Grasby wins the Calor Lincolnshire Village of the Year competition

The village of Grasby, between Caistor and Brigg, has won the Calor Lincolnshire Village of the Year competition. It now goes forward to the regional finals and maybe onto the nationals. Michael Steed went along to this pretty village to take a look.

GRASBY tumbles down the hill like a waterfall - not a chocolate box village certainly, but an attractive village and one with tremendous energy and, from the top of the village, views to die for!

It's the community spirit and the huge range of activities organised by local people for local people that has won Grasby, with a population of just 400, the prestigious title of Lincolnshire Village of the Year.

And don't imagine this is a village full of retired people, living on pensions and within their own four walls. Although the last shop - the post office - closed about eight years ago, this is still a vibrant community. It has an attractive 18th century pub, the Cross Keys, which is not just the village local but attracts drinkers and diners from a wide area, and it has one cottage industry that has now become an international company!

Only a few years ago the village school was struggling with just 17 pupils but now is thriving with about 100 - in one of the most attractive locations for a school anywhere in the county.

The poet Alfred Lord Tennyson's brother, the Rev Charles Tennyson Turner, was the vicar and, tradition has it, the poet walked around his brother's garden composing new verses.

Grasby - 'the stony village' - is mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1085. In the early 19th century, there were 287 people living there, many of them employed on the land or in agricultural related industries, but as recently as a century ago there was a blacksmith, wheelwright, carrier, butcher, a tailor (who used to sit cross legged in his window), two shoemakers, a grocer and draper and a sweet shop as well as the post office, another pub - the Bluebell - and the Grasby lime pit, which would produce a yellow haze over the village when lime burning was taking place.

Not that Grasby is wallowing in the past for it is very much a 21st century village, catering for a diverse and energetic community. The range of activities organised by the villagers themselves - for themselves - is extraordinary.

There's an art club, embroidery group, Friendship Club for senior citizens, Keep Fit, a mother and toddler group, a reading group, several very active photographers and observers and recorders of local flora and fauna, bellringers, jive and salsa classes and a very active twinning association (the village is twinned to Remy des Sille in France) and a village hall, complete with access centre, that is in almost constant use with visiting touring theatre and the annual village's 'Autumn Show', as well as many of the village groups that meet there. The village, in conjunction with Owmby, Searby and Clixby has also formed a LIVES First Responders team.

One major coup for the village is the Grasby Project, which was set up in 1998 with the remit of recording anything and everything from Grasby.

This includes flora and fauna, historical data, news and personal stories of those in Grasby and this year is running workshops, with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the Countryside Agency.

The population of the village is varied - there are pensioners of course, but also many families with young children. The village school is thriving and there is a very active friends group (the FROGS!)who last year raised the best part of 2,500 in a wide range of fundraising activities, enabling them to buy, amongst other things, picnic tables and parasols and a trip to the pantomime.

People go to work from Grasby to Grimsby, Lincoln, Scunthorpe and the Humber Bank industries and the population is an easy mix of locals who were born in the village and can trace their ancestors back into the 19th century or beyond, and those who have come more recently, attracted by the pleasant environment and attractive new housing (about 25 new houses in the past six years), which has won design awards. A planned small project for affordable housing in the village should also help some younger members of the community to stay.

Every house in the village has been supplied with a list of 'Village Information', which is left behind in the house when people move, and enables everyone to know just what is available in the village, and there's a quarterly newsletter 'Grasby Graffiti'.

Grasby is a village of which its people are justly proud.

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