Wednesday 8th July 2020
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Words: Melanie Burton
Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the March 2020 issue

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Nestled just off the busy A46 Grimsby to Lincoln road on the Viking Way, the historically important Victorian and Georgian town of Caistor may be small in size but it is big in community spirit and has much to offer the visitor and resident alike. By Melanie Burton

Whether you are wanting a base from which to explore the Lincolnshire Wolds, a place to reflect on the history and heritage in the area or a bolt hole from the hustle and bustle of modern life, Caistor is the place to be.

Caistor has 56 Grade II listed buildings, two Scheduled Ancient Monuments and more than 160 significant archaeological finds.

There are many initiatives emerging currently as a result of regeneration and community initiatives in the town.

Town clerk, Jim Hanrahan said the principle issues being addressed were the vacant properties in the Georgian Market Place.

“The National and Heritage Lotteries are grant aiding the refurbishment of the old Co-op building (2-4 Market Place) and new businesses have opened in the Cornhill on South Street,” he explained.

“The old Mill Lane depot has received a grant from Homes England to create a small development of homes and car parking to support the town centre businesses.

“And the Town Council has just started its review of the Caistor Neighbourhood Plan, which will involve community consultation and our new community events leaflet is being produced.”

Car parking is an issue in the town that is being focussed on.

“There is a chronic lack of car parking in Caistor, which impacts on shoppers, visitors and users of facilities in the town,” the clerk said.

“The Town Hall car park is open to all, but this is often to the detriment of Town Hall users who can’t find a space and may be with children or the elderly and those unable to walk distances.

“The Council is continually looking at ways to satisfy the needs of residents, workers, students and Town Hall users including introducing selected parking restrictions.

“The Town Hall car park has been resurfaced and relined to improve circulation and usage. This popular car park now boasts 32 spaces. However, a small area is now reserved exclusively for users of the Town Hall to support its continued use as a community venue.

“The Market Place has a two-hour parking restriction to support traders but is often abused. The answer would be creating more parking spaces and the Town Council is in protracted and continuing discussions with the owners of the former Mill Lane Depot to create a dedicated long stay car park which would help ease these pressures.”

The Caistor and District Development Trust is progressing the refurbishment and reopening of the former Co-op building for a range of uses including retail and residential. Much has been done internally and progress is being made to raise enough funds to refurbish the properties.

The project is due for completion in 2022.

There are also several proposals in the pipeline to use sites in Caistor for affordable homes for families and aged persons. Likely sites include the former Council Offices site off Southdale and the former Council Depot site off Mill Lane. Additionally, the former Caistor Hospital site is still being built, off North Kelsey Road.

Parks in the town continue to flourish and are generally well used by children and families. South Street Park, North Kelsey Road and Millfields play areas are generally well kept but suffer from misuse from time to time with refuse, wilful damage and wear and tear.

The Town Council has also been pressing West Lindsey District Council to do more to improve the townscape and facilities. It holds regular meetings with District Councillors and their officers where issues are highlighted and action plans formulated. The Neighbourhood and Local Plans are being reviewed and this is likely to lead to public consultations where locals can put their ideas forward for improving Caistor.
Like others around the country, the town’s Market Place used to be bursting with activity especially on market days.

“Those days have passed as the electronic age decimated traditional shopping,” said Mr Hanrahan. “But we are fortunate in Caistor to have a range of voluntary groups who keep Caistor buzzing and we are also blessed by having a wide range of unpaid volunteers at our disposal for event management.”

Groups such as the Caistor Community Cinema, Caistor & District Development Trust, Caistor in Bloom, Caistor Cares and Caistor Goes all strive to put Caistor on the map.

Much is also being done to promote and preserve Caistor’s interesting heritage.

Caistor grew out of a stronghold of the Romans, itself succeeding a hill fort of the early Britons who called it Caer-Egarry. The Roman camp was encircled by a massive wall, of which fragments remain. It was a site of trade and was recorded as a Royal Mint from 970 to 1042.

Built of golden stone, the mostly medieval Church of St Peter & St Paul retains something of Saxon and Norman times. Nearby is the original Grammar School building built from an endowment in 1630, which has seen many famous pupils such as the distinguished poet Sir Henry Newbolt through its doors.

Caistor was involved in the 1536 Lincolnshire Rising and in 1590 burials due to the plague grew from 13 to 36.

There are people from far and wide who believe that Simon the Zealot was crucified in Caistor. It is also believed that Saint Paulinus would have been a visitor to Caistor.

“This would have been when there was an Anglo-Saxon church, probably sited in the area of the present original Grammar School building,” explained Mr Alan Dennis, who is one of the directors of the Caistor Heritage Trust.

“The present church started out as just the existing tower and would have been an Anglo-Saxon lord’s keep with its own private chapel. It would have been a statement of power.

“In about 780AD the churchyard moved from the area of the present Co-op shop to the area around the Parish Church.

“It is probable that, at this time, the present church nave would have begun to be built out from the tower and the church would have developed as we see it now.”

Mr Dennis added that there is documentary evidence that King Stephen (c1150 AD) established his most northerly fort in Caistor and visited it twice; King Henry VIII stopped at Caistor on his journeys north and Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth I) was given the Manor of Caistor but sold it to help her purchase of Hatfield House.

Caistor Heritage Trust is a company limited by guarantee, which was formed to manage and preserve artefacts relating to Caistor and district.

Its directors represent Caistor Historical and Archaeological Research Society, the Arts and Heritage Centre, Caistor Civic Society and Caistor Grammar School Archive Group, all of which are organisations arranging exhibitions, walks, talks and activities.

