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Woodhall Spa

Woodhall Spa
Woodhall Spa is located in Lincolnshire
Woodhall Spa
 Woodhall Spa shown within Lincolnshire
Area  13.42 km2 (5.18 sq mi)
Population 4,003 [1]
   – density  298/km2 (770/sq mi)
OS grid reference
   – London 115 mi (185 km)  S
District East Lindsey
Shire county Lincolnshire
Region East Midlands
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district LN10
Dialling code 01526
Police Lincolnshire
Fire Lincolnshire
Ambulance East Midlands
EU Parliament East Midlands
UK Parliament Louth and Horncastle
List of places

Woodhall Spa is a civil parish and village in the East Lindsey district of Lincolnshire, England within a wooded area on the Southern edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds, about 6 miles (10 km) south-west of Horncastle and about 15 miles (24 km) east-south-east of Lincoln. It is noted for its mineral springs, cinema, and its Second World War association with the RAF 617 Squadron. The cinema has the last remaining rear screen projector in the country.


  • History 1
    • The development of Woodhall Spa 1.1
  • Governance 2
  • Railways 3
    • The Second World War 3.1
    • Kirkstead and Woodhall Spa 3.2
  • Historic estates 4
    • The Manor House 4.1
    • The Tower-on-the-Moor 4.2
  • Recreation 5
    • The Kinema in the Woods 5.1
    • Jubilee Park 5.2
    • Woodlands 5.3
      • The Pinewoods 5.3.1
      • Ostler's Plantation 5.3.2
      • Roughton and Kirkby Moors 5.3.3
      • Towards Horncastle 5.3.4
    • National Golf Centre 5.4
    • Footpaths and Walking 5.5
      • The Viking Way 5.5.1
      • Spa Trail 5.5.2
      • Water Rail Way 5.5.3
  • Churches 6
  • Education 7
  • Twin Town 8
  • Geography 9
  • Notable residents 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


The development of Woodhall Spa

The derelict Spa Baths in 2009

Woodhall Spa came about by accident in 1811 after John Parkinson, of Old Bolingbroke made several attempts to find coal.[2] After spending several thousand pounds, and sinking a shaft over 1,000 feet deep, the enterprise was abandoned on account of the now rising spring.[3][4] The spring flows daily through soft spongy rock, at a depth of 520 feet.[5]

About 1834, the then Lord of the Manor, Thomas Hotchkin, ascertained by analysis that the water was in fact valuable, being an iodine and bromine containing mineral spring.[6] He spent nearly £30,000 sinking the well and erecting the Spa Baths and the Victoria Hotel.[2][7]

The Victoria Hotel burned down on Easter Day, 4 April 1920 when an electrical fault in the boiler room spread to the linen room above.[8] The Spa Baths finally closed when the well collapsed in 1983.[9]

Other hotels sprang up due to Woodhall Spa's popularity and included:

The Legacy Woodhall Spa Hotel, which opened in 1882 as the Eagle Lodge Hotel.[10] It was converted into a nursing home in the 1960s and reopened as a hotel in 1991.[11]

The Golf Hotel

The Golf Hotel was originally called Clevedon House and has been a school, a club, and a hotel of the same name.[12][13]

The Royal Hydro Hotel, which with the attached Winter Gardens was destroyed by in a German air raid during World War II in August 1943, although part of it survived and became the Mall Hotel.[13][14]

The Petwood Hotel is so called because it was originally built at the turn of the 20th century as a house for Lady Grace Weigall, who had it constructed in her favourite wood, her "pet wood". Lady Weigall turned her former home into a hotel in 1933.[13]

The heyday of Woodhall Spa was recorded by a local photographer, John Wield, and many of his photographs are displayed in the Woodhall Spa Cottage Museum, which was his home.[13][15]

Much of the village's Victorian elegance remains, and since January 1991 it has been a designated conservation area.[16]

Population of Woodhall Spa Civil Parish
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1951 1961 2001 2011
Population[17] 988 1,484 1,635 1,372 1,671 1,978 3,657 4,003


An electoral ward in the same name exists. This ward includes Kirkby on Bain with a total population taken at the 2011 Census of 4,298.[18]


