From Geoff Thompson
My first visit to the Petwood Hotel was for a dinner and concert, and since I was a passenger in someone’s car and it was an evening in winter, I had only a vague impression of Edwardian splendour and an enjoyable evening in good company. I was aware of the hotel’s role as an Officer’s Mess for 617 Squadron, but had little opportunity to see what, if anything, commemorated this period.
In early September 2013 I visited some friends in Woodhall Spa and had a chance to return to the Petwood for lunch on a fine day. The place has the feel of a splendid country seat, for such it was in the first decade of the 20th century, with extensive grounds and an expansive house executed in elaborate but tasteful mock Tudor. The bar and dining rooms are very pleasant, and I was very pleased to see real ale available. I took a sandwich out onto the large terrace and soaked up the atmosphere and pleasing view of the garden stretching away with not another structure beyond.
I came back into the hotel and discovered the charming and restful lounge, with its magnificent bay window. I then explored the corridors, and discovered the illustrated map showing the Officer’s Mess layout for the benefit of newcomers or visitors, and the wonderful collection of pictures and prints of RAF exploits and characters from the second World War, many of them signed by those very characters or distinguished officers who have followed them. My father, his brother and his brother in law all served in the RAF during the war, and his sister was in the WAAF. I was not a little moved to take in those pictures in the place which had been a haven and given respite to the brave souls who gave their all for us.
I returned the next day with two old friends, having reserved a table in that spacious bay window, and we enjoyed a very good hot lunch, with excellent service. We all enjoyed the occasion, but the surroundings and atmosphere were the unique contribution to making it rather special.