Monument record MLI86086 - Settlement of Skegness


The settlement of Skegness probably has its origins in the Anglo-Saxon period. It gained in size and importance as a seaside holiday and bathing resort in the late 19th century.

Type and Period (1)

  • (Early Medieval/Dark Age to Modern - 1000 AD? to 2050 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

The entries for Skegness in the Domesday Book have been been identified with those for Tric. The etymology of the name is unknown. At that time small holdings of sokeland are recorded as belonging to three different landowners. The name Skegness is derived from the Old Danish personal name 'Skeggi' and Old Norse 'nes'. {1}{2} The Poll Tax returns of 1377 recorded 140 people over the age of 14, and by 1563 there were 14 households. {3}{4} Leland, in the 16th century, described Skegness as a 'great haven towne' with a castle and surrounding wall but it was 'clene consumed and eten up with the se'. {5}{6} The population had fallen by the late 17th and early 18th century to 10 families. {7} The population in 1801 was 134, and by 1871 there were 349 people recorded. In 1881, however, the population had risen dramatically to 1338, and by 1901 it was 2140. Its growing importance as a seaside resort meant that there was a large growth of the population, which consideraby altered the demographics of the existing population. People were moving to Skegness from all over the country, which included a lot of young people. It was the ninth Earl of Scarbrough who developed Skegness as a seaside resort in the late 1870s, although it was known as a bathing place long before this, and bathing machines were mentioned as being on the beach as early 1784. By the 1870s there were three hotels in Skegness. The railway to Skegness was opened in 1873 (see PRN 49285). By 1881 a pier had been built which was 1843ft long (see PRN 48008). Pleasure grounds and a cricket pitch had also been provided, and swimming baths soon followed. A parish church, a network of tree-lined streets, water works, drains, gasworks, brickworks, sites for Methodist chapels and a school were later provided, mostly at the personal expense of the ninth Earl. The GNR publicised Skegness and carried hundreds of thousands of visitors every year in the early 1880s. There was a depression in the 1890s which affected the growth of Skegness, but things improved in the early 20th century. {8}{9}{10}{11}{12} Originally a small fishing and farming village, small numbers of recreational visitors started to arrive at Skegness during the 18th century, as the practice of bathing at spas and seaside locations began to grow. With agriculture beginning to decline in this area from the 1860s, plans were created to develop Skegness into a much larger seaside resort. A plan of the new town was drawn up in 1868 by Civil Engineers Clarke and Pickwell, who went on to design and construct the pier, and Skegness became a seaside resort, superimposed on the old village of 350 inhabitants, with a grid system layout of wide, tree lined streets, parades, a new main shopping street and supporting amenities. The arrival of the railway to Skegness in 1873 greatly increased the pace of development. Major works began in 1877 with the building of a sea wall, built of limestone blocks bought by rail from the Earl of Scarbrough’s Roche Abbey quarry. The sea wall was built to create a platform upon which Grand Parade was laid out, along with its extensions north and south and Lumley Road, which replaced the former High Street. Within the first five years of development the Pleasure Gardens (see PRN 49558), with bandstand and pavilion (see PRN 49062), an indoor swimming bath and a pier one-third of a mile long had been built. Towards the end of the 19th century, convalescent homes and hotels were being erected, along with a nine-hole golf links, laid out along the south dunes. Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 prompted the building of the Jubilee Clock Tower, still one of Skegness's more prominent landmarks (see PRN 47861). A second golf links known as The North Shore opened in 1910 and the original club house, much enlarged, is now the North Shore Hotel. Following the end of the First World War, the Earl of Scarbrough offered to sell the whole of the foreshore to Skegness Urban District Council. The deal was completed in 1922 and prompted a new surge in the growth of the town, masterminded by the council’s engineer, surveyor and architect, Rowland Jenkins. He introduced a number of new features including the Embassy Ballroom, bowling greens, tennis courts, a bathing pool, a boating lake, the Suncastle Solarium, a waterway, beach walks, a ruined castle and an expanse of rose gardens. Jenkins transformed the foreshore into a huge pleasure park by the sea, sometimes incorporating ideas he bought back from walking tours of Italy and elsewhere on the continent. An example of this is the walk alongside the south boating lake, formerly known as the Axenstrasse which, with its ferroconcrete rustic rocks, fences, arches, pathways, shelters, bridges and castle ruin effect was designed to give at least a hint of the St Gothard area of the Swiss Alps. All combined with water, flowers, or lawns to form an attractive picture. The Esplanade was created following the construction of a new sea wall along the high tide line, and the reclamation of land from the sands of the foreshore. It was during this time that Billy Butlin first visited Skegness with his hoopla stall which he had previously operated in Bristol and Olympia, London. He set up stall in 1925 on a site off North Parade known as The Jungle, close to where the County Hotel stands today. The fairground was originally on the central beach, south of the pier, but after the First World War it was moved to the seaward side of North Parade, filling the space between the pier entrance and the figure 8 switchback at the Sea View end of the parade. Butlins amusements including model cars, a slide, a haunted house, were on the other side of the road, an area which also accommodated a theatre and mini-zoo. 1929 saw the building of the Embassy Ballroom, and saw the introduction of a covenant relating to new building, which compelled the council to remove all temporary structures and give notice to all stall holders, although it allowed them to relocate to a new amusement park to be built on the other side of the pier. Billy Butlin offered to build and operate it for himself and the other occupiers and the council accepted. From here Butlin went from strength to strength as he adapted his various ventures including the first Dodgem bumper cars to be seen in Britain. North Parade was developed with permanent attractions and in 1930 the opposite side of the parade began to be built up with private hotels and, later, residential flats. In the post Second World War years, some of the amenities provided in the 1920s and 1930s needed replacement, and by the end of the 20th the largest, most notable change was the replacement of the big open-air swimming pool and the Embassy Ballroom. Tower esplanade was revamped and the 1990s saw the completion of new sea defences, incorporating marine walks the full length of the seashore. Despite decades of change and development, much of Jenkins original design has survived and his overall layout remains clearly visible in the town today. Skegness Esplanade is registered, together with the Tower Gardens (see PRN 49558) as being of special historic interest. For the full description of this designated asset, please refer to the National Heritage List for England entry. {13}

