Take a view from the Cliff

Words by:
Melanie Burton
Featured in:
September 2014

The villages that lie on the Lincoln Cliff – or the Lincoln Edge as it is sometimes known – may seem sleepy, rural areas from the outside but at the heart of each is a thriving, pro-active community very focused on the future.
Known as the Cliff Villages, they are ideally situated for panoramic views across Lincolnshire, good links to neighbouring towns and cities and all have a very unique and distinct place in the county’s history, particularly military.

Take Coleby for instance. It is an ancient village which knew Roman, Saxon and Danish settlers before the Norman Conquest of 1066.

Its two hostelries, the Bell and the Tempest Arms have been long established.

The Bell Inn was first opened as a beershop around the middle of the nineteenth century and occupied just one small cottage at the western end of its present premises.

The first licensee of the Tempest Arms was farmer Samuel Auckland who opened up a beershop around 1840 and brewed his own beer on the premises.

Originally known as The Board, the beerhouse eventually became a licensed inn called The Brewers Arms. However, in 1888 it was renamed The Tempest Arms in deference to the Tempest family, owners of the Coleby Estate.

Coleby Hall is a Grade II* listed country house which stands near the church in a park of around fifty acres. It was built in 1628 for Sir William Lister of Rippingale, the father of Thomas Lister. It was altered and extended in 1734 and in 1762 a folly of a Temple to Romulus and Remus was built in the grounds and is now Grade I listed.

Parish clerk, Sue Makinson-Sanders said it isn’t a huge village but it is attractive and has a real sense of community.

“We have a thriving community spirit in the village. It is very active and enthusiastic and there are lots of fundraising and social events going on.

“We host seven car boot sales a year, which raise funds for village organisations like the church and the village hall. We also have fun get-togethers.”

One big social event that everyone looks forward to is the harvest ball. This year it takes place on 27th September in a marquee at the village hall.

“It is a very successful event and is always well attended. Coleby isn’t a huge village but it is a very friendly place to live and generally everyone gets involved.”

The parish council is very active too and the village is represented in the group engaging with Lincolnshire County Council for better broadband services in the area.

“We are quite a forward-thinking community and we have a representative, Angela Crowe, who is helping to ensure that Coleby is at the forefront for the next rollout of high speed broadband in Lincolnshire.”

For several years, the parish councils of the Cliff villages have worked together towards improving facilities and opportunities for the area’s youngsters, but unfortunately they failed to gain the necessary Lottery funding.

However, when Lincolnshire County Council cut its youth provision by eighty per cent, Navenby Parish Council took the decision to press ahead with the youth project. It is about to come to fruition this month, when the new village youth club gets underway.

Jointly funded by the parish council and the charity which runs the community centre, The Venue, Navenby Youth Club will run every Monday from 15th September until July 2015.

The youth club managed by the ENERGIZE group, part of the ACTS Charitable Trust based in Lincoln, will provide separate sessions for 8–12 year olds and teenagers from 13–18. And as there are no restrictions on who can register, their friends from other villages can join in too.

Navenby parish councillor Laura Conway, who is also a North Kesteven District Councillor and chairman of the Cliff Cluster Parish Council, said the project is a big step for the parish council and the village.

“It is a huge thing. As a parish council we are looking at being more pro-active and with The Venue up and running and on its feet now, there is a real sense of achievement.

“The youth club project is exciting and so far local people are receiving it well.”

The project kicked off with an Activity Week in August involving sports competitions, street dance, creative arts, Zumba, a hair and beauty workshop and a coach trip to Pleasure Island.

Parish clerk, Angie McDonald said: “Navenby is quite a self-contained village but there hasn’t been anything in the village for youngsters for some time. The youth club is a big project and a big adventure for us, so we hope it is well received by the children.”

ENERGIZE gained a good reputation for its work after setting up a similar youth club in another Cliff Village, Waddington, and other locations around Lincoln, with activities aimed at what the members want to do.

So popular has the Tuesday night youth club become in the village that the parish council is already considering putting on a second club night.

Parish clerk, Andrea Smith said: “As a parish council we are mainly focusing on the youngsters at the moment. We are looking to open the youth club two nights a week. The skate park on the Sidney Hall Memorial Field opened at the end of July, which was a big thing for the village.”

The parish council received an Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant to greatly improve the Memorial Field at the bottom of Station Road, which was left to it for recreation and sport purposes, in memory of a serviceman who lost his life during the Second World War.

The aim is to create a space where the residents of Waddington can come together to enjoy sports and leisure activities.

“The field is an ongoing project. We have been developing it, putting in some more equipment and a footpath and we are hoping to be able to put a car park there,” said Mrs Smith.

“We will also be seeking funding to plant trees to encourage wildlife so it becomes a nature spot.”

Waddington was also documented in the Domesday Book of 1086. It is home to RAF Waddington and one of the oldest airfields in the UK, having been founded in November 1916.

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’.

Of note are Welbourn Manor – a late medieval stone building standing in its own extensive grounds, now in use as a nursing home; Welbourn Hall – a fine Victorian small country house now used as a respite and care home – built in dressed limestone in its own gardens; and their counterparts – Welbourn Place and Hunt House – stone-built, well-to-do country homes still in private ownership.

Of particular note are the Co-op cottages – a stone-built, slate-tiled terrace of five dwellings where Sir William Robertson was born. It is one of two such terraces surviving in the village.

Associated with these is the old Co-op building; formerly an important, very early retail shop in the Co-operative chain. The nineteenth-century blacksmith’s forge, which served many of the local farms, still stands nearby with all its original equipment. It is now used for demonstrations of smithing, by volunteers.

At the north end of the village lies the site of a long derelict, fortified medieval manor house, now known as Castle Hill where only grass mounds and the relict moat remain.

