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Church Post Code  PE10 0LL

Open to visitors

Visited October 2020


 Late October 2020, another foray in to Lincolnshire, and what was to be my second to last churchcrawl before the second English lockdown. This was to be a day of revisits, to places that I previously visited on a four day cycling tour of the area several years ago.

    First up was Edenham, always open and welcoming, and so it was today as well. Edenham is a village three miles north west of Bourne, Grimsthorpe castle is a short distance away to the west. My previous visit here saw the church covered in scaffolding, and covers over most of the furnishings. It was still open though! So, this was my first proper look inside the church, and it did not disappoint!

This church is covered in some detail on my other site and if you click on the photograph of Edenham church opposite you will be directed there, with the page opening up in a different window.


Church Post Code NG33 4PF

Open to visitors

Next point of call was the church of St Mary, Swinstead.  This was another re-visit, and I have a great deal of time for this church. When I was here previously, a lady was coming out of the church as I was going in. She told me that the church doors here never closed. I am not sure if that is still the case, several years and a pandemic down the line but St Mary was open that morning and it was great for it to be so. As with Edenham, the church here is covered in detail on my other site, if you click on the photograph of Swinstead church you will be taken there; with the page again opening up in another window.



Church Post code not listed

Closed to visitors


We are in an area where churches were more often than not open in pre covid days. Next on the list was Bitchfield, the collective name for two small hamlets, Bitchfield and Lower Bitchfield.  I had been here before on two occasions in the last 15 years and on each occasion the church had been open.  The main reason for popping in again this time was just to see if it was open, whether the pandemic had had an effect on churches such as this, in tiny hamlets where very few would visit. Sadly, it had and the church was closed. Obviously, things might have changed in the last few years. The person unlocking and locking may have passed away; a theft may have changed the PCC’s attitude on opening. All of this is understandable. If the church was closed due to covid though, a small village in the middle of nowhere, a very pleasant middle of nowhere, that is not said with a shred of disrespect, then I find that hard to understand. The risk of picking up the virus from the church here must be incredibly small! It is what it is though!

The church of St Mary dates back to the 11thcentury, with some internal herringbone masonry dated to that point.  An impressive church for the size of the village, square tower with recessed spire, lots of graffiti in the porch, a strong wind blowing across the open countryside to the north and a large German Shepherd across the road, who had climbed on to his kennel roof to see what I was doing!

Looking back at my photographs from that previous visit, it springs to my mind how unusual the stained glass in the east window is. Normally, there would be a depiction of Christ Crucified, or possibly panels containing various scenes from the life of Christ. This is one of the very few times where Christ is missing from the east window. Instead, we have panels illustrating the Good Samaritan. Lovely glass and an important lesson, but unusual nonetheless.


Church Post Code  NG33 4EB

Closed to visitors


A mile or so away and we came to Bassingthorpe, a new church for me. My word this is remote. The sun had come out and the wind was now pretty ferocious, screaming over the fields. The village of Bassingthorpe consists of four houses and a church.

To be fair, one of the houses is a big one, with the manor house to the south of the church being built by Thomas Coney in 1568. The size of the church in relation to the size of the village is a good indicator of the wealth that was in this area in the past. The path from the manor house to the south porch of the church is lined with bushes on both sides. There was no sound except the wind. This is beautiful.

A large church, but in the past it looked as if it would have been a little bigger still, the ghostly outline of a now vanished south chapel visible in the brickwork.

The church of St Thomas A Becket was closed and I refer you back to my comments for Bitchfield. There may be reasons as to why this church is closed other than covid. The church is remote and vulnerable and if that is the case, I don’t blame them for keeping it closed. If the reason is covid though then, with great respect, I just shrug my shoulders and wonder why!

The porch was open and there was the usual graffiti, mainly initials and dates from the 18th century. There was the traced outline of a shoe, with a very broad fit for those days. This one does not have a date or initials; it is thought that where there is a shoe traced in to the stonework with date and initial it is a memorial to someone who has died. If that is true, then perhaps initials and dates on their own could also be termed as a memorial to someone who has died rather than simply the initials of someone visiting and leaving their mark.


Church Post Code NG33 4BS

Open to visitors.

We moved on to Ropsley; the largest of the seven villages in the North Beltisloe benefice.  The church here was open and it was lovely to be able to see inside. I was here several years ago, with a very basic digital camera and it was always the intention to revisit with the Nikon one day; it just took around 15 years, no point in rushing!  It had been a dull start to the day, but the promised sun had finally beaten the stubborn morning cloud cover by the time that we reached Ropsley, the fifth church of the day visited.

Ropsley is a very pleasant South Kesteven village, which recorded a population of 634 at the time of the 2021 census. It can be found some five miles to the east of Grantham. The church of St Peter can be found off to the south of the village, on slightly raised ground.  A black and white cat, after a fashion, came up and sort of said hi, before losing his or her nerve and fleeing off in the direction of the nearby retirement bungalows.


The church that we see today consists of west tower with octagonal broach spire with three tiers of gabled lucarne windows, nave with north and south aisles and clerestories, south porch, south chapel and chancel.

