Making the most of village life

Words by:
Melanie Burton
Featured in:
February 2022

The villages along the Lincoln Edge retain traces of the past and are helping to provide the infrastructure for future prosperity. By Melanie Burton.

Lining the main A607 Lincoln to Grantham road, they are known as the Cliff villages and are ideally situated for easy access to neighbouring towns and cities. As such they are popular places to live and all have unique characters of their own. Some have even gained national acclaim.

Navenby is the second largest of the Cliff villages and has a thriving, proactive community with a young-at-heart feel to it. No wonder then that it was named one of the best villages to live in, in the UK last year.

It was ranked 31st in The Times’ ‘50 best villages in the UK’ guide which said: ‘You can get everything you need and most of what you want from the Co-op, the pubs (three of them), cafés and doctors’ surgery.

‘There’s ice cream at Urban Gelato, but the stars of the mini-high street are Odling’s butchers – 100 years old – and Welbourne’s bakery, where a loaf of Lincolnshire plum bread costs £3.75.

‘It’s a great base for families, with an “outstanding” primary school and good secondary options in Lincoln, a 20-minute drive away, or at the Sir William Robertson Academy in Welbourn, a couple of villages down the cliff.’

An attractive and vibrant location with an expanding population, Navenby has a wide selection of shops including its own butcher, baker, two local supermarkets, a chemist, an antiques centre, florist, public houses and a selection of eateries.

There are two churches – St Peter’s Church and a Methodist Church – and a medical practice. Navenby also has a popular primary school.

The village is steeped in history from the Bronze Age onwards, and significant archaeological finds have been uncovered, especially from the Roman period when a small garrison was established on Ermine Street.

Recently restored, and what many villagers would describe as the ‘jewel in the crown’, is Mrs Smith’s Cottage, a mid-19th century Grade II listed building, now preserved as a museum. Mrs Smith died in 1995 at the age of 102 years old and her cottage is a time capsule to life with few, if any mod cons.

Navenby evolved from a small agricultural village and became a market town after receiving a charter from Edward the Confessor in the 11th century.

The wide main street, down which farmers once drove their sheep to a busy street market, is lasting evidence of its market town status. St Peter’s Church, on Church Lane, is a Grade I listed building with 13th-century origins and it is by far the most historically significant building in the village.

The Methodist Chapel and a number of prestigious new dwellings of the period reflect the booming village economy of the mid-19th century while a coat of arms above a village inn commemorates a royal visit in 1870.

Navenby has two thriving pubs – the King’s Head and the Lion and Royal. The Grade II listed 18th-century King’s Head is probably the oldest public house in the village; while the nearby Lion and Royal dates from 1824 and is also Grade II listed.

It was probably just called “The Lion” when it first opened, but added “Royal” to its name in honour of a special visitor. There is a large emblem over the front door, topped by the Prince of Wales’s feathers, presented after the Prince (later Edward VII) stayed there briefly in 1870.

Wellingore is Navenby’s nearest neighbour, so much so that the two villages almost blend into each other.It too has two pubs – the Red Lion, a traditional family pub specialising in home cooked food, and the Marquis of Granby which dates back to the 18th century.

Wellingore can boast 37 listed buildings including its garage and petrol station on Cliff Road. The purpose-built garage was designed to fit in with the local landscape, being constructed of local stone in the form of a barn with a half-hipped roof and stylised midstreys to each long side.

It opened in December 1933 and is a listed building because it is of historical interest, architectural interest and is a rare survival of this early building type, which has largely retained its original form despite having been altered and extended.

Coleby is another village with a friendly community, a thriving small school and a pub: The Tempest Arms.

It is an ancient village which knew Roman, Saxon and Danish settlers before the Norman Conquest in 1066 and the Viking Way runs through the heart of the village.

Other villages that make up the Cliff are Waddington, Harmston and Boothby Graffoe.

Waddington is the largest with the older part of the village located on the Lincoln Edge and the more modern areas having developed down the steep hill towards Lincoln. It has a range of shops and facilities including a doctors’ surgery, a fire station, supermarkets, restaurants and takeaways as well as two pubs.

It is also where RAF Waddington is located, one of the busiest airbases as the hub of UK Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) and the main operating base for airborne intelligence aircraft and systems like the E-3D Sentry AEW1.

When RAF Scampton finally closes, Waddington will also become home to the Red Arrows, the world renowned aerobatic display team.

The village of Harmston is a documented settlement in the Domesday Book of 1086 and according to local historians originated as a ‘toft village’, composed of small relatively closely packed farms (tofts) with the surrounding land owned and farmed by those dwelling in the village buildings.

It is possible to see the site of one of these tofts in the village towards the western end of Chapel Lane.
Harmston Hall was by far the grandest home in the village. It was built in 1710 as a manor house for Sir

Charles Thorold, a former Lord Mayor of London. Today the village pub still bears the Thorold name.

In 1930, as a result of the Local Government Act, the Hall became part of a new mental health hospital complex. The hospital site finally closed down in 1990 and Harmston remained a very small village until the mid-1990s when the new owner of Harmston Hall (a local property developer) made plans for a new housing development on the former hospital site at the southern perimeter of the village.

