Picturesque and popular

Words by:
Melanie Burton
Featured in:
August 2016

If you think of the villages that lie on the Lincoln Edge as sleepy rural retreats, with just panoramic views of the Trent Valley to boast about, you had better think again.
Not only are they ideally situated for easy access to the bigger towns and cities like Lincoln, Grantham and Sleaford; they each have a unique character and charm of their own.

Known as the Cliff Villages, they also have forward-thinking, pro-active communities and offer a warm welcome to anyone who takes the time to visit their neighbourhoods. All were mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and many have fascinating histories to tell.
Coleby, for instance, is an ancient village which knew Roman, Saxon and Danish settlers before the Norman Conquest of 1066. It has the Viking Way running through its core.

Parish Council Clerk Sue Makinson-Sanders said: “One of the outstanding features of the village is that there is a real community spirit. There is an active parish council and we are in the process of surveying residents with a view to drawing up a neighbourhood plan which gives residents the chance to say what they want to see in the village and what they want to see in terms of development, not just houses but facilities as well.

“There is a lot going on in Coleby even though it is only a small village.”

It hosts a wide variety of events such as the annual harvest ball and the ever-popular car boot sales.

“We have a monthly library and coffee morning in the village hall, now that the mobile library has stopped coming to the village because of insufficient usage. That is quite active and gives some of the older people in the village the chance to get out and about for a chat,” said Sue.

“Coleby car boot is held on the first Sunday of the month, which is always busy, and the autumn ball coming up in October is always a good night out and well attended.”

With the summer holidays fast approaching, the village is just about to launch a graffiti hunt in the village’s All Saints Church for the youngsters to get involved in over the summer.

“We are delivering the sheets to the school and the children can go into the church during the holidays and try to find various things that are written there,” said Sue.

“At the end of it we will have an event in the church and get the expert from the Lincolnshire Archaeological Society, who surveyed all the graffiti, to come and tell the children what it all means.”

There are no shops in the village but it does boast two pubs, The Bell and The Tempest Arms, and a school as well as the church and village hall.

“We are very lucky. The Bell is a pub restaurant and the food is superb. The Tempest is now a community pub owned by a group of residents. We are very well served,” said Sue.

“One of the things we do have is a real community spirit. We are a lovely village to live in. If you need help, you only have to ask and everyone is happy to get involved.”

Situated on the Viking Way, The Tempest Arms was due to be sold by Marstons Brewery because it was under-performing and the licensee Tracy Smith wasn’t in a position to buy it at the time. North Kesteven District Council declared it a community asset, which prevented someone buying it and turning it into a house, and the pub regulars then saved it from closure by purchasing it together with Tracy.

“The villagers loved the pub, so bought it and it is now undergoing a refurbishment,” explained Tracy who has been at The Tempest Arms for just over three years.

“We are planning an extension to the restaurant and a patio out the back. We bought it in October and the biggest thing is the brand new kitchen for which we have now been awarded a five-star hygiene rating.”

The pub has been part of the streetscene for nearly 250 years.

“The first record of a licence is 1770. It is very much an old traditional village pub and I want to keep it that way,” said Tracy.

Coleby is part of the Graffoe parish of churches, which has been without an incumbent for a couple of years. But this autumn will see a new vicar in place.

The Rev Michelle Godbold will be moving into Navenby into the vicarage with her family and will cover Wellingore, Navenby, Boothby Graffoe, Harmston and Temple Bruer.

“She is a curate in Lincoln at the minute and this is her first incumbency. We are looking forward to her joining us and meeting her,” said Sue Makinson-Sanders.

That is a view shared by Peter Drummond, church warden at St Andrew’s Church in Boothby Graffoe, which is the quietest of the villages on the Cliff Edge with nothing in it bar homes and the church.

The Anglican parish church of St Andrew is a Grade II listed building and was rebuilt in the early-mid nineteenth century, designed by W A Nicholson. The original church was destroyed by a hurricane in the late seventeenth century.

Inside, the only remains of the original building is an inscribed tablet beneath the west window, dated early seventeenth century.

“Boothby has just a church. We do our best to keep it going,” said Mr Drummond.

