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. 

Connect with our Festival on Facebook and Twitter

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

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