The church here dates back to the 11th century, with some long and short Saxon stonework helping to date it to that time. The buttressed west tower is 13th century; with the octagonal broach spire dating to the 14th century. A close look at the east wall of the tower shows the outline of an earlier roofline before the clerestory was added. This is a church of pleasing proportions.

 The south porch is large and ornate, with crocketed pinnacles and an empty image nice central. A frieze across the top of the porch consists of a repeated quatre foil design. A plaque over the south door notes that this porch was built in 1486.

Two bells hang here, with each dating from the 17th century. The first is from Henry II Oldfield of Leicester and is dated 1620. This bell has the inscription ‘I sweetly tolling, men do call, to taste on meat that feeds the soule’. The second was cast more locally, by Thomas Norris of the Stamford bellfoundry in 1664.


All was peace and calm inside. I really relish these periods of complete silence!  There was hand sanitiser on entry and unrestricted access throughout the church. The north arcade is of three bays with this dating from the 12th century, with circular piers and square capitals with a scallop design. The south arcade dates from the 13th century, with the piers more delicate in design, with a replacement octagonal pier to the west having some interesting graffiti in Latin, which translates as “This column was made for the feast of St. Michael in the year of our Lord 1380 and the name of the maker was Thomas Bate of Corby" What a fascinating little piece of history, with the carving liable to have been done by someone who live through the Black Death, which killed over a third of the population of Europe in the late 1340’s.

There are small recesses cut in to piers to north and south which would have contained small statues, and still does today in a pier to the south.

Red carpet runs the length of the nave, past Victorian pews, and up to the altar. Standing at the 13th century chancel arch and looking west, the tower arch, which also dates from the 13th century, has a doorway to the south which leads to the stair turret to the bells.


Moving in to the chancel, the altar is plain and simple with blood red altar cloth, which is normally the colour used during Pentecost. There is a 14th century double sedilia against the south wall; this providing the seating for the priests during the Mass and an aumbry against the north wall, which would have been used to store the holy vessels. There is also a tomb recess at the east end of the south wall.

There are altars at the east end of the south chapel and north aisle. There is a medieval piscina on the south wall of the south chapel showing that the Mass was celebrated at this side altar. A door at the east end of the north aisle gave access to the rood loft which would have stood here in pre reformation days.


There is not a great deal of stained glass to be seen here, but what there is, is of interest. A three light window in the south aisle concerns Mary Magdalene ay Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning; this taken from John Chapter 20. Starting with the right hand panel as we look at it, an angel of the Lord speaks to Mary ‘“Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him. (verse 13) We then switch to the left hand panel, with Mary speaking to an unknown man (with nimbus)  ‘At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” (verses 14-15). Central we see Mary talking to the risen Christ, dressed in blood red cloak and nimbus; wounds visible on hands ‘ Jesus said to her, “Mary ”She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (verse 16 all NIV Translation).

At the east end of the south chapel is a two light depiction of St Peter and St Paul. St Peter is holding the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven whilst St Paul holds a sword point downwards.

A memorial  stained glass window in the south aisle is to one William Dales, a pilot who was shot down and killed in 1941. He is depicted, in uniform, with two dogs, one at his side and one at his feet. The face of the pilot is an actual photograph superimposed in to the window; the dog at his feet is thought to be a depiction of his own dog.

Over in the south aisle, hemmed in by chairs, is a recumbent effigy of a lady at prayer; under an ogee headed canopy. This dates from the 14thn century. Close by, a curious bald headed figure looks down on those in the aisle through sightless eyes.


The church grounds are large and have much of interest. There are a couple of ‘Belvoir Angel’ stones here, one in situ and one lying against the wall of the church close to the south porch.  These are a long way from home, having thought to have been carved in or around Hickling on the Nottinghamshire / Leicestershire border.  These are each battered and bruised but would have been beautifully carved in swithland slate, the in situ one dates from 1730, a memorial to one John Pickwell.

There is a fair amount of damage to this stone. There were two small angels at the top of this stone but the angel on the left as we look at it is gone with the exception of a small part of one wing. The angel on the right is damaged but substantially there.

In typical style for this stonemason, there are some spacing issues with the word 'died' being added in small font underneath where it should have gone! Inscription at the foot of the stone reads 'A husband kind a father dear the same is he who lyeth here   God gave him time for to repent  and for his sins he did lament' This stone has a Grade II Listing.

There are some finely carved slate gravestones in the grounds here and it is always worth taking a look at the small details. A woman holds out a banner which points the onlooker towards Hebrew Chapter 11, which extolls the virtues of faith in action.  Nearby we see the intertwined Christian symbols of cross and anchor. A banner has script which reads ‘Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord’ with this coming from Revelation Chapter 14 verse 13.

ropsley belvoir.jpg

This is a delightful church with much to see; it was good to visit it again some 15 years after the original visit. It was time to hit the road again, with the plan being to head east towards Pickworth, before picking up the A15 and heading north towards Sleaford. We made the most of the times that we were able to travel in those covid times. Things were not looking great nationally, death rates were high and it was thought that a second lockdown would be introduced fairly soon. This indeed was to happen some three weeks later!

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