BAG ENDERBY

SOMERSBY

Church of St Michael.  Church Post Code PE23 4NP

Church of St Margaret.  Church Post Code PE23 4NP

Visited in July 2020; revisited August 2022. Each church open on revisit.

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It was a very warm few days in July 2020; warm enough that I had cancelled my gardening work for a couple of days and we had headed out with the camera, spending two days in the most glorious of weather, visiting churches in the beautiful Lincolnshire Wolds.

It was early afternoon and we were roughly half way through the day’s photography. We had just left the exquisite church of St John The Baptist at Sutterby; heading west towards Bag Enderby; a charming hamlet which has a connection to poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson.

I know that it is a stereotype possibly but, when the occasion arises, the English really are the most polite nation on earth. We arrived at Bag Enderby, a hamlet consisting of a farm, manor house, church and a few houses. There is a lovely big area of grass to the north of the church and Gary parked up the van there.

There were a couple of lady hikers, out enjoying the sun and having a picnic lunch on the grass. As I walked past them and said hello; one of the ladies said. ‘If we are in the way just say and we will move’. They couldn’t possibly have been in the way if they had tried but it was really nice of them to say!

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The church of St Michael dates from 1407, and was built with money left by Albinus De Enderby. Built of greenstone, which has been heavily patched up with red brick in places; the church consists of west tower, nave, south porch and chancel. A fairly basic structure with no aisles or clerestories.  Its biggest claim to fame was that the father of Alfred Lord Tennyson was rector here between 1807 and 1831; also being the rector at neighbouring Somersby. The church was closed to visitors on the day; covid restrictions still very much in evidence!

The church is set on slightly high ground and is buttressed throughout. The west tower has a very large three light window to the west face. Gargoyles surround the tower, these being very weathered and of great age. The patched up tower, when looked at close up is a thing of great beauty!

The porch here is a delight.  Seemingly put together with what was at hand and much patched over the years. The door itself is straight but the rest of the porch appears to be leaning over to the left at a precarious angle. A couple of photographs of this porch which I posted up on my Facebook page got more feedback than just about any other posted up during the year!

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This was a church that I really wanted to see inside and the chance came in August 2022, when we revisited several previously locked churches. It was good to see the majority of churches in this area now open again to visitors.

Moving inside, there are wooden chairs instead of pews, with a restored 15th century screen separating nave from chancel. There is no stained glass here with the exception of some medieval fragments in the south west window of the chancel.

The chancel itself is plain and beautiful; less is more! The altar has a white altar cloth and just a cross on it. A piscina can be seen to the south wall of the nave, which would have been used to wash the holy vessels when the mass was taken. Apart from that, there are just a couple of memorials on the north wall.

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One of these is to Andrew Gedney and his wife Dorothy (modern spelling).  She is named Dorothie and Dorathe on the epitaph, neither of which my spell checker cared for! She died June 7th 1591 and strangely Andrew’s date of death is not recorded, with the text reading ‘Andrew died the 7 of …’

The parents face each other across prayer desks; their hands clutched around prayer books. Two sons and two daughters line up behind, kneeling with hands raised in prayer. Curiously, the faces of the three female figures have been damaged. Below the figures is a carving of a human skull; the deaths head which points out to the onlooker that Man is mortal and will die.

The font is octagonal and dates to the 15th century. There are several interesting carvings on the bowl, including a shield with some of the instruments of Christ’s crucifixion, a musician playing a lute, a deer which appears to be eating leaves from a tree and a cross with laurel wreath draped around it. There is also a panel showing the pieta; the Virgin Mary cradling the body of her son; this one being carved in a very rustic fashion!

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We headed off a short distance to the north west, to neighbouring Somersby; so short a distance in fact that according to Google Bag Enderby and Somersby churches have the same post code!

As mentioned earlier, Alfred Lord Tennyson’s father was the record here and at Bag Enderby. He was born the fourth of 12 children and was raised in the rectory here in the village.

The church is set in picturesque surroundings, the tower tucked behind some trees as the visitor arrives from the west. This 15th century church is a fairly basic structure of west tower, nave, south porch and chancel, again of the local greenstone. The tower has a brick parapet at the top; and is very heavily buttressed. The church was closed to visitors on this initial visit, again due to covid concerns.

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Entering the church grounds through a gap in the hedge and looking at the tower from the west, there is a great deal of patching here, with the tower obviously suffering a fair bit of damage over the years. There is a two light window to the west face of the tower, with the entire west wall above this having been rebuilt; this being roughly half the height of the tower!

The south porch has a sundial at the top, which is dated 1751; to the east of the porch is a churchyard cross. At first glance I thought that this was an ancient base with a more modern plinth and cross at the top. The top looked very weathered though and a quick internet check shows that the base is 15th century, the plinth is Victorian and the cross is restored from the 15th century. Christ crucified looks out to the south with the Virgin Mary and child on the north face.

A succession of bushes are dotted around the church grounds; making an uninterrupted view of the church from the south impossible. A box tomb to the west of the tower is a memorial to Tennyson’s father, John Clayton.

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 Opposite the church to the south is a battlemented manor house, Somersby Grange,  which was designed by Sir John, Vanburgh, who designed Grimsthorpe Castle near to Bourne in South Lincolnshire. This was built for Robert Burton in 1722,

Secluded and peaceful! The kind of place to sit on a warm summer evening, with a pack up and cold drink; just escaping from life for a while; listening to thunder off in the distance.

As with Bag Enderby, the church here was open to visitors on the return trip in August 2022. It was good to enter inside and see a couple of visitors already in there. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they lived local to me and even more pleasantly surprised, nay astonished to hear that the man was a visitor to my website devoted to village churches around Peterborough.

The visitors left; and we wished each other happy churchcrawling. This is a very pleasant, simple interior. What appear to be Victorian pews dating from restoration of 1865 can be seen to north and south’ with the pews to the north being very narrow, with possibly no more than three people able to sit on each row.

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