THE MINSTER CHURCH OF ST MARY (STOW MINSTER) STOW-IN-LINDSEY, LINCOLNSHIRE (DIOCESE OF LINCOLN)
CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT PLAN CONSULTATION DRAFT
© Stow PCC / CBC June 2012
1. Preliminaries 1.1
List of Contents
Preliminaries 1.1 List of Contents 1.2 Message from the PCC 1.3 Executive Summary Introduction Understanding the place and the community 3.1 The Location and Setting of the Church 3.2 The church and the community 3.3 Description of the building and site 3.3.1 The history and archaeology of Stow and the church 3.3.2 Description of the church today 3.3.3 Description of the exterior 3.3.4 The interior of the church 3.3.5 Furnishings and fittings Assessment of significance 4.1 Statutory Designations 4.2 A detailed breakdown of what is of significance Assessment of potential and constraints 5.1 Issues affecting the church 5.2 Potential areas of conflict 5.3 Impact assessment of any current proposals Management policies Bibliography and sources
2 3 4 5 7 7 9 10 14 19 19 22 24 27 27 27 30 30 34 35 36 39
1.2 Message from the PCC There has been a worshipping Christian community at Stow for at least a thousand years. The role of this huge and fascinating building has changed many times in its long history, but the Minster was from the beginning fully integrated into the life of the community, being primarily a place where God was worshipped daily, but also somewhere people went for all sorts of non-spiritual needs to be met. The church is today seeking to fulfil these roles in the context of a rapidly changing society, recognising the exceptional role of this place in nurturing the Christian faith in Lincolnshire, England and beyond. Today we aim to see Stow Minster once again flourishing as a centre for mission and an integral part of the wider community life. It is still a place where God is worshipped regularly, and visitors often comment on its atmosphere of peace. Its magnificent beauty is awe-inspiring. We want to maintain this legacy for future generations. There is also great potential for the Minster to become an internationally recognised place of education and learning, retreat and pilgrimage, as well as a rich resource for local groups and schools, with its connections with such popular historic figures as Lady Godiva of Coventry. There can be no doubt that this is one of the major parish churches of England, truly monumental in scale and appearance. The challenge of maintaining such a large historic building as a place of worship and community resource is enormous. It was included in the 100 most endangered sites in the world by the World Monuments Fund in 2006. This means that the PCC faces a huge challenge in bringing its vision to fruition. Although an incredible amount has been achieved since then, much more work is still needed to make the building fit for purpose in the 21st century, particularly to the interior. Careful thought and discussion with the community and all who care for this place will be necessary to face this challenge, and to make the most of the opportunities which a fresh look at the church building and its place in Stow and the surrounding area, the Deanery, and Diocese may bring. This Conservation Management Plan (CMP) is a timely and vital document bringing together information regarding these actual and potential religious, cultural and social activities at Stow. The CMP will be used as a means to reappraise and revitalise the church building and its surroundings, and to serve the needs of all members of the community who love and use the church, while maintaining its status as first and foremost a place of worship. The PCC would like to thank the Church Buildings Council for all their hard work in helping to produce the CMP.
