"Sunday Wickedness" in Skegness

[During debates on Sunday Opening in 1943] it may be timely to submit ocular evidence of the “wickedness” abounding in certain circles in Skegness at a period when even some of the grandfathers of present-day Councillors had not arrived “downstairs” or were wearing short pants.

The indictment is contained in a letter which is embodied in a book, “The Penroses of Fledborough Parsonage” edited by the Rev. A. B. Baldwin. The diary records that in August, 1802, some of the young Penroses, accompanied by an uncle and aunt, paid a holiday visit to Skegness.

It has to be confessed that in a letter home the visitors had little to say in favour of Skegness, while the Sunday “goings on” obviously disgusted them. As witness the following brief yet enlightening comment:

“Skegness is a heathenish place, I believe. On Sunday the Miss Walls went on the water instead of going to Church, and people went a fishing as on other days.”

One shudders to think of the fate that the Miss Walls courted by going on the water instead of to Church: while if the fishermen failed to catch anything, they must have known the reason why. In any event, it is quite obvious that the “Sunday wickedness” of Skegness is not of modern origin.


But that is not all. The Penroses of Fledborough Parsonage found Skegness infested with gnats and “Tom Taylors,” and spiders were let run that they might make cobwebs to catch gnats.

“Frances sleeps in a veil,” observes the writer, and adds: “The other evening, while we were drinking tea (with poor water which is brought from Burgh to drink, but we wash with that out of the dykes, which is the worst part of the story), Aunt had a moth in her tea and at the same time poured a Tom Taylor out of the milk cup.

Those individuals who complain about a shortage of beer might remember the water troubles of the place 141 years ago. And, anyhow, they don’t have moths in their glasses – or Tom Taylors (whatever these may be) in their tankards— that is, presuming they are lucky enough to get hold of a glass or a tankard!


Source: Skegness Standard 1943

Note: The Miss Walls referred to in the extract from the Penrose Diaries, is Miss Mary Walls, daughter of Rev Edward Walls, of the Moat House.

Dr. Arnold married, on August 11, 1820, Mary, youngest daughter of the Rev. John Penrose, Rector of Fledborough.


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