Life in the charming village back on track

Set amidst magnificent pine woods, the historic and picturesque Lincolnshire village of Woodhall Spa is known for its relaxing atmosphere. But there is much more to it than meets the eye, says Melanie Burton.

It is a thriving village with a choice of everything from supermarkets, hardware stores and antique shops to restaurants, renowned hotels and B&Bs.

There are plenty of attractions on its doorstep and it is the perfect base for visitors who want to explore everything that Lincolnshire has to offer.

And just like communities up and down the country, the village is preparing to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this month with a community event in Jubilee Park on 3rd and 4th June.

The family funday on 3rd June will feature a Bark in the Park dog show, community stalls, games, activities, music and theatre.

There will be pottery taster sessions, archery taster sessions, a children’s treasure hunt, the chance to decorate crowns and paint flags as well as a number of stalls and displays to browse.

Music in the Bandstand with a 1940s singer and the Banovallum Brass Band will feature on Saturday 4th June.

Then on 5th June one of the village’s most renowned hotels, the Petwood, is hosting a Jubilee picnic and afternoon tea in its immaculately maintained grounds with music to enjoy on the terrace.
Starting life as a country retreat for an Edwardian Baroness, the ‘Petwood’ has a unique place in Lincolnshire history.

From its time as a military hospital for injured soldiers during World War One to being requisitioned by the Royal Air Force during World War Two, the Petwood has been a place of welcome comfort over the years and it is best known as the home of the legendary 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron.

Another popular hotel in Woodhall Spa which also has a heritage all of its own is The Dower House Hotel, situated by the first fairway of the Bracken course at the National Golf Centre, which is the home of the English Golf Union. It too is marking the Platinum Jubilee with an Afternoon Tea Garden Party on 3rd June.

Built at the end of the 19th century, this Edwardian house retains all of its original features and is surrounded by two acres of tranquil gardens in beautiful woodland, and approached by a tree-lined private road.

WEALTH OF ATTRACTIONS
Woodhall’s history stretches back to Victorian times and in its heyday, it was a well-known inland resort visited by people who travelled long distances by train to sample the spa waters for their special properties.

No wonder then that Woodhall Spa is still an increasingly popular tourist destination with much to offer in terms of welcoming accommodation, heritage, visitor attractions, leisure and entertainment as well as a range of independent niche shops that give it a special character.

The area is rich in sport and recreational facilities from cricket, tennis, bowls and croquet in Jubilee Park to golf at the Hotchkin golf course, which is currently ranked the 54th best course in the world in Golf magazine’s benchmark ranking.

Jubilee Park is located just a few minutes’ walk from the centre of Woodhall Spa and comprises ten acres of picturesque, ornamental gardens, highly rated camping and caravan facilities, a children’s play area, sensory garden, bowling green, croquet lawns, cricket pitch, tennis club, putting green, outdoor table tennis, a café and a fitness suite as well as an outdoor heated lido and paddling pool.

The Hotchkin, which is one of two courses at the National Golf Centre, rose 12 places from its position two years ago in the American publication Golf’s 2020-21 list of the greatest courses in the world and the rise is down to the club’s decision to ask leading golf course architect Tom Doak to renovate the heathland masterpiece over the course of three years.

In addition to creating a greater heathland feel that has significant environmental benefits, the more open course now enjoys expansive views and is already further improving its already renowned turf.

“We are naturally delighted with this ranking,” said Richard Latham, general manager. “To be rated among the stellar names in the world of golf illustrates what I hope anyone who has visited us recently knows: the Hotchkin is a world-class golf course.”

The other course is the Bracken, which was created by Donald Steel, one of Britain’s foremost golf course architects of the modern era. It opened in 1998 and has evolved into a course appreciated and enjoyed every day by golfers of all abilities.

HISTORY COMES TO LIFE
The Cottage Museum has been part of the fabric of Woodhall Spa for decades. It is packed with intriguing stories and displays about the town, the local area and the Wield family, who lived in the building from 1887 until the 1960s. The museum building itself is an important exhibit as a rare surviving example of a bungalow constructed of corrugated iron on a wooden frame that was erected in the late 19th century.

John Wield (1877-1965) was a keen photographer and his photographic collection is the basis of the museum. The collection of images is a unique and valuable record of life in Woodhall Spa and includes images of both people and the local area.

Another attraction which brings people to Woodhall Spa from far and wide is the historic cinema, the Kinema in the Woods, which marks its centenary anniversary in September.

As the name suggests, the cinema is located in woodland and was dubbed the “Flicks in the Sticks” by the hundreds of servicemen who crowded into it during the Second World War. It is the only cinema in the country to operate by projection from behind the screen and the building itself is highly unusual.

