At six miles long, Deeping St Nicholas makes claim to being the longest village in the county – and possibly in the UK.
Mysteriously, it contains a small hamlet within it, Hop Pole, and a relatively “modern” church, the beautiful St Nicholas Church, built in 1867, where the Rev Peter Garland is minister.
As with many villages, Deeping St Nicholas also contains a small band of dedicated residents who go the extra mile to improve life for everyone.
One of them is Sue Titcombe who, together with Sue Steele, acts as churchwarden. Sue Steele’s husband David is deputy churchwarden and Robert Vann is treasurer.
Sue Titcombe says it’s a pretty active church, although she says: “We are struggling because we have had to spend a lot of money getting the church up to scratch.”
Part of the motivation for all the work to the building is to make it a warm and comfortable community space that any group can use.
Sue says: “Having lost all six pubs – the last of them, The Plough, closed 18 months ago – and the Jubilee Hall at Hop Pole closed last November, we feel we are being left behind a bit actually.
“The pub had a Thursday over 60s luncheon and we could do that here if we got our heating up to scratch. There are all sorts of things we could do, such as Citizens’ Advice drop in centre, get the children back in once a week. If the church isn’t used for that sort of activity during the day it will not survive for the occasions when people want to use it, for weddings, baptisms and funerals. We have to use it as a community building.”
They may have temporarily lost their village over-60s lunch venue, but the older people of the village have been looked after for the past 35 to 40 years by an informal committee calling itself the Plough Inn Old People’s Club.
The committee of four organises fortnightly whist drives in church to raise money towards food parcels that are delivered each year.
Around 145 parcels will be distributed this year, among them one to 86-year-old Doreen Hare, who has lived in the village all her life.
Doreen, of Chappell Road, says: “We have nothing in the village now. Once we had two shops and six pubs but we have nothing now.” Doreen, chairman of the Ladies’ Guild, keeps fit with regular walks with a group of friends.