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Church Post Code  NG33 4HS

Open to visitors

It was late June 2020, and it was back in to Lincolnshire, aiming to re-shoot some churches that I had visited several years before, returning this time with a better camera than I had on that previous visit. The first covid lockdown had ended and we were free to travel again.

    To be honest, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind. I started the day on a run of 35 successive closed churches, including two that were advertised as due to be open. With my churchcrawling head on, that is okay, it is good to get out and the churches will still be there at some point when the current problems have eased.  Looking at things with my spiritual head on though, I was concerned about what I was seeing. An open church can be an important Christian witness, particularly in challenging times, and the closed doors in my mind, did not reflect well of us!


Visited June 2020

And so,we arrived at Humby chapel, a chapel of ease to Old Somerby.  This was once the private chapel to the now demolished Humby Hall. Great Humby and Little Humby are two neighbouring hamlets, with the combined population of around 85. Delightfully rural!

The chapel here was built around 1680 and was rebuilt in 1754. The font is considerably older though, dating back to the 14th century.  Apparently, there was a church on the site here prior this chapel first being built and possibly we have the font dating back to a previous building. The interior of the church was completely refitted in the 1860’s so it is more than possible that the font was brought in at that time from another church.

The chapel was open to visitors, with a sign up reading that “this chapel will remain open during daylight hours during the coronavirus pandemic.  Please come in and spend a while in quiet thought and prayer” Wonderful, thank you for whoever opens and closes this chapel up each day. If I lived close, this is somewhere where I would spend a great deal of time!

 Inside and nave flows directly in to chancel. There is no stained glass here; all is plain… and beautiful! I estimate that the church might hold 40 or so people, possibly that might be a push as well. This is one of the smallest places of worship that I have visited. Fond memories of a trip to Lincolnshire a few years ago, cycling on a bitterly cold and windy winter Sunday morning to Scott Willoughby to take communion, which was a little smaller still! The church was packed out that day and from what I can gather, the five or six services a year here are very well supported.  Small in size but big in Christian love! This one made an impression on me and it was great to be here.



Church Post Code NG34 0TB

Open to visitors


From Humby, we travelled a short distance north west to neighbouring Sapperton, a tiny village with a scattering of houses and the church of St Nicholas.

This again was open to visitors, with a note on the church gate stating that the church had opened up again for private prayer from June 13th, which I think from memory is as soon as was possible following the lifting of restrictions after the 1st national covid lockdown. A sign hanging from the handle on the south door read "Church open. Keep calm and carry on praying”. 

There is great age to St Nicholas, with much of the structure that we see today dating from the 12th and 13th centuries.  This is an attractive church, even on a dull day, in a pleasant setting with attractive cottages bordering the church grounds to the west. This was a revisit, having visited this church back in 2007, armed with a very basic digital camera. The church was closed that day so this was the first time that I had seen inside this church.


This is a fairly basic structure of west tower, nave and chancel.  The present structure is without aisles but on entering it is evident that there was once a north aisle here. This is obvious from the interior as the arcade is very much intact and filled in, but it is not evident from the exterior! There is no porch, with the visitor entering through a south doorway.

 The 13th century tower is square, heavily buttressed, with a tiny recessed spire and a large plain parapet at the top of the tower. The chancel is probably the shallowest that I have seen on my travels and has been reduced in length at some point in time.. There is a single bell hanging here which was cast by Thomas Mears II of Whitechapel, London in 1825. Thomas North compiled a study of the church bells in Lincolnshire, which was published in 1882, and he was very thorough in his work but he left no information as to whether this bell was recast, as I suspect it was, and if yes who the founder of the previous bell was.

The visitor enters through the south doorway, which has a pointed arch with dogtooth carving. This dates from the early 13th century. The chancel arch also dates from the 13th century. The pews and pulpit date from the restoration of 1897.


As mentioned earlier, there was a north aisle here. This was taken down at some point, with the arches still there but bricked up. This arcade dates from the late 12th century and has octofoil piers with stiff leaf design on the capitals. The central and most eastern arches are of semi circular design, but the most wester arch appears to have been rebuilt and has a pointed arch.

A 19th century coloured carving of the crucifixion can be seen at the chancel arch, with Christ crucified and Mary and John in their traditional positions alongside the cross. This made its way here from the nearby redundant church at Haceby.

