The Manor of Kirstead with that of Tattershall, together with other property, was given by William the Conqueror to Eudo, one of his companions. It was Eudo’s son, Hugo Breton, who founded the Cistercian Abbey of Saint Mary of Kirstead about the year 1139. The Abbey was colonised from Fountains Abbey Yorkshire. It was around the Abbey that the little hamlet of Kirkstead grew. Several centuries later, Woodhall Spa was founded, with Kirstead laying on its outskirts. Today, Kirstead is all but within the bounds of Woodhall Spa itself.
St. Leonard’s Church, Kirkstead, stands just inside the boundary of the ruins of the Abbey. This tiny chapel measuring only 42 foot by 19 foot is up to “Cathedral standard” and may well have been built as a chantry chapel in memory of Robert de Tattershall who died in 1212. St. Leonard’s is as built in the first years of the 13th Century.
During the 1914-1918 conflict, Kirkstead too “did its bit”, several of the local families sending their sons to the front. According to a report in the 22nd July 1922 edition of the Horncatle News, it “contributed the best of its manhood in the desperate fight for right over might, and some, of course, went never to return. And it is these boys who lie sleeping under a foreign soil whose memory the congregation of this little church have perpetuated by erecting a memorial tablet on the Western Wall.”
Mr. G. Johnson of London designed the Memorial, with the work being executed by Messrs Norman & Burrows of Essex. Costing £30, which was all subscribed by the parishioners, it takes the form of a handsome oak tablet with a border of inlaid hollywood and ebony. The names of the fallen, and the inscription, are also inlaid in hollywood. The Memorial was unveiled and dedicated by the Very Reverend Dr. T.C. Fry, the then Dean of Lincoln.
The centre of the tablet contains the following inscription:
“In Memory of the men of Kirstead
Who fell in the Great War
George E. Otter
Wilfred Henry Traves
And they loved not their life even unto death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and ye that dwell in them”.