Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Gainsborough United Reformed Church

Gainsborough United Reform Church. Image by Dave Bevism source
Gainsborough United Reformed Church will be participating in the Festival for the first time in 2016. 

The present church was built in 1896/97. The sanctuary is a fine example of late Victorian Free Church architecture and is set within the town’s central Conservation Area. The Conservation Area includes The Old Hall, a 15th Century Manor House, and All Saints Parish Church which we adjoin.

The church was erected as a memorial to John Robinson, sometimes known as “the Pastor to the Pilgrim Fathers.” He was born nearby at Sturton-le-Steeple in 1575 or 1576. He was hugely instrumental in preparing for the voyage of the Pilgrim Fathers, a group of Separatists, who settled in Plymouth Colony in the U.S. in 1620.

A particular feature of the sanctuary is the fine pipe organ which has been awarded an Historic Organ Certificate as an instrument of national heritage importance.

The church has its own website which can be visited here: Gainsborough United Reformed Church.

Postcode: LN3 5TZ, click here to find on Google Maps

Open: 2016 opening times to be confirmed

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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Churches Festival 2016 Dates

The 21st West Lindsey's Churches Festival will take place in May 2016, with around 80 Lincolnshire churches open to explore.

Dates are

7-8th May - Eastern Churches
14-15th May - Western Churches

This website will be updated in March 2016, but feel free to explore these pages as they go an excellent feel for what the festival will be like.

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Medieval Graffiti Discovered in Lincolnshire During the West Lindsey Churches Festival 2015

One of the many visitors to the 2015 festival were Brian and Christine Porter, of the Lincolnshire Medieval Graffiti Project.

Brian told us: "My wife Christine and I visited 11 churches during the festival, finding graffiti in seven of them. This is part of a long-term project that has now recorded graffiti in 60 Lincolnshire churches, plus finding graffiti in another 76 that still need recording; and 500 more churches not yet examined!"

Brian has kindly shared some of the photographs and findings that he and Christine made at the festival.

Fillingham had three examples of the same Mason's mark on the font.
Glentham, very faintly carved 'double-V' marks
which are said to represent the Virgin Mary and ward off evil
Glentworth had very few examples, but included the small
cross previously unseen by the church community!
Holton cum Beckering church had some graffiti, mostly initials and scratches 
that may (or may not!) be graffiti. One patterned symbol was found on the 
south door frame, but what it means is a mystery. Any suggestions?
Northorpe Church has a  Nine Men's Morris almost hidden by
layers of paint, on the south wall window ledge
Northorpe Church also has a particularly interesting
group of hands carved onto one of the North Aisle pillars 
18th Century graffiti at Rand Church, the name "I Bentley Fulnetby 1768". 
Neither of the ladies looking after this church had noticed these graffiti before. Research into parish records may be able to shed light on the illicit carvers. No other graffiti found inside.

Snelland church had a couple of 'double-v' marks outside, 
on the eastern end of the south wall. These symbols are alleged 
to be representative of the Virgin Mary. 
Read more about the graffiti recording project here:

This page links you to some of the group's work in surveying the medieval / ancient graffiti found in Lincolnshire churches. Although initially interested only in medieval graffiti (anything up to the end of the 15th century), they have also found lot of more recent graffiti. Whereas medieval graffiti tends to be symbols and images, the post-reformation graffiti is often initials or names.

The next West Lindsey Churches Festival will take place on 7-8th and 14-15th May 2016, our 21st year!

There will be over 80 churches open across the district, just north of the cathedral city of Lincoln, England. 

This website will be updated with the 2016 details in March 2016, but please look at the existing pages as they will give a very good idea of what the festival is all about. 

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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Organ Trail Huge Success at #ChurchesFest15

We have a wonderful update from one of our organisers Heather Paul on the success of the Organ Trail this year (the trail is made possible by the Lincolnshire Organists Association):

The organ trails proved popular this year.  People turned up ready to sit down to listen rather than just walk round and go.  One of our organists said he had to be careful not to play the same music at different churches as the organ enthusiasts were following him around!  We timed the two recitals (both very different) at Stow to attract diners in after lunch in the Cross Keys, and it seemed to work! Perhaps my poster in the pub helped!

