Woodhall Spa

Woodhall Spa

infobox UK place
country = England
official_name= Woodhall Spa
latitude= 53.1515
longitude= -0.2183
map_type= Lincolnshire
os_grid_reference= TF196631
population = 3,657 (2001 census)
shire_district= East Lindsey
shire_county = Lincolnshire
region= East Midlands
postcode_district= LN10
postcode_area= LN
dial_code= 01526

Woodhall Spa is a civil parish and village in the East Lindsey district of Lincolnshire, England about 10 km ("6 miles") south-west of Horncastle.


Woodhall Spa came into existence as the result of the sinking of a trial coal shaft by John Parkinson of Bolingbroke in 1821. Attempts to find coal in the local Jurassic shales had been made since about 1811-12 as the surface soils indicated that coal might be present. No coal was found and after digging and boring to a depth of 368 m the shaft was abandoned. The miners had encountered fissure of saline water at 159 m depth and eventually the shaft filled with water and overflowed into a ditch; it was noticed that cattle drinking from the ditch were cured of their ailments and since it was considered that what was good for animals must be good for people too.

The reputation of the curative properties spread and by 1839, the then Lord of the Manor, Thomas Hotchkin, had built a pump room, bathhouse and hotel, later caller the 'Victoria Hotel', and had the water analysed. The water was found to contain six times more iodine and bromine than any other known mineral water. The coming of the railways in 1855 brought increasing popularity and an elegant spa town with hotels and guest houses on wide tree-lined avenues, largely designed by Adolphus Came, grew up around the original facilities. The Victoria Hotel and the Spa Baths were greatly modified by the Syndicate, a group of investors including the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Iddesleigh, in 1887. Much of the village's Victorian elegance remains, but times changed, the railway closed down, the use of the baths declined over the years and finally closed when the well collapsed in 1983; however Woodhall Spa still remains a popular holiday and retirement resort today.

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'.

One of the earliest hotels to be built in the village, 'The Woodhall Spa Hotel', formally the 'Eagle Lodge Hotel', which opened in 1882, survives today.

In 2006, the owners of 'The Golf Hotel' recreated the history of Woodhall spa by opening a new day spa called the 'Aqua Sante Spa' with the exact bromine & iodine content in its water as in the original waters.

The Pinewoods

The Pinewoods, a 7.8 ha woodland owned by the Woodland Trust, was originally scrub land which was later incorporated into the grounds of the Victoria Hotel. It lies at the heart of the village and has long been a big attraction for visitors, particularly in the spring when the daffodils and rhododendrons are in flower.

The Kinema in the Woods

The Kinema in the Woods situated in the centre of the Pinewoods is one of the treasures of Woodhall Spa and is completely unique. Housed in a converted cricket pavilion, when it opened in 1922 it was one of the first cinemas in Britain. It is the only cinema in the country to employ back projection [ [http://www.woodhallspa.org/leisure_kinema.html Woodhall Spa - Leisure - The Kinema in the Woods ] ] [ [http://cinematreasures.org/theater/6373/ Cinema Treasures | Kinema in the Woods & Kinema Too ] ] and also offers regular entertainment on an original Compton Captain Organ.

Jubilee Park

Jubilee Park, opened in 1937, lies adjacent to the Pinewoods and offers a facility that was fairly common once, but is rare today, a heated outdoor swimming pool. The park also offers tennis courts, a bowling green, children’s playground, cafe and cricket ground, reputed to be one of the largest and finest in Lincolnshire, home to Woodhall Spa Cricket Club.

Golf and Woodhall Spa Golf Club

Golf it could be argued is one of the main industries of Woodhall Spa with the first course of 9 holes being opened in 1890. This flourished until 1895 when the land that the course was built on was required for building. A new site was hurriedly found and another 9 hole golf course was laid out. By 1902 it became clear that the golf course would have to find another new home as the land was required for the expansion of the spa town once again.

Local landowner, Stafford Vere Hotchkin, offered a sandy tract of land off the Horncastle Road for the building of an 18 hole course. The course opened for play on 24 April 1905 and has come to be rated as one of the finest golf courses in the world, with the Golf Magazine of America rating it the world’s 43rd best golf course.

The English Golf Union bought the course in 1995 in order to set up a National Golf Centre. The Union also secured enough land to build a second course and to provide extensive practice facilities. The second course, ‘the Bracken’, opened for play in 1998 alongside the original course, now named ‘the Hotchkin’.

The Tower-on-the-Moor

The Tower-on-the-Moor, a four storeys high red brick built tower, is the stair turret of what is believed to have been a hunting lodge built in the mid C15 for Ralph, Lord Cromwell whose fortified house, Tattershall Castle, was located 6 km ("4 miles") to the south. It is known that the tower was partly demolished in the latter part of the 15th century to provide brick for repairs to Tattershall Castle. One of the older local roads in Woodhall Spa, Tor-O-Moor Road is named after the tower.

=The Viking Way=

The Viking Way passes through the centre of the village which has proved to be a popular overnight stopping point for walkers on the 235 km ("147 miles") long long-distance footpath.

