Hemswell Cliff is a village
and civil parish in the West Lindsey district of Lincolnshire.
It lies on the A631 between Caenby Corner and Gainsborough and
on the Lincoln Cliff escarpment.
The A631 divides the parish into two; the majority of the village
is on the northern section including the White Heather
- a Conference/ Wedding Reception Venue and the southern section
Hemswell Court, a Conference / Wedding Venue lies on the
southern section.The A15 to Hull and Lincoln is on its eastern
According to the 2001 census it had a population of 683. It is
the largest community in the Ward and is predominantly made up
of private housing.
It lends its name to the Ward.
It is within the ecclesiastical parish of Hemswell Village.
The transition from an MOD site to a civil parish has proved
most challenging and frustrating, however, with the support of
WLDC, LCC and other partners progess is being made, although there
is far to travel on this journey. Given a fair wind, Hemswell
Cliff will become a vibrant village, led by a mature Parish Council
with the support of the Resident's Group.The remaing eight settlements
in the Ward have taken centuries to develop whereas Hemswell Cliff
is on catch up.
Hemswell Cliff is classified by WLDC as a Priority Village.
It has a Post Office cum General Store, Off Licence and a petrol
station at Caenby Corner.
In 1998 it became a Civil Parish followed by the formation of
a Parish Council and is the latest of the settlements to achieve
civil status within the Ward.
There is a pro active Residents Group in the village.
In 2011, WLDC began proceedings to purchase on behalf of the
Parish Council, the former Ball Park and Sports field as the village
green for recreational purposes.There is a play area for the children
on this site.
In 2011, the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP Secretary of State
visited Hemswell Cliff to open the Community room - the
Room of Requirement within the school. The name derived
from Harry Potter.
"It is a room that a person can only enter when they
have real need of it. Sometimes it is there, and sometimes
it is not, but when it appears, it is always equipped for
the seeker's needs"
The Room of Requirement, also known as the Come
and Go Room, is a secret room within Hogwarts Castle,
that only appears when a person is in great need of it.
A partnership was created with the School and the Community
to use/ hire school facilities for the enjoyment of the
Hemswell Cliff Primary School is an exemplary school with a dedicated
staff focused on delivering a first class education combined with
a strong pastoral and community ethos . The school marked its
40th anniversary in 2011.It has excellent facilities.
Within the WLD there are two other former MOD sites;
Brookenby and Newtoft. RAF Scampton remains active.
Hemswell Cliff was an airfield in 1918 during World
War One and used by RAF Bomber Command for 20 years between 1937
and 1957[ and saw most of its operational life during World War
II. Later used by RAF Fighter Command as a nuclear ballistic missile
base during the Cold War it closed to military use in 1967.
On 19 March 1940 RAF Hemswell-based Handley Page
Hampdens of No. 61 Squadron RAF were the first Bomber Command
aircraft to drop bombs on German soil during the Second World
War. The target was the Hörnum seaplane base on the northern Germany
RAF Hemswell was immortalised on film when it was
used as a substitute for RAF Scampton in all the ground based
filming of the 1954 war film, The Dambusters. Gibson was played
by Richard Todd in the film.. One of Hemswell's more famous residents
was Wing Commander Guy Gibson, who led the Dambusters raid. After
a Public relations tour of the US, he returned to operational
duty at RAF Hemswell, as Squadron Commander of No.150 Pathfinder
Squadron, as well as assuming duties as temporary Station Commander
The first airfield on the site was opened in 1918
by the Royal Flying Corps and called RFCS Harpswell after the
village of that name just across the A631 road.
During the First World War it was used as a night
landing ground and two night flying training squadrons were established
there. In June 1919 the grass airfield was returned to its former
use as farmland
By mid 2008 there was no longer any RAF presence
on the site.
In 1995, the RAF Hemswell Memorial was erected
on the edge of the old parade ground to commemorate all who served
there during its thirty-year life as a Royal Air Force Bomber
Command base. The memorial is also an important piece of local
history and records the successful transition of a former Bomber
Command airfield with its married quarters, into its present more
peaceful role as part of the new Parish of Hemswell Cliff. Most
appropriately, the children who take such an important part in
the annual commemorative service at the memorial on RAF Hemswell
Day (third Wednesday in September) are from Hemswell Cliff School
, which began life as Royal Air Force Hemswell School
The old H Block buildings on the site have now become
home to one of the Europe's largest antique centres and there
are also various shops, a garden centre, hairdresser, used book
shop and several cafés. On Sundays there is a very large Sunday
market and car boot sale.
St Chad's Churchyard Harpswell
A section of the churchyard is set aside for the graves
of service personnel. A former R.A.F. base, R.A.F. Hemswell
(formerly known as Harpswell Aerodrome when it was first
opened in 1918 by the Royal Flying Corps) adjoins the parish.
In 1972, the former station became the temporary
Hemswell Resettlement Camp when it received Ugandan-Asian
refugees expelled from Uganda by president Idi Amin who were helped
by the local community.This provision gives ample inspiration
for a strong Community ethos in the village.
It has an Industrial & Business Park on the site
of the former MOD site, AWS Eco-plastics is the largest plastic
bottling plant in Europe supplying plastic bottles for Coca Cola.
Spital in the Street
The Chapel of St. Edmund
About a mile north of Caenby Corner roundabout on
the A15 is a small restored Chapel of St Edmund which was restored
in 1864 and having fallen into a near derelict condition it was
restored once again in the 1990's.This lies on the eastern border
of the Hemswell Ward.
This is the only religious building in Hemswell
Cliff village. It is now a peculiar owned by a Trust under the
inspiration and leadership of Dr David Marcombe. It is used for
In 1396 Richard II granted to Thomas de Aston,
Canon of Lincoln, leave to build a house "adjoining the west side
of the chapel for the residence of William Wyhom the Chaplain
and of certain poor persons there resident and their successors",
and before the end of the 14th century it had buildings sufficient
for these poor persons. It escaped Henry VIII's dissolution of
the monasteries only to be later seized by Elizabeth I for the
Crown and sold.
The Sessions for the Kirton division of Lindsey
were for many years held in the chapel, but it fell into disrepair
and was pulled down by Sir William Wray in 1594 with a new Session's
House built nearby. Six years later Robert Mapletoft of Pembroke
College, Cambridge was appointed Sub-Dean of Lincoln Cathedral
and also Master of the Spital Hospital; he rebuilt the chapel
and set about improving the Hospital's revenues.
By the mid 19th century, the Charity Commissioners
estimated the hospital's revenues to be £959 per year, although
they said that most of this was being misappropriated. This money,
a considerable amount, was eventually recovered and used to endow
De Aston School in Market Rasen, to restore Lincoln Grammar School
and pay the alms of four neighbouring parishes.
The chapel was restored in 1864 but by the end of
the century the hospital had been abandoned and only the chapel
remained, falling ever further into dereliction until being restored
once again in the 1990s.
The area outside the chapel has a physic garden
and adjacent is an orchard being re-planted with old varieties
of apple and pear trees.