1.3 Executive Summary The church of St Mary is one of the oldest historic parish churches of Lincolnshire, the site of Christian worship since at least the early 11th century. The present church building itself is almost 1000 years old in parts, and is one of the major examples of Romanesque architecture in the country, with more Anglo-Saxon and Norman masonry than any other Lincolnshire church. It was considered the â€˜finest Norman church in Lincolnshireâ€™ by the poet and antiquarian Sir John Betjeman, then a member of the Council for Places of Worship (the forerunner of the Church Buildings Council). It is one of the oldest buildings in Lincolnshire still in use for its original purpose, the others all being also churches. Foremost amongst these of course are the Cathedral in Lincoln and the church of St Botolph in Boston (the Boston Stump), and Stow Minster belongs with these buildings in terms of its significance. Its exceptional architectural, art historical, archaeological, and historic importance is recognised in its Grade I listing, and the designation of the site as a Scheduled Monument. The church should however not be seen as an isolated historical monument, but understood within its wider human and natural environment, and as an asset for the local and wider community. The church has frequently proved problematic for the parishioners due to its sheer size; indeed, in the 19th century there was a proposal to pull it down. In recent years the congregation has found it difficult to support the building, and has questioned its long term sustainability as a parish church in its present form. With this in mind, this document has been compiled in order to act as a catalyst for developing the church building as a community and cultural asset as well as a place of worship and contemplation; as a place to learn about the history of Christianity in Lincolnshire, and the rich local heritage of this place and area; and as a cultural centre, a place to enjoy music and art, working together with the cathedral and diocese to offer a world-class attraction. The CMP gives the parameters in which this can happen. The task is to develop a vision and make it into a reality by harnessing energy within the community, with diocesan and national support. The aim is not only to respect the significance of the building and site and the values attached to it by the people of Stow and beyond, but to enhance it, to make it better, to unlock its dormant potential. This vision will require not only energy, but major initial funding to make it self sufficient and sustainable, which will only be available if there is co-operation and understanding between the various stakeholders and everyone who cares about this place. The CMP is seen as a way to facilitate this.
The Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the church of St Mary was compiled in 2012 by Dr Joseph Elders, Major Projects Officer of the Church Buildings Council (CBC) on behalf of the PCC and diocese, at the invitation of the Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey. The document has been compiled with advice and input from Keith Halliday, Secretary of the Lincoln Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC), Ben Stoker (Open Churches Officer) and Matt Cooper and then Rebecca Burrows (Support Officer), the CBC and Professor David Stocker, previously of English Heritage. It was written to act as a catalyst for improving the accessibility, use, and social and educational value of the church and site, as a place of Christian worship and mission and as a community and educational resource. The CMP will be of value to the Parochial Church, Parish, District and County Councils in providing appropriate and dynamic policies and direction for day to day management of the site as well as higher level needs and projects. It is an important document for evaluating short-, medium- and long-term programmes of work. These might involve applications for grant-aid from English Heritage, Lincolnshire County Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the CBC and other sources. Preparation of a CMP is a prerequisite for (or advantageous towards) receiving grant aid for most of these. The CMP follows the guidance published by the CBC in 2007. As this document stresses, a CMP on a major church is “a useful tool for recognising and reconciling tensions that may arise between the necessary life of the worshipping community and the significance of the place, and to help the church and its community to transcend these in order to develop and grow.” Conservation management and planning are increasingly understood to be crucial to the beneficial use and guardianship of important historic structures and sites. CMPs are designed to describe a place and its community and define its significance. They then go on to assess the vulnerability of the place. Finally they establish policies to ensure the long-term protection of the place, and the retention (or if possible enhancement) of its significance. The objectives of this CMP are therefore to: •
Understand the church building and site and its use by the community by drawing together information including documents and physical evidence in order to present an overall description of the place through time. This includes a brief description of the church and site today, how it is used and perceived, and identifies areas for further research.
Assess its significance both generally and for its principal components, on a local, national and international level.
Define constraints and potential by identifying issues affecting the significance of the site and building remains, or which could affect them in the future, and how threats can be mitigated, and potential realised.
Develop management policies to ensure that the significance of the church and site is retained in any future management, use or alteration. If possible this significance should be enhanced through implementation of these policies.
Status of this document: This Conservation Management Plan essentially summarises what is currently known about the church and site, and bases its evaluation of significance, vulnerability, potential and management policies on this summary. Observations have been made which attempt to interpret what can be seen and what has already been written and collated in the light of current understanding. Several histories of the church have been written, notably the recent revision by the Victoria County History on which this document leans heavily. Copious records also survive in the CBCâ€™s own files. No original research has been undertaken for the compilation of this document, but suggestions have been made regarding areas where such work might in future be most advantageously directed. Key amongst these are the questions regarding the early development of the church. The CMP is not a closed document, but should be regularly consulted, checked, corrected if necessary, and updated. It should have a close relationship to other key documents, notably the Inventory and the Quinquennial Inspection reports. The CMP is copyright to the Diocese of Lincoln and the CBC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or manual, including photocopying, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission. No person or corporation other than the diocese shall rely on it in any respect, and no duty of care will be owed by the author to any such third party.
continued to the Romano-British settlement of Littleborough in Nottinghamshire. Characteristically straight, the Roman road (now A1500) joins the A156 to the west, which links Gainsborough and Lincoln (the latter via the A57).