“Clearly in the past two years when we have been without an incumbent it has been much more difficult. But we will have a new vicar from this autumn and we are all very happy about that.

“It is a young vicar with a family, so we stand a slightly better chance of encouraging the young people in the parish to turn out.

“That is the most important change and most exciting thing because it will help us plot what church activities will be on the agenda for the next few years.”

Mr Drummond said the upkeep of the church was very expensive.

“We will be due a review by the church architects but we have made it clear that with our church being so small it is not worth considering major alterations to the church because even if we did put in modern facilities it wouldn’t increase attendances,” he said.

One church in the parish that is considering major alterations is All Saints Church in Wellingore.

The Norman church of All Saints came to Wellingore in 1072 but there was probably an Anglo-Saxon church on the site long before this. The building itself is mostly thirteenth to fifteenth century but was extensively restored between 1878 and 1881.

Churchwarden Glo Reed said: “We pride ourselves on being a welcoming church which is opened each day to the many visitors who come and enjoy the peace which it affords.

“With the passage of time, however, it is becoming increasingly necessary to consider structural improvements to the church to make it more accessible to, and more representative of, the community which it serves.”

The Village Church Committee is committed to installing disabled access, toilets and tea-making facilities at the church. A final plan is being drawn up to encompass advice from the Lincoln Diocesan Office on making changes to the Grade I listed building.

“Fundraising and acquiring matched funding is our main priority for the next eighteen months. It will be an intense period. All Saints Church is a precious building but it needs to be a living church in a vibrant community,” said Glo.

Navenby and Waddington are the largest of the Cliff villages and both are hubs of commercial activity with shops, pubs, restaurants and businesses operating there.

In Navenby, there is a well-known artisan bakery and a busy butcher’s shop, as well as an eclectic mix of other retail outlets and eating establishments such as The King’s Head pub or Macy’s Brasserie.

Waddington was mainly an agricultural community until the late nineteenth century. Horseracing also took place on the heathland areas, which are now part of RAF Waddington, one of the oldest airfields in the UK having been founded in November 1916.

At various times other activities including malting, brick-making and stone-quarrying have taken place in the village. The village shops are chiefly located in the Bar Lane area of the upper part of the village and the Redwood Drive Shopping Centre in the lower part of the village.

Harmston was also once a largely agricultural community and 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, the Thorold Arms still bears the family name and has retained many of its original features.

Welbourn, unlike the other Cliff villages, is built under the escarpment, rather than on it, so is largely level. Most of the village is a conservation area and it has a number of streetscenes whose architecture reflects the village’s history.

Many of the old stone-built cottages were knocked down in the 1950s because they were considered too small and unsuitable as dwellings. They were mainly replaced by bungalows and other ‘modern buildings’.

For over 60 years Lawnmower Service (Lincoln) Ltd has been one of Lincolnshire’s best known and leading horticultural machinery retailers with longstanding staff and a family orientated ethos. Over the past five years and during the economic dip we have seen some changes good and bad but have managed to weather the storm and are now looking to the future.

“We have gradually been updating our showroom and offices inside and out which is ongoing and will hopefully help move the business along smoothly hand in hand with upcoming ideas and events.

“Having had a stand at the Lincolnshire Show for over 30 years we took the decision not to attend in 2015 and felt hosting our own ‘mini show’ here at our premises in Wellingore would be a far more beneficial idea for us as a business and give something back to the community at the same time. This year we will once again host the Wellingore Show after last year’s success. The show will include live musicians, plenty of activities and entertainment for the whole family; a licensed bar and food vendors; lots of stalls and products to buy; raffle and tombola plus we will be offering discounts on the day in our store. The show will be on Saturday 3rd September from 10.30am until 5pm with the last band playing until 6pm.

“Our showroom, spares department and workshop continue to be the main income stream for the business; however, the Country Store department has grown well since starting five years ago, with more and more people preferring to ‘shop local’. We utilise social media to promote the department as well as advertising in local press and have been encouraged by the amount of customers who have come through our doors because of word of mouth. Recently we have hosted a Coffee Morning, which raised funds for a local preschool, and will most likely organise similar events in future in addition to our regular indoor Christmas Market, which will be on Saturday 26th November this year including a visit from Father Christmas.”