In 1846 the Great Northern railway company purchased the land to build a 58 miles (93 km) rail link from Peterborough to Lincoln. Works commenced in 1847 and the line opened on 17 October 1848.[19] Kirkstead Station, later renamed Woodhall Junction, was one of seven between Lincoln and Boston. A branch line to Horncastle, which included Woodhall Spa railway station, was opened on 11 August 1855.[19]

The railways brought increasing popularity; and an elegant spa town with hotels and guest houses on wide tree-lined avenues, largely designed by Richard Adolphus Came, grew up around the original facilities. He stated in his designs that none of the roads shall be "streets", which is still true today; and the roads built since have also been lined with various trees.[20] In 1886 the estate was purchased by a syndicate and extensive alterations and improvements were made.[3] The Victoria Hotel and the Spa Baths were greatly modified by the Syndicate,[20] a group of investors including Lord Alverstone, Lord Iddesleigh, and Edward Stanhope MP in 1887.[20]

Woodhall and Woodhall Spa stations closed along with the rest of the Boston to Lincoln line in 1971 and demolition came soon afterwards.[19]

The Second World War

Dam Busters Memorial

In the Second World War Woodhall Spa's two main hotels, The Golf Hotel and The Petwood Hotel, were requisitioned for the RAF, and Pinewoods used to hide military equipment, especially on its northern perimeter. RAF Woodhall Spa airfield was built to the south of the village[21] in the parish of Tattershall Thorpe. It closed for operational purposes in 1964, although it is still owned by the Ministry of Defence, used mainly for jet engine maintenance and testing, and is operated as a satellite unit of nearby RAF Coningsby.[22][23]

A memorial wall depicting the breaching of the German dams in Operation Chastise, otherwise known as the "Dam Busters" raid, stands at the crossroads in the centre of the village. It is dedicated to the memory of those from 617 Squadron who were lost during the night of 16–17 May 1943.[24]

The memorial is the location of a local school choir photograph, published in Lincolnshire Life magazine, which included a black Labrador dog; the photo-caption asks if this "mysterious" animal was Guy Gibson's dog, which was run over and killed shortly before Gibson departed to bomb German dams.[24]

Most of the Royal Hydro Hotel and Winter Gardens were destroyed by a German parachute mine which fell on 17 August 1943, although part of it did survive and became the Mall Hotel.[13][25] Two civilians were killed.[26]

Kirkstead and Woodhall Spa

Kirkstead Abbey

The more ancient parish of Kirkstead amalgamated with Woodhall Spa in the early 1980s thus formalising what was already a reality.[27]

Kirkstead is the western side of Woodhall Spa between the village centre and the River Witham. It has its origins in Kirkstead Abbey, of the Cistercian order, founded in 1139 by Hugh Brito, Lord of Tattershall. It was around this abbey that the little hamlet of Kirkstead grew.[28]

The railways spelled the end of Kirkstead's isolation and eventually of Kirkstead itself, as Woodhall Spa's increasing popularity led it to expand outwards into Kirkstead parish until it reached the banks of the River Witham.

Historic estates

The Manor House

The Manor House in Woodhall Spa appears to have been built in the 18th century.[29] In the first half of the 19th century it was known as Woodhall Lodge or simply The Lodge. It was occupied by several generations of the Hotchkin family, originally from Rutland. Thomas Hotchkin (1774–1843) died there in June 1843 (Stamford Mercury, 9 June 1843). In 1861 it was in the possession of his grandson Thomas John Stafford Hotchkin.[30] By the 1880s it had become known as The Manor House, and Thomas John Stafford Hotchkin lived there until he died in 1891. His widow Mary moved into a purpose-built Dower House in 1906 enabling son Stafford Vere Hotchkin and his new wife to move into the Manor House. Stafford Hotchkin's son Neil sold the property in 1965 to the National Farmers Union, who sold it in 1992.[31] It housed a number of different offices until 2011, after which it became empty. In 2013 it was restored for use as a hotel.