3 UNDERSTANDING THE PLACE AND COMMUNITY This section seeks to describe the place and to put it within its environmental, archaeological, historical, religious and social context. The information is summarised within the CMP itself, more detail is given in the Appendices and in previously existing material, to which reference is made.
There is a whipping post/irons dated 1789 to the south of the church. The old village consists of brick and stonebuilt cottages, a number of the latter being Grade II listed buildings, including very fine 17th-century cottages and mill buildings. A tributary of the River Till passes near the village which fed the latter. The River Till itself passes north to south near the east end of the parish. The River Trent to the west meanders along the line of the A156, past the old port of Marton with which Stow was once economically linked.
3.1 The Location and Setting of the Church Stow (or Stow-in-Lindsey) is a small village and civil parish within the West Lindsey district of Lincolnshire. It is 11 miles north-west of Lincoln and 6 miles south-east of Gainsborough, and has a total resident population of 355, a very small number for such a large place of worship.
An earthwork walkway and accompanying ditch can be seen directly to the west of the church in the grounds of Manor Farm. English Heritage Pastscape states: â€œProbable Post-Medieval L-shaped ornamental pond, aligned with 17th-century Old Hall/ Manor Farm, seen as an earthwork; previously alleged to be a Medieval moat.â€? This is what is shown as a moat on the EH map reproduced below.
The setting of the church in the village, looking north; note repairs in progress
One mile to the south-west of the village at Stow Park, lying just to the south of the Roman road now known as Marton Road (A1500), are the remains of the Medieval palace of the Bishops of Lincoln. To the north and east of the moated site of the palace lie the earthwork remains of associated medieval fishponds. There are also the remains of a deserted hamlet seen as earthworks. The site is designated as a Scheduled Monument.
It is a very attractive historic village, located in a flat landscape of small fields mostly used for growing wheat, oil seed rape and vegetables. The village is on the minor B1241 which is known as Normanby Road leading north out of the village, and about a mile north of the old Roman Road which continued westwards to a major crossing of the River Trent where it
The ecclesiastical parish consists of four villages: Stow, Normanby, Sturton and Bransby, of which Sturton is the largest, being a separate (and larger) village about a mile south of Stow, with its own church, St Hugh’s, which is a chapel-of-ease or Mission Hall to Stow Minster. Some of these villages were once larger, for example Normanby, the site of a deserted Medieval village.
The churchyard The church stands towards the southwest corner of the churchyard, which is the shape of the top left quarter of a circle. Church Road (the old main road through the village) bends around the outer circumference, and this may mark the boundary of the original “Moot Stow”, or great market of the Bishops. The rest of the circle, or oval has been obscured by later development. The churchyard (and the ground under the church) is designated a Scheduled Monument, partly because excavations there have discovered preConquest burials.
The parish covers about 4,000 acres. In 1974 Stow became part of the newly created non-metropolitan district of West Lindsey. In terms of modern development, a renewable energy company, Freewatt, has recently built the county’s largest Solar PV system at their Danes Farm headquarters, ½ mile south-west of Stow. The large and handsome ancient church (National Grid Reference: SK88194 81998) stands at the centre of the historic village, and its tower is visible in the flat landscape for many miles, dominating all else and second only to the cathedral in this part of Lincolnshire in this respect.
The church seen from the south-east The churchyard is raised over 1m above the surrounding roads, defined by a stone wall, with a simple iron gate leading via steps to a slightly rising concrete path to the south door. The fine west door, scarcely used, opens almost directly to the road below via a short flight of stone steps, which are sinking and uneven in places. The churchyard has monuments dating from the late 17th century, and includes a number of very fine stone grave markers and chest tombs, though none are individually listed. The stone used is generally the limestone from which the church is built, but there are some other sources, particularly amongst those from the 19th century. The churchyard is considered to be full, but has not been formally closed for burial.