Sources/Archives (13)

  •  Bibliographic Reference: C.W. Foster and T. Longley. 1924. Lincolnshire Domesday and Lindsey Survey. 12/77; 29/21,24; 38/9.
  •  Bibliographic Reference: Kenneth Cameron. 1998. A Dictionary of Lincolnshire Place-Names. p.110.
  •  Bibliographic Reference: Graham Platts. 1985. Land and People in Medieval Lincolnshire. Appendix II.
  •  Bibliographic Reference: Gerald A.J. Hodgett. 1975. Tudor Lincolnshire. Appendix I.
  •  Bibliographic Reference: William White. 1856. History, Gazetteer and Directory of Lincolnshire - Second Edition. p.530.
  •  Index: Lincolnshire County Council. Sites and Monuments Record Card Index. TF 56 SE: K.
  •  Bibliographic Reference: R.E.G. Cole. 1913. Speculum Dioeceseos Lincolniensis sub Episcopis Gul: Wake et Edm: Gibson A.D.1705-1723. Part 1: Archdeaconries of Lincoln and Stow. p.107.
  •  Bibliographic Reference: William Page (ed). 1906. The Victoria County History: Lincolnshire - Volume 2. p.368.
  •  Bibliographic Reference: Neil R. Wright. 1982. Lincolnshire Towns and Industry 1700-1914. pp.6, 64-5, 88, 188, 195-7, 226.
  •  Bibliographic Reference: Dutton, G.H.J.. 1922. Ancient and Modern Skegness and District. -.
  •  Article in Serial: Richard Gurnham. 1972. 'The Creation of Skegness as a Resort Town by the 9th Earl of Scarbrough: The Problems Involved' in Lincolnshire History and Archaeology. vol.7, pp.63-76.
  •  Article in Serial: Julie E. Hewson. 1986. 'Who Were the Skegness Pioneers? A Study of the People Who Settled in the New Town of Skegness, 1871-1881' in Lincolnshire History and Archaeology. vol.21, pp.63-5.
  •  Website: Historic England (formerly English Heritage). 2011->. The National Heritage List for England. 1443891.



Grid reference Centred TF 565 629 (1489m by 2628m) Estimated from sources

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Record last edited

Mar 21 2021 8:35PM


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