The Horncastle History & Heritage Society




Horse Fair Celebrations

The Society is helping organise a summer of celebration to mark the 75th anniversary of Horncastle’s Great August Horse Fair, which was once the largest on earth. 

The Horncastle Horse Fair Celebration from 5th to 12th August will feature horse-inspired workshops, games, a family trail, crafts, and films, all culminating in a day of festivities in the town centre on Saturday 12 August.

In the early 19th century, Horncastle’s Fair was described as the largest horse fair anywhere on earth - "for nowhere has anything like it”. The fair used to bring visitors from across Europe, and as far away as Russia and America. The 2023 Horse Fair will be very different, as there won’t be any real horses!

You can find the full Horse Fair Celebration Programme here.

We have also been working with local businesses and groups to create a Horse Fair Trail with over 40 colourful wooden horses to be found in shop windows across town. The trail runs throughout the school summer holidays from 22nd July until the 3rd September. You can download the Horse Fair Trail Map here.

To mark the anniversary our volunteers have also researched and produced a special exhibition on the history of the Horse Fair at the Joseph Banks Centre. The exhibition features objects loaned from the Museum of the Horse in Tuxford as well as photographs and records from the Society's Town Archive to tell the story of the Fair from its ancient origins until its final ending in 1948. 

The exhibition is free to visit and runs from July to the end of September and is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 10am to 4pm. Alongside the exhibition there is an interactive quiz, childrens game, and over 80 horses decorated by pupils at Horncastle Primary School.

The Horse Fair Celebration has been organised in partnership with Spilsby Sessions House, Different Light Collective, Horncastle Town Council and East Lindsey District Council and a host of local volunteers. The event has been funded by a grant from the Government's UK Shared Prosperity Fund and East Lindsey District Council's Vital & Viable Market Towns Programme, with contributions from Horncastle Town Council and the Society.


The Society's Latest Publications

The Life & Times of Holmleigh Children's Home, Horncastle 1934-1968 - £5

Horncastle For Horses: The Great August Horse Fair - £5


The Horncastle Railway Exhibition

Its focus is the story of the Horncastle Railway as part of our plans to mark the 50th anniversary of its closure on the 5th April 1971.

The physical exhibition at the Joseph Banks Centre ran from 29th July until 4th September 2021, but you can still visit the virtual exhibition as below:

Visit the virtual exhibition here

Virtual Exhibition of Horncastle in Wartime

Horncastle in WartimeWhen the towns VE Day anniversary celebrations had to be cancelled in May 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, we knew we couldnt let the day go by unmarked. So our volunteers decided to collect memories, objects, and photos from the community about the town in wartime and on VE Day itself.

The virtual exhibition shares stories of how Horncastle celebrated VE Day, memories of soldiers stationed here, the air raids on the town, the home front, war in the countryside, and the long road to postwar recovery.

Thanks to memoirs donated by their families, we have also been able to uncover fascinating first hand accounts of some of Horncastle's soldiers during the conflict.

You will also find a virtual roll of honour where we are collecting information on the lives of the men named on the town's war memorial. If you have photos or further information you'd like to share, please get in touch.




A Blue Plaque for Thomas Sully

Despite the pandemic much of the Society's work has continued, including erecting a new plaque in honour of the Horncastle-born artist Thomas Sully. You can find this in Dog Kennel Yard on the brick wall facing the Co-op Food Store.

follow this link to find out more, pick up a leaflet from the Co-op, or visit our Town Archives at the Joseph Banks Centre for full details of his life and artistic output.


Make a Donation

If you would like to make a donation to help support the Society's charitable work you can do this via cheque, or in cash at the Joseph Banks Centre or online via our PayPal donation page

The Horncastle History & Heritage Society
Founded in 1966 as the Horncastle Civic Society - an independent and non-political body dedicated to safeguarding and preserving the rich heritage of our ancient market town. We act as a leading voice in the development and growth of the Town.
The Society endeavours to highlight the heritage of the Town whilst promoting places of interest and activities in Horncastle to generate local pride and community spirit allied with an expanding tourist trade.

Society Meetings

Meetings are held every  month at the Community Centre, Manor Hosue Street, Horncastle

A speaker is generally invited to most meetings, whilst the ordinary meetings give Members an opportunity to contribute to the business of the Society.

Non-members are very welcome to attend to see if this is the kind of group they wish to get involved with.

Next Meeting 

20th September

Professor Carenza Lewis - Community Archaeology

The Community Centre, Manor House Street, Horncastle.  Meeting to start at  7.30pm.


Working for the town

Protecting and Enhancing

Working with the Town and District Councils on planning and conservation issues, to protect Horncastle's historic environment but also trying to make it an even more pleasant and interesting place to live and work.

Informing and Learning

We love to discover more about our town. Its history going back to Roman times and before and the influences of the railways and canals on its prosperity and the effect of the huge horse fair on its social evolution. We invite you to share it all with us.


Preserving Our History  

The Society's maintains a large and growing Town Archive  full of information about the town. It has a large photograph, books, map, manuscript & DVD collection. This is now held at the Joseph Banks Centre on Bridge Street with some of our material on display in the local heritage section in the museum area.

Horncastle History on DVD available again

The DVD 'Horncastle Yesterday and Today' first produced in 2006 as a follow up to the 'Now & Then' book is again on sale at Perkins Newsagents and the Sir Joseph Banks' Centre for £9.99.
A must for anyone interested in the town's history.