The Cross Keys Country Inn and Restaurant The architecturally modest Cross Keys Inn and Restaurant is directly to the south, and together these buildings form the heart of the village.
3.2 The church community
eloquent reminder of hundreds of years of community life.
There exists the possibility that there was a Roman and/or sub-Roman church on or near the site of the present church, though evidence is lacking. There are Roman stones reused in the church fabric, and Roman pottery has been found in the village, but this is not conclusive; a villa is thought to exist in the village, perhaps even under the church. The theory that Stow was the Roman Sidnacaster, an early seat of the first Anglo-Saxon bishopric has however fallen out of favour.
The role of the church in the community has changed several times since the construction of the original church (whenever this was). There is a suggestion that a wooden Saxon Church orientated North-South in the region of the existing Tower Crossing predated any stone structure. This was from the beginning a high profile foundation, closely bound up with the history of the historic village and region of Stow and Lindsey and the development of Christianity and the Diocese. The date of origin of the first church building is unclear and the subject of academic debate, but there has certainly been a church on the site for 1000 years.
The first church of which we have specific information was apparently a Minster. These were not just churches, but home to a community, with a mixture of lay folk and priests, acting as a mother church to others within a huge parish. There would often be a number of ecclesiastical and domestic buildings within a defined precinct.
The church is located at the historic heart of Stow, and the village and area could scarcely be imagined without it. As stated in the State of the Historic Environment Reports produced by English Heritage: “The church is usually the oldest and most important listed building in a settlement as well as an icon for community memory and a focus for social activity.”
The Minster at Stow is traditionally thought to have been the Mother church of the Cathedral, and even to have served as a Cathedral itself, but these theories are now considered unlikely.
This description fits the church of St Mary well. The church belongs very much to the people of Stow and the surrounding area, not just to the regular worshipping community. This sense of communal ownership and belonging has perhaps weakened during the late 20th century, a fairly typical development, and could perhaps be strengthened.
The building probably originally served the dual function of parish church as well as a Minster of secular canons, apart from a brief period (1091-4) as a Benedictine Abbey (see below). After this it was given to the village as its parish church (but was still the Bishop’s perquisite appropriated to two of the cathedral’s prebends), Minsters having fallen out of favour in the Norman ecclesiastical system.
Throughout its existence each generation has made its mark on it. Many generations of local folk are buried there, and the monuments inside and outside the church are an often
The size of the church for this small community has continued to cause
improved, and visitor numbers increased.
problems up to the present day, but is also a source of local pride, and its maintenance a remarkable achievement.
In terms of tourism, the Minster is â€œon the radarâ€? but perhaps not as much as it could (and should) be. Lincolnshire Travel Guides on the web comments; St Mary's, Stow, is one of the most ancient parish churches in the country. It superbly combines examples of Saxon, Norman, and medieval architecture under one roof. A 10th century representation of a Viking longship is scratched on the chancel arch. In the north transept is a 13th century wall painting of St Thomas a Becket. The font features a Green Man carving and a dragon or serpent at the base.
The church community today Today the church functions as a Church of England parish church within a parish with the Grade 2 listed building of Sturton St Hugh (see below). It is one of five churches which form the Stow Group. It is by far the most significant in terms of heritage and also the largest of the churches. In 2011, the Stow group was joined to the Saxilby Group itself comprising 3 parishes. Stow is in the Diocese of Lincoln and the Archdeaconry of Stow and Lindsey, and in the Deanery of Corringham. The Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey is presently the Venerable Jane Sinclair.
All of these features could be more clearly and attractively (and more accurately) presented within the church, if funding could be found and an integrated vision developed.