A single stained glass panel depicts the risen Christ looking the onlooker in the face and holding out a crown. The crown is a symbol of victory; with Christ here holding out the prize, victory over death, for those who care to accept it. A recumbent effigy of a lady at prayer with her head under an ogee arch can be seen in the north west corner of the nave.

The font is 12th century. What tales this could tell if were able. It will have stood here through the Black Death, of the 14th century, when upwards of half of Europe was killed. It has stood through the English Civil War, through the great plague later that century, through the horrors of the Reformation through world wars and the Spanish flu. The font has stood through 900 years of history and its fair share of tragic times. Covid would not phase it; it has seen it all before. As the sign said, “Keep calm and carry on praying”



Church Post Code NG34 0SZ

Open to visitors


We moved on the short distance to Braceby, which is another very small village/hamlet with a church, and a scattering of houses. During the mid 19th century, the population was around 150 but today it is around 30. The village church is dedicated to St Margaret, and dates back to the 13th century. It was great to see the church open sign on the gate to the north of the church, and lovely to see someone coming out of the church. Pleasantries exchanged in a very English fashion, I worked my way around to the south side and took a look at the exterior.

The church that we see here today dates back to the 13th century, with additions over the next two centuries and Victorian rebuilding in parts. The structure consists of west bellcote, nave with clerestories, south porch, north aisle and chancel. It appears as if there has never been a tower here.


As with Sapperton previously, this church has lost an aisle. The south aisle was taken down and bricked up at some point in history, the ghosted outlines of the arches still visible. The official listing for this church also suggests that there was a south chapel here.

There is a bellcote to the west, which hold bells of considerable age and importance. The oldest of the two bells dates back to around 1200, and is thought to be the second oldest bell in Lincolnshire. The other bell dates from around 1500. According to the National Church Bell Database both are listed without makers’ names.

Approaching the south porch there is a very weathered mass dial by the side of the porch. This would have acted as a basic sundial, alerting the people as to service times. By its positioning, it looks as if this has been repositioned at some point in the past, possibly when the south aisle was taken down, and it is suggested that the south porch was repositioned itself at this time.


 Going in through the south door I noticed some pentagons carved around the frame of the door. Today, the pentagon is associated with black magic but in days long gone it was a Christian symbol used as a protection against evil. Some people connected with churches strongly object to these being in their churches. Some time ago I had a guided tour around a church and the guide missed out a pentagon whilst mentioning the other graffiti. At the end I asked her about it and the reply was ‘Yes it should not be here’. If it was carved at a time when it was a Christian symbol then it should be there!

It is also said that the pentagon was used as a symbol of Christ’s passion, with the five points of the pentagon symbolising the five wounds of Christ’s crucifixion; namely both hands, both foot and spear in to Jesus’ side.


As is common in churches in this area, there is plenty of graffiti here. These are mainly just initials but John Farr did carve his full name in, with WB having a small cartoonlike deer below the initials. This is similar to what we were to later see at Silk Willoughby.

I always enjoy looking at the graffiti, and to be fair so does Gary, who drives on the day, even though he has little interest in the churches themselves. In many cases, I am sure, the mark of the common man and woman, who probably wouldn’t have had the money to afford a gravestone. Just scratched initials and sometimes a date, all which is left of a life with the exception of their name listed in the church registers.

Moving inside, there was a sign pinned to the south door saying that it was delighted to be open again for private prayer along with a list of do’s and don’ts.

Walls are whitewashed and there is no stained glass, with the exception of a few medieval fragments. There is very little in the way of wall and floor memorials and it does appear that this parish has not been as affluent as some in the past.

The north arcade is of three bays, with this and the chancel arch dating from the 13th century. A look to the west shows the outline of the previous roof line before the clerestory was added.

There is a scattering of gravestones in the church grounds here but nothing of any great interest or rarity and it appears that there was a substantial gravestone clearance here at some point in the past.

A delightful church, it was great to see it again. We moved on, heading a mile or so north east to neighbouring Haceby, which will be covered on a separate page. 


North Beltisloe: A friendly, welcoming benefice. A selection of covid signs from the day. Left is from Humby Chapel, the other two are from Sapperton.

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