Dates for your diary – Saturday 3rd September and Saturday 26th November. News and events updates can be found on the Facebook page: Twitter: lms01522, LMS (Lincoln) Ltd, Grantham Road, Wellingore, Lincoln, LN5 0HH, 01522 810562.

The Navenby Woodstove has been operating in Navenby since the mid 1970s, although the business moved to new premises on the High Dyke three years ago.

“We are a leading independent retailer and stock only high quality stoves made in the UK and Europe. We are proud of our reputation for great customer service and competitive pricing. Our products cover not only stoves, but flue pipes, spares, wooden beams and fireside accessories. We work with independent HETAS fitters to ensure our customers get the best possible price.

“We are delighted to be Lincolnshire’s authorised stockist of the Morso Living range of outdoor ovens – a stunning selection of pizza ovens and wood fired heaters.”

For 30 years Seconda has been a firm favourite on Navenby’s High Street. Bought by Carole Cooke in 2015, the shop has seen a full redecoration creating a bright spacious shop to browse. Seconda specialises in nearly new mother of the bride and race wear including brands such as Ispirato, Paule Vasseur, Frank Lyman, Condici and many more.

To complement your outfit Carole also stocks matching shoes and handbags, as well as a range of silk handbags which can be made to match any outfit. There are over 100 hats and fascinators on display, including hatinators which are available to buy or hire from £20. Seconda also specialises in ball gowns and separates for everyday wear in sizes 8-26. Visit Seconda’s Facebook page or visit Carole at 21 High Street, Navenby.

The Horse and Jockey pub celebrated its first birthday last month, under the pub’s new ownership. Owners Dave and Sue bought the pub in July 2015 and have since made some great changes. Dave, who had previously worked in the RAF and was posted with the Vulcans in Waddington in 1976, actually used to drink in the Horse and Jockey which was his first squadron bar.

All the food and drink menus have been totally revamped, with the pub now offering a variety of delicious meals and snacks which are nearly all prepared and cooked in their very own kitchen.

A fantastic Sunday Carvery is available every week featuring a choice of three roasts and the chef’s acclaimed steak and ale pie, all served with the freshest of local produce to accompany it; or you could have a traditional two or three course Sunday dinner with all the trimmings between 4pm and 8pm.

There are six real ales on at all times, with prices starting at just £2.80 for a pint of house bitter up to £3.30 for national beers and they also have a great wine and cocktail list.

Dave and Sue have also refurbished the outside area, to create a lovely beer garden which is the perfect place for those spending summer days and evenings.

The Horse and Jockey hosts a whole array of events such as Rock and Roll Bingo which is on every Tuesday at 8.30pm. The pub will also be holding special events across the Bank Holiday Weekend.

On Saturday 27th August, Foss Dyke Brass Band will be playing at the pub 2pm-4pm, followed by other performances TBC whilst on Sunday 28th August there will be fantastic performances from local rock bands, starting from 1pm onwards.

On Bank Holiday Monday, The Horse and Jockey will host their Family Fun Day, complete with games, a bouncy castle and face painting.

The couple will be redecorating the interior of the pub over the next few months, so please bear with them if your favourite table is unavailable for a couple of days.

The Horse and Jockey is open seven days a week so if you’re in the area, make sure you pop in and say hello to Dave and Sue!

Plans to erect a memorial to the Second World War Spitfire pilot billeted in Wellingore, who penned the internationally acclaimed sonnet ‘High Flight’, are continuing apace.

John Gillespie Magee, Jr was serving with 412 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force when he was stationed in the Lincolnshire village from where he flew on the day he died.

The parish council has been working for a couple of years towards erecting a monument in the village as a tribute to the young pilot and has now reached an advanced stage.

Parish Council chaiman Roger Cole, who wrote a book called High Flight, which tells Magee’s extraordinary story and incudes previously unknown details of his short life, said: “We have a site earmarked for it and quite a lot of things have happened.

“There has been a lot of interest in Canada and a lot of interest in America and, for the first time, the Armed Services in the UK is interested.

“RAF Waddington has Canadians and Americans operating from there and RAF Coningsby’s commandant is very interested in helping to raise awareness about John Magee and the memorial.”

