Heritage In Gainsborough

A market town brimming with history, Gainsborough has historical links that date back to the 9th century.

From the 40-day capital of England to significant industrial heritage, Gainsborough has a fascinating story to tell.

The jewel in the crown is the immaculately preserved medieval manor house, Gainsborough Old Hall, dating from the 15th century and boasting a succession of famous visitors, including Richard III and Henry VIII.

England’s Forgotten King

Delving deeper, the town is also known as the 40-day capital of England after Danish King, Sweyn Forkbeard conquered England in 1013, accompanied by his son Canute. He sailed up the River Trent and made the Castle the centre of his operations – where Gainsborough Old Hall is today.

Sweyn was proclaimed King on Christmas Day 1013 and made Gainsborough the capital of England. His reign would only last 5 weeks when he died suddenly, possibly murdered, on 3 February 1014.

Industrial Heritage

Britannia Iron Works (now Marshall’s Yard) was a leading Lincolnshire manufacturing firm from 1848 to 1993. During the First World War, they were also involved in the production of munitions; and during the Second World War, produced military hardware including midget submarines.

William Rose was also from Gainsborough and famous for the design of a tobacco wrapping machine – the first commodity to be mechanically wrapped for sale. His company, Rose Brothers Ltd was another successful firm that manufactured many things during both World Wars, including synchronisation equipment that allowed the air gunner to fire through the aircraft’s moving propeller blades, and the Lancaster rear turret. It is believed they also made parts for the Lancasters that carried out the Dam Busters raid.

Explore the town on foot

As you walk around, you will notice blue plaques which have been erected to highlight significant historical links and the role the River Trent played in the expansion of the town. This summer, you can join local history group, The Delvers, for guided tours providing a fascinating insight to the history of the town. Find out more about their guided tours here. You can also follow the 90-minute self-led walking trail – A Walk Through Time – around Gainsborough to uncover the history and heritage, taking in some of Gainsborough’s notable buildings.

Gainsborough also has links to the Mayflower Pilgrims who set sail to America in 1620, and a sculpture of a Pilgrim Woman stands on the River Trent as a reminder of this significant story.

Have a great day out

Gainsborough Heritage Centre, on the corner of North Street, also offers a fascinating insight into the town’s history town with exhibitions and period displays, including a vintage post office and street scene. Or plan a visit to Gainsborough Model Railway to see one of the largest hand-built model railways depicting the East Coast Main Line from Kings Cross to Leeds Central.

Discover great family days out including Bransby HorsesRand Farm Park and Woodside Wildlife Park with lots to see and a range of exciting activities to enjoy. For more ideas and inspiration, head over to our visit and have fun pages.

New! Weekly Antiques Fair

West Lindsey District Council is delighted to welcome MH Antiques and Fairs to its Saturday line-up. Known for their distinctive collection and extensive antiques knowledge, MH Antiques and Fairs will bring an array of antique-themed traders to the open-air market. They will stand alongside the council’s regular Saturday market traders.

Visitors will be able to explore a range of timeless pieces while enjoying the fresh, open atmosphere in Gainsborough’s historic Market Place.

The addition, of the weekly antiques fair, marks a significant step towards creating an inclusive and engaging marketplace. The first one will take place at the beginning of the Easter Bank Holiday on Saturday, 30 March 2024 and it will run every Saturday until 26 October 2024.

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