Caring communities and conservation areas
Along the Lincoln Cliff – or Lincoln Edge, as it is sometimes known – Julie Sayed discovers some of the county’s most picturesque and characterful villages.
Collectively known as the Cliff Villages these are individual and active communities ideally situated for panoramic views across Lincolnshire and have the benefit of good links to neighbouring towns and cities.
One of the most central and busiest villages along the Edge is Navenby. It has excellent facilities and amenities for its size, with well frequented pubs, and a good mix of shops including a long-standing butchers and well-respected bakery. There are hairdressers and coffee shops in the mix too, which serve both locals and those from surrounding villages.
One successful business to locate itself in Navenby is DBS Internet Marketing, which was originally founded by Nottingham-born David Clarke in California, USA in 1986.
“When I was thinking of relocating to England I looked from Harmston to Caythorpe before settling on Navenby,” said David.
DBS Internet Marketing provides web design, digital marketing and social media services to businesses across the UK, including many county clients, and to some as far as Australia.
In 2017 DBS became the first Lincolnshire based company to become fully employee owned with two directors, David Clarke and Julie Priestley.
“DBS employees have a share in the business and for me it makes great business sense to reward the very people who have helped build DBS’s success,” said David.
Last year DBS scooped the Employer of the Year gong in the Federation of Small Businesses East Midlands Community Business Awards. Now fingers are crossed to add to this success in the UK National Finals of the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards which takes place on 23rd May at Battersea Evolution, in London.
“We are situated slap bang in the middle of two pubs in Navenby in the centre of the village and we find clients love to come out to visit us. We can easily entertain them with lunch at the pub or take them out for coffee. They like to wander round the local shops and amenities and love the relaxed atmosphere of the place.”
One of the other familiar attractions in Navenby is Mrs Smith’s Cottage, a rare time capsule giving insight into a bygone age. The Cottage has been closed to the public for a little while now but North Kesteven District Council has secured Stage 2 Heritage Lottery Funding to restore the cottage and open it as a visitor centre.
A few miles from Navenby is another scenic village which is at the opposite end of the commercial scale, with no shops whatsoever.
At one time Harmston boasted an excellent pub, which at one time in its long history also acted as a shop and post office.
The Thorold Arms closed in January 2018 but a committed band of locals have pooled resources to rescue the pub. One hundred and thirty people have invested the funds to renovate the premises to bring it into the twenty-first century.
The pub, which dates back to 1760, is now on course to reopen this summer.
Keith Elms, one of six directors in the venture, said: “The aim is to open the pub and restaurant and restore its place as a focal point for the community.
“The 130 investors put in anything from £100 for one share to £20,000 to purchase the pub. We have interviewed and chosen Mark and Arzu Butler from the Horncastle area as the new tenants.
“Harmston is a beautiful, well maintained, friendly village with lovely people and we hope that revitalising the pub will provide a facility fit for the twenty-first century.
“The village is looking forward to the opening of the pub. The village hall has been running Happy Hour on a Friday as a substitute but it will be nice to have a place for people to meet and socialise.”
Near neighbour Coleby also has relatively few commercial enterprises but it does offer two excellent and quite different pubs, The Tempest Arms and The Bell Inn. But this is far from a sleepy village. It has lots of very active organisations and a busy social calendar.
“In the winter months we have started to host a regular Film Night in the village hall and cater for people with a fish and chip supper from a local chippy,” said Lynda Fletcher, a very active village resident.
“The Film Night is run by Barry and Beth Devonald and Sue Makinson-Sanders and so far we have seen films such as Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Hidden Figures and A Star is Born. They tend to be hosted about once a month.
“Another highlight on the Coleby calendar is the Annual Ball which this year takes place on 28th September. There is live music and a three-course meal and the event is always well attended and supported.”
Coleby has held a regular car boot sale for a number of years now, on the first Sunday of the month.
“The car boot runs from April to October, with proceeds going to support the village hall. But in August the proceeds act as a church fundraiser, and at one car boot we have assistance from the Mums and Toddlers Group and the school, and a donation is given to these organisations,” said Lynda.
“On the second Wednesday of each month there is a Book Club held in the village hall, where fresh coffee is served. The Book Club has been running for about five years and we have had talks from Stephen Booth, and last year Sarah Ward came to speak to us.”
Lynda is currently talking to the Crime Writers’ Association about the possibility of future guest speakers.
“Every two years we have the Downhill Racing Event in the village which is now on the national calendar and discussions are underway for the 2020 event.
