The characters making up the award-winning village of Waddington

PUBLISHED: 13:55 13 June 2011 | UPDATED: 21:34 20 February 2013

The characters making up the award-winning village of Waddington

The characters making up the award-winning village of Waddington

It's not hard to understand why Waddington regularly wins awards as our best kept village. Roger Borrell reports Photography by Kirsty Thompson

There arent many places that make you feel you never want to leave, but Waddington on a bright, sunny day fits the bill perfectly. And it has nothing to do with the fact it has three inns.

This compact Ribble Valley community is a box of delights, packed with beautiful gardens, a stream running through its manicured centre and clusters of ancient stone houses. No wonder its such a popular destination.

On the day Lancashire Life visited, the seats outside the Waddington Arms were full of people enjoying a drink and the benches in the Coronation Park were fully occupied by members of the Clitheroe Ramblers taking a well-earned lunch break.

Plantsman Peter Foleys route to this part of Lancashire started back in 1976 when he fled his native south to escape that drought when temperatures hit 80F every day for a month and we had to ration water.

The sensible chap headed to verdant Lancashire where he developed and ran the highly successful Holden Clough nursery in Bowland, now in the enthusiastic hands of son John and his partner, Kate Lawson.

Peters latest project revolves around the two acres of gardens at Waddow Lodge, a picture-book Georgian mansion he shares with his fiance, former local health visitor Liz Dean.

Where there were straight lines, Peter and Liz are creating sinuous curves, where there was grass there are now thoughtfully-planted beds and a small pasture has been put to much better use as an orchard of old Lancashire and Yorkshire apple varieties plus some other ancient strains, such as the Wykens Pippin. This small but delicious apple originated in Holland before being developed in the midlands in the 1700s.

Peter, who has appeared on radio and television many times to share his vast horticultural knowledge, met Liz through their shared passion for gardening. Only a writer with no shame would suggest love blossomed.
However, it hasnt all been plain sailing for Peter. He narrowly averted disaster when he developed thyroid eye disease. Surgery saved his sight but many courses of steroids took their toll on his body. People joke that Im the bionic gardener, he says. They keep having to replace bits.

The beds at Waddow Lodge form a horticultural guide to the people who have influenced this couple. Liz has dedicated several borders to departed friends and family and Peter has created Harrys Bed in memory of his father.

Remarkably, Peter has found several plants there that he sold to Liz and her late husband in years gone by. Its like being reunited with old friends, he says.

As well as broadcasting, Peter is a highly respected lecturer, giving talks to clubs and societies across the country and teaching at Alston Hall, near Longridge. He also works as a volunteer for the Thyroid Association and assorted other charities and church organisations.

Lancashire Life readers can see the fruit of their labours when the grounds open on May 29 and on July 31 as part of the National Gardens Scheme.

While Liz and Peter are nuturing plants, the young women of the future are being developed a little further down Clitheroe Road at Waddow
Hall, a 17th century manor house standing in 178 acres.

This grand pile is owned by Girlguiding UK, providing an activity centre for thousands of youngsters from five-year-old Rainbows to Trefoil Guides, who are 18 and above.

Waddow Hall was built by the Tempest family but its heyday was probably under the ownership of the prosperous Garnett family, who were involved in cotton, steel manufacturing, coal mining, railways and the Press.

The decline of cotton forced them to sell in the 1920s and it was purchased for just 9,000 by the Girl Guides Association as a training and activity centre.

Now, this ancient hall resounds to the noise of guides having fun and the grounds are used for a wide range of activities, including camping, canoeing and climbing.

However, the cost of maintaining such a huge estate means the men and women running it are marketing its facilities for corporate function, team-building, conferences and even specialist activities such as circus skills.

Girls from across the north use the centre at weekends and during holidays while people like former Guides Becky Allen, the assistant manager, and senior instructor, Emily Peake, are charged with the task of securing business the rest of the time.
Generating this new income
keeps the facility in operation for the Guides. The Guides get an awful lot from coming here, says Becky. Theres team-building, bonding, learning social skills and friendship to name a few. We find their confidence can be enhanced and a lot will camp out so they learn some self-sufficiency. They learn all sorts of values - respect, honesty and trust, for instance.
Its not just the young who are cared for in Waddington. Back in the village there is a tranquil square containing neat, single storey cottages.
These are the Waddington
Hospital almshouses, first established
in the 1700s and rebuilt in the late Victorian era.
This pretty little complex was set up as a charity 300 years ago by the Parker family of Browsholme to house the widows of estate workers. The 24 cottages remain for the exclusive use of single or widowed women.
It could be straight from the pages of an Anthony Trollope novel - without the back-stabbing, of course!
There are currently 23 ladies living there, looked after by the warden Lesley Haywood and her husband Lewis, who tends the grounds.
We have ladies here ranging in age from 61 to 94 - the eldest has been here for around 30 years, says Lesley. Its a form of sheltered housing for them and as houses become vacant we modernise and upgrade them.
Each property has a living room, kitchen, bedroom and walk-in shower. We have several outings during the year - and we all get on very well together, adds Lesley.
Getting on well is something
they seem to be good at in Waddington.

Where is Waddington? North west of Clitheroe. BB7 3HP in your satnav should take you to the centre

Places of interest? Waddington Hall, part of which go back to the 12th century, is private property and can just be glimpsed through the gates. It was here that King Henry VI was betrayed during the War of the Roses. St Helens Church is an attractive Victorian rebuild and Browsholme Hall is nearby.

What is there to do? A great area for walkers and for those interested in architecture. The village is a conservation area but many buildings have been rebuilt in more modern times. The village club is a hotbed of crown green bowling.

Refreshments? There is at least one excellent tea shop plus three good pubs.

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