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Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the March 2019 issue

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Known as the “antiques capital of Lincolnshire”, the market town of Horncastle is steeped in history, but Melanie Burton finds its long established businesses continuing to adapt to modern trends.

Along with its antiques shops, Horncastle has a thriving agricultural community and many family businesses that have served the town for many years and generations.

One such firm is Robert Bell and Company estate agents in Old Bank Chambers which has been established in the town since 1799.

Estate agency is only a small part of the firm. It is also a single partnership of Land Agents, Estate Agents, Auctioneers, Chartered Surveyors and Valuers.

Horncastle is the company’s oldest office, the firm taking occupation in 1872 after previously trading in the High Street. It is also the firm’s head office.

Another successful and long established town business is Myers. Established in Lincolnshire since 1901 as a quality baker and famed for its Lincolnshire plum loaf, Myers first appeared in Horncastle in 1969 then added a café and tea room and a deli, introducing its customers to a whole range of speciality and regional produce second to none.

Historically, the agriculture industry provided the main source of employment in Horncastle and that is still the case today, through the likes of agricultural and horticultural business J T Friskney Ltd, established in 1909.

It is a main dealer for major brands including Deutz-Fahr Tractors, Manitou Telehandlers, Honda ATV Quad Bikes and many other market leading brands, as well as being main suppliers of Westwood, Echo, Mountfield, Stiga, Hayter and Cobra lawnmowers and garden tools.

Horncastle once had a reputation for hosting the largest horse fair in the country and was served by more than fifty pubs in 1851. Sellers came from all over the British Isles for the fair which ran for two to three weeks.

Horncastle has much to attract visitors to the town including St Mary’s Church which is the town’s oldest standing building, dating back to the 13th century, and which contains thirteen scythe blades believed to have been used in the Lincolnshire Rising of 1536.

It is also home to the Sir Joseph Banks Centre which is the base for the Sir Joseph Banks Society and houses a growing reference library concerning the famous British explorer who is one of Lincolnshire’s famous sons and one of the greatest figures in Georgian England.

Sir Joseph Banks inherited his father’s estates in Lincolnshire and considerable wealth in 1761. His first voyage of discovery was to the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador on HMS Niger. On his return to London in 1767 he was elected a member of the Royal Society at the age of just 23.

Banks became friends with George III, with whom he shared an interest in agriculture and rural affairs, and from 1773 he acted as unofficial director of the Royal Gardens at Kew. Banks organised the first Kew collectors, including Francis Masson, James Bowie and Allan Cunningham, and specimens arrived from all over the growing British Empire. Under his supervision Kew became one of the foremost botanical gardens in the world.

The aim of the Sir Joseph Banks Society is to stimulate interest in his life and achievements through education, research, publications and events, and by strengthening Lincolnshire links with Australia and New Zealand.

Another building that has been part of the fabric of the town for more than a century is now a busy community hub which caters for all needs and ages.

Stanhope Hall was built in 1901 on The Wong to replace a much smaller Drill Hall which the volunteer soldiers had outgrown.

Funded mainly by public subscription, it was a Red Cross Hospital during World War 1 treating some 1,127 wounded soldiers and then home to the TA up until the 1960s. It became the Council Offices from 1974 until its closure by the council in 2009.

ELDC finally agreed to an Asset Transfer and the local people raised more than £200,000 to transform the building into what it has become today – a well-used community centre.

Horncastle can be proud of its heritage and one of its local hostelries looks like it has plenty of stories to tell from days gone by.

The Admiral Rodney, for instance, blends traditional character with modern comforts. It is an 18th-century coaching inn in the very heart of Horncastle and dates back to the 1790s, when it was part of the considerable Revesby estate of Sir Joseph Banks.

Sir Joseph almost certainly knew Admiral George Rodney, who reached the height of his fame during the American War of Independence. He became a national hero resulting in many inns throughout England being named in his honour. It is thought Horncastle’s Rodney Inn was so named no later than 1793, which was just after Admiral Rodney’s death.

The Revesby Abbey estate sold the inn in 1954 and after it changed hands several times in 1989 it underwent a major rebuilding programme and was renamed the Admiral Rodney Hotel. It was acquired by the Coaching Inn Group in 2011.

With Horncastle’s links to the past and in particular to the First and Second World Wars, its War Memorial Centre plays an important and active part in the town’s annual Remembrance Day Parade.

It started life as a public dispensary, moving from its original home on the edge of the churchyard in 1866.

Horncastle was leading the way in Public Health and then in 1924 an extension was built and it became the War Memorial Hospital serving the town and outlying villages.

Taken over by the NHS in 1948 the hospital grew and further rooms were added right up to the 1960s.

