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Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the April 2020 issue

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The Lincolnshire village of Tattershall may be small but when it can boast its own holiday resort, an expanding farm park, a traditional castle and a military visitor centre, it is a place not to be missed, says Melanie Burton.

Much has been done over the years to improve its visitor appeal and the hard work is paying off.

Tattershall Lakes Country Park has just opened a new £1.5m luxury swimming pool to complete a £7 million expansion and renovation plan.

Lincolnshire holidaymakers and pitch owners can now enjoy themselves in the new heated outdoor pool, as well as the indoor Splashzone, private beach, lakeside sky bar, contemporary Safari Tents and Camping Pods with private hot tubs.

Boasting three bars, outdoor cinema sessions, mini golf, archery, a high ropes course, handy camp shop and seven lakes – including great spots for fishing and watersports – Tattershall Lakes Country Park prides itself on being able to offer something for everyone.

For younger children, there are supervised play sessions providing a wide range of arts, crafts and outdoor activities, while 8-12 year-olds have more physical challenges to enjoy with snorkelling, Body Zorbing and laser tag.

Tattershall Lakes is a great location for a romantic break, friends’ getaway or holiday with the family.

Speaking about the multi-million pound investment, Away Resort Holiday’s chief executive, Carl Castledine, said it was an exciting time for the company and the region.

“Tattershall Lakes Country Park is one of our most popular resorts and our customers love holidaying in this wonderful part of the world.

“We are really proud to offer guests improved and exciting facilities. The new pool is going to be the icing on the cake.”

The village, with a population of just over 6,000, attracts visitors for a number of reasons, from history lovers wanting to explore its heritage, and military enthusiasts wanting to discover more about the war years, to families wanting to experience the great outdoors.

Tattershall Castle rises from the flat Lincolnshire Fens and is one of the earliest and finest surviving examples of English medieval brickwork.

A past home to Lords, ladies, soldiers, and cows, the castle was built by the Treasurer of England, Lord Ralph Cromwell in the 1440s and saved for the nation by Lord Curzon of Kedleston in 1911.

Now owned by the National Trust, this fortified manor has a programme of events for all interests and is a great place to visit for a day out.

Visitors can take the winding staircase, wander through the vast echoing chambers and walk out onto the newly renovated battlements revealing the beauty of the Lincolnshire countryside.

Or they can relax and enjoy the surroundings while enjoying their own picnics, or with refreshments from the Guardhouse shop, which sells hot and cold drinks, wrapped cakes, sandwiches, crisps, ice-cream, gifts and souvenirs.

Events throughout the year include Easter Egg fun, medieval re-enactments, open-air theatre and a Christmas market.

As part of the National Trust’s ongoing commitment to preserve and protect the properties it cares for, the Castle Cottages are due to undergo some much needed conservation works this year.

The properties will be scaffolded for some essential external maintenance works to ensure that gutters, drainpipes, windows and doors are repaired, decorated and left in full working order to make this beautiful Grade II listed building look its best.

The sizable external porches were added to the properties in the mid-20th century and obscure much of the cottages’ beautiful frontage.

Listed Building Consent has been applied for to remove the porches and restore the property to its former pre-war glory enabling visitors to enjoy the historic vernacular architecture of the cottage entrances from the castle grounds once more.

“The exterior of the Castle Cottages has now been completed and plans are being finalised for the modern exterior within,” explained marketing and communications officer Steven Tune.

“The cottages are rather old, and one piece of interesting information we have about them is that Lord Curzon himself, who restored the castle, stayed in these cottages while the castle was being restored, back before the official opening of the castle in 1914, so most likely between 1912–1913 he stayed in the cottages. We are unsure how long the current developments will take on them, to be ready for renting as holiday lets.”

Work was carried out previously on the castle’s battlement handrail which had been in place since the castle’s restoration in 1914.

“We had to ensure it was suitable for health and safety, as well as heritage protecting legislation,” Steven explained. “This meant months of work meticulously planning and constructing this unassuming piece of the battlements.”

When Lord Curzon rescued the castle in 1911, the Scottish architect and head of the restoration efforts, William Weir, was astounded by what he found lurking at the top of the tower.

Even the flooring had collapsed without due care, making accessibility poor.

By July 1912, work began in earnest along the battlements starting from the east, with more than 16,000 bricks being delivered in order to completely repair each and every turret.

By 18th October 1912, the battlements and turrets were complete. But in order to improve conditions when the castle was opened to the public, Weir decided that the roof gallery needed additional fixtures, such as protective balustrades.