There were good audiences on the second weekend and our organist at Grasby said the church was full as it seems to be every year!

Part of the fun was talking to people who love organs, and some interesting discussions can arise. Also meeting by chance other organists taking the opportunity to play organs in churches normally kept locked. 

At East Barkwith an organist going around with his wife played for about half an hour, ending with a mother and three young children, and a dog on a lead, enjoying "How much is that doggie in the window" and other requests! 

Good to see people enjoying their church visits for many different reasons and going home happy! It really was 2 good weekends!

Liz Harris at Owmby by Spital added that their event was also a success: "Eleven on Saturday seemed to go down very well.  We had quite a turn out for the recital and the organist gave us some details about what he was playing and even played one of his own works.  All in all, a very successful day."

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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

#ChurchesFest15 Our Virtual Visitors' Book

A collection of comments on the 2015 festival that have come to us digitally, from Facebook, Twitter and by email. Thank you everyone who has taken time to let us know their festival experiences. 
If you have any comments to add, please email 

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Thursday, 14 May 2015

First weekend #ChurchesFest15 a huge success!

Three year old Holly makes her choice at Nettleham Church in the first weekend
Lincolnshire is currently at the halfway point in one of the finest church festivals in Europe, as over 80 places of worship opening their doors as part of the West Lindsey’s Churches Festival, which is now in its 19th year.

Churches to the West of the district have already completed their festival weekend, churches to the East will be open next weekend (16th-17th May).

Feedback from the first weekend has been incredibly positive, with many visitor’s cramming in a huge number of churches in one go. 

Perhaps the most impressive tour so far has been completed by Ben Elliott, using public transport from Sheffield! He commented on Facebook:

“Six churches visited today. Travelled from Sheffield this morning on the 8.44 train to Lincoln, got the 10.30 bus to Cherry Willingham to visit the church there, then walked to Greetwell. Returned to Lincoln for lunch and Eucharist at the Cathedral on the anniversary of its first consecration in 1092, then got the 13.35 bus to Gainsborough to visit St. Thomas of Canterbury RC, All Saints, and St. Paul Morton. Then got the 15.50 bus to Laughton, before returning to Gainsborough to head back to Sheffield.”

Photographer Paul Simpson talked of the classic festival dilemma with his Facebook comment

"I didn't manage as many as I'd hoped for, I think I got to ten in the first weekend. I spent too much time eating cake and buying books and plants from different stalls at various churches. Next week, less cake and more visits. Possibly, as I do like cake..."

And it’s also been a fantastic event so far for the people involved in caring for these churches. Ivan and Wendy Annibal were volunteers at Glentworth and Ivan takes up the story:

"This was the first time in recent years that we have been involved. We love our church and wanted to share its wonderful Christopher Wray tomb with visitors [Chief Justice of England during the reign of Elizabeth I and was the judge that passed sentence on Mary Queen of Scots in 1587]. Little did we know they would share some new insights about St Michael’s with us. 

"Two Glaziers from the Cathedral works department identified the stained glass window at the foot or our Saxon tower as an early piece by Charles Kempe (it has his wheat sheaf signature in the corner) one of the finest Victorian stained glass makers of the 19th century. St Michael’s has one up on the Cathedral itself here which has no glass by Kempe and they were quite jealous! They are going to share a copy of his works catalogue with us which has some more information about the window in it.

The window confirmed as a Kemp at Glentworth, photograph by Julian Guffogg
"Then a former work colleague Brian Porter and his wife Christine turned up. They now spend a lot of their time identifying and recording medieval graffiti. They found a wonderful simple cross on the archway to the Wray chapel in the Church.  Perhaps the first time anyone has seen it for several hundred years as it needed a special torch to help pick it out in its full detail. You can see it clearly with the naked eye once you know it is there though. 

Medieval graffiti confirmed at Glentworth, photo by Brian Porter
(Click this link to can read about the group's work surveying the medieval / ancient graffiti found in Lincolnshire churches. We will report on all their findings during the festival soon)

"Wendy and I were also really impressed by the support given by our fellow villages we had a rota of nine helpers and were surrounded by enough cake and floral displays to fill a smaller church several times over. We had over 100 visitors and raised over £80 in donations for the Church.

