2016 was a busy and exciting year for Heritage Lincolnshire. You can read all about it in our Annual Report that reviews our achievements during our 25th anniversary year.
In September we organised our biggest Lincolnshire Heritage Open Days festival ever, on the theme of natural heritage. Over 21,000 people took part in one of more than 180 free events, exploring fascinating historic places, from the medieval Brown’s Hospital in Stamford to the unique Blow Wells at Barton upon Humber. Making our programme this year the biggest outside of London.
Our walking festivals also provided people with another incentive to get out and discover the county’s rich and varied landscapes. The Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival attracted more than 4,000 visitors this year, and raised £1,200 in donations. There were 113 walks led by dedicated volunteers across the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The South Lincolnshire Walking Festival was held for the second time this year, with 1,500 people taking part in 80 walks across North and South Kesteven, Boston and South Holland.
In March we were delighted to be awarded a development grant from the HLF to launch our campaign to save the Old King’s Head at Kirton near Boston. This fine brick inn dating back to 1599 has been acquired by the Trust in order to secure its future. Since then our team have been working with coordinators Greenwoods and conservation architects Rodney Melville & Partners to carry out structural surveys and the assess repairs needed. Our archaeologists have also been busy recording its structure and researching its complex history.
In June we celebrated the commitment of our volunteers as the Lincolnshire Heritage at Risk project drew to a close. Begun back in 2010 this truly vast undertaking has seen us train 391 volunteers as heritage stewards, and with their help we have been able to record the condition of 12,341 heritage assets across the county’s 2,687 square miles. These assets include everything from listed buildings, to parks and gardens and archaeological sites. This unparalleled information on the state of Lincolnshire’s heritage gives the county a unique opportunity to help protect it today for future generations.
We are now recruiting a heritage at risk solutions officer, who will work with Historic England to help owners and community groups to save those most at risk, not just here in Lincolnshire but sharing our skills across the East Midlands.
It has also been a record year for our education work. One thousand young people at schools and colleges across the county had the chance to find out more about local history with our education & outreach officer. Students took part in hands-on workshops about subjects as varied as prehistoric Lincolnshire, spinning wool, and the legacy of the Romans.
Adults haven’t missed out either with 265 people taking one of our lifelong learning courses led by our specialist staff. We also began a new partnership with the Heritage Skills Centre at Lincoln Castle, which means we can offer courses in historic crafts like willow weaving, and skills like lime plastering to help learners care for historic buildings. We are grateful to Lincolnshire County Council who fund these courses as part of their Grow programme.
We continue to share our expertise to help advise and support community groups care for the county’s historic building. This year has been no exception. We have worked with Spalding Gentlemen’s Society to develop plans to secure the future of their museum and its antiquarian collections. We have also helped St Andrew’s Church in Heckington and St Clement’s Church in Grainthorpe to develop their bid’s to the Heritage Lottery Fund. Our staff have worked as project officers to help engage the local community in the development phase of a project to restore and reorder St Peter & St Paul’s Church in Algarkirk. At Holbeach we have helped the town’s Cemetery Chapels Trust to recruit and train their first employee, who is now assisting with their project. Whilst in the north of the county we have worked on a commission for All Saint’s Church in Winterton, producing resources for schools to help them realise the building’s potential for teaching, not just for history or RE, but maths, science and English.
All of the historic sites in our care have held events this year as part of our 25th anniversary celebrations. Back in the spring volunteers joined us to plant new trees at Tupholme Abbey, and 310 people took part in our family dragon egg hunt at Bolingbroke Castle. In summer 31 people joined us at Tattershall College for a tour of the village and its castle. During HODs in September 52 visitors took the chance to descend into our Cold War bunker at Holbeach. During the South Lincolnshire Walking Festival 40 visitors were treated to a tour of Hussey Tower, with the finale attracting over 250 people to Temple Bruer for our annual Halloween event.
As part of our anniversary celebrations we also organised a community test pit project in Heckington, the village where have been based for 24 of our 25 years. We trained 60 school children and 44 local residents to dig test pits across the village. There was even a visit from BBC Radio 4’s Making History programme who spoke to some of our volunteers about their experiences. We also put on a special anniversary celebration at the Heckington Show, with a marquee full of exhibits and activities to highlight the charity’s achievements in its first quarter century.