The Second World War

The Second World War saw Woodhall Spa’s two main hotels, ‘The Golf Hotel’ and ‘The Petwood Hotel’ ("so called because it was originally built at the turn of the last century as a house for Lady Weigall who had it constructed in her favourite wood, her "pet wood") requisitioned for the RAF, an airfield built to the south of the village, RAF Woodhall Spa and the Pinewoods used to hide military equipment.

At the end of WWII the hotels returned to their normal use, the Pinewoods became once again a place for the quiet enjoyment of nature and in 1964 RAF Woodhall Spa closed for operational uses although it is still owned by the Ministry of Defence and is used mainly for jet engine testing. A fine memorial to members of the famous 617 Squadron, the Dam Busters, stands at the crossroads in the centre of the village.

Woodhall Spa and Rail

In 1846 the Great Northern rail company purchased the land to build a 58 mile rail link from Peterborough to Lincoln via Spalding and Boston with the Boston to Lincoln section being built along the banks of the River Witham. Works commenced in 1847 and when finished a year later the Kirkstead Station, later to be renamed the Woodhall Junction, was one of seven between Lincoln and Boston. To the north were Stixwould, Southery and Bardney and to the south were Tattershall, Dogdyke and Langrick.

A branch of the line, the Horncastle Branch, from the Woodhall Junction to Horncastle was opened on the 11th August 1855 and transported the gentry into the heart of Woodhall where they could easily get to the hotels and public attractions. The line also provided a better means of transport for goods being transported to and from Horncastle than the River Bain.

The line closed along with the rest of the Boston to Lincoln line in 1971 and demolition of the Woodhall Spa Station came soon after although some of the Woodhall Junction buildings still exist and are in private use.

After the track was removed the land was sold off to various land owners, mostly local farmers, but some has been used to recently create a paved walk and cycle path, called The Water Rail Way, from Kirkstead to Lincoln. As of summer 2007 it is almost completed with only a small section by Bardney yet to be finished.

The course of the Horncastle Branch to Horncastle has also been turned into a bridleway, The Spa Trail, allowing for a save journey to Horncastle that is used by 15,000 people a year.

Kirkstead Bridge

Kirkstead Bridge spans the River Witham at Kirkstead carrying the B1191 from Woodhall west towards Martin. It was built in the 1960s to replace a swing bridge which in turn replaced a ferry which operated until the early 20th century.


The more ancient parish of Kirkstead amalgamated with Woodhall Spa in the early 1980s thus formalising what was already a reality. Kirkstead is the western part of Woodhall Spa between the village centre and the River Witham. It has its origins in a Cistercian abbey ("the name Kirkstead means "the site of a church" ") founded in 1139 by Hugh Brito, lord of Tattershall and originally colonised by an abbot and twelve monks from Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire, it was around this abbey that the little hamlet of Kirkstead grew.

The abbey remained in existence until 1537, when the abbey was dissolved and Richard Harrison ("the last Abbot") and three of his monks were executed by Henry VIII following their implication ("probably unjustly") in the Lincolnshire Rising of the previous year.

The land passed to the Duke of Suffolk and later to Clinton, Earl of Lincoln, who built a large country house. By 1791 that too had gone and all that remains today is a dramatic crag of masonry - a fragment of the south transept wall of the abbey church and the earthworks of the vast complex of buildings that once surrounded it.

The church of St. Leonard's Without. ("outside the gates of the Abbey") stands in a field by the side of the ruins of the abbey. Built between 1230 and 1240 it is an excellent example of the Early English style. Measuring only 12.8 m by 5.8 m it is up to “Cathedral standards” and may well have been built as a chantry chapel in memory of Robert de Tattershall who died in 1212. In use for many years as a church, it closed in 1877 ("when the Presbyterian were evicted") and from 1883 the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings fought to save it from total decay. Eventually during 1913 and 1914 it was restored by the architect Weir.

Kirkstead remained an isolated hamlet until the opening of the Lincoln to Boston railway line. The arrival of the railways spelled the end of Kirkstead’s isolation and eventually of Kirkstead itself as Woodhall Spa’s increasing popularity, which came with the increasing ease of travel, led it to expand outwards into Kirkstead parish until it reached the banks of the River Witham.

Notable Residents

Dom Ashton from the disco group :Kinema: grew up in Woodhall Spa, and named his band after the Kinema in the Woods

ee also

* Kirkstead
** Kirkstead Abbey
** Kirkstead Bridge
** St. Leonard's Without
* Lincolnshire
* Local Places:
** Horncastle
** Coningsby and Tattershall
** Bardney
* River Witham
* The Sewer


External links

* [http://www.woodhallspa.org Woodhall Spa Community Website]
* [http://www.thekinemainthewoods.co.uk The Kinema In The Woods Official website]
* [http://www.aquasante.co.uk Aqua Sante Spa - Home of the Woodhall Spa Waters]
* [http://www.hobyhotels.com The Woodhall Spa Hotel]
* [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/woodhallspafreecycle/ Woodhall Spa Freecycle Group]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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