Limestone Quarrying and Lime burning

Limestone quarrying has been an important industry in Coddington in the past.  The main formation is known as the ‘keuper marls’.  Gypsum (sulphate of lime) can be found in the upper section and has been worked commercially at Beacon Hill between Newark and Coddington.  Evidence of the extent of interest shown in this geology is recorded in a report of a visit, in 1899, of the Geological section of the Nottingham Natural Science Rambling Club.  The report was published in the Nottingham Journal on 28th August 1899.  

Transcription from the Nottingham Journal – published 28 Aug 1899.



The Geological section of this club brought to a close their eleventh season’s rambles on Saturday with an excursion to Newark in order to see the Rhætic formation resting on the Upper Keuper Marl, the Lower Lias Limestone, which rests on the Rhætic shales, and the ancient gravels of the Trent formed at a time when it flowed from Newark to Lincoln and through the gap in the Lincolnshire limestone there now occupied by the River Witham, instead of from Newark, past Gainsborough, and soon to the Humber as it does now.  Leaving Nottingham by the Great Northern at two o’clock they arrived at Newark at three.  It was at first intended to visit the Castle before going on to see the spots of geological interest; but on arrival at Newark it was thought better to reverse the order of procedure and inspect the Castle after tea.  Accordingly the party first proceeded to a limestone quarry at Coddington, where the Lower Lias limestone (the Planorbic beds) were well exposed, and where a number of fossils was found on the waste heaps, chiefly the small oyster characteristic of these beds.  The party had obtained a glimpse of the passage up from the New Red Marl into the Rhætic on a section seen from the road on the western slope of Beacon Hill and this rendered it possible for Mr. J SHIPMAN F.G.S., who acted as “guide, philosopher, and friend” to the party, to give them some account of how these strata were formed and the succession of physical events which they indicated, while the party rested on a grassy bank overlooking the Lias limestone quarry, illustrating his remarks by means of a coloured diagram.  The red and grey marls of the Upper Keuper formation containing veins and “pockets” of gypsum, which they had seen on the slope of Beacon Hill, he said, were formed in a great salt lake, probably one of a series that existed in Europe at that period of the earth’s history.  England was then joined to the continent of Europe, and formed one vast continental area or ancient land surface.  This salt lake was comparable to the Dead Sea of the present day, and the physical conditions were such that a great deal of evaporation of the waters of this lake or inland sea went on; so much so, in fact, that the water sometimes evaporated at a greater rate than water was flowing in, with the result that gypsum – that white satiny looking mineral that was so common in this formation at Newark and at Gotham and in the immediate vicinity of Nottingham, was formed.  Now gypsum could only be formed when 37 per cent., or about one-third of the water had evaporated.  Rock salt also occurred in this same red clay in Cheshire as well as gypsum.  But rock salt only crystalised out when 93 percent. of the water had been evaporated off.  The consequence was that they often found veins of gypsum but no rock salt, because the process of evaporation of the waters of this inland lake had not proceeded far enough to give rise to the formation of salt.  It seemed, moreover, as if much of the gypsum was formed in shallow pools on a wide-spreading shore which were cut off from the rest of the lake for a time.  The only traces of rock salt met with in this formation about here were what were called pseudomorphous crystals of rock salt -that was cubical crystals of rock salt in which the salt had been gradually replaced particle by particle with clay no doubt through a long lapse of time, so that the crystals had the exact shape and size of rock-salt crystals, but were composed throughout of clay.  These continental conditions must have prevailed for a very long time, for the keeper marl was over 700 feet thick where they stood.  But it came to an end at last, and there was evidence that the open sea then came in.  This vast continental area began to sink towards the south-east, and so let in the sea over what had been land and salt inland lakes, and the dark grey and black shales of the Rhætic formation were laid down.  These beds contained marine shells and fish remains.  