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Words: Glynis Fox
Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the October 2018 issue

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Festivals and commemorations are bringing history to the fore in Horncastle this autumn, while the town’s businesses continue to look ahead, finds Glynis Fox.

Like many other towns and cities across the country, Horncastle will be joining in the celebrations marking the end of World War One by lighting a beacon as part of a national scheme to remember those who gave their lives fighting for freedom.

Town clerk Amanda Bushell said: “This year our Remembrance celebrations run over both days of the weekend of 10th-11th November.

“In fact they begin in earnest on Friday 9th November, when Banovallum Brass play in a concert at the Stanhope Hall. On Saturday, the Market Place becomes the venue for a special event with a variety of performers taking part in poetry readings and other activities. There will be a Royal British Legion Stall among others.

“On Sunday 11th November there will be a much larger traditional parade than usual and there will be a marquee at the War Memorial Centre. In the evening, they will light the beacon as part of the national event – this will be added to with a firework display. This all takes place on the Scrivelsby Estate, which is just outside the town. There will be minibuses put on for those without their own transport.”

On Sunday 9th December the town will once again host its annual Christmas Market, with an appearance by Santa Claus and all the usual ingredients like mulled wine and mince pies that make these events such popular attractions.

“Shopkeepers and other businesses in the town fully support the event and this adds to the lovely community feel for the festive season,” said Amanda.

Horncastle is a thriving Lincolnshire market town in the heart of the Wolds. It is brimming with history, and recently added another Blue Plaque to those already in the town. This one is dedicated to Annie Dixon and can be found in East Street.

Annie was a noted artist of miniature portraits of the Royal family. With cobbled streets and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century architecture in abundance there is plenty to explore.

There is an excellent mix of retail outlets in the town, with many like Myers’ family businesses being long established. Over the years a cluster of antique shops selling everything from furniture and bygones to jewellery and books led to the town becoming a real magnet for those buying and selling antiques.

“Horncastle has a good choice of shops, although we did lose two banks – but we still have two left which are an important resource for the town,” said Amanda.

Another person who echoes what a thriving town Horncastle is, is current Mayor Councillor Brian Burbidge.

“This is a fantastic, old Roman town famed for its antique shops. In the past it was famed for its Horse Fair which was the biggest in Europe and it has a thriving community with a population of just under 7,000,” he said.

“We have a very popular traditional market that takes place on Thursday and Saturday. The market sells everything from fruit and veg to hats. We even have a Polish baker, who adds an international flavour, with an excellent choice of bakes.

“One of the main features of the town which helps visitor numbers is that we have one car park, named The One which offers free parking. This is situated only five- or six-minutes’ walk from the main shopping precinct.

“The Town Council is also looking to promote the town with signage, which will help people find all the hidden gems in the town. For instance, we have a number of Blue Plaques in the town,  worth seeking out and, of course, we have the wonderful Sir Joseph Banks Centre, which incorporates the Tourist Information Centre.

“Horncastle takes pride in its conservation centre and its location in proximity to Skegness, Louth, Boston and Lincoln make it a great place to visit. We have three small supermarkets, and have more than 100 organisations in the town from sports clubs, to charities, to scouts, historical and photographic societies. One of my favourite sayings is, it’s a very nice place to live, work and visit.

“To add to our attractions, there is the potential on the cards for a wildlife park. Currently the Wolds Wildlife Park run by Andrew Riddel is a private collectors’ park but plans are afoot to turn this into a fully-fledged attraction. A recent Open Day saw 2,500 visitors come through the gates. As a private collection, the Park can only open six times a year.”

Councillor Burbidge is currently into his second mayoral year which is unusual.

“The town council is very busy and taking on a lot of extra work from both East Lindsey District Council and Lincolnshire County Council and currently working on devolved planning. We are only the second town council in the country to do this. It started on 1st September with East Lindsey District Council returning most of our assets, with the exception of car parks, for us to manage.

“The devolved powers gives us greater control over what happens in the town. These are exciting times.”

One newcomer to the town, who is pleased with how her business is going is Kathy Creek, who opened Barking Dog Antiques and Interiors last November.

“Business has been progressing nicely since I opened and I now have ten dealers working with me and more showing interest,” said Kathy.

