Short break - Washingborough Hall, Lincoln
PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 May 2016
Washingborough Hall in Lincoln is that perfect country house hotel we all dream of
uilt 250 years ago on the outskirts of Lincoln, Washingborough Hall glows buttery gold in the early afternoon sun as we arrive after a far less taxing drive than I’d anticipated. Cross- country from west to east is never straightforward, but it’s on the whole an attractive journey and not one that should deter you from visiting this wonderful hotel and the glorious town it sits close by.
Lincoln dates back to iron age times and was settled by the Romans (who recognised a good spot when they found one) starting the Fosse Way there, running in a direct line all the way down to Exeter. After some early troubles with Viking raids, it became an important trading post during the years of Viking rule and by the tenth century was as important a northern town as York. William the Conqueror built Lincoln Castle in 1068, which played its own part in the various civil wars we fought over the centuries, right until 1644 when the occupying Royalists were overwhelmed by the Roundheads.
The cathedral, which is a truly beautiful thing, was built, destroyed and rebuilt over a period of two centuries, finally completed on a magnificent scale with the central of the three spires widely accepted to have succeeded the Great Pyramids of Egypt as the tallest man-made structure in the world. You can imagine the breathtaking spectacle this made for medieval visitors, more used to single story wattle and daub dwellings than towering stone creations, reaching up to the heavens where, without any doubt in their minds, God looked down…and saw all. To be honest, the impact is still the same, as it towers over the town and can be seen for miles around; quite breathtaking.
We spent a very happy hour pottering around the Cathedral, marvelling at the imagination, skill and incredible hard work it must have taken to build this in a time when everything was done by hand. It still looms over the town, which had begun its decline in the fourteenth century as the political power moved south, and headed rapidly towards obscurity when Henry VIII commenced his dissolution of the monasteries, a major source of income and power for the Cathedral and town.
Their historic loss is our gain, as the old town remains a delightful higgledy-piggledy run of tiny streets, filled with independent shops and cafes where you honestly feel like you’re never more than a hop and a skip from a fudge shop or tea-room. It’s a lot like York, but smaller and less crazily crowded.
Street entertainers sang their hearts out, school parties (chattering in multiple languages) admired the fudge shops, couples young and old strolled the cobbled streets and we headed back to Washingborough Hall, where we collapsed in our very beautiful room, tea and delightfully crumbly home-made biscuits the only thing on our minds.
Washingborough Hall is privately owned and managed by Edward and Lucy Herring and the difference this makes is palpable. The service from every single member of their team is faultless; the décor is ‘country fabulous’ (my own expression, meaning luxurious and comfortable but not glossy or glam) and the restaurant, upon which many a reputation rises and falls, is excellent.
I am offered a choice of Prosecco or Champagne upon arrival in the bar before my meal and Mike enters into a very manly conversation about beer. Curled up in a comfy spot, I commence my usual menu selection decision stress.
It’s all mouthwatering, but I plump for the Hoisin Crispy Duck, Mango and Chilli Salad and then trade halfway with Mike’s Kidderton Ash Goats Cheese, Roast Pimento Pepper & Courgette Wellington. Both are so packed with flavour we go quite silent while we scoop up every scrap. Main courses of Lincolnshire Rack of Lamb, Crispy Lamb Belly Croquette, Minted Pea Puree & Reform Sauce and Chicken Thigh, Spinach & Sun-Blush Tomato Ballotine, Puy Lentil & Smoked Bacon Broth are equally good, as you’d expect from this award winning, two AA Rosette restaurant. An Assiette of Rhubarb completed my meal and, sighing contentedly, I headed back to my room, veering off to Reception on the way to ask about breakfast.
Having been informed that we simply needed to call and order what we wanted when we were ready to eat again (SO convenient!) and our paper ordered we disappeared for some well-earned sleep.
Nothing beats a Full English. Unless it’s Eggs Benedict, with thick slices of ham and soft poached eggs draped in a sharp Hollandaise sauce. Add a pot of tea and toast with marmalade and I am a very happy woman, and my breakfast, delivered within ten minutes of my call, was very happy-making indeed.
Washingborough Hall delivers everything you could want from a country house hotel – traditional grandeur, extreme comfort, impeccable service and excellent food. It also has the bonus of its proximity to a delightful town well worth a visit. It’s definitely one to add to your list of ‘must go’ places, and soon.