At the bottom of all was a thin hard dark band of pebbly sandstone, firmly cemented together, and seldom exceeding an inch in thickness, which was full of the scales and teeth of fishes and the remains of other animals that had apparently perished suddenly, and had, owing to some strange cause, met with a violent death.  This was known as the “bone bed”, and was met with almost everywhere at the base of the Rhætic.  Another common fossil was met with in these dark shales was Avicula contorta, a bivalve shell, and it was found at Newark.  After about thirty feet of Rhætic beds had been laid down about here, the lower half being dark shales and the upper half pale blue limestones and shales, forming the White Lias, the Lower Lias limestone came on.  This was a purely marine deposit formed in the open sea, and contained an abundance of sea shells and bones of marine reptiles, such as plesiosaurus and ichthyosaurus, a skeleton of the latter being on view in the Natural History Museum at Nottingham.  Although these blue shales and limestone bands of the Lower Lias were evidently formed in the open sea, the land was clearly not far off, for they sometimes found the wings of insects and the leaves of plants, besides the bones of reptiles that swam about the bays of that period and that could not have lived far away from land.  Thus the Rhætic beds, Mr. SHIPMAN said, represented the change or transition from a land or continental period to a period when the greater part of England was submerged beneath the sea.  All this was only one more proof, he said, that nothing in nature remained fixed and stationary, although so far as we could perceive in the short space of a lifetime it looked as if the dry land and the sea did remain fixed and had never changed places.  This was because the span of human life was too short, and these changes took too long to bring about for us to be able to observe them unless we went out of our way to look for the evidence of them.  The excursionists then returned to the Beacon Hill gypsum and clay pits, where, by the courtesy of Mr. J. O. WARDLEY, they were enabled to inspect what Mr. SHIPMAN said was the finest section of the Rhætic beds to be seen in the Midlands, and perhaps in England, in private grounds attached to Mr. WARDLEY’s new house.  At the base there was about thirty or forty feet of upper keuper red marl containing gypsum in veins and nodules, which passed upwards into about 12ft. of what is known as the Tea-green marls, which form the highest beds of the new red sandstone system.  Above these Tea-green marls, and sharply marked off along a straight level line, came the dark brown, grey, and black Rhætic shales, passing-up at the top into the White Lias, the whole section being sixty or seventy feet deep.  Before descending into the hollow, where a better view could be obtained of this section, and while standing on an elevated platform, from which the present valley of the Trent could be well seen, with Newark spread out at their feet, Mr. SHIPMAN pointed out the ancient course taken by the Trent when it flowed through Lincoln gap.  It left its present channel, he said, between East Stoke and Farndon, and kept on in the same north-easterly direction that it took between Nottingham and Newark, passing to the east of Beacon Hill, instead of to the west as now, and by the villages of Coddington, Winthorpe, and Stapleford to Swinderby, and thence onward to Boultham, near Lincoln.  This ancient course of the Trent was now marked by long stretches of gravel containing seams and beds of red sand, which, we knew was deposition during a part of the glacial period, when England was lower with regard to the sea level than it is now. – A vote of thanks was passed to Mr WARDLEY for his kindness, and the party were then entertained to tea most hospitably by the Rev. RATTENBURY HODGES, who had met them at the station on their arrival and had accompanied them on their ramble.  After tea they visited the Castle, where Mr. SHIPMAN gave them a short sketch of the origin of Newark and indicated the course of its walls and ditches and gateways.  He said he thought the present topography of Newark was strongly confirmatory of STUKELY’s belief that it was a Roman station, founded towards the close of the Roman occupation.  The party then returned to Nottingham, having had a thoroughly enjoyable time.”

Consequently, limeburning had been an significant cottage industry up to beginning of the 20th century and can be demonstrated by a very early newspaper advertisment referring to the trade in lime placed by a number of suppliers around Newark.

