of Influence stories come from a highly successful exhibition of the same name, that made its debut in 2018. Funding for this new development, which sees both projects combine, comes from Lincolnshire County Council's Community Collaboration Fund.

Project manager Nicola Marshall explains:

"The existing Market Rasen Heritage Tour is an ideal platform for the Wolds Women of Influence stories, giving them a permanent home online and giving visitors another reason to come to Market Rasen and explore its heritage by finding the plaques about the town. We are grateful to Market Rasen Community Partnership and Lincolnshire County Council for supporting and funding this development, and the many other people and organisations who have helped us research and record these women's stories and preserved them for the future."

Stephen Bunney, West Lindsey District Councillor for the Market Rasen Ward, commented:

"The inclusion of the ‘Wolds Women of influence’ plaques greatly enhances the already magnificent experience gained by those who undertake the Market Rasen Heritage Trail. As they follow the trail, either on foot or virtually via the web, participants gain a fascinating insight into the social history and architecture of this small gateway Market Town on the western edge of The Lincolnshire Wolds. It is highly recommended by visitors and thoroughly deserves its award winning status."

Download even more history

The website also offers PDF versions of each story that can be downloaded, to share or display offline.

Teachers can download educational resources from the website too, in the form of a 38 slide PowerPoint presentation that offers a range of activities to engage Key Stage 2 children in the women's stories. Activities include holding a vote in class, trying your hand at typography, performing hit songs from 1944 and 1976, and guessing which inventions have saved the most lives.

Winifred Eleanor Gledhill (born 1908)

Remembered fondly by former pupils for her role as principal of Market Rasen’s Sheffield Manor School, Miss Gledhill was also one of the instigators of the Market Rasen Festival, a highlight on the town’s cultural calendar from 1944 through to 1976.

Caroline Smith (born 1847)

For many years Caroline Smith ran the White Hart Hotel in King Street, which can be found close to the Market Place in Market Rasen. Mrs Smith is believed to have taken over the hotel around 1901, managing it until around 1940 when she passed away at the grand age of 94. By the late 1930s Mrs Smith was considered the "oldest licensee in England.".

Charlotte Bond (born 1810)

The 1841 census lists her as living above a shop in King Street Market Rasen. The shop is still there today. She dealt with the sadness of losing many of her children and her husband at an early stage in her life and built up a successful business within the town, prospering enough to retire in her early 50s.

Alda Blount Nettleship (born 1898)

Councillor and Alderman. Among her many contributions to the town, Alda Nettleship opened Market Rasen’s Mill Road public library back in 1971. This is the same library that you can visit today! In its first ten weeks of service, the number of books issued at the new library increased by 70% to nearly 2,000 a week, compared to figures achieved at the congested and inadequate premises the town’s library had been using on King Street.

Marjorie Myers (born 1907)

Marjorie Myers was a successful local businesswoman. Misses E & M Myers, Children’s Outfitters of Union Street, was a fixture in the Market Rasen high street for many years, clothing the children of the area from the 1930s through to the 1960s.

The Boucherett Sisters

Jessie Boucherett (born 1825)

Jessie Boucherett lived in the Lincolnshire Wolds area, in a large house that used to stand in Willingham Woods. She played an important role in the Suffragists movement, a British organisation that campaigned for women’s right to vote, and still campaigns for women today.

Louisa Boucherett (born 1821)

Louisa Boucherett was Jessie’s sister. Concerned by the plight of young children living in the harsh workhouse regime, Louisa pioneered a system of ‘boarding out’ children to local families, and she vetted and supervised these placements herself. The system of boarding out was a forerunner of the concept of foster care.

Building on the success of the original 2018 exhibition

The Wolds Women of Influence original exhibition was held at Market Rasen’s Old Police Station in the summer of 2018 and went on to tour the county in 2019.  

Nicola Marshall explains the teamwork behind this first event:

"It was a wonderful collaboration of women with a wide range of skills, including Dr Caroline Mogg, independent women’s historian, Angela Wilson, volunteer local history researcher, Beka Smith, freelance researcher and members of the Lincoln Branch of the Fawcett Society."

