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Words: Melanie Burton
Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the June 2015 issue

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Communities in Horncastle are gearing up for what promises to be a vibrant and busy summer bursting with events and developments guaranteed to add the feel-good factor to this traditional Lincolnshire market town.

Geocaching, a craze sweeping the nation, is about to encircle the town and guided walks of the area are also high on the agenda – both of which promise to lead to an influx of much-welcomed visitors and an interesting time for locals.

Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity which essentially involves walkers tracking down hidden containers.Apparently, there are millions of them hidden all over the world – from Rome to Rio, Timbuktu to Tokyo. The containers – which are often plastic – are called ‘geocaches’ or ‘caches’ and contain a logbook and a gift (of the type normally found in a Christmas cracker). Competitors track down the boxes, sign the logbook, take one of the gifts and replace it with another.

Determined not to miss out on the opportunity to promote the town as a walkers’ destination, Horncastle’s Walkers are Welcome (WAW) Group called in an expert to plot a course and hide some caches. Annie Stiles (21), who is studying at the University of Lincoln, is focusing on a ‘Round Horncastle’ route that covers about fourteen miles, as well as a few shorter options.

“It’s a big craze and loads and loads of people are doing it. I’ve completed a number of special routes although I’ve not set one myself,” said Annie.

“However, I’ve walked some of the route around Horncastle and it’s brilliant. I think there are already a few caches hidden, but I aim to put about forty in place at first. Then, we’ll build on that.”

Participants will need a map – and preferably a Global Positioning System (GPS) – to track down the various caches. It is also hoped to introduce a special app for the Horncastle route, which takes in the town and several surrounding villages including High and Low Toynton and Mareham on the Hill.

The town’s Walkers are Welcome Group believes geocaching will attract hundreds of new visitors to the town, helping to boost the local economy.

The group is made up of keen walkers from the town and surrounding area who want to encourage walking in and around the pretty market town and the beautiful southern Lincolnshire Wolds.

The group has organised walks planned throughout the year including a linear walk, which uses public transport to reach Hagworthingham and then people return on foot to Horncastle.

It has been actively involved in the Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival (which has just finished) and it is part of a smaller Walking Festival – being held in September in partnership with the two other Walkers are Welcome towns, Caistor and Market Rasen.

The group, in conjunction with the Countryside Access Team at Lincolnshire County Council, has also developed a new river walk in Horncastle. A previous walk in this area was no longer accessible due to changes in land access. But working with local landowners and the Woodland Trust, a new 2.5 mile walk has been produced.

The walk heads south from Horncastle through a developing woodland, along the banks of a river and canal before joining part of an old railway line (now the Spa Trail, a multi-user trail between Horncastle and Woodhall Spa).

Horncastle WAW group is also working with neighbouring landowners to site a bridge from Banovallum Carr over the Old River Bain to allow access to the walk from housing to the south of the town.

As well as the Walking Festival, the popular SO Festival will be visiting Horncastle Market Place again on Saturday 27th June (between 7pm and 10pm.

The town’s Summer Festival and Market is also taking place the next day – Sunday 28th June – when the town will be bustling with stalls, food and drink sellers, arts and crafts, children’s rides and street entertainment.

The Horncastle and District Royal British Legion is hosting a fun day at the War Memorial Centre on 16th August, to unveil and dedicate a new memorial stone and commemorate seventy years since VJ Day. There will be display stands from the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, food and ice-cream vendors, a bee display stand, county war memorials stand, Horncastle Theatre Group, army and air cadets and other stalls.

Town Clerk, Gillian Mauger said: “The town is doing really well and is quite vibrant. There are lots of coffee shops and restaurants for the size of Horncastle and they are all doing well. There is also a lot going on to help bring visitors into the town.”

Horncastle has a number of long-established independent businesses that have been part of the fabric of the town for decades. They include Bush Tyres, Kitchen Solutions, J T Friskney, Horncastle Cakes, Admiral Rodney Hotel, Old Stables Coffee Shop, Step 1 Travel and Myers, which does lots to promote Horncastle far and wide.

The quality baker has been located in the town’s Bull Ring since 1969, although the business was founded in Alford in 1901. It also has a deli, a café tea room, a homeware and giftware shop and an outside catering division.

Never one to rest on its laurels, Myers has recently undergone changes and developments to stimulate interest in the business and keep its customers happy. The café tea room has been fully refurbished inside, inspired by a New England theme, and the neighbouring baker’s shop has been refitted for the first time in many years.

Rob Myers said: “The café tea room refurbishment has been a huge success with customers and the feedback has been really positive in terms of its style and colours used. Having the café style seats gives it a unique look, different to most cafes and tea rooms out there.”

The styles have been inspired by another of Myers’ interests, its Country Style homeware and giftware business.