In 1999 the NHS announced its closure and though the townspeople fought hard to retain the cottage hospital, its doors closed as the new millennium dawned. However, a small group of residents were still determined that the Grade II listed building was needed by the people of Horncastle and that it was the town’s living War Memorial.

£300,000 was raised to purchase, alter and refurbish the building and in 2002 the centre was re-opened.

Today it houses some five health/educational services and accommodates a community meeting room.

PLUG IN TO HORNCASTLE
Visitors to Horncastle who drive electric cars are now able to charge their vehicles while they shop.

East Lindsey District Council has secured over £64,000 of grant funding to install eleven dual fast chargepoints at various car parks in the area including St Lawrence Street in Horncastle.

The installation, which will benefit both residents and visitors to the area, has been part funded through the Government’s Onstreet Residential Chargepoint Scheme, with the remainder of funding provided by Chargemaster – who are supplying the charging points. The District Council will be putting £38,000 into the project.

The chargepoints will be accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will be able to charge a vehicle from empty in around three hours (dependent on vehicle model).

It is hoped that the introduction of the charging points will make the district more accessible to visitors who drive electric vehicles and encourage residents to explore the possibility of owning an electric vehicle.

Portfolio Holder for Coastal Economy, Councillor Steve Kirk, said: “Installing these charging points will finally provide our residents with a viable alternative to conventional petrol or diesel powered vehicles. In addition, it will also make the district a far more attractive proposition to potential visitors who already own electric vehicles.”

Portfolio Holder for Market Towns and Rural Economy, Councillor Adam Grist, said: “We know that previously East Lindsey has been a difficult area for electric vehicle owners to visit and to travel around. As such the introduction of these chargepoints will not only make the area more accessible for visitors but also make life easier for our electric vehicle owning residents and maybe even encourage other drivers to consider owning an electric vehicle.”

FINANCIAL PLANNING AT THE FOREFRONT
Since last featuring in this magazine there has been a lot of development at the office of F H Manning Financial Services.

Following the celebration of its 40th anniversary in 2015 the company has seen the retirement of David Platt and a new face joining the team, Cole Mills.

In November 2017 they were awarded Chartered status from the Chartered Insurance Institute, an award designed to demonstrate competence, trust and a commitment to being at the forefront of the profession.

Since 2015 the business has moved the focus to the outcomes of the financial planning process, rather than just savings, pensions and the tax implications of such transactions.

And alongside new service propositions came a new logo, website and financial planning blog. You can even ‘meet’ the team and hear from Malcolm and Claire in a short video on their website.

Working alongside their clients and using the latest technology the advisers use cash flow forecasting tools to create financial plans, a kind of roadmap to achieving goals. These plans can act like a crystal ball and also help to keep a plan on track.

Moving with the times the advisers also arrange ‘virtual meetings’ allowing them to share screens with clients and also allow clients to interact with their financial plans when a face-to-face appointment may not be possible.

So what is next for F H Manning?

Managing director, Malcolm Wright says: “We are in an ever changing industry and our clients will see continued development of the technology we use in 2019. This will include secure messaging, so important to ensure safe transmission of information.

“By the end of the year we are hoping to provide clients with access to live information about their investments, pensions and financial plans on their phones and tablets. We are also hoping to have launched a social impact strategy – allowing clients to invest with the intention of generating positive, measurable and environmental impact alongside a financial return.”

ON THE LEVEL IN HORNCASTLE
Horncastle Rise is a new development of traditionally-built bungalows from Allison Homes set in the attractive, vibrant Lincolnshire market town of Horncastle.

Bungalows are typically associated with older people – but these are designed with families and first-time buyers in mind as well as people of middle age and more. Psychologists tell us that communication and family life benefit from everyone living on the same level.

Situated off Thimbleby Hill, Horncastle Rise consists of around 30 homes with a mix of two- and three-bedroom bungalows in six different property styles. Prices range from around £190,000 to just over £300,000. All the homes are fitted with photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof to generate free electricity for residents, even on cloudy days.

The bungalows are set in an attractive environment which includes a pond and green open spaces.

Selected plots are available with financial support from the government’s Help to Buy programme which allows you to own 100 per cent of one of these new homes with just a 75 per cent mortgage and a 5 per cent deposit. The remaining 20 per cent of the purchase price is paid for with an interest-free loan from the government (subject to approval).

Help to Buy is not only available to first-time buyers – it can be used by existing home owners who are moving home.

If you are moving from another property, Allison Homes offers a range of schemes to make things as easy as possible. For example, providing your current home meets certain criteria, the company will consider your property for part exchange against the home you want to buy or simply buy your property outright under its ‘secure home purchase’ scheme.

