Village celebrates with a festive feel
In spite of the many challenges this year, Woodhall Spa, one of the county’s most attractive villages, is pulling out all the stops to create a magical place for everyone to enjoy its many attractions over Christmas and New Year.
Although the popular annual Christmas Fayre, supported by the parish council, will not be able to proceed this year, local organisations and businesses have pulled together to create a safe, festive environment with well thought out social distancing and precautions in place.
The parish council has also agreed to purchase 83 Christmas trees for businesses. These will further enhance the spirit of the festive season when they are lit up above shops from 4pm to 11pm and 7am–9.30am.
“Many of the shops in the village have also benefitted from a European Regional Development Fund helping to assist with equipment to open up the high street safely, so yes, Woodhall is still a lovely place to visit with amazing, unique shops which are pleasantly adapting to the new norm of social distancing,” explains parish clerk Joann Greer.
The ever active Rotary Club is also planning to light up the Millennium Garden as usual and has organised the annual window decorating competition once again.
Judged on the evenings of 3rd and 4th December, certificates for first, second and third places will be awarded for categories including large window, small window, most innovative and best decorated shop window Christmas tree.
“Competition for the top spots is fierce with up to 50 businesses vying for the honour,” explains Steve Gilmartin. “Judges will be looking for innovation, quirkiness, festive content and attention to detail. It’s amazing what our local retailers and traders can think up and work will have started on getting ideas together in the summer. We wish good luck to all and thank everyone for continued participation at a very difficult time.”
Rev Joseph Snelling, who was appointed Rector of the Woodhall Spa Group of Parishes in July, also came up with an innovative idea to hold a drive-in carol service to be held at the golf club, which has been awarded a grant from the parish council.
“This year everyone has had to get creative about how to continue the things we love while also keeping everyone safe. Singing carols and hearing the story of Jesus’ birth at Christmas is such an important part of the Christmas tradition for people that we wanted to make sure we could find a way to do it safely,” explains Father Joseph.
“Having seen other drive-in events advertised, I thought this would be something that fit the bill. Thanks to the generosity of the Woodhall Spa Golf Club and the parish council, we have been able to arrange for people to come in their cars where they will be given a speaker. Then each household or bubble can sing along and hear the service in the safety of their own vehicle while we lead the service from staging in the golf club car park.”
There are two services planned on Sunday 20th December at 5.30pm and 7.30pm, with capacity for 60 cars and bookings will be taken online via www.woodhallspa.groups/events
“We will have carols led by a local band, readings from the Bible to tell the Christmas story and a short talk about the meaning of Christmas; everyone will be able to sing along and join in with the carols from their car.
“We were so grateful that the council saw the importance of coming together to celebrate at Christmas, it isn’t a simple event to organise but knowing that we had the support of local leaders was really encouraging.
“We were awarded £600 by the council, which will allow us to cover the cost of equipment hire and printing of service sheets for the event, which means that any donations people would like to give on the night will be able to be split between the ongoing work of the church in the area and Tearfund and their amazing work to eradicate global poverty.”
As well as the usual crib services, midnight mass and Christmas Day services there will also be evenings of quiet meditation and reflection on some of the themes of Advent on Monday evenings throughout Advent.
“There is also an opportunity to visit the crib at St Peter’s Church on Saturday 19th December when visitors will be able to explore our prayer stations around the church and reflect on the story of Jesus’ brith as well as see the beautiful nativity scene in the church,” says Father Joseph.
“Throughout Advent we are also running an Advent Window Competition. If people would like to join in, they can visit the website to find readings for each day of Advent, as well as directions on the themes we are asking people to use to decorate their windows at home. The idea is that even though we can’t gather together in the same way this year, we can still come together to provide some light and joy to everyone around the area as we each help tell the Christmas story from our windows.”
For more information visit https://woodhallspa.group/adventwindows
Festive films at the Kinema
Always a popular attraction, the iconic Kinema in the Woods is once again screening a range of favourite Christmas classics, including The Polar Express, Elf and It’s a Wonderful Life, within a Covid-safe environment.
