A stunning Elizabethan manor house dating back to the 1500s, Doddington Hall is simply iconic - a striking silhouette that has long been a vital part of Lincolnshire’s visitor economy attracting around 30,000 visitors to the hall and gardens alone. Over the last 14 years, the Doddington Hall estate has flourished under the watchful eye of James and Claire Birch.
The hall hasn’t been sold in more than 400 years and, having been passed down through generations was taken on by the Birchs in 2007. Alongside the historic hall – which is still very much a lived-in family home – and the beautiful gardens, the Doddington estate is also home to the Farm Shop, Wine Shop, The Doddington Cafe, Restaurant Tea Room, Coffee Shop (situated in the Bike Shop), Doddington at Home, Country Clothing, Giant Bike Shop and Wagon Museum – opening soon – with countless seasonal attractions taking place and weddings too.
The additional developments James and Claire have ushered in over their 14 years have resulted in an additional 300,000 visitors flocking to the attraction. As Doddington itself starts a new chapter, Wilder Doddington – an initiative which will see commercial farming replaced by wild farming, a more environmental approach returning the estate to its former, natural glory – the timing of Destination Lincolnshire couldn’t be more perfect in James and Claire’s eyes.
“The assets we have here in Lincolnshire are fantastic, but we need something to piece them all together. The history and heritage we have from the coast to the city are second to none, but often businesses within the visitor economy have struggled to present a united front and a clear message, and I feel Destination Lincolnshire will do that. Bring us together under one powerful voice and brand.
“It’s essential we embrace Destination Lincolnshire. Lincolnshire is so vast and underpopulated so having a body that will make sense of how we all fit together, to bring visitors and residents alike a concise offering, is vital if we are to continue to grow.
“Momentum is everything and it will be the accumulation of all of us from within the visitor economy that will make a difference in how effective Destination Lincolnshire will be.
"I would hope Destination Lincolnshire can make the tourism businesses in Lincolnshire more significant on a national level too. Raise our voice in that sense. As a county, we have played below our potential for too long. Having an organisation that champions us and our objectives is going to be the thing that moves us forward, together.
“For us here at Doddington, collaborating with other businesses and utilising each other’s audiences and contacts is something we look forward to working with Destination Lincolnshire on. Our target audience was very much based on a mythical customer when in reality Doddington Hall now caters to a very broad audience including families, tourists and those who love nature. As the hall has developed we’ve inevitably discovered new audiences, therefore linking up with other cultural tourist attractions would be so beneficial.
“We don’t have contacts that lend themselves greatly to collaboration and that is somewhere Destination Lincolnshire could really bridge the gap when it comes to supporting those working in the visitor economy. We would really welcome having our hands held through that process.
“Like so many businesses we were brutally affected by Covid. Having those contacts to reach out to would have been such a lifeline. Thankfully the farm shop and Giant store remained open, the latter of which saw sales skyrocket. Between the two of them they kept us afloat, both financially and mentally.
“But it’s not the first time Doddington has experienced hardship in all its years - thankfully it is still very much the important Elizabethan manor house it was when it first opened to the public in 1952. As the years have gone by as an attraction it has grown in size as visitor numbers to Lincolnshire have increased. The hall and gardens remain a very important backdrop to operations here, as we continue to evolve the estate purely from a tourist attraction to a site with a multitude of businesses, two cafes and a thriving events business.”
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