History uncovered at Spalding church

NEW LOOK: The Sphinx battle honour is uncovered and there's a newly installed cross at The Lighthouse Church, formerly the drill hall. SG0610143-107TW
NEW LOOK: The Sphinx battle honour is uncovered and there's a newly installed cross at The Lighthouse Church, formerly the drill hall. SG0610143-107TW

A piece of Spalding’s history – a battle honour earned by The Lincolns – is now there for all to see at the former drill hall in Haverfield Road.

The Sphinx badge is something veterans from The Royal Lincolnshire Regiment proudly wear on their blazers to this day to commemorate service under Wellington more than two centuries ago.

But a depiction of the Sphinx in stone on the front of the old drill hall, now occupied by The Lighthouse Church, has been hidden away for the last few years by a pictorial representation of the cross.

Ken Willows, chairman of Spalding branch of The Royal Anglian and Royal Lincolnshire Regimental Association, said the veterans asked for the Sphinx to be uncovered – and offered to supply a brand new cross, which has now been placed beside an upper window.

He said: “We explained that this was a battle honour of ours and it wasn’t really the thing to cover it up.”

The cross in powder-coated steel was bought with donations given at the funeral service of a former Royal Anglians’ veteran, Major Stanley Chandler, who died in March at the age of 96.

“He lived at Quadring,” said Mr Willows. “He was an extremely nice bloke and we were extremely sorry when he passed. We did a military funeral for him at Surfleet crematorium. It was quite a big funeral.”

Major Chandler was a Dunkirk veteran who also saw service during the Second World War in Tobruk, Egypt, and in India.

His 40 years’ army service ended in Singapore in 1969.

There will be a special service at The Lighthouse Church at 11am on Tuesday, October 21 to mark the unveiling of the Sphinx and the installation of the new cross, when it is hoped Major Chandler’s widow, Vip, can attend.

There will also be a colonel from the Territorials, Geoffrey Newmarch, and veterans in their 90s from the Spalding branch of The Lincolns who remember the drill hall from its heyday.

The drill hall was built in 1913 and boasted a large hall, a rifle range, a lecture room and an armoury among other rooms.

Mr Willows said: “It served as a drill hall right the way through the Second World War and a bit beyond.

“It has been used for a lot of different things. The Post Office had a sorting office in there, it was used as a warehouse, a library and also as sixth form classrooms for Spalding Grammar School.

“I think it came up for sale in 2007 and there was an application for flats but, obviously it didn’t come off, and The Lighthouse Church bought it.”

Formed in 1685 in the time of Charles II as the Tenth Regiment of Foot, what later became The Royal Lincolnshire Regiment fought on four continents in four centuries.

Lincolnshire author David Nalson said: “The Lincolns earned imperishable renown at the Battle of Sobraon in 1846 during the Sikh Wars. Another famous honour – gained in Egypt in 1801 for service under Wellington – is reflected in the Sphinx badge which veterans still wear.”

The county regiment amalgamated with another in 1961 so there have been no true Lincolns since then, although the regiment’s proud history lives on in the honorary title “The Poachers” given to the 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment.