The village is the site and seat of an ancient priory founded in the reign of King Stephen by Hugh le Wake and affiliated with the abbey of Bec in Normandy. The cell was later given to Bourne Abbey. At the dissolution of the monasteries, the land went to Charles, Duke of Suffolk. All traces of the buildings are now gone.
The Anglican church is dedicated to Saint Mary and was built in the Norman period, although apparent traces of Saxon work are evident in the chapel.
The church was restored in 1860-61 and again in 1871.
The church seats 226.
Burials in the churchyard ceased in the 1920s. A new cemetery was opened on School Lane at that time.
The church provides a booklet and we have an online copy as a Portable Document File at Wilsford.org.
Wilsford is both a village and a parish five miles WSW of Sleaford and nine miles northeast of Grantham. Ancaster parish lies to the north and west and Rauceby parish to the north and east. The parish covers about 3,000 acres and includes the eastern edge of the village of Ancaster. The ancient hamlet of Hanbeck is part of the parish, now only a farm.
The village of Wilsford sits on the south bank of a rivulet that eventually joins the River Slea. If you are planning a visit:
Take the A153 trunk road west out of Sleaford or take Ermine Street (B6403) north past Grantham and turn right at Ancaster.
The Lincolnshire Trust maintains two Protected Roadside Verges in Wilsford: Duke's Covert and Copper Hill. Duke's Covert lies in the triangle of land at Copper Hill between Ermine Street and the road to Heydour, about 1 km (0.6 miles) to the south of Ancaster. The roadside verges at Copper Hill are protected under the scheme operated by the Trust and Lincolnshire County Council (PRV 024). They have a particularly rich limestone flora with much rock-rose, horseshoe and kidney vetches, spiny restharrow, purple milk-vetch and fairy flax. Butterflies include brimstone and common blue. This was the last known Lincolnshire locality for the chalkhill blue butterfly, and is the most northerly point for man orchid in Britain.
Visit the Plough Inn on Main Street, Wilsford, Grantham, LIN NG32 3NS, telephone: 01400 230304.
Wilsford Hall, built of stone in 1649 and enlarged in 1776, is a large ancient mansion in the Elizabethan style, formerly owned by the Duke of Rutland. In 1815 it was purchased by James Henry PARKINSON and became his residence. In 1913 it was no longer occupied.
Anciently called Wivelsford, the name is Old English wifel's+ford, for "ford of a man named Wifel". It appeared in the 1086 Domesday Book as Wivelesforde. [A. D. Mills, "A Dictionary of English Place-Names," Oxford University Press, 1991]
A Public Elementary School was built here in 1857 by Miss CHENEY, the late lady of the manor, on a site granted by the Rev. J. P. B. YOUNGE. A classroom for infants was added in 1877 and another in 1897.