This was completed at the end of 1913 just before the castle officially opened to the public.

Overseeing all that goes on in the village is Tattershall with Thorpe Park Parish Council, which works tirelessly behind the scenes to improve everyday life for residents and businesses.

It worked together with the Parochial Church Council to secure a grant from Historic England to enable conservation works to be carried out on the medieval south church wall at Holy Trinity Church, in the village.

The church wall is a scheduled Ancient Monument and the work was carried out by Arthur Woods & Sons of Alford. 

The upstanding remains of the wall to the south of the church are believed to be part of the former Tattershall College, of 15th or 16th century origin and brick-built.

Previous extensive ivy growth has been checked and controlled and large sections of the wall were open-jointed, and wall heads exposed in areas.

There had been historic settlement and burrowing animals historically disturbed the ground close to footings.

The parish council also offers a unique scheme for residents whereby they can fly the flag to mark special milestones.

Parish council clerk Karen Elliott said: “The parish council has two flagpoles, one in Tattershall and one in Tattershall Thorpe, and several different flags for different occasions including Union Jack, St George’s, Lincolnshire and Armed Forces Day to name a few. 

“We advertise this to residents on our public notice boards and the website and for a small donation they can have a flag flown to commemorate a birthday or anniversary etc. 

“Parish volunteers also fly the flags on significant dates within the calendar, for example St George’s Day. Sadly, it is not very well supported but all donations are passed on to local charities.”

A schedule of works has been agreed with East Lindsey District Council for improvements to the Market Place which include new litter bins, new benches and new bollards. Lights are also to be installed at the foot of the Buttercross.

Plans are in the pipeline to clear up an area in the village that has been an eyesore for quite a long time.

The former Blacksmiths Corner industrial site was purchased by Tesco for a store but the land has subsequently been sold to, and is now part of, a joint venture development. 

“Planning applications are expected within the next couple of months and this will be an important step towards improving the view and amenity of this area of the parish. It has been an eyesore for a long time,” said the clerk.

GROWTH FOR TATTERSHALL FARM PARK
If you are looking for a place to enjoy some family time in the great outdoors, then head for Tattershall Farm Park.

Work has been ongoing since the new owners bought the site five years ago and the improvements and new ideas have paid off with the attraction continuing to go from strength to strength.

Being lovers of the outdoors themselves and with two young children of their own, they were inspired to buy the place to turn their vision of owning and running a business that made them proud into a reality.

“It is going brilliantly, and we have doubled the size of the outdoor play area,” said Marie Morell, otherwise known as the Farmer’s Wife.

“It is unrecognisable now and we have grown massively. Before it used to attract 6,000 people a year. Last year we had 86,000 visitors and a lot of those were repeat customers.

“We have just completed our fifth year and we have done a huge amount in that time.”

The friendly family-run attraction has lots of children’s activities and special events like pony rides, exotic animal encounters and bird of prey encounter events.

“We have regular events and some new ones for this year including for the first time an overnight bushcraft camp and an all new Meet the Meercats experience,” Marie said.

“We have a bald eagle in our Falconry centre and 17 members in our flying team. All our birds fly and are part of the displays and demonstrations.”

The farm park is also home to llamas, alpacas, fallow deer and reindeer as well as traditional farmyard animals and rare and unusual breeds like its Lincoln Longwool, Kerry Hill and Hampshire sheep and friendly Highland cows.

THORPE CAMP VISITOR CENTRE
Tattershall is also a popular place to visit for military history enthusiasts being home to the Thorpe Camp Visitor Centre museum which is located on the site of the former RAF Woodhall Spa.

The Centre was part of No. 1 Communal Site and was built in 1940, with a planned life span of only 10 years. 97, 619, 617 (Dambusters) and 627 Squadrons were all based at RAF Woodhall Spa. At the end of the war, when the RAF vacated the site, it became a target for squatters and was taken over by the Horncastle Rural District Council, who converted it into temporary housing for which it was used until the early 1960s.

By 1987 the site was completely derelict and overgrown. Part of it came with the area acquired by the Woodland Trust when it purchased the adjacent Carr Woods.

It was the Trust’s plan to demolish the buildings but the Thorpe Camp Preservation Group was formed to restore the site. In 1994 the Visitor Centre opened to the public with a donation entry fee and a very limited area to view but today the full site is a memorial to the past. It is open 1pm-5pm on Sundays between Easter and October and Wednesdays throughout July and August as well as Bank Holidays.

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