"All in all we had a wonderful couple of days and we feel the Church in return shared at least two compelling secrets with us!"

One of the visitors at Glentworth, Julian Guffogg, explains his delight at recognising the Kempe window:

"Myself and Jenny Hannan-Briggs are interested in photographing stained glass windows, we have been for about 18 months now. We have learnt a lot in that short time, and travelled over a wide area to see different windows. We were familiar with Glentworth from the Wray monument.

"We wanted to visit the church to see the stained glass and take photos, and as soon as I walked in I saw the west window, which I recognised as by Charles Eamer Kempe, a noted stained glass artist. His style is unmistakable! The window dates from the 1870s and depicts St Raphael, St Michael with the dragon, and St Gabriel. It is in memory of Charles Flint, a past Vicar.

"The churches festival gave us an opportunity to visit no less than 12 churches across the region - some we were familiar with, but most we wanted to see inside and look at the stained glass."

Next weekend (16-17th May) sees over forty churches open on the East side of the district. Each one is rich in history and It’s all free entry. As well as the rich heritage and beautiful buildings, visitors can enjoy lunches musical recitals, home-made cake, exhibitions and brik-a-brak stalls.

The full list is: Apley, Bardney, Brookenby, Buslingthorpe, Cabourne, Caistor St Peter & St Paul, Caistor Methodist Church, Claxby, Clixby, East Barkwith, Faldingworth, Friesthorpe, Gautby, Grasby, Holton cum Beckering, Holton le Moor, Kingerby, Kirkby cum Osgodby, Langton by Wragby , Legsby, Market Rasen St Thomas, Market Rasen Methodist, Middle Rasen, Nettleton, Normanby le Wold, North Kelsey All Hallows, North Kelsey Methodist, Rand, Riby, Searby cum Owmby, Saxby, Snarford, Snelland, South Kelsey, Southrey, Stainfield, Tealby, Thoresway, Usselby, Walesby All Saints, Walesby St Mary, Wickenby and Wragby.

Free organ recitals are also key to the festival, and this year they are taking place at Faldingworth, All Saints 11am-11.30am, Market Rasen, St Thomas 12.30pm-1pm, Caistor, Methodist 2pm-2.30pm, Grasby, All Saints 3pm to 3.30pm.

For early birds, there are Big Breakfasts in the aisle at Riby St Edmunds on Sunday morning, from 8.30am-11.30am.

Lunches will be served at Bardney, St Lawrence, Caistor, St Peter and Paul, Friesthorpe, St Peter, Legsby, St Thomas, Market Rasen Methodist (Sat only), North Kelsey Methodist, Stainfield, St Andrew and Tealby, All Saints. 

Please take your camera and upload your photos using #ChurchesFest15 on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. 

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Don't forget to upload your photos using
#ChurchesFest15 on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. 

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

"Stories Unlocked" May Churches Festival, West Lindsey, Lincs

LAUNCHING OUR FESTIVAL VIDEO! Just a fraction of the stories our 80+ Lincolnshire churches offer you this May, and it's all free-entry.  Churches in the West open 9th-10th May, in the East 16-17th May. Click here to view our two maps.

This May head North of Lincoln and you'll find over 80 churches unlocked. 

Two free weekends of heritage as you ramble across rolling hills. (Click here for A-Z list of churches)

Stop off for delicious home made lunches (click this link for full lunch list)

Seek out 11 musical recitals on our glorious church organs (click this link for full concert list)

And don't forget, we've lots of cake....

Please take your camera and upload your photos using #ChurchesFest15 on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. 

Click here to watch and share the video on Facebook.

STORIES UNLOCKED IN THIS VIDEO (click church name for full details)

  1. Georgian Splendour (Gainsborough All Saints, open 9-10Th May)
  2. Medieval Comedies (Normanby le Wold, open 16 - 17th May)
  3. Elizabethan Romances and Jacobean Tragedies (Snarford, open 16 - 17th May)
  4. Viking villains and Pagan mysteries (Stow Minster, open 9-10Th May)
  5. Victorian heroes (Southrey, open 16 - 17th May)
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Creative work: Push Creativity

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

Music: Vivaldi - Bassoon Concerto in A Minor. Source:

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