The Bustard Inn was built by the owners of the Rauceby Hall Estate in 1860 to replace the Robin Hood Inn which was removed to make way for the new south gate entrance to Rauceby Hall Park. It was reported in a local journal, The Sleaford Gazette, that the opening “attracted a great portion of the company but everything went off quietly and there were no disgraceful scenes. There was dancing by candelight in the open air”. The family crest was sculpted in stone above the oriel window which now looks onto the beer garden. The brew house and the stable, which now form part of the restaurant, were situated in an older stone building behind the main building.
The Inn, which is a grade II listed building, was so named because of the legend which states that the last Great Bustard in England was shot on Bustard Hill which is sited behind the inn and is now known as Tom Lane. The Great Bustard, which is the heaviest flighted bird in the world with the male bird weighing up to 20kg, became extinct in this country in the mid 19th century. Attempts are currently being made to re-introduce this bird into the UK on Salisbury Plain and a mating pair have recently been successful in producing eggs for the first time in over one and a half centuries.
The Bustard Inn also has a history of royal visits as it was regularly frequented by Prince Albert (later King George VI) when he was stationed at Cranwell during the First World War. Prince Charles also visited the Inn when he was stationed at Cranwell.