They can also offer an ‘assisted sale’ under which it will help you with the sale of your existing home. And while you are waiting for the sale to complete, it will reserve the home you wish to purchase for an agreed period.

If you are a first-time buyer, Allison Homes can assist you with everything from finding a mortgage to a package of ‘extras’ that can include carpets, curtains and kitchen appliances.

HORNCASTLE
Horncastle is the perfect place to set up a new home if you want the benefits of living in a small town yet still wish to be close to a big city. The Roman Walls, St Mary’s Church, the Grade II listed Old Court House, Horncastle market and The Kings Head all draw tourists to Horncastle. So, too, do its antique shops and second-hand bookstores.

Horncastle also offers a great selection of tea rooms, restaurants and takeaways and a wide range of amenities.

The A158 and A153 roads lead into the national highway network, including the nearby A1. Nearby Metheringham has a direct rail service to Peterborough on the East Coast main line which has high-speed services to London and Edinburgh.

ALLISON HOMES
Allison Homes is making a name for itself as a developer of high-quality homes, blending traditional craftmanship with new designs. In addition to Horncastle Rise it has developments throughout Lincolnshire and beyond – visit www.allison-homes.co.uk for details.

HORNCASTLE THEATRE GROUP
Horncastle might be a small market town but it boasts its very own active theatre group which has been entertaining the town for nearly 45 years.It aims to put on a varied programme of six productions a year including a traditional pantomime and also has two youth groups – Young Stagers for children aged 7-11 and the Up Stagers for 12-19 years.

Records show that the first amateur dramatic group formed in Horncastle was the Horncastle Amateur Dramatic Company which performed at the town’s Drill Hall. It was succeeded by a number of smaller groups until 1973, when the Horncastle Theatre Club was officially formed.

In 1983, the group was renamed the Horncastle Theatre Company, and in 1984 founded both a youth section and the tradition of producing an annual pantomime which continues to this day. Five years later the Company got its own theatre after months of fundraising activities and hard work by the members.

Situated at the head of the yard of the Red Lion Hotel, in Horncastle’s Bull Ring, the Lion Theatre seats nearly 100 people. The shell of the theatre and the stage was provided by the Benson family – Betty, Eric and Tim. In 1988 they financed and carried out the conversion and reconstruction of the various outbuildings. The internal work was carried out by members of the company and friends, financed by a fundraising campaign.

The theatre was recently refurbished, thanks once again to the generosity of members of the company and the community.

Actress Patricia Hodge agreed to be Honorary President of the Company and officially opened the theatre on 10th December 1988.

WALKERS ARE WELCOME GROUP
Horncastle is an attractive market town lying at the south-west foot of the Lincolnshire Wolds, located where the Rivers Bain and Waring meet, and on the site of the Roman fort or Banovallum.

It is an excellent base from which to enjoy the beautiful and varied local countryside and it is one of over 100 locations in the UK that has Walkers are Welcome (WaW) accreditation.

The Horncastle WaW group encourages walking in the local area and organises a series of walks and events throughout the year which are great ways to explore everything the area has to offer.

One such walk is Horncastle Canal Walk which will take you through the developing woodland, Banovallum Carr, along the banks of a river and canal before joining a trail on part of an old railway line.

Banovallum Carr is owned and managed by The Woodland Trust. The woodland covers 20 acres and consists of mainly birch and alder trees with some willow and buckthorn along its edges. The first trees were planted on the site by local people in 2001 and a further adjacent area planted in 2007.

Regular mowing takes place to encourage grassland habitat and allow people to explore the area.

The aim of The Woodland Trust is to establish mixed broadleaf woodland as an area of informal recreation for the local community.

The Horncastle Navigation canal opened in 1802 at a cost of £45,000 and ran between Horncastle and Tattershall, a distance of 11 miles, where it joined the Tattershall canal which linked to the River Witham.

This walk also includes the Spa trail which is a multi-user route that runs between Horncastle and Woodhall Spa.

Part of it follows the line of the old Horncastle and Woodhall Junction railway which opened in 1855 and closed to passenger trains a century later in 1954. It finally closed to goods trains in 1971. The trail is dotted with sculptures along its length.

The Horncastle Walkers are Welcome Group aims to ensure local footpaths are kept clear and well marked and to publicise the area to walkers for the benefit of local hotels, pubs and restaurants, to help boost the local economy.

Throughout the year it holds regular walks, of usually no more than five miles, which are free and open to everyone and in between the walks working parties are formed to tidy up the town’s footpaths.

Its membership is at the same level as in 2017 and various projects have been discussed by the group for this year, including providing a heritage trail around the town with information boards and maps.

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