The Ostrich OR Spital Inn, Lincolnshire, gets Blue Heritage Plaque

The important former coaching inn, The Ostrich or Spital Inn, had a new blue plaque unveiled by Dr David Marcombe on Saturday September 17th, 2017. The Ostrich, a long-forgotten part of the heritage of North Lincolnshire, has finally been recognised. The plaque records how William Cobbett, political writer, stayed there in April 1830 and wrote part of his celebrated Rural Rides. The plaque was sponsored by Mr Jim Foster of Rugby, who stayed in the building in the 1940s and 1950s. 

For safety reasons as the inn is next to the a busy road, the unveiling of a replica plaque took place in St Edmund's Chapel, situated opposite the inn, with the actual plaque already present on the side of the building. 

A replica of the plaque with sponsor Jim Foster
Dr David Marcombe, one of the owners of Spital Chapel,
talks about the history of the inn before unveiling the plaque
Jim Foster talks about the times he spent at the inn

Watch the Video

There is a short video of the unveiling on YouTube, including speeches by Dr David Marcombe and Mr Jim Foster. You can watch this below. 

The BIG Churches Festival #ChurchesFest2016

Lincolnshire's 2017 Open Churches Festival will happen over two weekends: 13-14th and 20-21st May. Over 90 churches are expected to take part. 

This website's content relates to events that happened in May 2016, and has been left in place to give a very good picture of what to expect in 2017!

2016 sees the May West Lindsey Churches Festival celebrate its 20th year, in which time it has grown to become one of the largest open churches festivals in Europe. The 2016 festival has also involved a record number of churches this year, with 94 taking part this year.

This free-entry event invites visitors to enjoy the rich heritage that each church offers alongside a host of activities, with 24 churches offering lunches, one offering “Breakfast in the Aisle” (Riby), 19 offering music recitals (mostly organ music with free entry), plus bell ringing, crafts, book sales, art displays and themed exhibitions.

This year the festival takes place on 7-8th May (churches to the East of the district) and 14-15th May (churches to the West). Full details can be found on this website, with a page dedicated to each church.

Festival organizer Linda Patrick explains the appeal of the festival: “Many of the churches are still the focal point of our villages and will provide you with an insight into the history and life of their parishes.  Others offer a vibrant collection of stained glass, architecture, carvings and artefacts.  And some of our smaller churches open their doors simply to provide you with an oasis of peace and spirituality.”
East Barkwith

She also explained how this year she has asked the churches to look into their histories: “New for 2016 is our ‘Stories Unlocked’ theme, and there’s local intrigue and mystery aplenty as we uncover some hidden stories that our churches have kept so secret over many years!”

Over 30 churches have dug into the archives and put forward a huge variety of stories including:

Gautby’s intriguing Vyer family, with a story that includes kidnapping, ransom and murder
Snelland’s vicar Thomas Retford and his involvement in the Lincolnshire Uprising
Scotton’s convict William Jacklin who was transported to Australia and became a founder of the first Presbyterian church in the town of Ebenezer
Kettlethorpe’s association with Katherine Swynford, the 3rd wife of John of Gaunt, well known from Anya Seton’s famous novel Katherine
Thoresway and the mystery of the Pagan drowning pool
Scothern and the hidden treasure of the Abbot of Barlings Abbey

These stories will be appearing on the festival website in the run up to the event, and available to read in the churches when people visit.

Festival chair Paul Howitt-Cowan commented on the festival's continued success: “Last year visitor numbers had increased by 1,536 to 7,229, and volunteer numbers were up from 456 to 639 – 183 more. With a record 94 churches taking part this year, we hope these figures will go up again and I encourage everyone to get involved: these buildings really are little gems of heritage, scattered across Lincolnshire."
Full details of the festival can be found on the website, where it is also possible to download the 48 page brochure and browse an interactive Google map of all 94 church locations.

Visitors are asked to upload their photos to the hashtag #ChurchestFest16 so they can be shared by the festival. Printed brochures are also in libraries and tourist information centers in Lincolnshire, and can be posted out on request, by sending name and address details to

The festival is sponsored by West Lindsey District Council and Systematic Print Management.

Lea - St Helens

St Helen's Church (image Richard Croft, source)
St. Helen’s Church is a Grade I listed building, and was built between the early 13th Century and the 15th Century. It is quite unique in that its layout appears to be as two churches (having both separate north and south aisles). The North Aisle was completed in the 14th Century and contains many unique memorials to local landowners and Lords of the Manor, the Anderson family. It also includes a 13th Century stone tomb and effigy of medieval knight, Sir Ralph Trehampton. The east window contains sections of glass that date to 1330 and depict the Crucifixion.

The church was partially restored in 1849 by J.L. Pearson.

The 20th Century Rood Screen that crosses the south chancel is made of oak from the Lea Estate and was built by local craftsmen as a memorial to the men of the parish who lost their lives during the First World War – a plaque to the side lists the names of those men.

Photo by Julian P Guffogg (source)

The small, 2 manual, organ was built in 1849 by Hunter of London and was originally installed at the west end of the church in the 13th Century tower arch. It was moved to its current position, in the south chancel, in 1875 and was first played by the organist of York Minster – Dr. W.H. Monk.

Open: 14-15 May, Saturday 10am-4pm • Sunday 2-6pm, following which will be a service of Evensong (all invited)

Postcode: DN21 5EH, click here to find on Google Maps.

Get Involved and Spread the Word!

Click here to LIKE us on Facebook or click here to FOLLOW us on Twitter and help spread the word about the festival.

Get the latest news about the festival on email - subscribe to our newsletter - it's free and easy to do, and easy to cancel if you change your mind. Click here to Subscribe to The Churches Festival Blog by Email.

The church will be open as a quiet church, and there will be attendants at hand to give tours of the church and churchyard. The organ will be available to play, to those who are proficient and wish to do so.

Messingham - Holy Trinity

Holy Trinity - Messingham (source)
Holy Trinity Messingham is a Grade 2* listed 13th century church. It was greatly restored in  the early 19th century, including the installation of an extensive collection of medieval stained glass, by the Rev HV Bayley who was working in collaboration with the architect Edward Willson.

We have recently received initial support in the form of an award of up to £229,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the first phase of a programme of ‘Revealing, Sharing and Caring for our Heritage’.

We invite you to visit and explore the heritage and story of Holy Trinity. A story revealed! Our organist also invites keyboard players to have a supported play on our fine two manual organ, including first attempts.

Postcode: DN17 3SF, click here to find on Google Maps

Sat 14th May 10.00 – 4.00, Sun 15th May 12.00 - 4.00

Get Involved and Spread the Word!

Click here to LIKE us on Facebook or click here to FOLLOW us on Twitter and help spread the word about the festival.

Get the latest news about the festival on email - subscribe to our newsletter - it's free and easy to do, and easy to cancel if you change your mind. Click here to Subscribe to The Churches Festival Blog by Email.

AddThis Smart Layers