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!”

Claxby
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."
Pilham
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 churchesfestival.info@gmail.com.

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.

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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

Open: 
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.

Annual Conference 2016

Our 2016 conference at Hemswell Court, 
celebrating 20 years and a record turn-out of 94 churches
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 achieved a record number of churches involved, with 94 taking part this year. The festival celebrated these two milestones at its annual conference on Wednesday March 9, where over 100 people will gathered, all of them involved in caring for these historic buildings and making the festival a success.

Among the speakers were chair of the Festival Committee, Paul Howitt Cowan, Linda Patrick (festival brochure producer/editor), Angela Montague of Push Creativity (PR, social media and festival website), and Chris Robey, MD of Systematic Print (sponsors and printers of the brochure).


Linda Patrick Hinted at the Church Stories she'd been sent for 2016
Giving an excellent talk entitled ''What mean these stones?' was the Ven. Mark Steadman Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey. 

Mark started off this talk by showing the 2016 Festival Trailer which you can view here:


Mark Steadman 'What Mean these Stones?
The fantastic keynote speaker was Dr Jonathan Foyle, who (according to his website) is an "award-winning BBC broadcaster, writes regularly for the Financial Times Weekend, presents multi-media interpretations at fascinating historic sites, and has explained the wonders of the historic environment to audiences from America to Australia (but usually closer to Amersham). Author of two well-received monographs on cathedrals – Canterbury and Lincoln – he also draws a bit. You might come across him as Visiting Professor in Conservation at the University of Lincoln, or helping to bring old buildings to life as Director of the consultancy Built Heritage Ltd." 


Dr Jonathan Foyle educated and entertained on Lincoln Cathedral
Festival chair Paul Howitt-Cowan commented: “Last year visitor numbers had increased by 1,536 to 7229, 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."


a celebration cake was cut by (left to right) Mike Gough (former chair) Linda Patrick (vice chair) and Paul Howitt-Cowan (current chair). 
A celebration cake was cut to mark the occasion, made by festival committee member Jo Thompson, who represents Brocklesby Church and Mausoleum. “This is the biggest cake I’ve made in my life, and decorating it was quite a challenge! I’ve created a map of West Lindsey with the icing, as well as the festival logo, and there are 94 silver balls represented all the churches and 20 candles for our 20th year.”


Jo Thompon and the Celebration Cake




West Lindsey’s annual Open Churched Festival invites visitors to enjoy the rich heritage that each church offers alongside a host of activities including lunches, organ music, 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).

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.

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