Up in the Lincolnshire Wolds, which is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty there is an area where one of our greatest poets grew up. Somersby where he was born is not even a village , just a straggle of properties opposite the small church where Tennyson’s father was rector. Tennyson was born in the Georgian Rectory in 1809, the fourth of 12 children. These days it is a private house and stands next to Somersby Grange, a castellated manor house. A couple of years ago I got the chance to go on a Tennyson Walk and therefore was able to visit the grounds of the Rectory and Harrington Hall. Harrington Hall was not far from Somersby and Tennyson visited often. He was hopelessly infatuated with its tenant’s ward Rosa Baring and his poem Maud was inspired by his love for her. His poem The Brook was also inspired by the small river that runs through the village. There is also an interesting church at nearby Bag Enderby where Tennyson’s father was also rector. The whole area is a great spot for walking and there a good selection of pubs to try out nearby.
If you visit Lincoln look out for the statue of Tennyson in the grounds of the Cathedral.
Lincolnshire is known as Bomber County because of the sheer number of RAF bases that were built there during World War Two. Lincolnshire was an ideal spot for these because of the flat landscape (suitable for airfields) and its position which made Germany a not too distant target.
This month I have got the chance to visit all the important aviation sites in Lincolnshire to look around and take photographs because I have a commission to write about them in a national newspaper to link in with 2018 being the Centenary year of the RAF.
I have already visited the Petwood Hotel in Woodhall Spa which was used as the Officers Mess of the Dambusters and is full of memorabilia. I shall be posting on this blog about this and all my other visits. (Most of them are open to the public at certain times so you will be able to visit them too!)
Gunby Hall near Spilsby is well worth a visit. It is a National Trust property and as well as being very interesting historically the gardens are beautiful especially in the summer
Tennyson who was a frequent visitor to Gunby Hall as it was not far from his parents home in Somersby. He penned the lines
…an English home -gray twilight pour’d
On dewy pastures,dewy trees
Softer than sleep -all things in order stored
A haunt of ancient peace.
These lines are allegedly composed by Tennyson with Gunby Hall in mind.
The Massingberds who had the Gunby estate were a normal family of country squires until Algernon Massing Massingberd nicknamed “Naughty Algernon” gambled away a great deal of their money and subsequently disappeared up the Amazon and was never seen again. They did have some interesting friends, some who visited Gunby. These included Bonnie Prince Charlie, Dr Johnson, Charles Darwin,the Wedgewoods, the Pre-Raphaelites, Rudyard Kipling, Edward Lear, Virginia Woolf and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Life went on peacefully at Gunby until the Second World War when the house and park were threatened with demolition by the air Ministry as they were thought to be in the path of an aerodrome extension. The squire of the day Field-Marshall Sir Archibald Montgomery-Massingberd campaigned vigourously against . In 1944 Gunby Hall and most of its contents and 1,423 acres of land were presented to the National trust to secure their future for posterity.
Market Rasen is a small market town on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds. It is probably best known for its National Hunt Racecourse which holds meetings throughout the year. I have spent many a chilly Boxing Day there enjoying the racing and getting some fresh air after the excesses of Christmas Day! Another claim to fame is the fact that Bernie Taupin, who wrote most of Elton Johns songs, grew up here. in fact it is claimed that the song ” Saturday night’s alright for fighting” was inspired by his experiences in the local pubs and dance halls.
Not far from Market Rasen is Tealby , a lovely little village where you can start a walk which leads you through Walesby to Normanby -Le-Wold which is the highest village in Lincolnshire. We did this walk one hot August Bank holiday and were thrilled when we came across the award winning flock of Lincoln Longwool sheep at Risby. In a small wooden building next to the field of sheep is a honesty box shop full of sheep related products, cold drinks and locally made ice cream. Refreshed you can then carry on to Walesby where you can visit the Ramblers Church and admire the stained glass window depicting Jesus walking with ramblers and cyclists. Back in Tealby you can rest your weary legs and visit the oldest thatched pub in Lincolnshire, The Kings Head and have a well deserved drink and a meal. If you want to know more about this lovely area and the walk you can visit my website http://www.janekeightley.net where you can read an article I had published in Country Walking magazine about it.