The freehold is vested in the incumbent, this is at present vacant. The PCC is responsible for the fabric of the building and the curtilage. The Church Commissioners are the Lay Rectors of the chancel, and responsible for repairs within certain parameters; at the time of writing works to the chancel roof were being part funded by them under this liability.
Other churches and places of worship in the Stow area The nearest Anglican churches are within the present group. There are four churches within the Group: Sturton-by-Stow St Hugh; Coates by Stow St Edith; Willingham by Stow St Helen; and Torksey St Peter.
The church is normally open throughout the day. Welcome leaflets are available, and a guide book (which could be revised) is provided in English. The church welcomes about 3,500 visitors each year but could achieve considerably more. The parish has gone to considerable trouble to illustrate the history of the church, with information boards in various places explaining monuments etc, although these look a little jaded. There is potential for this aspect to be
Sturton St Hugh, seen from the southwest
Sturton St Hugh was built in 1879 as a chapel and mission hall. It was designed by J L Pearson, and is a modest but dignified red brick church in the Early English style with apsed chancel with groups of cusped lancets, with good detailing. It can seat up to 120. At present it requires repairs to the floors and roof. It serves a larger village than Stow Minster, just ½ mile south.
Other denominations There is a small Wesleyan Methodist chapel in the village, a simple neoClassical building of 1824. Built of brick with a pantiled roof. The side walls were originally of two bays, but the building was enlarged to the front and the datestone was reset above the round-arched entrance. It is now a domestic residence. There is a Methodist church in Sturton.
Coates by Stow St Edith is a Grade I Medieval church. There is no village here, just a farm, plus a few houses and the church adjacent to a manor house is in a beautiful and peaceful setting, and a hidden gem of a church. It is 12th-century in origin, with alterations and additions including a double belcote, but was only lightly restored 1883-4 by J L Pearson, at the same time he was working on Stow Minster and Sturton St Hugh. It is constructed of coursed limestone rubble, limestone ashlar. Plain tiled roof. The church is small, nave and chancel, the west end with blocked 13th-century tower arch. It contains a 15th century rood screen (the only one in Lincolnshire), and fine furnishings and fittings. 2 miles east.
People and place; personalities associated with the church and Stow The first named historical figure who could be associated with the place is St Etheldreda (c.630-679), who according to legend rested at a place called Stow while travelling from Northumberland to Ely. Her ash staff, planted in the ground, is said to have miraculously burst into leaf to provide her with shelter, whereafter the church of ‘St Etheldreda’s Stow” (later renamed Stow St Mary) was built to commemorate the event. This legend is illustrated in a Victorian stained glass window in the chancel. The ‘Stow’ where the saint is said to have rested may however have been somewhere else, there are several candidates.
The two other churches in the group are:
The earliest phase of the present church was possibly built under Bishop Eadnoth II (1034-1050), and enriched and endowed by Leofric, Earl of Mercia and his better-known wife, Lady Godiva famed for her legendary ride through Coventry. In the 1050s, her name is coupled with that of her husband on a grant of land. She is mentioned in the Domesday survey as one of the few Anglo-Saxons and the only woman to remain a major landholder after the Conquest. There is perhaps scope to make more of this connection.
Torksey St Peter: Grade II* Medieval church. Early 13th-century, late 13thcentury, 16th-century tower, 1821 rebuilding of nave, aisle and chancel. 3 miles south-west. Willingham-by-Stow St Helen: Grade II church, Mid 12th-century, late 17thcentury, heavily restored in 1880 by Brodrick and Smith. One and a half miles north-east.
In 1092 the first Cathedral at Lincoln built by Bishop Remigius was consecrated. A Benedictine monk, he was the first Norman Bishop of the largest diocese in medieval England, extending from the Humber to the Thames. The cathedral of this diocese had been at Dorchester, near Oxford, but in 1072 William I instructed that the Bishopric should be moved to Lincoln. Remigius brought monks from Evesham to establish a Benedictine house at Stow in 1091, but this experiment did not survive him, and the monks left in 1094. However, the reconstruction of the transepts has been dated to this period. The renowned architect John Loughborough Pearson was charged with the restoration of the church in the middle of the 19th century. He also worked at Coates-by-Stow (see above), designed Sturton St Hugh and further afield designed Truro cathedral in Cornwall, as well as building or restoring many other churches. He received the commission from the incumbent, the Revd George Atkinson, who raised money for the restoration and devoted his own fortune to its restoration, dying just before the completion of the works. Posterity has the energy of this man to thank that the church survived at all. He is commemorated within the church.
