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Tealby was previously known as Tavelesbi, Tauelesbi, Tauelebi and Teuelesby and many other variations.  At one time it was thought that "Tealby" was derived from the Anglo-Saxon word "taefl", meaning chessboard or table and from the Old Danish word "by", meaning a farmstead or village.  Hence, table village, possibly indicating a flat topped hill.  However, more recent study by Professor Kenneth Cameron suggests that "Tealby" is probably derived from the East Germanic tribal-name "Taifali" and the Old Danish word "by".  Detachments of the Taifali are recorded in Britain in the early 5th century.  Therefore, "Tealby" probably means the village of the Taifali people.  The Viking army settled in Lincolnshire in the late 9th Century.   Some Old Danish names still survive such as "thorp" a secondary settlement, "beck" from "bekkr" meaning a stream and "smooting" a narrow passage between houses.

Old map showing Tealby


When the Domesday Book was compiled in 1085/6 there were 54 sokemen (peasant freemen), villeins (dependent peasants) and bordars (smallholders) in the village.  Although it is not possible to calculate the population, there were probably about 200 people. There were 15 mills on the River Rase plus the sites of 3 more. 


In 1795 there were three corn mills, two paper mills, one leather mill, one former fulling mill site and one former corn mill site.  After 1800 the former fulling mill was converted to a third paper mill.  Paper making was in operation from the early 1700’s until about 1830.  The chief raw material for making paper was cotton or linen rags, old sails and ropes imported from Europe which, after boiling, were beaten to a smooth pulp (called "stuff") with water-powered hammers to separate the fibres.  Shallow rectangular wooden trays, with bottoms made of reed or straw or phosphor bronze wire, were then dipped and shaken in the vats of stuff.  After draining, pressing and drying on hessian sheets or ropes of horsehair the paper sheets were produced.  The watermark was produced when tinned copper wire was sewn in intricate patterns on the mesh bottom of the trays. One of the early watermarks was a jester's head in a cap and bells, hence 'foolscap'.  A wind post-corn mill was built at what is now Mill Farm in 1835.  It operated until about 1880.


All Saints Church, which dominates the village, dates from the 12th century, although a church may have existed on the site before the Norman Conquest.  Originally, the Church was under the control of the Gilbertine Priory at Six Hills.  The Church is built of orange-brown Tealby ironstone, the oldest parts being the west doorway and the lower part of the tower.  There are many interesting features, including the memorials to the Tennyson family.  George and Mary Tennyson were the grandparents of Alfred Lord Tennyson, the Poet Laureate.  In addition to the Church there are three former chapels. 

There have been six chapels in the village.  Three no longer exist

1) St. Thomas' Chapel, Chapel Hill, Willingham Woods.

There is a medieval moated site located at Chapel Hill near Chapel Farm in Willingham Woods . It is believed to be the site of a 14th century hermitage. In 1336 Edward III gave protection for one year for Roger de Staunford and Richard de Burle, hermits of the chapel of St Thomas of Tealby, and their attorneys to collect alms. At this time such hermits were under the patronage of the nobility who commissioned them to pray for the souls and well-being of their families. Around 500 hermitages in the UK are known from documentary sources, but the locations of very few have been identified with certainty, so this site is very rare, and therefore is nationally important. The chapel is referred to in a document of 1638, but by 1795 no buildings remained standing.

The earthworks that remain include a rectangular platform (approximately 45m by 40m), or island, enclosed by a moat with external banks and water control features. On the northern part of the island is a roughly square raised platform (approximately 20m wide) which is believed to be the location of former buildings including a chapel and domestic accommodation. Further buildings appear to have been located in the south western corner of the island. The moat measures about 6m-8m in width and up to 1.5m in depth. A shallow channel enters the moat at the north western corner with an outlet channel at the south western corner.

2) On the site of Polperro, Caistor Lane

John Wesley visited Tealby three times (in 1747, 1772 and 1774).In 1774 he wrote in his diary that "he preached near the church". In 1780 Thomas Broadgate (bricklayer) signed an agreement with Michael Grasham and 8 other trustees to let the newly erected "Preaching House" on 96 square yards for a peppercorn rent. The building had to be used only for the teachings of John Wesley. The chapel was replaced by the Weslyan Chapel in Front Street in 1819.


3) On the site of 8 Kingsway

Weslyan Reform Chapel 1853

The three chapels that are now used as domestic houses are a) the Weslyan Chapel (1819), b) the Primitive Methodist Chapel (1846), now Durdans and c) the United Methodist Free Church (1857), now Chapel House, all in Front Street. 


