Online resources to help family research

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WE NO longer have to wonder in vain about our ancestors as there are so many resources available to meet the growing popularity of family and local research.

Much of the information that was once hidden in dusty archives is now readily available to us thanks to the internet, making life much easier for those who are curious about their family past or the village in which they live.

The new website, Lincs to the Past (, may not contain the information amateur historians are seeking, but there is a good chance it will be able to point them in the right direction: for instance, the site offers brief details about Spalding Wesleyan Reform Union Circuit – the dates 1852-1857 and the fact that it changed its name in 1857 at the creation of the United Methodist Free Churches – but the website will tell you that the records are held by Spalding Gentlemen’s Society. If a researcher was looking into the 1630 Willesby Almshouses in Spalding, Lincs to the Past offers a bibliographic reference (to E H Gooch’s 1940 History of Spalding) or it might be of interest to know that the records of Spalding Gleed County Secondary School from 1941 to 1974 are held in the Lincolnshire Archives.

They are just some of the 11,000 plus references to Spalding contained on the website, which also claims to have well over 500,000 images, although I struggled to access that part of the site, as well as useful educational resources, with a lot of information relating to the Victorians, the Tudors and World War 2.

Julia says of the site: “I think what it does is put everything in one place so, for instance, it will direct people to everything that the county council has relating to Spalding. I think the idea is it is going to grow and grow, but at the moment it is early days.”

Julia pointed out that the objects that can be seen on the Lincs to the Past website are items in the county council’s collection and do not include objects in other museums, such as Ayscoughfee Hall Museum’s collection containing several thousand objects – find out about these at

Julia hopes to upload the history of South Holland’s villages on the Ayscoughfee website later in the year.

Ayscoughfee’s museum also contains a lot of photographs and some of these have been uploaded on to Flickr so that local people can access them – and possibly fill in missing gaps of information relating to some of the images. See the collection at Some of these images have been used to illustrate this article.

Ayscoughfee Hall Museum volunteer Sarah Johaneson has also collated a lot of useful information on her site History of Spalding ( nglincolnshire).

Spalding Gentlemen’s Society has its own website (www.spal and while this contains only a highlight of its extensive collections, members of the public are invited to make an appointment to visit. The society also arranges a series of professional lectures on a wide range of subjects. The museum has a Heritage Open Day on Saturday, September 10 (10am to 4pm) when everyone is welcome to visit.

Gordon Boswell’s Romany Museum has a website ( which contains some images of items from the museum’s collection, although not a lot of information about the Romany way of life or about the history of the Boswell family.

The Friends of Chain Bridge Forge are building a website devoted to the blacksmith’s workshop on High Street in Spalding ( and in the meantime it’s possible to find out quite a lot of information by following the link to Wikipedia.

Finally, it is possible to see records held in The National Archives at