Description of the buildings and site
This section gives a brief summary of the history of the church. It proceeds to describe the church and churchyard as they are at the time of writing, attempting to be as comprehensive as possible without going into great detail.
Map of Stow, from English Heritage list description, church at the centre Licence number 102006.006.
Plan of the church (by J L Pearson 1878), from Church Plans Online with permission
3.3.1 The history and archaeology of Stow and the church
As noted already this place is traditionally claimed to be the site of the Roman Sidnacaster, which became the seat of the early Saxon Bishopric of Lindsey (Syddensis). However, it is now considered that this attribution is unfounded.
Summary: The following is based mainly on the parish web site and the National Monuments Record. It is meant as background information only. It should be noted that the date of the first church on the site, and the development of the present building in the (?)10th, 11th and 12th century is a matter of academic contention and many details are as yet unclear.
A Romano-British cell or chapel here cannot be ruled out, although there is no firm evidence. The same is true of a Post-Roman church. A Saxon Minster might have existed at Stow from the late 7th or 8th century, a supposition based mainly on the dating of many other important Minsters, and the presence of an earlier settlement under the Late Saxon church and graveyard here. Again, however, there is no firm evidence.
Prehistoric There are a number of scattered findspots of Stone Age flints along the rivers, and Bronze Age tools are known in the area, though none in the immediate vicinity of the site, but stray finds from all these periods are possible.
Excavations in 1983 revealed what might have been an earlier porticus (or possibly a demolished part of the present building) east of the north transept, and a nave which was shorter than it is at present and possibly aisled. The possible porticus cut earlier inhumations, confirming that the graveyard was used as such before this was built. It is possible that the first church, and the associated graveyard, may date to the mid 10th century, a period when the Kings of Wessex were asserting their power in the region (Stocker & Everson).
Roman Roman coins and other settlement material have been found in the parish and village, of the 2nd century and later, including pottery from the churchyard. Pastscape comments; â€œRoman coins and possible "building debris" (not described) are reported to have been found at Stow. The site has been included by Scott in her gazetteer of Roman villas, although clearly the presence of a villa is, on present evidence, purely conjectural.â€? Some form of Roman settlement in and/or around Stow is however attested, and the churchyard has high archaeological potential for this period, possibly even for the site of the villa itself given the presence of Roman material in the fabric of the church.
Florence of Worcester states that the church was built or rebuilt by Bishop Eadnoth, in office from 1034-1050 AD. This is now thought to be the most likely date for the earliest phase of the present building. The Minster was endowed in 1054 by Leofric and Godiva, encouraged by Bishop Wulfwig, as a Minster of
Secular Canons with the Bishop at its head. A charter of 1054 survives describing what they did, and how they furnished the church with priests who were to sing the services in the way in which they were sung in St Paul's cathedral. The endowment included Newark and Fledborough in Nottinghamshire and nearby Brampton and Marton, as well as the manor of Stow and the taxes of surrounding districts.
cathedral to Lincoln, he decided to make Stow into a Benedictine monastery by transferring monks from Eynsham Abbey near Oxford. This was done the year before he died in 1091, but his successor quickly moved them back again in 1094-5, and Stow became a parish church which it has remained ever since. The arches of the crossing and the two transepts survive from the structure built about the time of the foundation of the minster of secular canons. The nave was lengthened and rebuilt, together with the chancel, in the late 12th century.
The earliest fabric in the church is in the base of the tower, transepts and its crossing arches, as noted above probably dating from the Bishopric of Eadnoth (1034-1050). The main phases in the current fabric are therefore considered to be c1050, c1090, c1150, c1170, 13th-century, early 15th-century, late 17th century, and mid 19th century.
