Little Bytham & Castle Bytham
Little Bytham on the B1176 four miles south west of Bourne. Lttle Bytham was an important railway centre during the 19th century where passengers and freight using local lines could find connections to other parts of Britain.
Little Bytham is famous as it is alongside the Great Eastern Railway line and is where the steam locomotive Mallarad broke the world speed record for a steam train in 1937. The Willoughby Arms, one of our dining pubs is a hansome double gabled stone building and was once the waiting room for Lord Willoughby along a private branch line. The railway line operated from 1855 to 1873.
Originally, the twin villages of Castle Bytham and Little Bytham were known simply as West and East Bytham respectively and the latter possessed clay deposits which were used by the Romans for their pottery while in the 19th century, the bricks and pantiles produced here won a country-wide reputation for their fine quality and were used in the building of the great railway viaducts that still dominate the locality. But competition for such an industry proved too fierce and the brickworks are no longer active.
The village church at Little Bytham is unique in at least one respect. Anglo-Saxon in its architectural beginnings with Norman and later additions and improvements, no other church in England is dedicated to St Medard who was Bishop of Noyon in 531 A D and is reputed to have come to England 1,400 years ago and visited this little place. It stands on a hill and is surrounded by ancient cottages in narrow streets little used except by farm traffic. There is a Norman south doorway leading into the chancel with two tiny windows at one side, over which is a curious stone tympanum having a tiny carved man on horseback and circles containing two birds, a probable allusion to the eagle of legend which protected St Medard from the rain with its wings. In the chancel are stone seats round the walls and there is Saxon as well as Norman masonry in this ancient church.
Nearby, Castle Bytham is named after the 11th century castle where now only the earth works remains. It is thought that the castle has not been used since the 14th century.
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