On Saturday 14th August 2012 thirty people went by coach to the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre in the morning and Tattershall Castle (National Trust) in the afternoon. During a period of prolonged wet weather we managed to escape with a light shower and even enjoyed sitting in the sunshine at Tattershall.
The Aviation Heritage Centre is situated near East Kirkby on the way to Spilsby. The museum is owned and operated by two brothers who lost their elder brother Pilot Officer Christopher Panton in World War Two. It is on an actual Second World War airfield, and is conceived as a memorial to the brother and all the other 55,000 aircrew of Bomber Command, who lost their lives in that war.
The centrepiece of the museum is the Lancaster bomber, one of only three in the world that can still move under its own power. At times there are ‘taxi rides’ in it, but they are fully booked to May 2013. The cost is £248 a head and the plane stays on the ground. We saw a collection of other aircraft, vintage vehicles, the original Barnes Wallis Bouncing Bomb and war- time buildings, such as the original Control Tower. There is an award-winning museum about escape and evasion, a memorial chapel, and a home front exhibition (home guard, gas masks, air raid shelters, etc.), which brought back distant memories for some of our more senior members.
Most people chose to use the NAAFI for lunch and were relieved not to need a ration book. Nor were they required to eat spam, powdered egg and Pom mashed potato. We spent three hours at the site and some members thought they needed more time at this most interesting museum.
We then moved on to brick-built Tattershall Castle, which was started in 1434 on the site of several previous ones. The owner was Ralph Cromwell, who was Lord Treasurer to King Henry VI. It was constructed as a statement of authority rather than a defensive site. The building had become very dilapidated by the early 20th century, but was saved from demolition in 1911 by Lord Curzon. There are six floors and it was an incentive to our members to be reminded that in the 15th century only Cromwell and his immediate family were allowed to go up the 149 steps to the top floor. The lower orders stayed firmly on the ground floor if they were allowed in the building at all. We had time to visit the adjacent Tattershall parish church, also built by Ralph Cromwell in Perpendicular Gothic style. It is a splendid building with surviving medieval stained glass in the east window.
Also very welcome were the cups of tea and cakes served in the spacious nave.