Originally constructed in the late 19th century and known as “The Barn” by local folk who used it for meetings and bazaars, it had a veranda added from which spectators could watch cricket and tennis being played in the spa grounds. It was also used as a concert hall in Edwardian times with well-known performers coming from various cities and the London stage.

At the beginning of the 1920s, Sir Archibald and Lady Weigall decided that a picture house was just what Woodhall Spa needed. The new Pavilion Cinema opened in September 1922 and became the Kinema in the Woods in the autumn of 1930. Mr James Green took over the Kinema in 1973 and was able to purchase and install a Compton Kinestra Organ, which emerges from under the stage during the interval of films.

The Kinema will mark its 100th birthday on 11th September with a black-tie screening but the film choice will not be confirmed until closer to the time. However it will be a 2022 film release.

In the meantime, as part of the centenary celebrations the Kinema has been showing a film from each decade throughout the year. This month the film is Grease starring Olivia Newton John and John Travolta.

1940s FESTIVAL
Woodhall Spa’s popular 1940s Festival is back after a two-year absence and this celebration of wartime nostalgia is not to be missed. There will be a number of 40s ‘Home Front’ themed events which will take place at venues across the village throughout the weekend of 9th and 10th July.

Woodhall Spa has a strong historic link with the days of World War Two as the legendary 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron were stationed there and living in its midst. The festival weekend takes a step back in time and recreates the atmosphere of that era with 1940s costumes, tanks, 1940s music and much more. The festival attracts up to 50,000 visitors each year and provides a significant economic and tourism boost to the village.

The pandemic meant that the 2020 festival could not go ahead and though 2021 looked promising, organisers made the tough decision to cancel the event due to the uncertainty and safety of holding large events.

Also the festival dates were very soon after the final lifting of Covid restrictions, with no certainty that the Prime Minister’s ‘roadmap to recovery’ deadlines would be met.

The annual Second World War Home Front celebration has become not only Woodhall Spa’s most popular summer outing since its launch in 2012 but also the county’s, as people flock to it from far and wide.

The festival is run by a volunteer team of Woodhall Spa residents who give their time for free and any profits are distributed to the town’s good causes.

PLANS FOR RAF SITE
Woodhall Spa’s former RAF site could become a golf-based holiday park.

Both East Lindsey District Council and Lincolnshire County Council have expressed interest in buying the site, which the Ministry of Defence confirmed at the end of last year was surplus to requirements and would be sold.

The ground currently includes a 9-hole golf course covering around 80% of the site and used by RAF Coningsby. There was also a small building on the golf course site used by RAF Coningsby’s motor sports club.

A report presented to ELDC’s Executive Board said the site was ‘considered to be capable of being repurposed for a variety of leisure and commercial uses’ and ‘to have alternative use potential which may be of use to the council in supporting delivery of corporate objectives.’

It added that ‘there was a general lack of opportunities to acquire development land, particularly off market, within the district therefore the site was worthy of further due diligence and feasibility work being undertaken.’

And the MoD had advised that the expectation was the RAF would be closing down the golf course in the coming months and the land would be offered to a buyer.

odges and tree houses was one of several ideas for the site. Others included a golf-based mixed residential and holiday park, a crematorium and woodland burial ground or an industrial/commercial redevelopment and holiday lodge park.

The report also highlighted the fact that Lincolnshire County Council was also interested in the land and that it and ELDC had held ‘initial conversations’ about the site to see if there was an opportunity ‘for collaboration on shared ambitions’.

‘We have since had initial conversations with LCC about their interest,’ the report said. ‘There may be some opportunity for collaboration on shared ambitions which officers suggest is explored as part of the feasibility work. However at this point in time the site remains fully available.’

RAF Woodhall Spa opened in 1942 as a satellite station for RAF Coningsby. It was a missile base from the late 1950s to 1965 when most of the land was sold off for farming and mineral extraction.

The rest of the station closed completely in 2003 and the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust established a nature reserve at the former airbase in 2015. Most recently, a temporary mortuary was set up at the station as part of “worst case scenario” plans during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ministry of Defence has valued the land at around £1.6 million.

ELEGANT NEW LOOK FOR THE DOWER HOUSE
The Dower House Hotel in the heart of Woodhall Spa is a hidden gem. Nestled in the trees opposite the Bracken course of the Woodhall Spa Golf Course, the hotel is a private and tranquil setting for any occasion. 

Currently undergoing refurbishment, the hotel is getting a make-over. The function suite was first on the list; now an elegant space with cool grey tones and neutral fabrics. The public areas are nearly complete, retaining the country house hotel charm but with a more modern flair. 