“In Screen 1 our organist will be playing festive tunes before the main film,” explains the Kinema’s Philip Jones. “Our capacity at the moment is between 30% and 40% depending on the size of groups – if it is an adult film where people are mostly in twos then it is lower than family films where we have groups of fours and fives. Our box office system has been upgraded to ensure there is space between all groups in the auditorium. In Screens 2 and 3 a row is left empty in front and behind each group, and in Screen 1 we have removed around 60 seats so the remaining rows have more space around them. In all screens there is a minimum of two seats left empty either side of each booking.
“Masks are mandatory in all indoor buildings, cinemas included, however they can be removed once seated to eat or drink. We have hand sanitiser stations throughout the building, and more time has been left between show times to allow for additional cleaning.
“Due to the limited capacity we are strongly advising booking in advance for all films – tickets can be booked online via our website, or over the phone.
“The Kinema is almost 100 years old now and has been open all that time. As soon as you step through the doors you can feel the history of the building and imagine all those before you coming to be entertained.”
Celebrate Christmas at the Petwood
Traditional Christmas celebrations at Woodhall Spa’s iconic Petwood Hotel are looking a little bit different this year, but the team is still determined to welcome guests with warm hospitality, good cheer and plenty of festive feasting.
“Christmas is a time to be together and we want to help families catch up on missed celebrations in a safe and Covid-secure setting,” explains Petwood’s managing director Emma Brealey. “Where tier restrictions allow, groups of up to six can still meet and enjoy fine food in each other’s company, whether dining in the bar, restaurant and Drawing Room or opt for a private dining experience in the Squadron Bar and Garden Room. We will also be serving our festive lunches and Christmas afternoon teas up to 24th December.”
Emma says that although 2020 has brought its challenges, she believes that out of adversity comes opportunity and the team are being creative with their business.
“Having kept the gardens open during lockdown for people to come and enjoy for their physical and mental wellbeing, we have delighted in meeting new guests who have supported us since reopening. We used the lockdown closure to refurbish the Terrace Bar, Garden Room, Petwood Suite and kitchen – areas which would ordinarily be difficult to close for extended maintenance work.
“We also launched our takeaway menu which is still available, alongside our dining-in options. Hot dishes from our all-day dining menu and our popular afternoon teas are available to order online so guests can enjoy a taste of Petwood at home.
“With the rise of working from home, we have also launched a WFP (Work from Petwood) initiative where guests can book a table for the day for £10 per person with power, free Wi-Fi and unlimited tea and coffee. Specialist teas and coffees are available at a 50% discount and the use of a private meeting room free of charge (subject to availability) for video calls or longer phone calls.”
Built as a private house in the early 1900s, the Petwood still has that special home from home feeling, especially over the festive season. Real Christmas trees (from Doddington Hall), open fires and a warm welcome from the Petwood family add to the magic of relaxing here.
Subject to restrictions (please contact for latest updates), The Petwood is offering a special Christmas Escape package, for two or three nights, with guests welcomed on arrival on Christmas Eve with mulled wine and minced pies, ahead of champagne and a festive four-course Christmas lunch the next day with plenty of time to step out for a winter walk around the hotel grounds and gardens.
There are also plans to host outdoor cinema screenings of festive films at the hotel and for every couple who spend £35 (i.e. £17.50 per person) on food (Monday to Friday 12noon–6pm), the hotel is giving away a free voucher for the Kinema in the Woods – see Petwood Facebook page for full details.
“We want to help families come together and make special memories, so whoever you can be with this season, be with us,” says Emma. “Make up for missed celebrations with your loved ones in your Lincolnshire home from home.”
A personalised farewell
Established in 1995 by husband and wife team Lindsay and Richard Arnold, R Arnold Funeral Services which recently opened their fifth branch in Station Road, Woodhall Spa, pride themselves on offering a sensitive, personalised service taking the worry out of one of the most difficult days of your life.
