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The church of St Peter, Toynton St Peter.

Early July and two full day visits in to Lincolnshire on successive days. The summer had arrived with a vengeance and the temperature was in the mid 30’s on both days. This definitely wasn’t gardening weather and all work was cancelled until things cooled down a little. We took the advantage though of enjoying the sun without having to work in it and took the camera out instead.

Pandemic wise things were quiet as a whole in the UK. Infection rates were down; death rates were very low and it was a case of getting out and enjoying ourselves, but doing it safely; and getting out while we were able to do so; before the talked about second wave affected us again whenever that might be.

 The first church visited was that of Toynton St Peter, a small village north of Boston, just off the A16, heading out towards  the Lincolnshire coast. There are two adjoining villages here with All Saints being the other. There is some history here, with Toynton mentioned as having a church at the time of the Domesday Survey.  We decided to arrive at St Peter via some back roads; this turned out to be a bad idea, with the elevated road, which I assume is elevated due to the risk of floods, was in terrible condition.

We stopped at one point to photograph the church at West Keal, off in the distance; a delightful sight, stood on high ground a mile or two off to the north west.  While I was doing this Gary had a quick check of his van to make sure that nothing had shaken off in the last couple of miles!

 The church of Toynton St Peter dates from the 14th and 15th centuries, being restored in the mid 1870’s. This is a fairly basic structure of west tower, nave with north aisle and chancel. There is no clerestory and no porch, entrance to the church being through a door to the west of the tower.

The church was closed to visitors. The tower, which dates from the 15th century, and is made from the local greenstone, is heavily buttressed with a brick parapet around the top. It wasn’t looking in great condition to be honest, with plant life growing in between the blocks of the tower throughout. The tower is quite squat, so much so that, when standing looking at the church from the east, the chancel completely obscures the tower.

The church grounds are large, with a scattering of old gravestones. Nothing of any real note to talk of to be honest.  Close to the west door of the tower is the base of a churchyard cross; which dates from the 14th century and has been given a Grade II listing in its own right.

The church here is quite secluded; with the only noise being the distant workings from a nearby farm. My only company whilst shooting the exterior was from a few inquisitive cows in a nearby field. A couple of benches were laid out to the edge of the church grounds, under the shade of some trees. A peaceful, tranquil spot on a glorious day!  My word it was warm;  pleasant visions of an ice cream at lunchtime came to mind!


The church of St Michael, Mavis Enderby.

We made the trip of a few miles to Mavis Enderby, and the church of St Michael,a hamlet four and a half miles east of Horncastle. I have to say; this is one of my favourite village names. I like villages with the names of people and this sounds like the name of an English teacher in a 1930’s girls school! A few months later we came upon Harrold in Bedfordshire; when seeing the village sign we wondered if there was a village called Dave anywhere!

Entrance to the church grounds is via a small lychgate to the west. The path leading up to the south porch will have been well trodden over hundreds of years. I had a real mental image of the faithful over the years that have walked the same path, making their way to worship. They had little of what we have; hard lives with low life expectancy. We have it easy by comparison even in years such as this which are challenging to put it mildly. Occasionally, I go somewhere or see something that really brings home the continuity of worship over hundreds of years. Sometimes this will inside a church, with carved bench ends; worn down by thousands of hands over hundreds of years. Sometimes it will be stone steps, which are worn down where people will have trodden. Sometimes in will be a church path on a gloriously warm summer morning!

The church grounds here are very spacious and well maintained. There are lots of trees to the north of the church; an exquisite scene. This must be a wonderful sight in the autumn; when the leaves have changed and all is golden.

 The church dates from the 14th and 15th centuries; again built from the local greenstone.  This is a basic structure of west tower, nave, south aisle, south porch and chancel.  The tower was substantially rebuilt in the 1890’s. A date stone of 1894 commemorates the rebuilding, and a further stone is dated 1684, at which time there appears to have been more work completed.

Gargoyles of a high quality surround the tower. These include a dragon like creature; a smiling figure that holds what appears to be a small animal, possibly a rabbit and a vaguely human figure that appears to being ridden by a far less than human figure.

Both nave and chancel are long and elegant; three gabled dormer windows light the nave instead of a clerestory. Entrance is through the south porch, which has a fairly modern representation of the Virgin Mary in an older image niche. The porch was open and there is a holy water stoup inside, holding a couple of candles. A couple of sets of initials carved in to the porch are a memorial to people who visited here many years ago.


Above left, Raithby Chapel. Above right, the church of Holy Trinity, Raithby.

We moved on, a short distance to the east to Raithby, a small village but very a very important place in the history of the Methodist movement. This was a revisit for me; having been here on what was probably the wettest day that I have ever been out with the camera; three years previously.

