Spalding is a warm and charming Georgian town in the Lincolnshire Fens - standing astride the River Welland, in an area of reclaimed marshland.
It is here that bulb growers and market gardeners raise outstanding crops in the Fen's legendary rich fertile soil. During springtime the surrounding area is carpeted in a glorious blaze of colour, with fields of hyacinths, daffodils and tulips; comparable in splendour to the bulb fields of Holland.
The town is an interesting place to stroll around. It hosts many charming 18th-c buildings, covering a network of streets along both banks of the river, which is spanned by seven bridges. One of the oldest and most interesting buildings is the restored Ayscoughfee Hall, located on the Welland's eastern bank. Set in beautiful gardens, it is now open to the public as a park and museum.
A path runs along both sides of the river providing a popular circular walk. Near High Bridge is the Chain Bridge Forge Museum, an early 19th-c blacksmith's workshop offering metalworking demonstrations and guided tours.
Spalding has several good church buildings, the best of which is the late 13th-c Church of St Mary and Nicholas, located adjacent to Ayscoughfee Hall. The nave has a magnificent angel-carved hammerbeam roof and unusual double aisles.
Until recently (2012), the town held a spectacular Flower Festival in May, with a glorious parade of flower adorned floats, showcasing the local bulb growers achievements. Springfield Festival Gardens, a purpose built garden and events centre (just to the north of the town) now hosts a less spectacular version of the festival, plus many other events throughout the year.
During the summer months a water taxi runs from the town bridge to the Springfields Outlet Shopping and Festival Gardens. It floats along the leafy outskirts of the town via the River Welland and Coronation Channel. The more adventurous can hire a self-drive boat for a fuller waterway's experience, affording beautiful views of the river and its luscious countryside.
A spectacular 100ft stone built windmill can be visited to the northeast of the town, in the village of Moulton. The tallest surviving windmill in England. Tearooms and a mill shop are open to the public at weekends.
These beautiful gardens, located to the north east of the town, cover 25 acres of lawns and water features, designed to showcase millions of bulbs in the spring. In summer the bulbs are superseded by roses and flowering shrubs and in the autumn by the Dahlia Collection. Visitors can walk along sign-posted trails that weave through woodland scenery to a lake and a kitchen garden. A garden centre, restaurants and shopping outlet are also located in the grounds.
The gardens are host to many annual flower festivals and events.
Opening times: Mon to Fri 10am - 6pm, Sat 9am - 6pm, Sun 11am - 5pm. Admission Free
Location: Sign posted from A16 Spalding By-pass. PE12 6EU
This magnificent Grade II listed medieval hall dates from around 1451 and houses a museum of social history. Among other displays is a permanent exhibit honouring the explorer and oceanographer Captain Matthew Flinders. The hall's mellow stone and graceful lines are complemented by well-kept lawns enclosed by yew hedges and a water garden.
Opening times: Wed - Sun and B.H. 10.30am - 4pm.
Location: Churchgate, Spalding, Lincolnshire PE11 2RA
Founded by Maurice Johnson of Ayscoughfee Hall in 1710, as a forum for local gentleman to discourse about antiquities. It is the oldest museum in Britain with the exception of Oxford's Ashmolean. Notable past members include Sir Isaac Newton, Alfred Lord Tennyson and Alexander Pope.
The museum is generally closed to the public apart from annual open day's as part of National Heritage Events.
Opening times: special events or guided tours by appointment only.
Location: 9 Broad Street, Spalding
Tel: 01775 724658
Large collection of traditional restored Romany horse-drawn Vardos (caravans) and other Romany artifacts. Plus a collection of photographs dating back more than 150 years. Tours include a 7 mile drive in an authentic Romany Vardo.
Opening times: Fri, Sat, Sun 10.30am to 5pm. Admission Charge
Location: Clay Lake, Spalding, Lincolnshire. PE12 6BL - Tel: +44 (0) 1775 710599