“There is always something on in the village. The community spirit is amazing. For instance, we organise an Annual Clean-Up of the village. This is usually around May time and villagers turn up with brooms and brushes and garden tools and we give the place a spruce up.”
There have been a small number of new properties built in Coleby. Under the Neighbourhood Plan, the village is classed as a Small Community and this limits expansion to no more than 10 per cent, which helps to try and maintain the village lifestyle.
Further along the Cliff Edge is the conservation village of Wellingore. Here a long-term project is underway to erect a bronze statue in honour of war poet John Gillespie Magee Jr.
Chairman of the parish council, Roger Cole, who has written a book about Magee is a driving force behind the project.
“There is international interest in John Magee and we have coaches coming to see where he lived and the airfield he flew from,” said Roger.
“He was born of an English mother and American father who were missionaries in China at the time of his birth. He was educated at Rugby School, a well-respected English public school, before finding himself in America around the time of the outbreak of World War II.
“When he was 17 he had a book of poems published but his frustration with America not joining the war ended up with him crossing the border and training as a Spitfire pilot with the Canadian Royal Air Force. Eventually he was posted to RAF Digby and lived with other officers in a house opposite Wellingore Hall in the village. Sadly, he died in December 1941 while on a training flight over Cranwell.
“[In 1986] Ronald Reagan was due to give his State of the Union address on the same day that the astronauts perished on the Challenger space project. At the address he read Magee’s poem ‘High Flight’. Since then the poem has been read out many, many times.
“To honour Magee we have been fundraising for some time and have now bought land adjacent to the A607 where the statue will be erected. We have been working with artist Antony Dufort who is completing the clay maquette of the statue. The bronze version requires further funding. Small maquettes are available to see at Wellingore Hall and they can be purchased as part of the fundraising process.
“There are discussions with the Red Arrows about doing a flypast when the statue is unveiled and discussions have been held with North Kesteven District Council and Lincolnshire County Council over plans to convert a derelict building on the site into a Visitor Centre. The British Film Foundation is looking into making a film about Magee’s life and I understand the script has been written and the people of Canada are looking at gifting the plinth the statue will stand on.”
SUPERB FOOD AND FINE WINES AT THE BELL
The heat is always on when you are a classically trained chef running your own fine dining restaurant but celebrities dropping by at The Bell at Coleby, especially ones who are MasterChef judges, are all taken in Paul Vidic’s stride. Greg Wallace came to enjoy the hospitality and fine cuisine at the chef/patron’s Coleby restaurant recently. Paul trained under Raymond Blanc in his 2 Star Michelin kitchen and subsequently built his well deserved reputation in two other inns before opening The Bell in 2011.
Diners are treated to outstanding dishes featuring the best ingredients, many sourced locally while others are from across the UK, to ensure only the finest are used. Homemade breads, ice creams, sauces and desserts are served to ensure great food with exceptional service.
Paul can also boast a wonderful wine list and is happy to make his own recommendations to diners. There are beers from the Yorkshire Brewer as well as Timothy Taylor’s award-winning ales. If you would like to celebrate away from the hubbub of the restaurant there are private dining options for 12, 18 or 32 guests and children aged 7 years and above are welcome.
The Bell is also a restaurant with rooms. Diners can relax in one of the three boutique double bedrooms after their meal and make the most of their visit with breakfast the following morning.
The Bell is open Wednesday to Saturday evenings 5.30pm to 11pm and Sunday lunch 12noon to 3pm. Early Bird diners Wednesday and Thursday 5.30pm to 7pm and Friday 5.30pm to 6.30pm.
THE PLACE WITH SPACE – HILLTOP FARM HOLIDAYS
Hilltop Barn sleeps up to six in three bedrooms. You can stay for three nights or longer. In a field of its own, this idyllic barn gives you seclusion, where you can feel really relaxed with your friends and family.
Hilltop Cottage is a ground floor cottage perched on a hillside, ideal for a couple wanting to escape to the country. The small, private garden with orchard is the perfect place to sit and relax in the peaceful surroundings.
These properties are ideal for house hunters and movers, since they are ideally located for you to explore some of the most desirable Lincolnshire Cliff Edge villages such as Waddington, Harmston and Navenby. Stay with relatives in this area and enjoy your own independence and space and ‘The Place with Space’ enables you to invite friends round to enjoy the lovely countryside location.
Call Charles Overton 01400 273323 or see www.hilltopfarmholidays.co.uk
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