Where ancient meets modern
Glynis Fox discovers how the traditional and the modern combine in the neighbouring villages of Tattershall and Coningsby, which boast striking characteristics which set them apart from many others.
Both have interesting features for visitors to discover, good community facilities and a mix of shopping and service businesses.
In Tattershall, these include a TV, PC and laptop sales and repair specialist, fish and chip shop, Co-op store, post office and newsagent, photographic business and car sales.
There are also two pubs – The Fortescue Arms and The Black Horse – and a Day Nursery and Kids’ Club, with Tattershall and Coningsby Lions Club playing an important fundraising role in the community.
The village is dominated by the 130ft red brick tower of the medieval Tattershall Castle, which was built in 1434 by Henry VI’s Lord Treasurer, Ralph de Cromwell. The castle’s tower is a masterpiece of English brickwork and is one of the most significant fifteenth-century brick keeps in the country.
With its Gothic fireplaces and church-like windows, which were designed to impress, it is little wonder that the Castle attracts large numbers of visitors.
Events manager, Maggie Everington said: “We have recently reopened the Castle’s atmospheric Echo Chamber which will hopefully delight and capture visitors’ imaginations.
“Like so many of our historic buildings under National Trust guardianship, Tattershall Castle opens for a variety of events to appeal to families. And once again, in conjunction with chocolate manufacturers Cadbury, it is hosting a four-day Easter National Egg Hunt event over the holiday weekend.”
On 7th May, children are invited to dress up and take part in a Knights and Princesses day. There will be activities such as face-painting and crafts to enjoy, and children who arrive in characterful costumes will get in free of charge.
People can also take a step back in time with an event from 26th to 30th May, when the castle hosts Dangerous to Delicious, aimed at offering them a taste of medieval life.
There will be demonstrations by the Wolfshead Bowmen, and people can even test their own skills with a longbow, as well as learning about hunting techniques and discovering the tasty dishes that were served up back in the day.
“Other events people should look out for in the coming months are a War of the Roses Weekend and a Fool’s School,” said Maggie.
Adjacent to the Castle is the Grade I listed Collegiate Church of the Holy Trinity, which features medieval stained glass, a collection of brasses and an intact rood loft.
Near the font is a plaque marking the grave of the Tattershall resident Tom Thumb, who was reported to be just 18.5 inches (47cm) tall and who died in 1620 aged 101. Tom Thumb’s small house can be seen on the roof of a larger house in the Market Place.
Among the leisure pursuits families can explore is a trip to Tattershall Farm Park and Soft Play Area, where youngsters can experience fun activities, such as egg collecting, whilst learning first-hand about furry animals and life on the farm. They can also watch birds of prey and even take a pony ride. And for those who enjoy golfing there is even an opportunity to tee off.
Tattershall Lakes Country Park is set in a beautiful location in one of the most attractive areas in the county. A visit to the Lakes offers people a great way to unwind and escape from the pressure of the working week, with a wide range of attractions and activities, including lake-side hot tubs, water-skiing and fishing.
The neighbouring village of Coningsby lies the other side of the River Bain. Its mix of businesses include hairdressers, a DIY shop, grocery, newsagents and a pet and aquatics business, along with pubs, a variety of eating houses and much more.
Coningsby is home to St Michael’s Church. Built in the fifteenth century, its tower is well-known for its one-handed clock. Its face is painted directly onto the wall and astonishes all who see it. The clock, which is one of the largest of its kind in the world, is similar to one in Exeter Cathedral.
The Church is on the main road in the village and remains an impressive landmark. Its tower is also unusual because it has an arched passage at its base, which processions could pass through.
This is now part of a public footpath running, through the churchyard, to the school. There is also a canonical sundial dating from the twelfth century on the south wall of the church.
In 1730 Britain’s youngest Poet Laureate, Laurence Eusden was buried in the church. Born in 1688 in North Yorkshire, Eusden was educated in York before becoming Poet Laureate in 1718 until his death. Eusden was at one time rector at the church and chose it as his resting place.
RAF Coningsby, where about 3,000 personnel are stationed, is also the home of the much-admired Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The airbase has two frontline and combat-ready squadrons and is one of only two RAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) stations that protect the United Kingdom’s airspace.
People interested in modern aircraft can see them taking off and landing from a specific viewing area in Dogdyke Lane, Coningsby, but perhaps it is the older aircraft – the six Spitfires, two Hurricane Mk 2C, the Lancaster Bomber and C47 Dakota housed at the Aviation Heritage Centre on site – that are the greater draw to the base.
These nostalgic and much-loved aircraft regularly perform at major events around the country.
The Bluebell Pub in Tattershall Thorpe reflects the aviation heritage theme which is so strong in the area, with its displays of memorabilia and previous pilots’ signatures on its ceiling.
Coningsby has a great community spirit and each year householders vie for the prize of Best Kept Garden. There is also intense competition for the village’s local allotments.
Locals can be nominated for the Rickard Cup which is also presented annually to the person judged to have done the most good within the community.
The Pingle Nature Reserve is supported by the efforts of the busy Lions Group and there are lots of activities for those living and working in the area, including those taking place at the Coningsby Community Hall.
THE NATURAL CHOICE FOR YOUR GETAWAY
Friendly, knowledgeable staff always have a warm smile ready to greet all visitors to Willow Holt Caravan and Camping Park.
Set in the tranquil surroundings of Lodge Road in Tattershall, this long-established business, which offers a first-class service, has been owned by Richard Stevenson for 20 years.
The Park welcomes caravans, tents and motorhomes large and small – whether people are experienced or just starting out. And, with a wealth of local amenities and tourist attractions to visit close by, guests will find this is an excellent base from which to explore the county.
The grounds are impressive. There is an abundance of wildlife and it is an ideal place for birdwatching, or people can take the opportunities provided by the two fishing lakes on site.
There is an excellent choice of caravanning and camping equipment to purchase, including a wide range of brand new static caravans, as well as items from the well-stocked accessories shop. Licensed by the Camping and Caravanning Club, the site is pet friendly and it also has a kids’ playground for younger members of the family. The site is within easy reach of shops, supermarkets and pubs. Lincoln, and the market towns of Boston, Horncastle and Sleaford are only a short drive away.