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Owners of historic Market Deeping home just the "caretakers" for now

A town mayor and his wife who live in a house that is more than 450 years old said they were just caretakers of the historic property, preserving it for future generations to enjoy.

Market Deeping Mayor David Shelton, 74, and his wife Nicky,73, have owned and lived in the town's oldest private residence in Church Street since 2014 after moving to the area from Brighton.

"It has been said before, but as an owner, you really are just preserving history for future generations," said David of the house which dates to around 1563.

"We are just the caretakers of the property for now."

The couple had initially planned to "quietly retire" when they moved to Market Deeping, but things have not gone quite to plan.

Not only is David an active squash player, but he is also the chairman of Deepings Heritage and Mayor of Market Deeping, leading to a full diary of events they are required to attend.

"We were living in Brighton when Nicky suggested we look at moving here as I have a son and daughter in the area," he said.

"We were looking for an older property in a 10 to 15 mile radius of Stamford and came up one weekend to look at some houses and found this one.

"There's plenty on offer in Market Deeping and we love it here.

"It's like living in a village but with all the facilities you need close by.

"It really is the best of both worlds."

Their double-storey Grade II listed home is a good example of late medieval building, featuring coursed limestone, Collyweston slate roof and mullioned windows.

It also features an Inglenook Fireplace and a painted Charles II Royal Coat of Arms on one of the bedroom walls.

"It has been validated and was painted around 1665," said David.

"It had been covered up until about 15 years ago when the owners were decorating.

"They were taking the paint off the wall when they realised something was underneath.

"We are doing our best to preserve it by keeping direct light off it and also monitoring temperature and humidity in the room."

Although the house is a member of the Historic Houses Association, it is not open to the public.

Despite this, David has made concessions in the past to researchers and even complete strangers.

"I looked out the window one day and saw about 15 to 20 people outside taking pictures of the house so I went to find out what was going on," he said.

"It turned out to be a lady who used to live in Market Deeping but was now living in the south of France.

"She had brought back some friends to show them around.

"I speak French so I gave them a guided tour of the house."

He said a few days later a card arrived in the post thanking him for his wonderful hospitality.

Over the years the house has been lived in by the members of one family for more than 300 years, has also been used as a saddlery, for storage purposes and even as an antiques shop.

"From 1977 onwards it has been used for residential purposes and there have been about five owners since then including us," said David.

"Luckily our predecessors did most of the work and we have only made one change which was to raise the height of a doorway."

There are quirks to living in a historic home, like having to put up with low ceilings and doors, but David and Nicky would not have it any other way.

"I've hit my head more than a few times but we immediately felt at home when we moved in," he said.

"I feel uncomfortable in new homes.

"They will have to carry me out of here one day."

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