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Shell Guide to Lincolnshire – Spalding

By Jack Yates and Henry Thorold

Approx 1965

With Richard Wilson using the Shell Guides for his drive around England I thought it would be interesting to see what the Guide thought of Spalding. Much is still here but there have been a few changes along the way.

Spalding is a dignified market town built of old brick. It is the Welland that gives it its character and from early times brought it trade. Spalding has often been called a Dutch-like town, and this is true, for the river in a deep tidal channel runs through the centre like a road, houses lining the banks. The Dutch character has been accentuated during this century by the introduction of bulb growing. This started on a commercial basis towards the end of the last century; in 1900, 300 acres were under cultivation: in 1962 there are 6,000. The best way to see Spalding is to start in the Market Square and go down Bridge Street to the High Bridge, cross this and turn right past the picturesque White Horse Inn into Churchgate. From here you can drive or walk past a whole succession of architectural pleasures, all the time keeping an eye on the similar delights on the opposite bank that await you when you cross the bridge at the end of the street, and retrace your steps on the other side. First you have a glimpse of the parish church, next comes Ayscoughee Hall, originally Tudor but over-laid in 19th-century Gothick —once the home of the great Maurice Johnson and now a museum (keep your eye on the long garden wall here and don’t look across the river at the Odeon Cinema opposite). After Love Lane Churchgate becomes Cowbit Road, and No. 3 with its bow windows is worth looking at, as is Westbourne Lodge a little further along. Cross the river and retrace your steps on the other bank; you will soon come to the big red-brick house now occupied by the Spalding High School. Farther along, No. 34 has an iron door-case and canopy and — past the horror of the Odeon — is the quiet dignity of Welland Terrace, an

orderly early 19th-century row of town houses. Now if you will cross Bridge Street, and go down Double Street you can repeat the process along this stretch of the river: first you come to The Limes, an 18th-century brick house; then to another brick house next door — a big square block with a good door-case; soon you will come to the Friends’ Meeting House, built in 1805; all the time there are old warehouses on your right — before coming to one of the few 17th-century houses in Spalding – Willesby Hall, with its gables and mullion windows. A little farther on you can cross the river again, and come back down High Street, Here the houses are larger: Welland House, Cleyhall, and Yew Lodge — a good trio — before coming to the finest 18th-century house in Spalding, Holland House, designed by the Spalding architect William Sands in 1768. Plowman’s Warehouse is worth looking at and then you are at the corner of Church Street once more. There is a good row of buildings facing the parish church — notably the Parsonage with its handsome porch — and now the medieval church is upon you. It is nearly as wide as it is long. The original 13th-century church was cruciform with a bold tower and crocketed spire at the south-west corner. Second aisles were added in Perp. style, the nave lengthened (notice the great west window) and the elaborate north porch added with its fan vaulting. The only other ancient ecclesiastical building is the fragment of the Priory, to the south of the Market Place, converted into cottages. St John’s Church was built by R. J. Withers in 1875, and St Paul’s in 1880 by Sir Gilbert Scott. Externally this may appear frightening because of its glaring red brick, but it is a building of real grandeur, and its design inside, with its unusual feature of double arches for each span of the arcade, must surely be copied from Boxgrove Priory in Sussex. St Peter’s, 1875-6, is also by Sir Gilbert Scott. Other 19th-century buildings include the Sessions House (Tudor, by Charles Kirk of Sleaford. 1842), the Geest Social and Sports Club (Florentine, 1874) and the Johnson Hospital (Victorian, 1881). There are some pleasant 19th-century houses in Pinchbeck Road — also the Congregational Church (1821) and the Sunday School (1852). Nor should the office of Maples, the solicitors, in Chapel Lane be missed — with its cast-iron Gothick parapet. The learned Gentlemen’s Society was formed in 1710 by Maurice Johnson of, Ayscoughee Hall and among its many distinguished members it has numbered Newton, Pope, Addison, Stukeley and Hans Sloane. The Society still flourishes and its Museum in Broad Street is of local antiquarian interest. Ruins of the great Dec. Wykeham Chapel are north-east of the town.

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Welland Terrace