“Having been a funeral director for the past 25 years, we understand the importance of traditional values,” says Lindsay Arnold. “As one of the most rewarding services you can offer, our compassionate, approachable team take time to talk to each of our clients, listening to their individual needs and looking after and guiding you every step of the way.”
As well established and respected members of the British Institute of Embalmers and National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, R Arnold offer their bespoke services with a range of funeral plans to help cover costs nationwide.
“We understand that this is a stressful time and understand that when it comes to planning a final farewell, the service should be as unique as the life it celebrates, so it’s important that we offer a personalised 24-hour service. We ensure we are there for you whatever time day or night.”
Floral business blossoms
Shoppers in Woodhall Spa are sure to have noticed a beautiful shepherd’s hut located outside the Book Fayre on Broadway. The bespoke building was commissioned by florist Karin Graham who has upgraded the gazebo, from where she previously ran her business, to the stylish cabin.
“I started Blossom and Twig, as a florist pop-up stall in Woodhall Spa in July,” said Karin. “I am grateful for the support of Kath Fairs, who let me set up in front of her shop. I traded three days a week from a gazebo through all weathers. Now, after five months of planning and hard work I have a beautiful bespoke shepherd’s hut from where I want to continue building my customer base.”
Karin lives in the village and spotted her opportunity when the previous florist’s shop closed.
“I only buy A1 quality flowers from Holland and from local growers. Despite the restrictions placed on special occasions this year I have fulfilled commissions for smaller scale weddings and family celebrations.”
Karin has a good choice of seasonal flowers available, plus accessories and for the festive season there are waxed and glittered hyacinth bulbs to brighten the glazed pots in stock. St Eval Candles are made in Cornwall using a unique blend of mineral and vegetable waxes. Their scents are botanic heaven.
“People still want to mark important days and events with a bouquet, wreath or arrangement and there is a definite trend for houseplants, especially succulents amongst a younger age group.”
A magical gift selection
Fairy Crafters is a unique one-stop gift shop featuring a distinctive collection of locally sourced handmade gifts and interior décor designs, including greeting cards, jewellery, soft furnishings, candles and art, supporting more than 40 local craft businesses.
“Whether you are looking for gifts to celebrate weddings, births, birthdays or special occasions for friends, family and pets, our handpicked selection of stock offers an unrivalled selection of handcrafted items created by our incredibly talented designers and artists,” explains owner Claire Blackburn.
Among the many beautiful seasonal designs on offer in store are unusual mantelpiece miniatures, stunning glass art and ornaments in a range of colours from Mango & Mog, personalised snowmen and a range of felt decorations sewn locally by Mellz colourful craft store, to add a handmade touch to your festive decorations.
Smallest shop offers stylish shoes
Well known as Britain’s Smallest Shoe Shop, Peter Scott Shoes on the Broadway in Woodhall Spa has been the go-to store for stylish shoes since it first opened in 1999.
The unusual wedge-shaped shop, which was originally the local railway’s booking office, stocks more than 200 different styles, including slippers, boots, sportswear and elegant designs to suit all tastes, all carefully chosen by owner Philip Simmons, who has worked in the trade all his life.
Peter Scott stocks some of the most famous names in European and British footwear, including Adesso, Boulevard, Cipriata, Cotswold, Easy B, Hotter, Itazero, Lotus, Marco Tozzi, Rieker, Skechers, Softline, plus many others.
“In so many towns you see the same shoes in every shop,” explains Philip. “We aim to be a little different and stock a mix of interesting styles that you won’t find together elsewhere – and with our price promise you’re always assured of good value.”
According to Philip this season’s trends include versatile Doc Martin type styles in coloured patent from popular German brand Rieker, which can be worn with both dresses and trousers and appeal to all ages.
“Our aim is to sell shoes which not only look nice, but fit well and are comfortable too,” says Philip.
The shop is open seven days a week, with the exception of Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
Don’t miss their popular New Year sale which this year promises the “biggest bargains ever”.