The Tower-on-the-Moor

The Tower-on-the-Moor, a four-storey high red brick-built tower, is the stair turret of what is believed to have been a hunting lodge built in the mid 15th century for Ralph de Cromwell, 3rd Baron Cromwell whose fortified house, Tattershall Castle, was located 4 miles (6 km) to the south.[32] It is a Grade II Listed Building,[32] and a scheduled Ancient Monument.[33] Documentary sources indicate that the tower was partly dismantled in the latter part of the 15th century when bricks from the Tower on the Moor were used for repairs at Tattershall Castle.[34][35] One of the older local roads in Woodhall Spa, Tor-O-Moor Road is named after the tower.


The Kinema in the Woods

The Kinema in the Woods

The Kinema in the Woods is located at the centre of the Pinewoods next to the now derelict Spa Baths and opposite the site of the former Victoria Hotel. Housed in a converted cricket pavilion, when it opened in 1922 it was one of the first cinemas in Britain. It is one of the few cinemas in the country that still employs back projection[36][37] and also offers regular entertainment on an original Compton Captain Organ.

Jubilee Park

Jubilee Park, opened in 1937, lies adjacent to the Pinewoods and includes Jubilee Park Swimming Pool, a heated outdoor swimming pool. The park also offers tennis courts, a bowling green, children's playground, croquet and a cricket ground,[13] which is home to Woodhall Spa Cricket Club.[38] On 22 December 2010, BBC Radio 4 broadcast the half-hour-long Australian Wanted in Woodhall Spa, presented by Chris Ledgard and detailed overseas players playing for English amateur cricket clubs.[39]

In December 2010 East Lindsey Council sold Jubilee Park to the Woodhall Spa residents for £1.[40] It is currently undergoing renovations.[41] Jubilee Park is next to a caravan park of the same name.[42]


The Pinewoods

The Pinewoods

The Pinewoods is a 7.8 ha (19 acre) woodland at the centre of the village, owned by the Woodland Trust.[43] It is made up of mature oak, Scots pine, beech and birch. Originally scrub land, later becoming part of the grounds of the Victoria Hotel, it attracts visitors, particularly in the spring and autumn.[43]

Ostler's Plantation

Ostler's Plantation is a Forestry Commission working woodland along the south side of Kirkby Lane to the east of Woodhall Spa. It is open to the public for a range of recreational activities throughout the year. It is primarily pine with oak, birch and some other species around the fringes. It is bordered to the east by Kirkby Moor Nature Reserve and to the south by the former RAF Woodhall Spa, which has recently been purchased by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust soon to become a nature reserve.

Roughton and Kirkby Moors

To the east of the village between Horncastle Road and Kirkby Lane lies Kirkby and Roughton Moors. Once open heathland, these are now almost all wooded, with parts owned by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and managed as two nature reserves: Kirkby Moor Nature Reserve and Roughton Moor Wood Nature Reserve. Both are open to the public and can be accessed from either Kirkby Lane, Wellsyke Lane or Horncastle Road.

Towards Horncastle

There are more areas of woodland towards Horncastle to the north of the Viking Way/Spa Trail: Highhall Wood is private but with a permissive access footpath through it; White Hall Wood is open to the public and Thornton Wood is private.

National Golf Centre

The first nine-hole golf course was opened in Woodhall Spa in 1890, but only survived until 1895 when the land was required for building.[20] A new site was found and another nine hole golf course was laid out, but by 1902 it became clear that the golf course would have to find another new home as the land was again required for the expansion of the spa town.[20]

Local landowner Stafford Vere Hotchkin, offered a sandy tract of land off the Horncastle Road to build an 18-hole course. The course was designed by Harry Vardon and was formally opened for play on 24 April 1905. It was remodelled in 1911 by Harry Colt, and again by Hotchkin himself in the 1920s.[44]

Womersley House was built by the Hotchkin family, who were instrumental in the development of the adjoining Hotchkin Golf Course—now the headquarters of the English Golf Union,[45] who bought the course in 1995 to set up a National Golf Centre.[44][46] A second course, "The Bracken", opened for play in 1998 alongside the original course, now named "the Hotchkin".[46] The St Andrews Trophy was held at the golf course in 1996.