There were also many organisations involved from the start, the town council, Rase Heritage Society, Fawcett Society and the University of Lincoln supporting the Wolds Women of Influence project back in 2018. Angela Wilson, Anne Egglestone and Angela Stubbs of the Fawcett Society undertook all the research for the posters on the life of Jessie Boucherett and helped with information from the book "Timely Assistance" by Ellen Jordan and Anne Bridger.

Researcher Angela Wilson recalls how well the women's stories were received from the start:

"The original Wolds Women of Influence project was very successful. In 2019 we took the exhibition, with a supporting talk, to Woodhall Spa Museum, Spilsby’s Franklin Hall and Caistor Plough Hill in addition to the original exhibition and talks at Market Rasen Old Police Station. All these events had a brilliant reception and interest from a wide range of people."

New video reveals an unsung Lincolnshire hero

One of the most exciting aspects of Lincolnshire history that the project has brought into the spotlight focuses on the real life Victorian children from the local workhouse and the woman who helped them, Louisa Boucherett of Willingham House, a grand country house that once occupied Willingham Woods but was demolished in the 1960s.

The video can be viewed on Market Rasen Heritage Tour's YouTube Channel or by searching YouTube for "Louisa Boucherett and The Caistor Workhouse Children".

This story was uncovered through the original PhD research of Dr Caroline Mogg, for the Wolds Women of Influence Exhibition in 2018. In the video, the part of Louisa Boucherett is played by the volunteer actor Gail Dennis of the Lindsey Rural Players, who reads through original letters and papers to tell the story in Louisa's own words.

But the video also brings the past to life with the help of modern day local children, who lent their faces to the project so the workhouse children could be fully represented.

The video's creator Angela Montague, of Market Rasen based production company Push Creativity explains:

"The scheme pioneered by Louisa to help these children was called Boarding Out, and she was among the first people in the UK to try this approach, Boarding Out is a forerunner of the foster care system that is used worldwide today, so we were very keen that the importance of Louisa’s work and the workhouse children’s stories are known by a much wider audience. But, because these were extremely poor children from the 1860s, we did not have any photographs of them to use in the video. So, we ran a competition, through the Market Rasen Community Partnership and the Market Rasen Mail, to ask local children to ‘lend their faces’ to children from the past."

Many local children rose to the challenge and sent in photos of themselves posing as workhouse children.

"We saw lots of flat caps and lace collars, faces with smudges and sad eyes! We were so impressed with the efforts families went to, I am glad the winners were chosen at random as it would be impossible to pick the best." added Angela

The winner's photos were transformed into illustrations using Photoshop, and appear in the video alongside Louisa's descriptions of the workhouse children they represent.

Ten of the 25 children Louisa worked with are featured in the video, five girls and five boys. The modern children and their workhouse counterparts are:

Madeleine Allan as Jane Hustle (13). Millie South as Ellen Bussel (11). Emily Porter as Emily Phillips (11). Rosa Robinson as Louisa Charlotte Phillips (nine). Georgia Twigg as Cecilia (11). Drew Owen Wilson as George Carr (11). Peter Boryszczuk as William Carr (13). Ethan Coulwill as Samuel Ensor (nine). Harry Cook as Thomas Russel (12). Joe James as William French (16).

Through using wording from Louisa’s actual letters, the new video gives glimpses of the hardships the children went through and the opportunities that the Boarding Out scheme gave them, such as the description of Jane Hustle who "is still so small and short owing to a natural defect, as to make it necessary to continue the allowance for some time longer; but as she has improved considerably of late in strength and stature", and the assessment of Samuel Ensor: "nine years of age at John Bray’s, labourer of Tealby, doing well at school, and will go to work this summer.".

Dr Caroline Mogg added her thoughts on the project:

"Louisa Boucherett provides an excellent example of a local propertied woman who used her considerable power and influence to improve the lives of those less fortunate than herself. Through her pioneering work on the promotion of the boarding out scheme Louisa intervened in the wider public debate about the plight of England’s workhouse children. Louisa Boucherett’s achievements deserve to be celebrated and I am delighted that the Market Rasen Heritage Tour and Website has brought her story to life in such a creative way."

The Wolds Women of Influence project also has a Facebook page.

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