From her new premises in South Street, Kathy offers a mix of goods with jewellery, furniture, ceramics and vintage items among the range.

“I would say what I offer is a bit quirky and eventually I would like to expand to be able to offer workshops in upscaling and other things. 

“I chose Horncastle as it’s known as a centre for antiques, so I took a risk, I took a chance. My shop has a lovely big window and is situated on the main road going into Horncastle, so is ideal for passing trade.

“I have also started opening for a few hours on a Sunday to test the water. The last few months have been busy with the tourist season bringing people in. We have been getting tourists from Tattershall and Skegness and dealers who have been to Lincolnshire Showground and Newark. So that’s brought footfall.

“I do think Horncastle needs better signage. There are free car parks but not enough signage saying so. Horncastle is known for its antiques, so the creation of an antiques trail with a map would really help boost footfall.

“This is a well looked after town, with lots of volunteers who work hard to keep it looking lovely. There is a real pride in the town and a lot of businesses working hard to make it prosper. There is a new antique show and a curtain/blind shop opened, so things are picking up. 

FINDING ALL THE RIGHT WORDS
Two major events in Britain’s past will be remembered during a string of cultural activities and performances at the 2018 Wolds Words Festival.

Taking place throughout the month of October, the Festival will be dedicated to both RAF 100 and Vote 100 – the anniversaries of the end of the Great War and women winning the right to vote. Films, exhibitions and talks have been organised at venues across the Lincolnshire Wolds to commemorate the two momentous happenings a century ago. Highlights include an illustrated lecture covering the role of women in World War One. Entitled ‘Women’s Role in the Great War’, it is presented by Richard Pullen from the Friends of the Lincoln Tank, and is on Monday 1st October at 7.30pm in Stanhope Hall, Horncastle. Tickets are £3 with booking required (see booking details below).

Meanwhile there will be a free Suffragette Exhibition in Louth Library. Open from Monday 1st October until Wednesday 31st October, it celebrates some of the key figures of the suffragist movement, including a special look at women in Lincolnshire.

Organised by Magna Vitae Trust for Leisure and Culture, approximately sixty separate events are planned, taking in the attractions of the Wolds and celebrating the traditions and people of Lincolnshire.

Celebrated county author Nick Louth will be presenting a talk entitled ‘My Writing Louth’, during which he shares insights into the world of publishing. On Monday 8th October from 11am until 12.30pm, Nick will be at The Lounge, Elizabeth Court, Church Street, Louth. The cost is £4 on the door with refreshments.

For keen walkers, Saturday 13th October is one for the calendar with a five-mile walk and talk in Bag Enderby, Somersby and surrounds. ‘Walking in the Footsteps of Tennyson’ visits some of Alfred Tennyson’s boyhood haunts, including locations not usually open to the public. This all-weather walk ends with tea and cake. Spaces are limited, so booking is advisable.

Craft-lovers also have a choice of events – from learning crochet and filling lavender bags to oil painting.

For full details of all the events taking place, please see www.woldswords.org. Bookings can be made by telephoning Louth’s Meridian Leisure Centre on 01507 607650, with payment required by card, or in person at time of booking. The centre is open Monday to Friday, 6am until 10pm and at weekends from 6.30am until 7pm.

FINANCE FOR A DIGITAL AGE
Dexter & Sharpe can trace its history in Horncastle over many decades. The firm has its office on Bridge Street in the town. Dexter & Sharpe provides accountancy, audit, business advisory and tax compliance services to many clients throughout Lincolnshire and beyond.

Tristran Russell, partner at the office, said: “The greatest challenge our clients are seeing is the introduction of Making Tax Digital for VAT or MTD for short. We are assisting our VAT registered clients with that challenge by providing a suite of digital solutions that are the best fit for that business.”

MTD goes live for businesses over the VAT registration threshold of £85,000 in April 2019 with the first transmission digitally being made July 2019 for June 2019 quarter ends. Dexter & Sharpe are offering their clients advice on Xero, Quickbooks, Sage and Farmplan digital solutions. Dexter & Sharpe offer free initial consultations for new clients. The Horncastle office acts for a wide range of clients but mainly centres on agri-business, start-ups and retail sectors. Tristran said: “We pride ourselves on giving a personable service, you will always have contact with your client manager, giving the best advice available to our clients.”

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