“We know what the current looks and styles are and we’ve tried to reflect that in the café,” said Rob. “Based on that success, we have refitted the baker’s shop. That was a big thing for us, because the last time we did that was five or six years ago. We are quite excited about how it is going to look. The baker’s shop is a big development for us because the work has had to be done when we are closed.

“The bakery production area is undergoing an extension which will give us thirty per cent more floor space – something we have been needing for quite a long time. That will enable us to make more products and have the space to work. We have taken on more staff, so that extension is needed.”

Another big move for Myers is the development of its catering division.

“We are producing the most sandwiches and buffets that we have ever done,” We have a small outlet at the Horncastle Business Centre, which is new in the last year. It sells all lunchtime goods – sandwiches, salads, pasties, sausage rolls, and we are the only outlet now for the business centre,” said Rob

“We also provide the lunchtime buffets for a lot of the training courses that take place there and we are continuing our good relationship with LIVES, providing lunches for all their courses as well. We can cater for up to 100 people and we have a minimum of three staff in every day working in the catering department.”

Not only is it a well-known Horncastle business, it is also award-winning, having scooped the accolade of County Champions for its Lincolnshire plum bread in the Lincolnshire Poacher Awards, and won gold for its Lincolnshire pork pies, which Myers has only started making in the last year.

“We were really pleased with that because it was the first time we had entered our pork pie. It is really successful,” said Rob.

The deli is continuing to make its mark in the town too and is one of the first in the area to promote another trend, now hitting the country. Myers’ cheese wedding cakes – made up of different cheeses stacked on top of each other, pyramid-style – are proving highly popular.

“The deli is doing a lot of cheese wedding cakes. They are quite difficult, because you have to know which cheeses will stack well and which will go together. They have to look good and feature a nice selection of cheeses,” said Rob.

“A bridal couple will come along to a tasting session. We do a plan for a cake and try and tailor each one to a customer’s particular wedding reception.

“Some people even prefer to have a cheese cake rather than a traditional wedding cake. Others want both. We are one of the first in this area to start offering this service.”

Myers’ reputation, and with it the name of Horncastle, is being spread far and wide through speciality food hampers.

“We are really pleased to be working with Duckworth Land Rover in Market Rasen. We supply them with all the speciality food hampers which they give to customers when they buy a new vehicle,” said Rob.

“To be working in partnership with them is great and it is quite an honour that they picked us. Our hampers are going out with every new car they sell and their customers are not just from this area.”

HORSE SCULPTURES
Motorists driving through Horncastle may have wondered why there are horse sculptures at the town’s crossroads.

They were erected by the Horncastle Civic Society, which is now known as the Horncastle History & Heritage Society, and they represent the historic horse fairs held in the town over the centuries, up until 1947. They were designed by Society members and produced by two local companies.

The Horncastle Horse Fair was established in the thirteenth century and expanded greatly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, becoming the largest in Europe until its demise in the mid-twentieth century.

Founded in 1966 as the Horncastle Civic Society – an independent and non-political body dedicated to safeguarding and preserving the rich heritage of the ancient market town – Horncastle History & Heritage Society acts as a leading voice in the development and growth of the town. It endeavours to highlight the heritage of Horncastle whilst promoting places of interest and activities to generate local pride and community spirit, as well as an expanding tourist trade.

ASHBY PARK
Ashby Park in the Lincolnshire Wolds was established by Margaret and Robin Francis almost thirty years ago. Work started to transform the old gravel workings of Revesby Sand and Gravel at West Ashby to the present four-star Ashby Park. The seventy-acre park has seven fishing lakes, a further nine ponds and wet areas for the wildlife, and over three miles of path and roads. Over the years, thousands of trees and shrubs have been planted and there are also wild flowers.

Margaret and Robin have been awarded a Gold Award for conservation for the last fifteen years by Prof Sir David Bellamy.

Ashby Park has four touring areas plus seven static holiday home areas and a camping field which is used by Duke of Edinburgh Award groups and other campers.

The park is laid out to give peace and quiet to people on holiday without isolating them.

Next to the park is a Golf Course and Club House. Horncastle is 1.5 miles, Lincoln city 20 miles and the Coast 24 miles.

QUEEN ELIZABETH’S GRAMMAR SCHOOL
For nearly 450 years Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School has served the town of Horncastle and the surrounding area.

This high achieving and successful school has never been complacent; the governors have continued to embrace change as new opportunities have arisen. In September 2012 the school opted to become a Selective Academy and still retains its Specialist School Status within Science and Modern Foreign Languages. Most recently Queen Elizabeth’s has created a new partnership with the other secondary school in the town, Banovallum, working together to provide better opportunities for all students.

Queen Elizabeth’s prides itself on offering a broad and balanced curriculum which at GCSE and A level is tailor-made to the student’s individual option choices. Lessons are delivered by subject specialists who are enthusiastic and passionate about their subjects. In the classroom, lessons are taught at pace and excellent use is made of new technology. There is a strong emphasis on learning that is relevant, enjoyable and intellectually challenging.