The Trust has joined a new organisation organised by Lincolnshire Wolds Landscape Network.

“Recent items that have undergone renovation have been a Gad Whip and the brass band bass drum,” said Mr Dennis.

“We are now raising funds to restore two large oil paintings. They are portraits from about 1860 of Mr and Mrs Grantham, who did much to develop education and premises related to the Methodist Church in Caistor.”

Caistor’s current Market Place was formed following the disastrous fire which started on 7th April 1861 at the house of John Sheriffe.

“In the space of three to four hours it had spread to more than half the houses, barns, stables and outhouses,” Mr Dennis explained.

“This included all the shops and warehouses, which had been burnt to the ground except one mercer’s house in the Beast Market.

“Forty-five families were made homeless and the damage was estimated at £6,780.”

The Sessions House, seen on Plough Hill, and the Butter Market, would have been in existence before the fire and would have looked out over a large open area which, following the fire, starting with Caistor House, was built up to form the present Market Place.

In late 2018 the Caistor District Community Trust was formed with the initial task of working with the Lincolnshire Co-operative Society to renovate and bring back to life the building situated between the Market Place and the High Street.

“At the time of writing the directors are waiting to hear if they have been awarded grants to be able to appoint a project manager and start developing plans, involving the community more and preparing bids for the actual building renovation,” Mr Dennis said.

“The Trust is also hoping to take on a redundant piece of land that was once a Council depot to provide housing and car parking.”

New menu for spring launched at The Cross Keys
Head chef Steph Barker has continued to make her mark on the fine dining landscape of the county with the launch of a new seasonal menu for spring 2020. Steph is keeping up the historic reputation of The Cross Keys, Grasby where guests have been enjoying hospitality and good food for more than a century.

Nick Barker, Steph his daughter, and her partner Malika make a great team extending a warm welcome as well as serving delicious food, wines and beers to be enjoyed in the bar or in the fine dining restaurant.

“The seasons and the best local produce always influence my menus,” said Steph. “I am continuing to work with excellent local suppliers to include some of the best ingredients the county can offer in our dishes. Home reared pork from Taylors Family Butchers in Ashby, seafood fresh from the dock at Grimsby as well as local cheeses and fresh fruit and vegetables.”

The Cross Keys is located close to the Viking Way and offers superb walking close by as well as stunning views across the Lincolnshire Wolds – perfect for a stroll in glorious countryside to build an appetite. Steph has previously worked in some of the most acclaimed hotels in the county and has brought this wealth of skill to her own kitchen. “We offer the warmest of welcomes to our customers. We are proud to continue the inn’s heritage of hospitality so that guests feel as relaxed as in their own home. Come and visit us soon.”

Remembering Sir Joseph Nickerson
With the passing of time the name Sir Joseph Nickerson may not be as familiar to readers as it was in 1990 when he died.

Sir Joseph was one of the most progressive agriculturists of his generation. Plant breeding, seed production, commercial duck breeding and production, and pig genetics were the backbone of a significant business enterprise that spread globally from the village of Rothwell in the Lincolnshire Wolds.

With a determination to live life to the full, coupled with a thirst for knowledge and appetite for detail, Sir Joseph devoted an equal amount of time and energy to field sports, travel and adventure. Most prominent amongst these interests was an unrivalled working knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm for game shooting and the countryside.

The Joseph Nickerson Memorial Gallery is situated at the east end of the village of Rothwell. The gallery contains a collection of farming, business and field sports memorabilia, encompassing the period 1930–1990. It is open on four Sundays a year or by request. Private parties or individuals are welcome.

Contact Paddy Shillington, Tel: 01507 602281, email: p.shillington@sky.com

Caistor Go2 Group
Caistor GO2 group was set up in January 2019 with the aim of helping the Caistor community to make informed decisions about sustainable living and to actively work with other groups to help reduce Caistor’s carbon footprint.

These groups include charities, businesses and the town and district councils. It also encompasses the five local schools, Caistor, Nettleton and Grasby Primary Schools, and Caistor Grammar and Yarborough Secondary Schools.

One noteworthy success was Caistor Primary School working alongside Caistor Lions to make the Lions Beer Festival in June carbon neutral.

At the moment the adult GO2 group is planning the first GO2 Earth Festival, which will be held on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th April at Caistor Town Hall.

Chair of the group, Nick McCann said: “There will be lots to do, lots of activities for the family, advice stalls about a wide range of environmental issues, and lots of school performances and presentations.

“The culmination will be our unique time raffle, where many people have offered two hours of their time, offering a wide range of skills.”

More details can be obtained by checking out the group’s Facebook page, Caistor GO2, which is packed with regularly updated information.

Caistor Groups
Volunteers and community groups give up their time to improve life for residents in the town through events, carrying out maintenance work or keeping the town’s history alive.

Caistor’s Arts & Heritage Centre is a prime example of community togetherness. A multi-faceted building comprising a cafe, library, heritage display, art gallery and public access computers, the centre is buzzing with activities, workshops, music events and heritage and art exhibitions.

The renovated Methodist Chapel at 28 Plough Hill is now at the heart of the community and collaborates with local schools, societies and community groups on projects to bring visitors into the centre.

Another group working hard to improve the town is the Caistor & District Community Trust. The Market Place has been the heart of commercial life in Caistor for centuries. But since 2010, two key buildings in the Market Place have been empty.

The not for profit Community Benefit Society, Caistor and District Community Trust Ltd, was formed to help drive a project to regenerate these buildings.

Another voluntary organisation in the town is Caistor Cares which offers friendship and support to people over the age of 60 in Caistor and the surrounding district.

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