You can enjoy a relaxing drink in the warm and charming surroundings of Harry’s Bar and sample their tasty bar food or sit down to a superb 3 or 4 course meal in The Dower House Hotel Restaurant where you can tuck into locally sourced market-fresh ingredients, a delectable dessert menu and a carefully chosen wine list from their extensive cellar.

A wonderful dining experience awaits, with attentive service in an intimate setting with stunning garden views.

More details can be found on their website www.dowerhousehotel.co.uk, or you can call 01526 352588 or email info@the-dowerhousehotel.co.uk

FABULOUS FEET!
First opened in 1999, Britain’s Smallest Shoe Shop, Peter Scott Shoes on the Broadway in Woodhall Spa has built a reputation for stocking stylish footwear featuring many popular brands including some of the most famous names in European and British footwear, including Rieker, Hotter, Lotus, Cipriata, Jana, Boulevard, Marco Tozzi, Skechers and Roamers, plus many others.

Here you will find a great selection of perfect summer footwear to suit every occasion and budget, from sandals, slip-ons, trainers and heels, to wide fit, as well as smart classics, together with a full range of seasonal styles, including slippers, boots, sportswear and elegant designs to suit all tastes.

Peter Scott Shoes is open seven days a week, from 9.30am to 4.30pm (Monday to Saturday), and 10am to 4pm on Sunday.

For more information tel: 01526 353935 or visit www.peterscottshoes.co.uk

THE PETWOOD IS PERFECT FOR EVERY OCCASION
It is no secret that one’s dining setting influences the enjoyment of food. Woodhall Spa has many delightful charms to tempt the erstwhile visitor, among them the historic Petwood Hotel. Built by Lady Grace Weigall as her new home in her “pet wood”, she commissioned Harold Peto to design her stunning gardens which today offer a beautiful backdrop for al fresco dining. As a WWI military hospital and former WWII officers’ mess for three RAF squadrons including the famous 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron, the Petwood oozes history which only adds to the extraordinary setting of this Lincolnshire treasure.

Approaching the house along the gently curving drive, guests and visitors are treated to sweeping views of the house and award-winning gardens that give a hat tip to a past era of high society, relaxation and decadence. Today the Petwood retains much of that charm and is an oasis of calm for those looking for an escape from the everyday. At a time when many people are keen to make new memories, there are few more wonderful ways of doing so than spending an afternoon at the Petwood taking Afternoon Tea on the terrace, or enjoying a delicious dinner with an excellent glass of wine in the traditional setting of a panelled dining room. The Petwood prides itself on sourcing local ingredients wherever possible, showcasing the very best Lincolnshire produce.

A favourite location for get-togethers, friends and families can once again meet up to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. With private dining options available too, now is the time to make up for missed celebrations and be with loved ones. Whatever the occasion, there is always a warm welcome from the Petwood family to yours.

ENJOY AUTHENTIC TASTES OF INDIA AT INDIA VILLAGE
If you’re looking for true tastes of traditional Indian favourites from around the north and south of the country, as well as Bangladesh and Pakistan, India Village is the ideal place to go.

Here you will find a hand-picked selection of dishes prepared by owner Jamal Hussain’s experienced team of chefs who use the freshest ingredients from local producers and reputable importers of spices.

This popular village restaurant situated on the Broadway in Woodhall Spa, which is listed in the National Curry Club guide, has built a reputation for offering diners a relaxed and authentic dining experience with a menu which showcases a blend of traditional and contemporary Indian cuisine, topped off with graceful service from the warm and welcoming hospitality team.

Find your favourite dishes via the restaurant’s extensive takeaway menu with the added bonus of easy online ordering.

For bookings and more information contact tel: 01526 352223 or visit www.indianwoodhall.co.uk

WOODHALL SPA COTTAGE MUSEUM
The Cottage Museum opened in May 1987, following an ambitious fundraising project organised by local school teacher David Radford.

Home to the Wield family from 1887 until the mid-1960s, the aim of the museum is to preserve local history and make it accessible to everyone. It is a place to visit and see photographs and artefacts of Woodhall Spa’s heritage.

The building itself is an important exhibit, being one of the few Boulton and Paul prefabricated dwellings to survive from the 19th century.

It is hands-on and interactive, being family friendly with Edwardian games and jigsaws for children (and grown up children!). The Cottage Museum is dog friendly so a visit is a real family affair!

‘Music in the Gardens’, free informal concerts, are held every Sunday afternoon throughout August. Cakes, homemade by the team of volunteers are available. Donations welcome. So visit and explore this ‘Little Gem’.