“Students are friendly, ambitious and creative and staff are dedicated, caring and talented. Our standards are high; we expect every member of the community to aspire to be the best they can be. Effort and achievement is encouraged, valued and celebrated.

“We look forward to welcoming you and having the opportunity to show you around our school.”
enquiries@qegs.lincs.sch.uk
Tel: 01507 522465

STOURTON ESTATES LTD
Dried at the farm in Baumber, Stourton Estates are able to supply kiln dried logs and woodchip using timber from its own woodland or other local Lincolnshire woodlands.

Buying kiln dried logs guarantees that your fire will burn well. When you burn them you will find you need less kindling to get your fire burning and radiating heat. Due to the high calorific value of the timber, once it is up and running you can turn your burner down for a slower burn rate, emitting heat into your room without having to re-stock the fire with logs as often. In addition there will be less ash generated and your chimney will not build up as much soot as conventional barn dried timber. Try these and see the excellent results for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

All their logs are delivered in a tipping transit van direct to your door and they will get them as close to your store as possible. Call Stourton Estates Ltd: 01507 578236 Email: contact@stourtons.co.uk

ACHURCH & SONS
Achurch & Sons began life on 1st November 1986 under Keith Gosling and David Spratt.

“We started the first year in business in the old Achurch shop in the High Street in 1987 and then bought the Market Place premises, where we still are today,” said Mr Gosling.

“Our aim is to give a good personal service, backed up by a large range of stock, from DIY, to cookware, gardenware, electrical goods and hardware.

“Over the years we have made our mark in the hardware trade and regularly have customers from most parts of Lincolnshire and further afield, who say the shop is like an Aladdin’s Cave of goods on two floors.

“What we do not stock we can always get for customers. We aim to provide a cheerful, efficient and happy environment to welcome our customers.”

THE LION THEATRE
Horncastle is in danger of losing its unique and only theatre, which has served the community for nearly three decades.

South Yorkshire based brewery RBNB – owner of the Red Lion Hotel site on which it stands in the Bull Ring – announced in January that it planned to sell the entire site, including the theatre building.

The theatre was set up by Horncastle Theatre Company in 1988 after months of fundraising activity, hard work by its members and plenty of community spirit.

Threatre company chairman Shirley Moffat said: “Up until about thirty years ago, the company was used to putting on its productions in village halls and local schools. One of our members was Betty Benson and her husband Eric was licensee of the Red Lion pub, which the theatre members used for rehearsals and meetings. He came up with the idea of us having our own theatre.

“There was a building to the left of the pub and a building to the right and he suggested, if he could get permission from the owners, the company build its own theatre in between. That is what happened. It was a real community spirited way of obtaining a theatre. The husband of one of our members was an architect and he drew up plans on the back of a sheet of wallpaper.

“The tiles in the toilets are all mismatched because people just gave us their leftover tiles and all the seats came from an old cinema which was closing down in Yorkshire. That involved an overnight dash to get those seats,” said Shirley.We also went to the town and invited people to make a financial donation in return for physical recognition. For a £25 donation you could get a plaque on a seat; £50 would get you a plaque on the wall.”

Theatre and television actress Patricia Hodge was approached to be honorary president. She agreed, attending a major fundraising event and officially opening the Lion Theatre on 10th December 1988.

The theatre has been facing an uncertain future for the past two years since the theatre company was first told the pub was going to be sold. But as a ‘For Sale’ sign never materialised and advertising never happened, it was business as usual for the production crew.

Last June, the situation took a turn for the worse when the owners decided to board up the premises and the gas and electricity supply was cut off. However, even that didn’t signal the final curtain.

“As we had a vague right to be there, we made a big fuss about it and, although the gas wasn’t reconnected, the electricity was put back on and it was agreed the pub wouldn’t be boarded up,” explained Shirley.

“We have kept on going since then, even without the gas. We have six plug-in heaters to warm the theatre and we tell everyone to wear warm coats. We were concerned about the future of the theatre and, at the end of January this year, we were given notice to leave as the pub was being sold with vacant possession.”

But ‘the show must go on’ is the motto of the intrepid theatre company and their battle continues.

“We took legal advice and we have an implied lease which means we can’t just be kicked out. There has to be a process and they haven’t followed that, so we said we weren’t leaving,” said Shirley.

The company then had the theatre registered as an Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act, which carries with it certain rights with regard to purchase.

“East Lindsey District Council has registered it and we are the only Asset of Community Value registered in the area. It is subject to a moratorium, so the owner can’t dispose of the asset without first offering it to the community organisation – so legally RBNB can’t sell the pub until the moratorium period is up, which is in July,” said Shirley.

Not only that, the company had the theatre valued and has offered to buy the site from the brewery.

“So it is business as usual until they give us formal notice under the Landlord and Tenant Act. We are the only theatre in Horncastle, so if we are not able to buy the premises the town loses its theatre,” she added.

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