Spalding, Lincolnshire

Spalding, Lincolnshire

Spalding is a bustling Georgian Market Town set around the picturesque River Welland and situated within the South Lincolnshire Fens. It is the largest town within the South Holland district with Holbeach, Long Sutton, Crowland and Sutton Bridge being the other main towns. Known as The Heart of the Fens, Spalding is famous as a centre of the bulb industry, and has close links with the Netherlands (origin of the Geest family, who were former major local employers).

The annual Tulip Parade takes place on the first Saturday in May, and is a major tourist attraction, comprising a procession of floats on various themes, each decorated with tulip petals. In years when the tulips are late, daffodils or hyacinths are sometimes used in their place. When the tulips are early, crepe paper has to be substituted. The flower industry has, however, become less important in recent years, and the bands of bright colours that covered the fenland are now essentially gone.

Spalding has a long history. Excavations at Wygate Park have shown that there has been occupation in this area from at least the Roman period, when this part of Lincolnshire was used for the production of salt to which it was suited, being a coastal siltland. At Wygate Park, salt making seems to have come to an end by the mid 3rd century. During the late 9th century Northumbria was absorbed by the Danes who then swept south into the Kingdom of Mercia and Spalding endured Viking rule. Early in the 11th century, long after the routing of the Danes by the Saxons, the Benedictine Priory was founded by Thorold de Bokenhale and, later that century, the town was recorded in the Domesday book as Spallinge.

During the late 13th century work began on the Church of St Mary and St Nicolas. With strong French and Norman influence, this medieval building was completed during the early years of the following century. Cruciform in shape, with an aisled nave and six bays, aisled transepts of two bays and a bell tower. Restoration and improvements came throughout the 14th-19th centuries with 20th century work including modern stained glass, the decoration of the chancel ceiling, the opening of a shop and a visitor centre, and a vestry on the south side of the chancel. The church is open every day and everyone is welcome to visit this delightful historical building.

Modern Spalding is a vibrant and easily accessible town with nearly 2,000 parking spaces and offering over 200 shops and businesses with a natural blend of local independent and major national outlets. It has a population of twenty eight thousand and also has a thriving café culture with a European atmosphere. A notable shopping area is Springfields Outlet Shopping Centre and, when you have finished with the tills and the deals there is the Springfields Festival Gardens, a beautifully landscaped area, featuring Chelsea-style celebrity showcase gardens, including designs by Charlie Dimmock, Chris Beardshaw, Kim Wilde and Steven Woodhams, and a spectacular Japanese Garden by Sansui Design.

Other notable attractions at Spalding include the South Holland Centre, a busy arts centre, theatre, cinema and venue for all manner of fun and creative activities. There is also the Ayscoughfee Hall Museum & Gardens, a medieval town house on the banks of the River Welland. Built during the 15th century by Richard Alwyn, a wool merchant, it now houses the Ayscoughfee Hall Museum and is certainly worth a visit. And also the Gordon Boswell Romany Museum, featuring a truly fine display of Romany horse-drawn Vardos (caravans), carts and harness.

Spalding is quite a special part of Lincolnshire and most definitely worth visiting numerous times.