Last time we went to St Andrew’s church, Kirton in Lindsey, was when I was at Lincoln Theological College in about 1992 – I remember the kids having a lovely play at a flower festival. Sunday 14 May 2023 we finally went back – visiting as part of the West Lindsey Churches Festival – www.churchfestival.info. The church is in the middle of the town at SK934985, but good luck navigating the one-way system! They have an excellent website at https://www.standrewsunitedchurch.org.uk/, which comments that “when the roads were laid out by the Vikings or Saxons or Romans they gave no thought to parking cars.” It suggests where you might find space. There is a good section on church history at https://www.standrewsunitedchurch.org.uk/the-church-building-history – and phone numbers for access to the building, but it is a shame if a town centre church like this is usually locked. It also has a page at https://www.nationalchurchestrust.org/church/st-andrew-kirton-lindsey
Interestingly this is a United Church – not just CE (and you can tell by the mass of denominational magazines and posters on display). The Methodists and Baptists have closed their buildings – the Baptist chapel becoming a church hall – and worship together. As a former Ecumenical Officer I would be interested to know how this works. There was also a headline in the parish magazine “Where have all the Vicars gone?”, which seemed a reference to the fact they have been in Anglican vacancy for several years. O well, too late for me to apply!
The name “Kirton” means “town of the church” and there are suggestions that the earliest Christian church (?7th century) could be built on the site of a Roman temple. Tradition has it that St Paulinus preached here. In 1023 the manor and soke was owned by Lady Godiva and her descendent Earl Edwin of Mercia held it until 1066. It then passed to the monarchy, then the Ducky of Cornwall (we’re a long way from Cornwall!). The original church was enlarged in 1140, rebuilt in the Early English style. The Manor was often gifted to nobles who served the crown, but always passed back to the monarch or the Prince of Wales on the death of the Lord or Lady in question. So Queen Isabella and the Black Prince both held it at some point. In 1799 George IV, when still Prince Regent, sold the Lordship of the Manor to discharge his gambling debts to John Julius Angerstein, a wealthy Russian Jew (who’s art collection later formed the basis of the National Gallery). I love the idea of selling a manor and church to pay your gambling debts.
The tower is rather splendid – erected in the 1200s. It has a splendid West Door with dog-tooth carving.
Good noticeboard outside, but why advertise the postcode rather than the website or the office phone number? We went inside and were welcomed – a good number of people there, serving tea and cake, looking around, ringing the bells and playing the organ – a lovely community feel. Locals and visitors together. I’m not normally a fan of coloured fabric chairs, but here they seem to work – and how lovely it is that you can move them around. We couldn’t do anything this welcoming in St Edmund’s round all the Victorian pews. They had some excellent displays – permanent and temporary – and a display of historical records. The work had certainly been put in for this weekend, and it seemed to be paying off.
Nice too that the Eucharistic vessels were out on display on the altar – although we could ask whether we need something which tells people what we use them for.
Sitting and having tea, you notice that the pillars on the north side rest on stones which once formed part of the earlier (?Saxon) church. Nice figures round the top. Looking up into the Nave roof is lovely too.
It is also nice to look up and see the ringers at work. There are eight bells, and a fine Arts and Crafts ceiling.
The Knight is probably Sir Gilbert Waterhouse who served Henry III. He may have been defaced by the Puritans, and was hidden under the floor before being re-installed in 1862. Also memorials to a Vicar’s wife, a Curate, and an RAF squadron.
At the other end of life we have a font, we have flowers suitable for a wedding (or a Coronation celebration), and a medieval altar to sustain us through life.
We went back outside, and I wandered round to have a look at the Priest’s Door and Tympanum – rather lovely. A very nice visit to this splendid and welcoming church. Julie reminds me I am supposed to record access – she could get in easily in her powerchair (and even easier if we had asked for the double porch door to be opened), and there is an excellent accessible loo.
One cannot leave Kirton without paying a visit to Kirton Lime Sidings signal box – SE950014. This stands on the line from Gainsborough to Barnetby via Brigg, a line which used to have a Saturday-only service, and which now has a once daily train (which was replaced by a bus three days last week). It was built by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway in 1886. It had just started to rain, but we got out of the car anyway. A long drive home, but worth it for a good day out.