Spa village steeped in history
Described as the “Jewel in the Crown of East Lindsey”, Woodhall Spa has much to offer including independent shops, cafés and facilities, plus an abundance of history and heritage – as Barbara Young finds out.
Planned by architect Richard Adolphus Came in the 1890s, Woodhall Spa flourished with the Spa Baths attracting many overseas visitors and even royalty in its heyday.
The iconic Petwood was originally a residence built by Grace Maple, later Lady Weigall, in her ‘Pet Wood’. It later became a hotel and during the latter part of World War Two was home to the officers of 617 Squadron, ‘The Dambusters’.
The Weigall family gave Jubilee Park, which was constructed in 1935, to the village in 1947 and its open-air pool remains a great attraction.
The Kinema in the Woods, which celebrates its centenary next year, was installed by the Weigalls too, using the former Sports Pavilion of the Victoria Hotel. After the hotel was destroyed by fire in 1920, the pavilion was converted into a cinema, which is famous for its back projection system and the Compton Kinestra Organ, installed in 1987.
Woodhall Spa is also home to The English Golf Union. The land for the original course was given to the village by Stafford Vere Hotchkin and opened as The Woodhall Spa Golf Club in 1905.
It was redesigned by Mr Hotchkin in 1920 and named the Hotchkin Course and taken over by the English Golf Union in 1995 with the second course, known as The Bracken, opened in 1998.
COTTAGE MUSEUM IS “HIDDEN TREASURE”
Run entirely by volunteers, the Woodhall Spa Cottage Museum, which is planning to open again from 20th May, has long proved popular with visitors, many of whom describe it as both a “little gem” and “hidden treasure”.
Following an ambitious fundraising project organised by local school teacher David Radford, the museum opened in May 1987, 100 years after its construction.
“The aim of the museum is to preserve and record the local history of the area and make it accessible to the community, not only as a place to visit and see photographs and artefacts relevant to Woodhall Spa’s heritage, but also to provide facilities for accessing the extensive archives of documents, artefacts and photographs for research purposes,” explains museum director Phil Groves. “This has been and remains the purpose of the museum throughout its 34-year existence.”
The building had been the home of the Wield family from 1887 until the mid 1960s and in the 1980s its then owner, a dentist, put it up for sale.
John Wield was a keen photographer, among many other talents, and his collection of photographs, most as negatives on glass plates, together with copious notes and equipment were to be included in the sale.
According to history, the Wield family ran a small business using donkey-drawn bath chairs to run visitors between the railway station and the famous Spa Baths and the fashionable hotels. There are many delightful family photos in the collection showing the Wield family with their beloved donkeys.
The building itself is of historical interest being one of the few remaining Boulton and Paul prefabricated buildings to survive from the 19th century.
Founding chairman and honorary president David Radford has often reminded us that John Wield had famously said, “One day folk will ask ‘Why Woodhall Spa?’”
David points out, “This question was answered in the latter years of the 20th century and thank goodness there were so many volunteers who came forward after that first public meeting and continue to do so, who have made this possible.”
The Cottage Museum prides itself on being both family and dog-friendly (for well behaved dogs).
“In normal times it is very hands-on, with drawers to open and explore the contents, touchscreen displays to use and in the ‘Wield Room’, which has been laid out in the style of an early 1900s sitting room, there are various jigsaws and Edwardian games for children (and grown-up children!) to play,” says Phil. “These features have combined to make the Cottage Museum visit a real family affair. Sadly, during Covid times, the hands-on approach had to be temporarily dropped, but hopefully things will improve with time.”
The museum has one room reserved for “temporary exhibitions” and this year will open with a special exhibit which has been put together by local railway enthusiasts Alan and Sue Stennett and the Horncastle History and Heritage Society, to mark the 50th anniversary of the closing of the railway through Woodhall Spa.
“This is just one of the many displays featured throughout the bungalow. All displays are prepared by volunteers and are changed on a regular basis,” explains Phil. “Following a devastating fire, which destroyed the museum’s outbuildings a few years ago, the museum secured a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. This enabled the museum to be completely refurbished and to install new static displays.”
During the summer months, the museum also runs outdoor events on the front lawn and provides refreshments from the Community Room on the patio at the rear of the museum. “Throughout August on Sunday afternoons starting at 2pm, we will be holding a series of ‘Music in the Garden’ informal concerts, supported this year by the National Lottery Community Fund,” says Phil. “These events have become very popular. There is no charge, instead visitors can make a donation and this year, to make it Covid-safe, there will be free drinks available, to avoid having to queue for refreshments during the interval. Trad jazz, singing groups and a ukulele group are among the musical treats on offer.”
