The History of Woodhall Spa
“Woodhall Spa is a beautiful resort with an Edwardian character, set amidst magnificent pine woods. It was designed to provide an elegant and spacious community in a woodland setting, and still provides that ambience today.”
The mineral waters of Woodhall Spa were recognised in the first part of the 19th century for their healing properties rich in iodine and bromine especially for ailments such as gout and arthritis. By 1834 a bath house had been built and by 1860 Woodhall Spa was a major Spa complex with many hotels and other services. This brought visitors from all over the world who flocked here to take the healing waters. In its Edwardian heyday, the cream of society including royalty visited Woodhall Spa arriving by train along the branch line which ran right through to the centre of the Spa.
There’s not much to see of the old Spa these days as it stands dilapidated next to the Kinema. However, there are rumours that someone has bought it with the intention of transforming it back into a spa! If this happens it will be an amazing special feature for Woodhall Spa! Watch this space!
Things to do in and around Woodhall Spa
Walk around the town and visit the tearooms and shops. Don’t forget the Delicatessen down the Broadway, the Dambuster memorial at the roundabout and the timbered toilets! Pop into the Tourist Information office at the Cottage Museum and ask for leaflets about walks around the village.
The Kinema in the Woods. No visit to Woodhall is complete without a visit to the Kinema. It started its life as a sports and entertainment pavilion dating from the late 19th Century. The pavilion sat in the grounds of The Victoria Hotel, looking over tennis courts, croquet lawns and gardens, until The Victoria Hotel burnt down on Easter Sunday. The pavilion was transformed into a cinema which opened its doors in September 1922. It was known as ‘The Flicks in the Sticks’ during the Second World War. Today, with its unique rear projection and the opening of a second screen in 1994, you can catch all the latest movies, as well as some classics. Not only is it a great atmosphere to watch a film, but it’s also great to have an interval, have your icecream and watch and listen as Mr Underwood plays lively songs on the Compton organ which appears up through the floor and then disappears again at the end of the interval (generally on Friday and Saturday nights).
Woodhall Spa Cottage Museum – a must for visitors! There’s a Tourist info bit but the rest of the museum has recently been updated and now has an up-to-date exhibition illustrating the rich history of the town through photographs and memorabilia. The building which houses the Museum is in itself an interesting historic artefact, being a rare Victorian corrugated iron bungalow. Programme of special events throughout the year.
The Petwood Hotel – a lovely place and so full of history! Amongst the visitors who came here was wealthy heiress Baroness Grace van Eckhardstein who was later responsible for having a large house built in the “Tudor to Jacobean” style in her favourite woodland – the ‘pet wood’, complete with “elaborate oak features” such as the beautiful hand-carved staircase visitors admire to this day. When she married again in 1910 to politician Sir Archibald Weigall the house became an important social meeting place and many were entertained in style here – from aristocrats and MPs to music hall stars and sporting greats. The house became a hotel in 1933. A long list of famous people have stayed at the Petwood over the years. Perhaps the most famous royal was King George VI. Prince Charles has also been a guest. The hotel building served as a military hospital for injured soldiers during the Great War. It also played an important role in the Second World War when it became home to the legendary RAF 617 “Dambusters” Squadron, a top secret group entrusted with the task of crippling three key German Dams utilising an ingenious “Bouncing Bomb” designed by engineer Barnes Wallis. Today, the Squadron Bar hosts a range of memorabilia and tributes to Guy Gibson VC, Leonard Cheshire VC and their Officers. Guy Gibson, the Squadron’s heroic young Wing Commander, carried out over 170 raids by the age of 24. Just two years later he was killed in action. There’s also part of a bouncing bomb in the car park!
Jubilee Park – Why not swim in this outdoor heated pool? A great destination with or without kids! There’s also a playground and picnic area, bowling, croquet, tennis and cycle hire. And there’s some really fascinating history here as well.
Other things to Do – Just out of Woodhall Spa is Kirkstead Abbey and St Leonard’s Church. The Abbey, founded in 1139 by the lord of Tattershall, was originally colonised by an Abbot and twelve monks from Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire. The abbey remained in existence until 1537, when it was dissolved and the last Abbot and three of his monks were executed by King Henry VIII following their implication (probably unjustly) in the Lincolnshire Rising. 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 (thus named as it was 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. After many centuries use as a church, it closed in 1877, when a Presbyterian congregation was 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.
On the road leading out of Woodhall Spa towards Old Woodhall (ie the real and original Woodhall!) is the Wellington Monument standing in front of Waterloo Wood, an oak woodland grown from acorns sown after the famous battle of 1815. Erected in 1844 by Col. Richard Elmhurst it is a Grade II Listed granite obelisk, 36 feet high, on a base surmounted by a bust of the Duke of Wellington. An inscribed panel on the base records that the adjacent Waterloo Wood was planted “from Acorns Sown Immediately after the Memorable Battle of Waterloo”.
You can walk or cycle the Water Rail Way from Kirkstead Bridge to Lincoln (or from Langrick Bridge to Boston) following the River Witham on the disused Lincoln to Boston railway line. Along the way, you can spot sculptures inspired by all that is great about Lincolnshire. Or you can walk or cycle the Spa Trail which now goes all the way from Woodhall Spa to Horncastle. Loads of sculptures along this disused railway line too plus information boards with interesting historical facts.
You can play Golf! Two top-class golf courses in Woodhall Spa. More information on their websites.
There are several small Nature Reserves near Woodhall Spa which are all are worth a visit. Just for a peaceful walk or for enthusiasts there is plenty of wildlife to watch out for. Reserves include Moor Farm near Kirkby on Bain, Roughton Moor Wood just outside Woodhall, Kirkby Moor between Woodhall and Tattershall Thorpe and Kirkby Gravel Pits at Tattershall Thorpe.
Other bits and bobs – If you’re here in May (around the 17th) you can go to the Woodhall Spa Agricultural Show which is held every year behind Jubilee Park – it’s great fun. Or why not join the Lincolnshire Regency Festival at the beginning of May? Or if you’re here in July there is now the Woodhall Spa 1940’s Festival. Every year it gets better.
What people say about us
After months planning a wedding, this has been the perfect relaxing honeymoon we were after. The entire week has been wonderful...
The Hayloft is simply beautiful, so peaceful & cosy. We spent the days visiting Woodhall Spa and walking and the nights drinking wine by the log burner playing board games, not to mention soaking in that AMAZING bath!!!
The Bothy was such a lovely place to 'chill' and relax! Thank you for making our stay a home from home, with all little extra touches added in! The first night dinner was super and the crumble was amazing!!
Wow - what an amazing time we have had. Stumbled across this gem on tripadvisor and you deserve all of the praise you get & more!
Wow, what a place! Stephen and I needed a hideaway for a few nights, which would be like a home from home, and we found it with you. What taste you have Sherry, it was like living in 'Country Living Magazine'!
We have made the Hayloft our annual treat to escape and chill. This is our 4th visit now and each time we love it more.
Practically Perfect in Every Way... Thank you.
From a bottle of wine to bath robes - we really could not have wanted for anything else! The highlight might have been the bath - it was amazing!!!! The Bothy really and truly exceeded our expectations and we could not have imagined how delightful a stay it could be!
The Bothy is quiet, cosy and quirky.
Our third here at the Bothy (and 3 times in the Hayloft!); a wonderful few days of autumn sunshine. Walks on the Fens, the Wolds and along the beach. The garden here is a perfect sun trap, warm enough to enjoy breakfast each morning. I love the warmth and distinctive smell here - it will keep bringing us back to the perfect place for recovery. Thank you, as always... PS The flowers were beautiful!