Because of all the interest, the parish council contacted the Canadian Embassy and the military attaché has been to Wellingore for a meeting to discuss the plans.

“We told the 412 Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force what we were planning and twenty of them came over from Canada, including the commanding officer.

“They came to look at the site and visited Wellingore airfield where 412 squadron operated from. It is no longer operational but some of the buildings that were used in the war are still up there,” said Roger.

The officers were billeted at Wellingore Hall and in the houses that are adjacent to it and at the height of the war 1,500 men were living in the hall or tents in the grounds.

The parish council has also met with two leading sculptors in the country. One of them created the sculpture at St Pancras Station of Sir John Betjeman and the other has just completed portrait sculptures of the Queen and David Cameron.

“We showed them the photograph of him and they are talking about the sculpture as being fifteen to twenty feet high and there will be something else with it to reflect words from the poem.”

The sculptors are now preparing the drawings and first models and, when completed, the examples will be shown to the Canadians, Americans, parish councils and county council and a decision will be made as to which one to have made.

John Magee was born in Shanghai to an English mother and American father who were missionaries.

When the Sino-Japanese war started the Rev Magee sent his family back home and followed a few years later, where they were reunited in America.

John wanted to be involved, in the war but the American government had confiscated passports to stop their young men from getting involved so John persuaded his father to let him cross the border into Canada where he joined 412 Squadron and trained as a spitfire pilot.

When John was killed all his papers were given to his parents in America and his father gave the ‘High Flight’ poem and a lot of other poems and writings to the Congress Library, which is where they are today.

Coleby might be a small village, tucked away off the busy A607 Lincoln to Grantham Road, but it offers a warm welcome to visitors and is home to one of the area’s premier eateries.

The Bell is a fine dining pub restaurant with a relaxing, tranquil ambience which creates the feeling that you are cut off from the outside world. It can only be described as a hidden gem in a village that only has 170 dwellings and a population of about 450.

Chef patron Paul Vidic has a distinguished record in the restaurant business, being a classically trained chef from a country house background and having worked with Raymond Blanc back in the 1980s, as well as the Savoy Group, Berkleys Hotel in Knightsbridge and the Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath.

The pub used to be known as The Bell Inn but when Paul took it over five years ago he totally refurbished it, added three new guest bedrooms and relaunched it in 2011 as The Bell at Coleby.

The outside seating area offers a carefully, yet effortlessly presented array of potted plants and herbs.

Now it is a thriving pub restaurant with a reputation that is second to none for its food, service and atmosphere. A pot of tea made from the many varieties of homegrown mint is to be recommended.

“We are not a big commercial machine. We are more personal and bespoke,” said Paul, who came to Lincolnshire in 1988 and worked at the Wig & Mitre in Lincoln for fourteen years and the renowned Brownlow Arms at Hough on the Hill for seven years.

“My staff team prioritise customer care. People are warmly welcomed, put at ease, and looked after quietly and discreetly.

“We are a food driven pub and we like to create a quality relaxed environment. We are a premium offering on the outskirts of Lincoln. It is a special place for people who like something a little bit different. It is not too formal and we work hard at attracting customers old and new.”

The restaurant seats sixty-five, has an extensive wine list and a cosy, friendly atmosphere created by its dozen or so staff. Local produce is used where available and Paul works hard at sourcing the best ingredients.

“I have a good network of suppliers that have looked after me for thirty years. Our fish suppliers are from Brixham in Devon, which is the busiest fishing port in the UK,” said Paul.

“They only use day boats so they are there and back in a day. We are proud of that. It gives us much higher quality fish. They have the Royal Warrant from the Queen and supply Buckingham Palace.”

The Bell is only open from Wednesday to Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons for Sunday lunches.

The Bell is frequented by clients from far and wide including from the airbases in the area and international contractors who work with the RAF and MoD, as well as company directors.

It is also very popular as a venue for birthday celebrations, anniversaries and for somewhere special to go when friends or family visit. Wedding receptions held at The Bell are popular for those who prefer intimate gatherings in a traditional setting that is both elegant and tasteful.

The building itself has been part of the fabric of the village for 300 years dating back to the 1700s. Originally it was three cottages and there was an alehouse on site before it was turned into a pub in the 1960s.

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