The new estate was completed in 2006 and has brought many new people into the community.

Work is continuing on the new 500km pipeline that is being built to carry water from the wetter parts of north Lincolnshire to the drier areas in Suffolk and Essex.

Anglian Water began work last summer on a 16km section of the pipeline between Harmston and Ancaster, which was followed by a 4km section between Waddington and Harmston.

Work on the final section of the pipeline, from Ancaster to Harrowby, east of Grantham, is expected to start this year. The work is part of a huge 25-year drive to secure future water supplies across the Anglian Water region.

Up to 500 kilometres of new, interconnecting pipelines are being planned by the water company to allow water to be moved from areas where it is more plentiful in north Lincolnshire to areas of scarcity in the south and east of the region.

It is the biggest water infrastructure programme for a generation and will greatly reduce the number of homes and businesses relying on a single water source.

RAF Waddington is to become the home of the Protector International Training Centre when the aircraft enters service in 2024.

A total of £94 million is being invested into infrastructure improvements at the airbase to assist with housing the aircraft.

A key feature of the investment will be the development of a new campus which will include the Protector International Training Centre.

Housing the Synthetic Training System for the aircraft, the centre will enable crews from the RAF and international partners to conduct a significant amount of their training in a secure environment, linking in future with the Defence Collective Training environment under the UK Gladiator programme.

The new campus will support many jobs in the local area and will feature new single living accommodation for Protector ground crews, a hangar, office facilities, a new road and a new taxiway.

The UK is the first customer to buy what is being described as the next generation of remotely piloted aircraft, called Protectors, which some say are more advanced than anything that has come before.

At the moment the base currently holds a prototype, but eventually all 16 will be in place under the plans.

The investment marks an important step in the development of the revolutionary Detect and Avoid technology, permitting Protector to fly in unsegregated airspace safely – as the world’s first Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Remotely Piloted Aircraft System.

Protector will significantly boost the RAF’s armed Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability.

The UK’s Protector programme and the investment at RAF Waddington form part of commitments outlined in the Defence Command Paper to ensure the RAF are equipped to face future threats.

This is further enhanced by the £24 billion increase in defence spending over the next four years announced by the Prime Minister last November.

Turn your house into a home with The New Window Company’s range of beautifully designed bespoke windows and doors. Based at its extensive showrooms in Frieston Heath, Caythorpe, their team of fitters offer a professional and friendly service. With more than 20 years’ experience of designing and installing a range of custom-built timber and uPVC windows and doors, this well established company specialises in delivering designs to enhance every home. Choose from specially engineered sustainable timber, with a choice of oak, meranti hardwood and European redwood, or state-of-the-art timber alternatives – there is something to suit every personal taste and style.

Today’s timber windows and doors are built using engineered timber components made up of clean laminated and finger jointed sections. These are produced at the source in or near the sawmill and forests which are recognised as being sustainable and have third party certification to guarantee this.

Only clean, knot-free, stable components are used in the manufacture of the company’s windows and doors, which are finished using environmentally friendly long-life paint finishes with 8 to 10 year warranties.

The New Window Company, The Old Barn, Elms Farm, Frieston Heath, Caythorpe, Lincs NG32 3HD. Tel: 01400 272538 or visit

In 2016, Fine & Country Lincolnshire and Grantham first opened the doors to its office in the thriving Cliff village of Navenby, in a move that amalgamated the existing businesses from both the city of Lincoln and High Street, Grantham.

Managing director, Adam Lascelles, says: “Over the past five years the office has gone from strength to strength. At Fine & Country we pride ourselves on our vast understanding and expertise of the Lincolnshire country homes market, outstanding customer service and local knowledge together with intelligent and creative marketing strategies. It is this combination that has helped us to establish the brand as an award-winning estate agent of choice within the upper quartile of the property market.’’

Rebecca Brouwer, director, says: “We offer our clients an unparalleled ability to promote their Lincolnshire properties to buyers around the UK and internationally through our extensive global network and we cannot think of anywhere better to do that from than the heart of the pretty Cliff villages.”

One of Wild Jacks’ core activities is to ensure that buying local, first-class produce is easy and accessible for everyone. Owners, Stuart and Joanna Hancock are passionate about championing local produce and ensuring the longevity of Lincolnshire brands.

“We are focusing on increasing our wholesale activities. Currently, the majority of our products are sourced from within Lincolnshire, which will develop as we increase our customer base further afield,” explains Stuart.

Wild Jacks offers a mouth-watering range of products available for regular delivery to pubs, restaurants, cafés, hotels, schools, colleges, universities, farm shops and retail outlets. Products include luxury hampers, fresh meat, artisan breads, desserts and tray bakes.

The Wild Jacks group comprises Welbourne’s Deli & Bakery, Odling’s Butchers and JH Starbuck. As the overarching supplier, Wild Jacks works as a one-stop shop, offering its customers a wide variety of fresh, local produce all from one supplier – making it more convenient whilst keeping the food miles low too.

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Photographs: Mick Fox

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