Lindsey itself means 'Lindon's (Lincoln) Island' and cut-off it was -- to the North by the Humber estuary and the wide River Trent, to the South by the great marshy Wash inlet, and in the West by the wide swampy valley of the River Witham that meandered (in the past) through this fen from Lincoln to Boston.
Lindsey's higher and drier Wolds was even isolated from the North Sea by a low-lying plain, parts of which were often seasonally inundated by winter rains and sluggish run-off. So it was often regarded in historical times as off the beaten track; in fact Lindsey is still to a large extent by-passed by main road and rail links.
In all cases the name Enderby seems to derive from Eindrithi's by (Einraethi - Old Norse 'sole ruler'). The suffix -by is Old English and means village or homestead (either from the Old Norse byr, boer or from the Old Danish, Old Swedish by).
Bag Enderby occurs as Andredbei in Domesday Book, Endrebi in 1115 and becomes Bag-enderby in 1291 (an Ecclesiastical Tax document). The origin of Bag is obscure but possibly is a personal name, as settlement names often include personal names.
There were three main landowners, the chief of whom was Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, who came over with William from Normandy. The other two had Anglo-Saxon names. It appeared to be a prosperous village with 23 freemen, 16 villagers and 2 smallholders - so thus a population possibly approaching 200. Land was mostly under the plough, with meadow land towards the upper reaches of the River Lymn.
Bag Enderby lies on a sandstone bluff overlooking the formerly wet valley of the River Lymn but near to Harrington Hall a couple of miles away (Tennyson's 'Come into the Garden, Maud'). The village is close to Tennyson's birthplace (Somersby, ½ mile) and Tennyson's 'Brook'. Bag Enderby was enclosed by general consent in the mid 18th century (without Parliamentary Act), suggesting there was one principal owner, the Lord. Crops in 1930 were the usual wheat, barley, oats and turnips.
On the Ordnance Survey map of 1824 about 24 buildings are shown, clustered compactly around the church. In the mid 19th century there were somewhat over 100 inhabitants, with the services of a shopkeeper (who was also a carrier), a blacksmith, a shoemaker and a tailor. In the early 1880s there was only a blacksmith. Population continued to decline to 30 in 1921. Fewer inhabitants led to the parish being combined first with Somersby and later both these with Greetham. In 1991 the three combined parishes had only the same total (1360) as Bag Enderby alone in 1851. Today, Bag Enderby is little more than the buildings of Hall Farm, a few cottages and the church (St. Margaret's) built originally by Albini de Enderby who died in 1407 and is commemorated on a sepulchral slab.
Mavis Enderby occurs as Endrebi in Domesday Book, as Endrebi in 1115, and as Enderby Malbys in 1302. Mavis Enderby was held (among other lands) by William Malebisse in 1202, Malbys being shortened later to Mavis. Two of the owners had Anglo-Saxon names and, like Bag Enderby, there was a mill and the land was good arable land. The population appears to have been possibly around the hundred mark.
Like Bag Enderby it stands on the drier sandstone, above a spring line feeding a tributary of the River Lymn. Mavis Enderby lies less than 2 miles uphill from Bolingbroke, with strong historical connections. It was the seat of John of Gaunt, whole eldest son, the future Henry IV was born. The moated castle was the site of a Royalist garrison during the Civil War, and about four miles from the site of 1643 Battle of Winceby. The remains of the castle have recently been partially excavated.
Enclosure of the open fields took place in 1798. On the OS 1842 map Mavis Enderby is a rather spread out village of some 25 buildings between the Horncastle-Spilsby road and the church (St. Michael, a tower church with three bells.) Peak population was reached in the early part of the 19th century - in 1841 there were 311 inhabitants, but ten years later only 207 and by 1881 a mere 140. However the village still flourished, as St. Michael's chancel was rebuilt in 1871 and the nave and tower in the following 20 years. A Wesleyan chapel was built in 1876 and an infant school with resident schoolmistress catered for small children - older ones travelled to Raithby. In 1856, besides farmers and farm workers, there was a shopkeeper, a carpenter and gamekeeper; by 1930 only a wheelwright. Today, Mavis Enderby is roughly the same physical size but population has continued to decline to just 72 at the 1991 Census, a quarter of whom were pensioners.
Wood Enderby occurs as Endrebi in Domesday Book, but later referred to as Woodenderby in 1198 and 1328. To the west was Tumby Chase, and there is still much woodland on the heavy soils. The principal landowner in the Domesday Book was the King, with 60 acres of meadow and 450 acres of woodland pasture.
Wood Enderby lies about 2 miles from Scrivelsby Court (owned by the Dymokes, the "Queen's Champion") and the same distance from Mareham-le-Fen. Mareham (a formerly important 'open' village) stands on the upper edge of a dry bank of gravel that formed an important East-West route at the foot of the steep slope on the southern edge of the Wolds (an old interglacial sea cliff, now of course much degraded.)
Wood Enderby lies on a fairly level platform of sandstone 100 ft above sea level, but overlain by glacial drift of a usually clayey nature. In medieval times the land was, as usual, farmed on the open field system and at the time of enclosure by Act of Parliament (1792) the two fields occupied 80% of the parish. New roads were cut from the village centre across both East and West Field during the enclosure process. On the OS 1824 map Wood Enderby is a compact village to the east of the sandstone church (St. Benedict's). with about 35 buildings marked.
In the 19th century the village was quite prosperous - in 1851 the population was nearly 300 and, beside farmers and farm workers, there was a corn miller, a beerhouse keeper, a blacksmith, wheelwright and shoemaker. In 1882, with a population of 276, there are additional references to an engineer (steam threshing), carpenter, a second boot maker, shopkeeper and schoolmistress. There was an infant school (older children to Moorby) and a substantial Wesleyan chapel had been built in 1876, while the church had been renovated with a new limestone spire in 1860 (now too heavy for the foundations.) By 1930 only a wheelwright, shopkeeper and blacksmith were noted apart from farmers, some of whom specialised in the production of seeds.
Like all villages in the Wolds Wood Enderby lost population fairly steadily from the 1850s to the 1970s. By 1921 the number of inhabitants had dropped to 114 and decline continued to a low of 87 in 1971. However some revival in numbers occurred between 1971 and 1981, population rising from 87 to 137. This was due to two causes; the availability of spare building 'infill' plots at a time when village sprawl was restricted by strict planning permission and an increase of car ownership. Wood Enderby became more easily accessible to the employment opportunities in Boston (less than half an hour). even of Lincoln, taking slightly longer. Wood Enderby today is mainly a commuter settlement, with only a few farming families; it has no shop or pub and the church is closed as a result of danger of falling masonry. The only amenities are a telephone box and post box, with a bus service between Horncastle and Boston that passes through, mainly because it serves the larger village of Mareham le Fen. For administrative reasons it has now been combined with the neighbouring parish of Scrivelsby.