Most recently, it was voted 20th best course in the world by Today's Golfer magazine in 2010.[47]

Footpaths and Walking

The Viking Way

The Viking Way is a 147 miles (237 km) long-distance footpath which passes through Woodhall Spa.[48]

Spa Trail

The Spa Trail runs for 3.3 miles (5.3 km) along the Viking Way and the old Horncastle Railway between Sandy Lane near Woodhall Spa and Thornton Lodge near Horncastle.[48][49] With the Viking Way it forms a continuous traffic-free footpath between Woodhall Spa and Horncastle.

Water Rail Way

Spa Trail

The NCN Route 1. Named primarily after its route and former use, the path is also so named due to the rare water rail bird.[50]


Saint Peters church was built in 1893[51] although it was not until 1915 that it was legally designated the parish church.[51] Until then the little church of Saint Andrews, built in 1846,[52] was the parish church, but was too small for the rapidly growing town.[51] Woodhall Spa is part of a group of six Anglican parishes comprising: Woodhall Spa and Kirkstead, Stixwould, Horsington, Langton with Old Woodhall, and Bucknall with Tupholme.[53]

The Church of Our Lady and Saint Peter,[53] built in 1893,[52] is Woodhall Spa's Roman Catholic church.


There are two schools within Woodhall Spa which are St Hugh's School,[54] a preparatory boarding school on Cromwell Avenue and St Andrew's C of E Primary School on King Edward Crescent.

Secondary schools are outside of Woodhall and include Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School and Banovallum School in Horncastle and Gartree Community School in Tattershall.

Twin Town


Woodhall Spa lies at the south western edge of the Central Lincolnshire Vale, between the Rivers Witham and Bain. The village is largely flat rising gently towards the east and is surrounded towards the north and east by a mixture of ancient and planted woodland. To the south-west can be found many abandoned and in use sand and gravel excavation pits, many of which are now protected nature reserves. To the north-west, south and immediately west can be found arable farmland, with the River Witham found one mile to the west of the village centre and arable fenland beyond that. Much of the land on which the village is built was once extensive heathland with a light fluvial sandy soil.[56]

The civil parish of Woodhall Spa borders the civil parishes of Tattershall Thorpe, Timberland, Martin, Stixwould and Woodhall, Roughton, and Kirkby on Bain.

