Horncastle in 1839
Horncastle is in the soke of Horncastle, in the parts of Lindsey, 136 miles from London by Sleaford and Tattershall. It is supposed to have been a Roman station ; some think that it was the Bannovallum of Ravennas. There are traces of a fortification yet visible, which was a parallelogram enclosing an area of twenty acres, and comprehending a considerable part of the modern town. Roman coins and other antiquities have been discovered, and at the point formed by the junction of the Waring and the Bain is an intricate circle or labyrinth called Julians Bower. The name Horncastle is derived from the Saxon word hyrn, a corner, and is descriptive of the situation of the place in the angle formed by the junction of the above-mentioned rivers. The town, which is pleasantly situated at the foot of the Wolds, has been much improved, and consists of respectable well-built houses. The church has been in great part rebuilt of late years. Part of it is as ancient as the time of Henry VII. There are several Dissenting meeting-houses.
Corn and wool are the principal articles of commerce, which has been much promoted by the opening of the Horncastle navigation from this town to the Witham. The market is held on Saturday, and there are three fairs in the year, one of them probably the largest horse-fair in the kingdom. The area of the parish is 2,510 acres ; the population in 1831 was 3,988, about one-tenth agricultural. The living is a vicarage in the archdeaconry of Lincoln, of the clear yearly value of £612, with a glebe-house. There were in 1833 three dame-schools with 58 children ; a Lancasterian school with 145 children ; one national day and Sunday school with 225 day scholars, and 189 on Sundays ; thirteen other day-schools with 331 children ; two boarding and day schools with 84 children ; and two Sunday-schools with 186 children. There were two endowed schools (one a grammar school) from which no return was made. There are two public libraries, a subscription library of 1,000 volumes, and a clerical library.