Working with children is a high priority for the museum which has an active Education Team. Gill Noble and her group organise a variety of educational events for children throughout the season which are publicised on the museum website and in the newsletter. The museum has also taken over the Tourist Information Centre, manned by paid reception staff, for which the museum does not receive any financial support.
“In line with everyone else Covid-19 has had a big impact on our finances, but thankfully with support from the local Parish Council, District Council, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Government, we have survived the storm,” says Phil.
“Regular fundraising activities are organised by The Friends of the Museum, a group of enthusiastic volunteers who run the cafe for the Music in the Garden events and many others during the year. The Annual Memorial Lecture is organised by the Friends and this year the subject will be the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln, presented by Air Vice-Marshal Paul Robinson, which will take place in early November.”
The museum is open Thursday to Sunday until the end of October, between 10.30am and 4pm, with last admissions at 3.30pm. To find out more email email@example.com or visit www.cottagemuseum.co.uk
SUPPORT IN THE COMMUNITY
Last year The Woodhall Spa & Kirkby on Bain Coronavirus Community Support group saw many volunteers offering help with 1,131 deliveries of shopping and prescriptions to 230 households in the area achieved to date.
“Most of our volunteers are now back at work and since Christmas we have had just a handful of stalwarts continuing to help, including Alan Caraher who has manned the phone daily,” explains Debbie Bollard. “Having only been asked for help by a small number of residents in the past two to three months, all of which were not Covid-19 related, we are currently winding down the support services; although arrangements have been made to provide permanent assistance to one elderly person.”
Debbie says they are now looking into whether to use the momentum to start a group in the Good Neighbour Scheme, supported by Lincolnshire YMCA.
“We are starting discussions with the Woodhall Spa Parish Council about what that might look like and how they can support us. I think it is something the community could benefit from, although on the whole the residents are very supportive of one another and there is already a great community spirit.
“In the meantime, the Woodhall Spa Community Foodbank, run by Mandy Elmer, is doing an amazing job providing approximately 20 food parcels a month to families in and around the local area, including Coningsby, Tattershall, Mareham le Fen and Billinghay, with the support of Coningsby Lions. We receive regular food donations from private donors leaving items at collection points in the local Co-op shops in Woodhall Spa, Coningsby and Tattershall, as well as making financial contributions. We also have close links to the Horncastle Foodbank and other local foodbanks, so we can share resources in the most efficient way possible.”
Contact the group through the Facebook page – Woodhall Spa and Kirkby on Bain Coronavirus Support or email firstname.lastname@example.org
JUBILEE PARK WELCOMES GREEN-FINGERED VOLUNTEERS
For the past six years, including through recent lockdowns, a small but dedicated team of volunteers have been supporting the upkeep of the stunning gardens in Jubilee Park.
One of the first projects taken on by the charity when it took over Jubilee Park in 2014 was the David Austin Rose Garden, where borders were reshaped and replanted, the pergola replaced and planted as a wisteria walk, while other areas are redesigned as funds and inspiration allow.
“We don’t stick to one overall theme, we see how the spaces are used, what the area lends itself to and how visitors might like to use it in future,” explains trustee Julie Pole. “When each project is complete, we take another look and go from there.”
The volunteers include Rosemary and Keith Baker who joined the group after realising it was run by a charity with no extra funding. “It gave us the opportunity to get involved with the local community,” says Keith. “It’s a very light-hearted, light-touch group to be part of; there aren’t any set days or even specific tasks, it’s often just common sense on what needs to be done. We are just novice gardeners. If we need advice on the plants, we just Google it!”
“During lockdown we just wanted to get out for some fresh air and exercise,” adds fellow volunteer Wendy Norton. “This is our exercise, so we come to the park for an hour a day and do some weeding. If there are any experienced horticulturalists out there that have a little spare time on their hands, we’d be delighted to accommodate them.”
Trustee Jon Finley says that although Jubilee Park’s gardens don’t generate any income directly, they do provide an “excellent space for us to be able to look at putting on outdoor events”.
In 2019 Jubilee Park hosted ‘Last Night of the Proms’, attended by around 450 people, and plans are in place for the event to return this year on 12th September.
Over recent years Jubilee Park has teamed up with the Kinema in the Woods to provide jointly hosted outdoor screenings for an audience of around 300.
To help support its long-term financial future, Jubilee Park holds a series of special events, including midnight swims, dog shows, musical events around the bandstand and theatre for young children, and next year a two-day celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is being put together by events organiser Jules Finley and is due to take place between 2nd and 6th June 2022.