Notable residents

See also


  1. ^ Census, 2011
  2. ^ a b "Woodhall Spa Conservation Area" (PDF). Woodhall Spa Conservation Area Appraisal. p. 13. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Kellys Directory (PDF). Kellys Directories Ltd. 1919. 
  4. ^ Hembry, Phyllis; Cowie, Leonard W; Cowie Evelyn E. (1997). British spas from 1815 to the present: a social history p.148; Farleigh Dickinson University Press. ISBN 978-0-8386-3748-7. Retrieved 28 May 2011
  5. ^ Kellys Directory (PDF). Kellys Directorys Ltd. 1919. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  6. ^ Granville, A. B. (1841). The Spas Of and Principal Sea Bathing Places. Henry Colburn. pp. 110–113. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "Iodine - Woodhall Spa and Gardens". The Lancet 1: 508. 1853. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  8. ^ "Victoria Hotel". Woodhall Spa Village Website. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  9. ^ "Woodhall Spa Conservation Area" (PDF). Woodhall Spa Conservation Area Appraisal. p. 15. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  10. ^ "Lincs To The Past". Woodhall Spa Hotel. Lincolnshire Archives. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  11. ^ "Legacy Woodhall Spa Hotel". Legacy Woodhall Spa Hotel. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  12. ^ "Woodhall Spa Conservation Area" (PDF). Woodhall Spa Conservation Area Appraisal. p. 40. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g "Horncastle Lincolnshire". Visitor UK. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  14. ^ "Woodhall Spa". Lincolnshire County Council. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  15. ^ "Visit Lincolnshire". Woodhall Spa Cottage Museum. Lincolnshire County Council. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  16. ^ "Woodhall Spa Conservation Area" (PDF). Woodhall Spa Conservation Area Appraisal. p. 5. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  17. ^ "Vision of Britain". Woodhall Spa Population. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  18. ^ "Ward population 2011". Retrieved 23 August 2015. 
  19. ^ a b c "Woodhall Spa Station". Disused Stations. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  20. ^ a b c d e "Woodhall Spa Conservation area" (PDF). Woodhall Spa Conservation Area Appraisal. p. 14. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  21. ^ Halpenny, Bruce Barrymore (1982) Action Stations 2 Military Airfields of Lincolnshire and the East Midlands, p. 207. Patrick Stephens Ltd, ISBN 0-85059-484-7
  22. ^ "Thorpe Camp". Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  23. ^ "RAF Woodhall Spa, Tattershall Thorpe". English Heritage. Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  24. ^ a b Halpenny, Bruce Barrymore, "The ghost dog of RAF Scampton", Lincolnshire Life (incomplete), May 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2010.
  25. ^ "Woodhall Spa". Lincolnshire County Council. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  26. ^ [2]CWGC Cemetery Record, Woodhall Spa Urban District.
  27. ^ "GENUKI". Kirkstead. GENUKI. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  28. ^ "Houses of Cistercian Monks". Kirkstead Abbey. Victoria County History. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  29. ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus Lincolnshire (The Buildings of England) p.881 ISBN 0-14-071027-2
  30. ^ Hembry, Phyllis May; Cowie, Leonard W; Cowie, Evelyn Elizabth (1997). British spas from 1815 to the present. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. p. 150. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  31. ^ "Woodhall Spa ManorHouse". Woodhall Spa Manor House. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  32. ^ a b "British Listed Buildings". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  33. ^ "Ancient Monuments". Ancient Monuments. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  34. ^ (Scheduling Report)
  35. ^ Simpson, W.D. (ed), 1960, _The building accounts of Tattershall Castle, 1434-1472_ (Lincoln Record Society 55) p. 39, 78 and note
  36. ^ Woodhall Spa - Leisure - The Kinema in the Woods
  37. ^ Cinema Treasures | Kinema in the Woods & Kinema Too
  38. ^ "Woodhall Spa Cricket Club". England & Wales Cricket Board. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  39. ^ Radio 4
  40. ^ "Jubilee Park Sold". Horncastle News. 22 December 2010. Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  41. ^ "This Is Lincolnshire". Lincolnshire Echo. 3 May 2011. Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  42. ^ "Jubilee Park Campsite". Uk Campsites. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  43. ^ a b "The Pinewoods". Woodland Trust. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  44. ^ a b "Golf Club". Woodhall Spa Website. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  45. ^ Womersley House details
  46. ^ a b "Woodhall Spa Golf Club". 2011 Council of National Golf Unions. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  47. ^ "Woodhall Spa". Todays Golfer Magazine. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  48. ^ a b "Viking Way". Long Distance Walkers Association. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  49. ^ "Visit Lincolnshire". The Spa Trail. Lincolnshire County Council. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  50. ^ "Water Rail Way". Sustrans. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  51. ^ a b c "Woodhall Spa Heritage". Woodhall Spa Heritage. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  52. ^ a b Cox, J. Charles (1916); Lincolnshire p. 343; Methuen & Co. Ltd.; Retrieved 28 April 2011
  53. ^ a b "Woodhall Spa Heritage". Woodhall Spa Heritage. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  54. ^ St Hugh's
  55. ^ "Lincolnshire Twinning Federation". Woodhall Spa. Lincolnshire Twinning Federation. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  56. ^ "Central Lincolnshire Vale" (PDF). Natural England. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  57. ^ "Flying Officer Ray Grayston" The Telegraph 28 April 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2011
  58. ^ "HARDIE, Michael John". Who's Who 2009. A & C Black. 2008. Retrieved 24 July 2009. 
  59. ^ "Lord Cheshire, World War II Hero Who Founded Homes for Sick, 74," The New York Times. 2 August 1992.
  60. ^ The London Gazette: no. 52608. p. 11147. 22 July 1991.
  61. ^ Adrian Tchaikovsky Retrieved 28 May 2011
  62. ^ "Comedy star goes back to school" Horncastle News 14 April 2006. Retrieved 28 May 2011

External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Woodhall Spa Airfield
  • Woodhall Spa Group of Parishes
  • Woodhall Spa Community Website
  • Lincolnshire PGA - Woodhall Spa Golf Glub
  • The Kinema In The Woods Official website
  • Aqua Sante Spa
  • The Woodhall Spa Hotel
  • Our Lady and St Peter Catholic Church website
  • St. Hugh's school Website
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