In recent years there has been a West Lindsey Churches Festival in Lincolnshire – www.churchfestival.info. It is spread over two weekends, and I had had plans to do it properly as part of my sabbatical. They produce a nice brochure, so we had a look to see where we could get to. On Sunday 14 May 2023 somehow we went from Sandtoft Transport Museum to St Alkmund’s church Blyborough – SK934945. It is a grade 1 listed church, first mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086), rebuilt in 1876/7 by James Fowler of Louth. Wild churchyard, and nice figures on the tower. They had a simple wooden ramp which meant Julie could get in in her powerchair. No loo.
There was a nice buzz about the place and a pretty grotty leaflet on sale – a long-term project for the Church Festival team would be to work with the churches to do decent leaflets. An interesting war memorial and a couple of Victorian windows.
The beam across the Chancel Arch supports a 600 year old crucifix carved by Flemish craftsmen. Interesting arch by the altar.
The one manual organ was built by G.M. Holdich circa 1870. He was born in 1816, one of a clerical family, and served his apprenticeship with the firm of James Chapman Bishop. He built over fifty organs and exhibited at the Great Exhibition. His most famous organ is the “new organ” at Lichfield Cathedral in 1861, but most of his are village organs. It has three flats with gilded dummy pipes and a battlement stop. It has open, dulciana, clarabella, principle and direction (yes, I understood all of that from the poster attached), with ebony stop handles with paper labels, and no pedals. Apparently the Luard family who lived at the hall at the start of the C20 were very musical, one of them being Bertram Luard Selby, who was organist of Salisbury and Rochester cathedrals and musical editor of Hymns A&M (Revised), and is buried in the churchyard. The Vicar in 1900 was John Hallam had been organ scholar of Corpus Christi in Cambridge – makes you wonder how he managed his music in this little village.
The tomb of Robert Conyng died in 1434. His head is supported on a cushion by angels, with a hound at his feet. He is wearing his Mass vestments decorated with water bougets (says the leaflet). The inscription reads “Here lies Robert Conyng, sometime rector of this church, who died 3 May 1434. On whose soul God have mercy.” Wikipedia tells me that “Water-bougets, which are really the old form of water-bucket, were leather bags or bottles, two of which were carried on a stick over the shoulder. The heraldic water-bouget represents the pair.”
Some other interesting lumps of stone, a font dating to who knows?, and a nice hatchment bearing the Luard motto “Prospice” – apparently there is a Browning poem of the same name, it means facing death without fear.
I had a wander round the outside, and rather like all the faces. A lovely little church, and it is good to see maintenance work being done. The church features on this website – https://www.nationalchurchestrust.org/church/st-alkmund-blyborough, but there is no church website I can find, or contact details on achurchnearyou. One other useful task for a Festival would be to tell us whether churches are only open for this one weekend, or how access is possible the rest of the year.