For more information email Jules Finley email@example.com or visit www.jpws.co.uk
ROTARY MEMBERS ROLL UP THEIR SLEEVES
According to the Rotary Club of Woodhall Spa, the pandemic has helped the local community to see its members as “people who are not just fundraisers, but doers”.
“For Rotarians as for so many others, Covid-19 has changed our lives in an unprecedented way and we have seen how the pandemic has drawn together communities,” says Ian McDonald.
“Social barriers, which may have once existed, have come down, neighbours have been looking out for each other and the spirit of the Blitz witnessed two generations ago has been rekindled amid the carnage of Covid.
“We have been working with the vulnerable and isolated, helping with shopping, collecting prescriptions and providing transport.
“As with many Rotary clubs nationwide, our club has responded to a call from schools to provide laptops, supporting students’ home-learning during lockdown. With the help of our in-house IT expert Stuart Scarfe, we have so far been able to provide 30 or so laptops and other computers.”
As well as supporting local food banks and raising funds for local charities and front-line workers, its annual golf competition succeeded in raising £3,700, some of which was used to bolster the finances of a local children’s hospice.
The group has also been actively involved in local efforts aimed at cleaning up the countryside.
“Our Rotary Aluminium Recycling Bin in Coningsby, complete with fun-to-use can crusher, is now a focal point for local volunteer clean-up groups to dispose of their collected cans, and we have seen considerable enthusiasm among local youngsters – who get through the contents of a lot of such cans – for this environmentally friendly initiative.
“We are planning to have a similar ‘Big Red Bin’ installed in Woodhall in the very near future and our recently appointed club environmental officer, Richard Grant, is personally leading our efforts to help clean up the environment. Richard can often be seen with his litter picking teams hard at work in and around Woodhall Spa village.”
HISTORICAL TEA HOUSE SERVES UP TASTY LOCAL TREATS
Set in picturesque woods in the heart of the village, the Tea House in the Woods has been welcoming customers into its restaurant for nearly 120 years.
Co-owners Natalie Leech, who runs front of house, and head chef Stephen Sleight, took over in 2014 and pride themselves on offering the best of local produce using locally sourced ingredients to help reduce carbon footprint.
This popular English-style eatery, which serves breakfast and traditional afternoon teas with home-made cakes and treats, as well as a full lunchtime and à la carte dinner menu, with a range of specially selected quality wines, is open 10am-5pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays, with last orders in the restaurant at 8pm on Thursdays to Saturdays.
Customers can also enjoy outdoor dining, ideal for those who wish to bring their dogs.
The recently launched breakfast menu, which includes a full traditional English and light bites, is served Tuesday to Sunday between 10am and 11.30am, followed by the lunchtime menu which includes toasted ciabattas, plus a wide variety of sandwiches and salads.
For more information visit www.teahouseinthewoods.co.uk
TREETOP HIDEAWAYS OFFERS LUXURY TIME OUT
Set among 17 acres of mature rhododendron woodlands in a romantic lakeside setting just outside Woodhall Spa, Treetop Hideaways recently welcomed its first guests who enjoyed a unique stay in this peaceful eco-friendly sanctuary.
Opened at the end of April this year by owner Jenny Caswell, who was “born and bred” in the area, this is the first treehouse accommodation of its kind in Lincolnshire, offering an alternative luxury break for couples seeking peace and tranquillity in natural leafy surroundings.
There are six “eco-chic” treehouses designed for two, each one unique, combining sustainability and luxury with elevated terraces and outdoor bathtubs making it the ultimate adult getaway.
“The treehouses offer a calm, magical self-catering experience,” explains Jenny, an experienced host who previously ran a guesthouse in the village.
“The rustic, yet luxurious, decor provides a feeling of bringing the outside in. Guests can enjoy peace and tranquillity, with a feeling of escaping the busy world we live in.
“On arrival you can row yourself to your own private mooring platform at your treehouse, while we bring your bags, or drive along the woodland road and park next to your treehouse.
“Our treehouses offer outdoor bathing under the stars, views overlooking the lake, patio doors onto decking, king-size bed, log burner, luxury shower room, fire pit and grill, hammocks, plus a private rowing boat and much more.
“All six have the same layout but offer slightly different colour schemes, and each one has a different outlook with beautiful views over the large lake offering both privacy and seclusion.”
Jenny says Treetop Hideaways has also adopted many ways to help the environment, including energy-efficient building design, bio-degradable toilet systems, and locally made 100% natural guest soaps, while all electricity used is matched by renewable energy from wind farms.