Some years ago, through much hard work by volunteers to raise funds, the village was able to remodel its village hall. The church congregation has just completed expensive repairs to the roof, using monies which it raised.

Each spring, volunteers from the church council organise a ‘roving supper’ with numerous hosts each serving part of a four-course meal to more than fifty guests. The evening is rounded off with coffee at one of the venues.

The village also holds an Open Gardens event. This year it attracted more than 400 visitors, from as far away as Sheffield, Norfolk and Cumbria. More than £2,400 was raised to refurbish the village war memorial.

Parish clerk, Malcolm McBeath said: “This event was on the same weekend as the annual summer fete, so the whole village had a busy and very enjoyable sociable time.

“Unlike some other Cliff Villages, Welbourn still has a post office, sited within the village shop, which is very much at the heart of the village.”

Harmston is another forward thinking village. Its name is about to go global with a unique idea to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

On 4th October, in conjunction with an evening of entertainment and remembrance, a message of peace will be relayed through all forty countries that participated in the Great War.

The event, called the Harmston Ring of Peace, is being organised by the Harmston Memorial Hall committee.

“It is a community effort delivered by the Harmston Community. A key element is that The Ring demonstrates how the voice of a very small village in Lincolnshire can be heard throughout the world,” explained one of the organisers, Robin Dunseath.

The committee has also seen its hard work pay off in other ways, with the completion of its Operation Heartbeat campaign. In just over a year, it raised £20,000 towards the £120,000 cost of improvements to the village’s Memorial Hall, which was designed in 1920 for soldiers returning home as a recreational place to recover from the stresses of war.

Publicity officer, Jo Oldham said: “That was a fantastic achievement in a village the size of Harmston.” The hall was officially opened in mid-August.

Wellingore has the Viking Way running through the village, passing from the side of the cliff edge to Ermine Street. The largest building in the village is Wellingore Hall, the eighteenth century home of the Neviles, who abandoned their ancestral home in Aubourn.

Wellingore was the village where Second World War poet, John Gillespie Magee lived when he was a Spitfire pilot serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force and where he flew from on the day he died. It is also where he wrote his internationally acclaimed sonnet High Flight, just a few months before his death.

Wellingore was the village where Second World War poet John Gillespie Magee lived when he was a Spitfire pilot, serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force, and where he flew from on the day he died.

It is where he wrote his internationally acclaimed sonnet High Flight just a few months before his death.

The parish council is raising money to build a memorial for him and chairman Roger Cole has written a book called High Flight, which tells his extraordinary story and includes previously unknown details of his short life.

“There is huge international interest in Magee, with coaches coming to see where he lived and Wellingore airfield where he flew from,” said Mr Cole.

He was in the village at the time he was writing his famous poetry and we even know the house in which he lived. The hall in the village was the officers’ mess. But there isn’t anything to show his links with the village,” said Mr Cole.

Roger’s book was published in December and all profits are going towards the memorial fund.

“Sales have just gone wild since we published the book. We are underway with the memorial project and the key thing is we have the site already allocated for the memorial in the village on the A607.

“Designers have been commissioned and a model has been created. Now we are on the next stage which is raising the funds. So far we have generated £10,000 of the £45,000 it is going to cost.”

The idea for the memorial is that the granite from which it is made will be flown over from Canada, because Magee was serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force when he died.

Copies of Roger’s book can be obtained directly from him by calling 01522 811882 or through the publishers Fighting High Ltd on 01763 802018.

The village of Harmston is set to go global next month when its First World War centenary event takes place.

The Harmston Ring of Peace has already attracted worldwide attention along with a message from Prime Minister David Cameron and from the Royal family, in the form of Prince Harry.

On 4th October, a Message of Peace will be relayed by telephone from the village to countries around the world.

A panel of 100 judges will select the message to be sent out of a whole host of messages suggested by people around the world. It will be sent all over the globe by telephone relay from Harmston Memorial Hall.

One of the organisers, Robin Dunseath said: “When the first call is made, the message will travel via 100 messengers (to signify the 100 years that have passed since the First World War began) in forty countries (to signify the number of countries that took part in the war).”

“The final message will be relayed back to the hall from Air Chief Marshall Sir Andrew Pulford, KCB, CBE, head of the Royal Air Force, on behalf of the people of the armed forces of all countries which took part in the war.”

The event is a no-cost operation as all the organisers are volunteers, and all messengers are making the phone calls at their own expense.

“I have even had a letter of appreciation from Prime Minister David Cameron, and Prince Harry has referred to the idea as “exciting, original and full of initiative,” said Robin.

“The idea is being worked through the committee of the Harmston Memorial Village Hall, but it is a community effort delivered by the Harmston community.

“The key element is that the Ring of Peace demonstrates how the voice of a very small village in Lincolnshire can be heard throughout the world.”

Templar Estate Agents Ltd opened for business in April 2014 based in the delightful converted stables at Wellingore Hall, Wellingore at the heart of the Lincoln Cliff Villages.

Run by mother and son team, Elizabeth and Edward Sisson, the business is growing rapidly as the demand for properties in this area increases and people appreciate a local agent with specific knowledge of each village. Templar specialises in residential sales and lettings and can assist with all aspects of the home buying process.

Elizabeth, a non-practising solicitor who has worked in the property industry since 2000, says: “This area is a hidden gem. Houses here are such good value for money. There are many character properties in picturesque settings; some with far reaching rural views which have all the benefits of good local schools, shops, surgeries and other amenities and also have convenient transport links to the local market towns, Lincoln and to London which is just over an hour on the train from Newark and Grantham. Living in one of the Cliff Villages ourselves gives us a distinct advantage, as we keep on top of what is happening in the area and can advise accordingly.”

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