Open Wednesday to Saturday, 10.30am-4pm until the end of October. Usually open all year for school visits, special events and guided tours. Contact info@cottagemuseum.co.uk to arrange a visit.

CLASSIC CUISINE AT THE TEA HOUSE IN THE WOODS
A long-time favourite local eatery and an iconic location in Woodhall Spa, the Tea House in the Woods, has been delighting diners with first class food and service since it was established nearly 120 years ago.

Built in the Edwardian period, the original tea house was first run by the Williams sisters, two daughters of London clergyman Dr Williams, superintendent of the Spa baths, who specialised in serving dainty delicacies of the highest quality.

Today that same level of commitment remains and here you can enjoy a choice of different dishes throughout the day, from traditional breakfasts and afternoon teas, with freshly filled sandwiches, home-made scones, cakes and treats, to a varied lunchtime menu featuring light bites, salads and platters. 

The restaurant is also open in the evenings for à la carte dining from 5pm, with a wide menu choice including grills, gourmet burgers, pasta and pizza, with vegetarian options.

The Tea House in the Woods is open Wednesday to Sunday with the dinner menu served Thursday to Saturday.

For more information visit the website www.teahouseinthewoods.co.uk

AGENT AT THE CENTRE OF PROPERTY IN AND AROUND WOODHALL SPA
Robert Bell & Company has had an office in Woodhall Spa since 1984. Their current premises occupy a prominent position in the centre of the village opposite the Dambusters Memorial.

Their work in the village is primarily residential covering sales, lettings and pre-purchase surveys but they have also been agents on the Woodhall Estate for over 100 years and were very involved in the transfer of the golf course to form part of the headquarters for the English Golf Union. They also offer agricultural and commercial property services from their nearby Horncastle office as well as regular online and in person furniture and antique sales.

Robert Bell & Company have built a fine reputation for high levels of customer service coupled with honest professional advice, which has led to them advising on the sale and marketing of some of the most desirable homes in both the village and the wider county area.

GET CRAFTY!
Perfect for shoppers looking for great gifts and unique presents for every occasion, Fairy Crafters in Woodhall Spa offers a distinctive selection of hand-made creations, including jewellery, soft furnishings, candles and art, supporting more than 40 local craft businesses.

Owned and run by Claire Blackburn, an experienced crafter with a real passion for showcasing local talent, here you will find a treasure trove of distinctive greeting cards, gifts and interior décor designs for friends, family, children and pets to suit all tastes and budgets.

Claire also runs a number of workshops at her Fairy Crafters shop for all levels of experience, including needle felting and a “knit and natter” group, with tea, coffee, biscuits and cake on offer.

Fairy Crafters, Unit 2a Goodyear House, Tattershall Road, Woodhall Spa LN10 6QJ. Tel: 07832 974557 or visit the Facebook page @fairycrafters

GREAT GIFTS AND MORE AT UNDERWOOD HALL
Situated on the Broadway in Woodhall Spa, Underwood Hall is a well established family-run jeweller offering a unique collection of specially selected quality gold and silver jewellery, as well as unique gifts such as photo frames and glass paperweights to suit all tastes and budgets.

Here shoppers are spoilt for choice with a selection of fine antique jewellery ranging from Victorian period pieces to modern design classics, with all items being hand-picked for their fine styling and quality. Choose from a range of beautiful bangles, chains, necklaces and earrings, as well as classic wristwatches from leading brands such as Sekonda and Rotary.

Excellent customer care, as well as bespoke jewellery design and expert repair service. Open Mondays to Saturdays, from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

For more information tel: 01526 353815.

OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT SOLUTIONS FROM CHARLES H HILL
Charles H Hill Ltd of Horsington is a well-known, trusted family-run business, which prides itself on selling quality specialist outdoor power equipment, strengthened by an unrivalled stock of spare parts for back-up, as well as delivering a first class after-sales service with a team of long serving, experienced department experts in its own on-site workshops.

The current range now consists of more than 350 pages, including chainsaws, pole saws, brush cutters, strimmers, hedge trimmers (including long reach), post hole borers, garden blow vacs, pressure washers and vacuums, all sold at competitive prices.

Charles H Hill stocks a wide range of Honda Power Products, including ride-on mowers and lawnmowers, which carry up to a 7-year warranty, as well as handy and industrial generators, water pumps, engines and rotovators.

There is also a wide range of Husqvarna ride-ons, including the rider range of front mounted decks with articulated rear-wheel steering for excellent manoeuvrability, and strong Etesia ‘anti-clog’ mowers, which cut and collect grass even in wet conditions, together with scarifiers and brushcutters.

For more information visit www.charleshhill.co.uk

Photographs: Mick Fox



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