WOODHALL SPA

Situated on the southern end of the Lincolnshire Wolds, Woodhall Spa is a unique inland resort village. The centre which was developed in the 19th and early 20th centuries has provided a character palate on which much of the rest of the town is based. The town is highly thematic, with a strong character, which is the product of its first and most influential developer Richard Adolphus Came. His work clearly references the Arts and Crafts movement, Mock Tudor architecture, and also draws parallels from continental spa resorts. The village does not have a market centre, rather it possesses a single wide promenade which is lined by trees and shopping parades. The shops themselves are generally small and owned by independent retailers. Behind the street frontages, are the residential areas of the town, hotels, and the golf course which has been central to the viability of the settlement. The houses are set into larger than average plots contributing to the resort feel, furthermore the roads are also frequently planted with trees, continuing the aesthetic of the centre. Plantation woodland and some semi-natural ancient woodland borders much of the village, which is a draw for locals and visitors alike. 

There is an abundance of archaeology in the surrounding area, prehistoric monuments are recorded on all sides of the settlement, however, further investigation is required to confirm the character of a number of these features. Scattered finds provide further evidence of local activities and include a Bronze Age spear-head, Neolithic axes, a Bronze Age axe, Romano-British pottery, a Bronze Age sword and Mesolithic flints and flakes. Excavated evidence is recorded on Witham Road, including ditches containing pottery, slag, and a fired clay loom-weight, which indicates that a Roman settlement was likely extant locally. Roman settlement is also recorded in the wider area, however, there is only limited evidence from this period. One recorded monument, relates to a probable Romano-British field system. Romano-British ollae were also identified in nearby. Similarly, there is limited evidence for the early-medieval period within the parish boundary. During the medieval period, Kirkstead Abbey was an important religious centre in the area and was connected to several abbeys within the Witham Valley. The abbey was founded in the 12th century and was in operation until the 16th century, when Kirkstead and several adjacent abbeys were accused of supporting the Lincolnshire uprising, and subsequently closed as part of the sweeping religious reforms which took place across the country. Following the dissolution in the 16th century, the abbey and its lands was granted to Sir Charles Brandon, who incorporated the site into a large hunting park. The Tower on the Moor had been built as part of the hunting park by Ralph, Lord Cromwell in the 15th century. In the 18th century the area was enclosed as part of Parliamentary Enclosure, dividing the landscape into smaller fields.

The town began to emerge as a resort in the 19th century following a failed coal exploration which instead hit mineralised water. The presence of the water inspired Tomas Hotchkin to build a spa in 1839, and the facilities were enhanced throughout the rest of the century. In the late 19th century, Architect, Richard Adolphus Came influenced the design and development of the village, and is largely responsible for its architectural style which draws heavily from the Garden City Movement. The streets are wide and tree-lined which is a distinctive design feature of the resort village. In the early 20th century, the spa continued to prosper and the town grew, with new residential roads constructed to the south. Large houses were built for fashionable residents and subsequently turned into hotels. During the Second World War many of the houses and hotels in the village were repurposed for military uses. This left an impression on Woodhall Spa, with many wartime themes recognisable around the village including information boards and events. The spa declined in the late 20th century; however the village has managed to preserve its resort feel, which has been sustained by the golf course. In 2020, work commenced on the former spa buildings, with some of the structures being restored as part of possible holiday accommodation. Woodhall Spa has expanded greatly in the late 20th century with several new roads and avenues constructed on the edges of the settlement (the name ‘streets’ was disallowed by the Syndicate, a rule which is maintained into the 21st century).

Character summary:

 

The overall character of the village is a highly thematic woodland village, characterised by red brick, timber weather-boarding and over-fired brick. Tree-lined roads and wide avenues are also a key feature. HUCA 1—The village core, is the commercial, recreational, civic and religious centre of the settlement. The buildings, which are mainly public focussed, vary between 1 and 2 storeys and were built in the 19th and 20th centuries usually in red brick. Timber boarding and over-fired (sometimes called clinker) brick are a common feature and were a favoured design technique of the first architect Richard Adolphus Came. HUCA 2 represents the growth of the village which has taken place in the 20th and 21st centuries. New roads and housing estates have been constructed around the settlement with their character reflecting that of the centre with many new roads having an above average number of trees and timber weatherboarding on houses being a common feature. However, some of this style reflects national trends rather than that of the historic core and is therefore not in keeping with the dominant character of the village. Kirkstead, was incorporated into the village in 1987, and, until recently, it was divided from Woodhall Spa by fields, however, development along Witham Road has connected the two settlements. Despite this, it still has its own character, it is residential with many of the houses dating from the 19th and 20th centuries and largely focussed around Mill Road. HUCA 4 is characterised by woodland, a golf course, and arable. Much of the woodland is plantation, however a section is categorised as ancient woodland. The Tower on the Moor dates to the 15th century and is a remnant of the former hunting landscape. The village is surrounded by agriculture, which characterises HUCA 5. This character area comprises arable fields, bounded by hedges and sparse field trees. The field pattern largely dates to the post-medieval period when the land was enclosed, however it is also heavily influenced by the medieval period with Kirkstead Abbey as a key feature in the area.

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