Extract from The Lincoln, Rutland, and Stamford Mercury published Friday, April 23, 1802

To Farmers etc

The under-signed PROPRIETORS of LIME-KILNS at NEWARK, CODDINGTON, and LANGFORD, beg Leave to inform their respective Friends and the Public in general, that the Price of Lime at their Kilns for the ensuing season will be three Shillings and three-pence per Quarter, on Credit till Christmas in the present Year; but if it is paid for within one Month from the Day of Delivery, they allow a Discount of three-pence per Quarter: Each Quarter contains no Strike.  All Lime amounting to a less Sum than twenty Shillings must be paid for at the Time of Delivery.  Great Losses having been sustained by Farmers’ Servants taking away Lime from the Kilns in the Absence of the Lime Burners, during the Night Time, the Under-signed have agreed that no Lime shall in future be permitted to be taken in that Manner; but, to accommodate the Public to the utmost possible Extent, the Lime Burners shall attend at the Kilns, during the Season, from two o’Clock in the Morning till eight o’Clock in the Evening, to deliver Lime; and it is particularly requested that no Person will apply for Lime except within those hours, as none will on any Account be delivered.

As the collecting the Money at Christmas, from such as are disposed to take the Credit, is frequently attended with great Expence[sic], from the Distance of their Residence, and not meeting with them at Home, it is requested that all who take the Credit will be so obliging as to call and discharge their Accounts at that Time.

Samuel BIRKETTS, Jun.
Richard GOSSE,

NEWARK, April 17, 1802″

Limestone quarrying

Coddington sits on the eastern edge of Newark’s Beacon Hill.  The hill’s western slope was also the site of Camerata’s Gypsum Quarry and Brickworks.  Trade directories describe our soil as clayey to the west and gravelly to the east; the subsoil being blue lias (lime)stone, marl and gravel.

Also, there is specific reference widow Ann BLACKBOURN who is contuning the business of quarrying in Coddington in 1830:

The Lincoln, Rutland, and Stamford Mercury published Friday, March 16. 1830:

Lime and Stone Quarries, Coddington.

Ann BLACKBOURN returns her sincere thanks to her numerous friends for the liberal support she has received from them since the death of her Husband; and hopes, by keeping a good article, to merit a continuance of their support.

N.B. Good Flint Lime always on hand.

Stone cottage in Coddington (now demolished)    

We have a reference to historic stone quarrying in Coddington that says the masonry of Newark and Sleaford Castles contain some Coddington stone.  However, we need to look for evidence to corroborate this – the 1945 article is quite lighthearted (and also says that a skeleton of a ‘saurian monster’ was found at Coddington quarries).

Thomas BLAGG’s 1906 book ‘Antiquities of Newark‘ records that:

” … it is certain that some time after the Bishops of Lincoln recovered their (Newark) Castle in the thirteenth century, building on an extensive scale was again begun on it.  Bishop ALEXANDER’s materials seems to have been chiefly lias limestone rubble, or rag-stone, probably got from the adjacent parish of Coddington, with quoins, facings, and ashlar work generally of Ancaster or Haydor oolite, doubtless from the same quarries from which he built his castle at Sleaford.”
When William PHILIPOT founded his Newark Almshouse Charity in 1566 he stipulated: “that its pavage be not made with any stones from Beacon Hill but only such stones as lie under the {-} of stone now commonly used or else such other blue stone as is gotten in Coddington Field“.

One of Coddington’s four open fields was called “Stonepit Field” in the 1760 Enclosure Act.  Three Lime pits are marked on Sanderson’s 1835 Map (20 Miles around Mansfield). They were:

  • near the fishpond
  • opposite the drive to Beaconfield Hall and
  • in a field behind the windmill on Balderton Lane.

Two groups of lime kilns were marked on Beacon Hill – one off Has(l)ock Lane.  According to the 1907 book ‘A History of Newark‘ by Cornelius BROWN, the Chapel on King’s Street Newark (now Staythorpe Social Club) is built with Coddington stone.