This is one of the loveliest villages that I have ever been to, and I jumped at the chance of seeing it again. The church and chapel stand as neighbours. I will start off with the chapel. This is the oldest Methodist chapel in Lincolnshire and one of the oldest in England. This tiny chapel was built over some stables and was opened in July 1779 by John Wesley, who along with his brother Charles founded the Methodist movement.

Wesley preached here himself in July 1778, when he was 85 years old; describing the village as ‘paradise on earth’. The chapel was closed to visitors when I arrived, although pre covid it is open for such things as English Heritage open days.


The church of Holy Trinity, Raithby.

The church of Holy Trinity, is next door to Raithby Hall, where the Methodist chapel is.  The church was open on my previous visit and so it was today as well. I had kept hand sanitiser and mask with me, and this was the first time that they were used!  Pleasantries exchanged with a man doing some fence painting, I took a look at the exterior first. There has been a church here since the 12th century, but much of what we see today is the result of rebuilding in the 14th century.

As with previous churches seen earlier in the day, the church is greenstone with ashlar dressing. The structure is of west tower, nave with north and south aisles, south porch and chancel.  The tower is heavily buttressed, pinnacled and there is a clock facing out on the western face.

The church grounds are quite tight to the south and it is difficult to get a decent exterior shot from that direction. There is no clerestory here, two large windows, to the south side; one either side of the south porch being deemed adequate.

Moving inside, a Victorian rood screen separates nave from chancel, an ornate gold cross above the screen. The chancel is heavily Victorianised with the three light east window depicting Christ in majesty in the centre panel.  The reredos below is of three sections. The centre panel is the crucifixion, with side panels depicting the Annunciation and Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene on Easter morning. The ceiling of the chancel is covered in a brightly coloured repeating pattern, again dating from Victorian times.

Amongst the stained glass is a depiction of Jesus being presented to Simeon in the temple. As always; Jesus is depicted as the audience looking on would expect to see Him’ if he was of their nationality. Here, Jesus at the age of around six weeks had a full head of curly blonde hair and looks far removed from the Middle East.

There isn’t a great deal on interest in the church grounds, but close to the chancel there is a single deaths head image; a single skull, in profile, a single eye socket and teeth visible through the lichen. Very weathered; in a few years it will be lost for ever. It was an absolute joy to have been able to see this beautiful church and village again; this time in sunlight!


Above and at foot of page. The church of St John The Baptist, Sutterby (redundant - looked after by the Friends Of Friendless Churches

I will finish this page off with what proved to be the highlight of the day. This was a trip to the church of St John The Baptist, at Sutterby; an isolated hamlet of just a few dwellings, and a redundant church which has been in the care of the Friends Of Friendless Churches since 1981. We are not far away from the A16, which connects Louth to Boston, but it appeared that we were out in the middle of nowhere here, albeit a very attractive and acceptable middle of nowhere! At that present time we were isolating very nicely thank you.

The church stands on its own, just a basic structure of nave, south porch and chancel. Again, it is made with local greenstone. During the year I have seen some fine churches; Nearby Horncastle, for example I saw the following day, but this beautiful little church, out in the middle of nowhere, isolated but loved and not forgotten, took my heart immediately and left me with some lovely memories.  I estimate that I saw around 300 churches during the calendar year of 2020. This little jewel was among my favourites!

The church itself dates from the 15th century, but a blocked doorway to the north is thought to date from the 12th century. The south porch is dated 1743. The church grounds were a tad overgrown to be truthful but that will be good for the wildlife; and on the subject of wildlife, a note on the website advises people to avoid the areas cordoned off with hazard tape during the period May until July due to nesting Barn Owls! The main path up the south porch was mown recently, and a sign welcoming visitors is pinned up on the porch.

Inside and most things have been stripped out. The pews have gone and all that is left in the nave is the font and the pulpit which is up against the south wall. A little research indicates that the church once sat 40 people. The rood screen is still in place, as are the communion rails. The sanctuary is empty with the exception of a rustic cross and two candles on the window ledge of the small three light east window.

Moving back outside again, I stood against the church and looked out across the church grounds. There were a few gravestones peeping out above the grass, but not a great deal. Looking out a little further, there were a few houses in view but pretty much unspoiled countryside, It was good to be out!

 I am typing this page early in 2021. There is an article on the BBC website today about a man who has escaped the stresses of the year by going out with his metal detector when he was able. I feel the same; these trips out, as long as they are done safely have helped tremendously. Standing there, looking out over the Lincolnshire countryside, just enjoying the warmth and the peace; having been to some beautiful places! Well, that is important and I felt blessed to have been in a position to have been able to do it.

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