Cranwell from the air

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Cranwell, Brauncewell & Byards Leap


Cranwell (the name means the spring where cranes are found) is a village situated in the North Kesteven district of Lincolnshire.

It is part of the Civil Parish of Cranwell, Brauncewell and Byard's Leap about four miles north-north-west of Sleaford, having a population of about 3,000 souls.  The principal through road, the B1429 between the A15 to the east and the A17 to the west, joins the village to RAF Cranwell.

The village centres on the remains of the Village Cross.  The cross is a 14th century market cross from which important matters of public moment were announced.  The base, which is original, and the undisturbed ground beneath are listed as a national monument.

Standing near to the cross is the village's rather unusual looking parish church.  Dedicated to St Andrew, the church originates circa the 10th century, the village possibly dates from the time of King Alfred (849-899).  The church consists only of a nave and chancel with, above the former, a rather odd bellcote, much of the masonry is Norman but parts date back to Saxon times.  The fittings include 17th century bench-ends and a Perpendicular rood screen.  Mounted on corbels in the North aisle are the remains of a Hogsback grave.  The fine carvings on these stones are either Saxon or Norse (Ringerike).  The stones are unique to Lincolnshire and are probably the finest of their type in the country.  In the stonework in the porch is the incised outline of a pilgrim's shoe and the year 1728, and on the right-hand door pillar are six carved figures believed to depict ancient May King and Queen ceremonial costumes. The Churchyard includes a Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery with over 200 military graves.

Cranwell is peculiar for a village of its size in that it does not have a Public House.  It does, however, have a members only social club. This dates back to when the cadets training at RAF Cranwell during World War II used to come into the village to try and buy alcohol.  The members only club was introduced as a deterrent to them, being only temporary residents in the area they were therefore unable to gain membership.  To this day, no pub has ever opened its doors to the public, even though the reasons for not having one have long since become obsolete.

Just over one mile (2 kilometres) to the west of the village is RAF College Cranwell and its two associated airfields.  The northern airfield is the older, being used for light aircraft and airships from 1916 and remains as a grassed field used occasionally by gliders and light aircraft.  The southern airfield is much larger with two paved runways and abuts the A17 road, this was first used as a flying training base in 1917. The paved runways were built in 1954, to make way for the jet aircraft, Meteor and Vampire.