Stone in Coddington’s vernacular buildings

‘Clay wall’ on Chapel Lane, a wall from a now derelict farmbuilding of Charity Farm is built from limestone.  Perhaps it was called that because limestone was used for marling the claylands.


The buildings in the village are now almost entirely brick-built, but several have limestone foundations or remnants of limestone masonry (for example Sunnyside Farm and the cottage that became Manor Dairy Farmhouse).  Stone foundations (often a few feet high) were frequently used for timber framed buildings to prevent rotting of the wall plates  through direct contact with the soil.


   Hilltop Farm barns (on Balderton Lane) are stone and brick.

Hall farmhouse (which once stood on Main Street, next to the Inn on the Green) and several cottages (including two near the mill on Balderton Lane) were largely built of Coddington stone, but are now demolished.

Good sized similar stone walls can be seen at Newark Friary.  Intriguingly, Balderton now has many more stone buildings remaining than Coddington does. 

In the past, local flooring was often made of reeds and plaster aggregate.

Limeburning references from Coddington Trade Directories

Limestone was used for mortar and rendering, and burnt for quicklime – which when added slowly to water produces a slurry of slaked lime, used in whitewash.  The reaction between quicklime and water is quite violent and produces a lot of heat.

From the 1500s lime also began to be used in agriculture to improve the fertility of clay soils.

These people are listed as limeburners.  They may be the owners of the kilns rather than workers, and they often did other things too, like farming or shop-keeping.




Lists John W HUDSON as a lime-burner.


Lists Christopher BECKETT, John W HUDSON, Garret ORDOYNO Jnr. and John YOUNG as lime-burners.

1841 Census:

– Christopher BECKIT 40 year old stone cutter, with wife Ann 35, 7 children aged 12-1.

– Thomas BECKET 40 year old limeburner, with wife Rebekah 30 and 8 children 15-1.

– John and Richard SOUTHERN are 25 and 20 year old lime burners living in household with William and Jane LANGTON.

– John HANCLIFFE 35 year old quarryman, with Leah 30 and William 5.

– George BENNET 45, Henry HOLMES 20, both quarrymen living in LAWSON household.

– William TOWNE 30 year old lime burner, with wife Selina 30 and 3 children 8-5 months.

– Simon JOHNSON 25 year old limeburner with wife Mary 25 and 2 children 3-1.

– Israel REYNOLDS 20 year old quarryman, living with the OXBYS.

– John HUDSON 30 year old lime merchant, with wife Mary 25, 2 children 7-3 and lodger Thomas GOSS 35 lime burner.

1848 and 1850

List Christopher BECKETT, William BLACKBOURN, and John YOUNG as lime-burners.



Lists Christopher BECKETT, Ann BLACKBOURN, Francis Fryer and John YOUNG as lime-burners.



Lists Christopher BECKETT, Ann BLACKBOURN, John and Edward YOUNG as lime-burners.



Lists Christopher BECKETTas a stone dealer, Edward BLACKBOURN as a lime-burner and stone dealer, whilst Edward and William YOUNG are both lime-burners.


Lists Edward BLACKBURN, Edward YOUNG and William YOUNG as lime-burners.


1879, 1881 and 1885

Lists only Edward YOUNG as a limeburner.

1881 Census: William DANIELS 40 year old widower born in Hough, Lincs, a stonequarryman.


1892, 1894, 1897 and 1900

Lists only William YOUNG listed as a limekiln owner.


In 1912 Mrs Sarah YOUNG is a farmer and Joseph Richard YOUNG a beer retailer, but there are no limeburners listed.

In 1916 Directory no YOUNGs or lime workers are included.

The YOUNG family were gentleman farmers associated with Sunnyside Farm.  Sunnyside Farmhouse, on Main Street is next to Manor Farm in the centre of the village.  It has a large, apparently early-Victorian, brick frontage with older range and original brick and pantile farm buildings behind.