“We also follow an ecological guide to protect, embrace and encourage the local wildlife and flora, including owl, bird and bat boxes and more. We’ve also planted a variety of new trees, indigenous to woodland, and aim to plant two new trees every year.
“Guests can watch an abundance of wildlife while relaxing outside on their own private decking area looking over the lake watching wildlife including ducks, geese, kingfishers, herons, red kites, buzzards, owls, pheasants, muntjac deer, squirrels, rabbits, and if you’re lucky an otter too!”
Perfect for those seeking a unique break with a difference, including honeymoons, anniversaries, or to celebrate a special occasion, there is a minimum stay of two nights for adults only.
“I think the pandemic has changed how people plan their holidays and especially the uncertainty of travel,” says Jenny. “Staycations will be much more popular so it’s a perfect time for us all to enjoy what we have to offer in our local areas and switch off from the real world for a few days and relax.
“I can’t wait to share our treehouses and woodland with all who would like to come and stay.”
Treetop Hideaways, Sandy Lane, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire LN10 6UR
T: 07771 867907
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 2021 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
TIME TO HANG UP HIS BOOTS!
Philip Simmons, who has owned Peter Scott, Britain’s smallest shoe shop, since 1999 is retiring later this year and selling the business. To say thank you to his customers, all prices have been reduced by at least 10% until the end of June.
The shop has an interesting history. When Woodhall Spa had its own railway station, the shop was a booking office and was the last building on the platform before the railway line diagonally dissected The Broadway.
This explains its unusual shape, which is only three feet deep at one end, and led to the property being known as ‘The Woodhall Wedge’. Customers have to view the shoes in single file at this end of the shop!
During its life it has seen service as a bicycle shop, an electrical retailers, a jewellers and even a bank!
Over the years Peter Scott have gained a reputation for stocking shoes with style that fit as well as they look. They have always tried to offer a range that is just a little different from those seen in every high street. Peter Scott has continued to grow in popularity (if not size!) over the last 20 years and customers regularly travel from Lincoln, Louth and Boston for brands like Rieker.
Philip and his wife Jocelyn hope to start making some progress on their bucket list as Covid restrictions ease.
WHERE EVERY CHILD FINDS THEIR PASSION
Located in the picturesque village of Woodhall Spa and set in its own beautiful grounds, St Hugh’s is a co-educational preparatory school offering both day and boarding options.
“With exceptional facilities and an outstanding academic record, we provide a happy, inclusive and stimulating environment for children aged 2-13 from a broad catchment area and a wide range of backgrounds.
“Every child is encouraged to find their passion and to enjoy the challenge of doing so. Our envious learning environment provides a space where classrooms and playing fields provide equal opportunities for all – be it in a lesson, a match, a concert or a play, there are opportunities for children to develop, encouraged by caring professionals who are proud to be part of the school and who love what they do.”
Visit the school during Open Week starting Monday 21st June. To book a place please contact on Tel: 01526 352169, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the website: www.st-hughs.lincs.sch.uk.
COOKING UP AN AUTHENTIC TASTE OF INDIA
Listed in the National Curry Club Guide as one of the best Indian restaurants in the county, India Village is a well established popular eatery which has long been treating discerning customers to an authentic dining experience.
Located in the heart of Woodhall Spa on The Broadway, the restaurant has been busy throughout lockdown offering many of its favourite dishes via its takeaway menu with the added bonus of easy online ordering and a delivery service available within a three-mile radius of the village.
Owner Jamal Hussain says his expert team of chefs are looking forward to welcoming customers back to dining inside the restaurant’s modern, contemporary setting while enjoying the best of Indian food, including dishes from regions around north and south India, as well as Bangladesh and Pakistan.
There is also a new Specials board, with birthday and anniversary get-togethers also catered for with an innovative “party menu”.
“Our passion for food has earned the restaurant a reputation for showcasing an exciting blend of traditional and contemporary Indian cuisine, which combined with graceful service offers a warm and authentic dining experience within a Covid-secure environment with all social distancing measures in place,” says Jamal.
For more information, visit www.indianwoodhall.co.uk
SEARCHING THE COUNTY FOR UNUSUAL ANTIQUES
Underwood Hall Antiques and Jewellery are focused on providing their customers with the highest levels of satisfaction and will do everything they can to meet your expectations. With a variety of offerings to choose from, they’re sure you’ll be happy working with them.
Underwood Hall search the county for unusual items of antique and later jewellery. Their team is on hand to help you find the perfect piece.