The main source of income in the parish (3950 acres) has always been farming.  Before the Enclosure in 1795 one third of the parish was fenced and owned by the inhabitants.  The other two thirds were farmed according to the open field system, administered by the Lords of the Manor (Tealby had two Manors).  In 1795 the open fields were allocated to the inhabitants according to their common rights and then fenced.



Our local historian, Hugh Nott,  has gathered together 700 pages of local history which may be of interest to many of you. It describes most of the houses and farms (excluding Bayon's Manor), their owners and occupants back to before the 18th Century.

If you are interested, please email Hugh at:

In 1807 a ploughman employed by George Tennyson found a Roman earthenware pot on the Wolds containing about 5700 silver pennies. The coins all dated from 1158-1180 and they show the full face of Henry II with his sceptre held across his body.  The reverse side of the coin has a central cross with a smaller cross in each of its angles. Coins of this style are known as Tealby Pennies and the find is known as the Tealby Hoard.  The coins were minted to a weight standard and it was unimportant if the image was visible or not. 


Combe (1817) describes how the coins were found at the side of a road which crossed a ploughed field, and that after the finder had given them to George Tennyson (grandfather to the poet Alfred Tennyson), they were forwarded on to Sir Joseph Banks, ‘who caused them to undergo the most minute examination’. After the ‘best specimens’ had been extracted for Banks’ own collection, the British Museum and several other private collectors, the majority of the coins (5,127 according to Combe) were taken to the Tower of London and melted down. In defence of this seemingly barbaric act, it must be remembered that the nation was in the throes of the Napoleonic Wars and in something of an economic crisis – that much silver was never going to be allowed to remain untouched.



In the first official census in 1801, there were 469 people.  By 1841, the population had grown to 996, the number swollen by the people working to build Bayons Manor.  The numbers then declined until 1901 (462).  During the past 100 years the number has remained at 500 plus or minus about 50. Most of the older cottages in the village date from 1795-1840.  They are built of local stone and have clay pantile roofs and Yorkshire sliding windows. There are only twenty houses existing today that were shown on the 1795 Enclosure Award Map. 

Following the Tealby Enclosure, George Tennyson owned about one third of the land.  Ayscough (aka Ayscoghe) Boucherett of North Willingham owned 850 acres along the western end of Tealby.  George Tennyson lived at the original thatched Bayons Manor until 1833, two years before his death.  His second son, Charles, persuaded him to add a codicil to his will so that he could be called Charles Tennyson d'Eyncourt, and claim descendancy from Norman Barons.  Charles was an MP for 34 years.  After his father's death he took seven years to build the sixty-roomed Romantic Gothic styled Bayons Manor.  The costs of rebuilding were enormous.  Charles died in 1861.  His descendants lived at Bayons until the Second Word War.  It was occupied by troops during the war and was sold in 1944.  After many years of neglect it was finally blown up in 1964.  So, in just 120 years, the Manor was built and destroyed, its occupants having been a major influence on the village.  The school was built by Charles in 1856, the hammer beam roof being modelled on Westminster Hall.  In 1889 the school suffered a major fire caused by a faulty heating stove.  The school was quickly rebuilt and is still in use today.


During the past 100 years there have been many changes in the village.  At the beginning of the 1900's about 75 people would have relied on the farms for their livelihood.  Many people were employed at Bayons Manor and others by local small businesses such as shops, carpenters, millwright, blacksmith, miller, baker etc.  Most of the people lived in small cottages, many of which were owned by the Tennyson d'Eyncourt family.  During the last 50 years, employment in the village has declined to less than 20 and most of the residents are either retired or commute to work in the neighbouring towns.  The type of housing has changed, with larger new houses and extensions to the older cottages being built.  The shops have all ceased trading (one has become a tearoom).  There were two butchers, but both have now ceased trading. The village has two pubs; one thatched and said to date back to 1367.  There were previously pubs or beer house. The old Crown Inn in Front Street ceased trading in 1956 and is now a house.  The old farm buildings belonging to Tealby Vale, formerly the home of Michael Grasham, a papermaker, have now been sympathetically developed into holiday cottages.  Tealby is now a quiet rural village with a strong community spirit and many attractive attributes.  Tealby is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has a Conservation Area.  The long distance footpath, the Viking Way, passes through the village.

Tealby School
Tealby School, steeple
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