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Saint Mary’s Church, Stow-in-Lindsey, Lincolnshire

Exterior of the church by Barbara Ballard Stow is a small village with a large church. It sits in an area that belonged to the Saxon bishops of Dorchester on Thames. The church was built by Bishop Aelfnoth c975 as the head of his diocese. Some of his priests lived at Stow.

Old stone staircase in the church by Barbara Ballard This first church burned down. Another was built by Bishop Eadnoth II (1034-1050). Lady Godiva and her husband Leofric, earl of Mercia, spent money on the church and paid for priests to sing at the services.

Stone doorway and passage by Barbara Ballard By 1066 the church transepts and a chancel had been constructed. The nave, still existing, was built in 1067. The doorways and buttresses were added 70 years later. Stow ended up becoming a parish church. In the 1150-90 time period the chancel was changed to a larger one using the late Norman style. The chancel vault fell down after a number of years.

Main door to the church by Barbara Ballard During the 15th century a new central tower took the place of the Saxon one. On the parapet are carved beasts of the four evangelists. There is a ring of six bells in the tower dating from the mid 1600s onward. By the 1800s the church was in serious decay and was restored. The roofs were changed back to the original design and the vaulting in the choir was rebuilt.

The south wall exterior of the church has three different style windows: a narrow slit, a round late Norman window, and a two light Gothic window. The windows in the nave are early Norman. The tower arch dominates the nave. Some of the nave pews date from the 15th century. The three west wall windows are Victorian glass. The pulpit dates from Jacobean times, while the font is 13th century.

In the church crossing is a mix of arches. Some were once used to support the demolished earlier Saxon tower while the pointed ones are now used to support the present tower. Most church services took place here after the Reformation. Before the restoration of the church there was a ringing gallery and a singing gallery for the choir.

Memorial in the church by Barbara Ballard In the south transept are some 15th century heads, late medieval screens made into the backs of two stalls, and an oak figure of Saint Mary, part of a group made for Buckfast Abbey. The north transept has a Saxon archway, part of Aelfnoth’s church. It leads into the vestry. Another Saxon remnant is on the wet wall and is part of a window with plasterwork decoration.

The chancel is the most restored area of the church. Although the windows above the altar are Norman in style they contain Victorian glass. More Victorian windows are in the north and south walls high up. There are two memorials in the floor and one on a pier.

Visitor Information

Stow-in-Lindsey is located on the B1241, north-west of Lincoln.
Website: Stow-in-Lindsey Church
Photos © by Barbara Ballard

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