In 1156, most of Stow was traditionally said to have been destroyed by fire. This may have been an attempt to explain the rebuilding of the Minster about this time, and the fire damage on the lower, 11th-century walls, and also debris including molten lead, which has been discovered under the floors. Above the plinth of the south jamb of the north face of the east crossing arch is a graffito of a ship, often described as the earliest representation of a Viking ship in England. It is thought to be post-1050 (the earliest fabric phase). A second graffito of a ship can be seen above the plinth of the west face of the south crossing pier, 2m above the floor, also post-1050.
Reconstruction of the development of the church â€“ source parish web site. The two earliest phases are now considered to be c1050 and c1090. Norman Stow and the church of St Mary was recorded in Domesday in 1066. After Remigius had moved his
The â€œVikingâ€? ship graffito
refurnishing of the interior with box pews, although some of the Medieval benches were retained. The crossing was again the most important part of the church, the chancel used only for the comparatively infrequent celebrations of Holy Communion.
Medieval The manor of Stow belonged to the Bishops of Dorchester and Lincoln from the time of Edward the confessor until 1547. They had a market here, known as the Moot stow. Stow Park is identifiable as the site of the Bishops’ palace from the 13th century and the site may go back earlier, possibly to before the Conquest, being first referred to in documentary sources in the late 12th century.
In the crossing, spilling out a little into the transepts and nave, were the Medieval pews with their backs made higher by the addition of panelling. The Jacobean pulpit, with a canopy over it, was against the north-east pier, and the reading desk, unusually for the period, was placed diagonally opposite, by the south-west pier.
13th-century additions include the Early English windows in the transepts, but there were no major structural changes in this period. The fine font was installed.
Overhead, quite low down, was the roof of the ringing gallery, traces of which can be seen halfway up the piers. The western arch was partially blocked by the Singing Gallery for the choir, which occupied the extreme east end of the nave. As the remains of the screens still existed, this part of the church was very cluttered.
In the 15th century a new tower was built, and the roofs were lowered, the chancel’s stone vault being removed. There was a port on the River Trent at Marton 4 miles west, and much of the trade coming in here went through Stow. Following the decline of this port towards the end of this period, Stow declined economically and shrank as a settlement, becoming a peaceful backwater as it is today.
All this was swept away at the restoration by Pearson and Atkinson, and for the first time the church was arranged as a single open space (see below).
Post-Reformation 19th century In the mid-16th century following the Reformation Bishop Holbeach transferred the manor into private hands, and it became a deer park. By the late 18th century the buildings were in ruins after the removal of building materials from the site, and a new farmhouse and outbuildings, called Moat Farm, were built.
By the middle of the 19th century the condition of the church was poor, and it was even suggested that it should be demolished and a ‘convenient parish church’ built in its place. Instead of this, the incumbent the Revd. George Atkinson, raised money for the restoration, bringing in the renowned architect John Loughborough Pearson.
After the Reformation the church continued to be used as a parish church. The nave roof was repaired in 1685 and the tower rebuilt. The 18th century saw reordering and
The chancel was restored in 1850-2 with new east windows and entablature and an extraordinary new stone vault by Pearson. Remains of the old vault
were discovered during the works to the chancel and incorporated. George Atkinson wrote;
Copies of the Medieval pews were made and arranged in the eastern bays of the nave, there were also pews facing towards the crossing in the transepts. A pulpit was located against the south respond of the chancel arch, on a stone base which is still there, although the pulpit has since been moved (see below).
"On removing the plaster from the wall above the vaulting piers ... the curves of vaulting could be distinctly traced ... On taking out portions (of the wall) it was found that the ashlar-like stones were no other than arch stones of the old groining, with their mouldings turned inwards towards the wall ... We found not less than 40 so perfect that they have been placed in the restored vaulting."
The ICBS records (taken from Church Plans Online) state: STOW BY GAINSBOROUGH, St. Mary the Virgin (1864-1878). For new vestries, with reseating and general restoration. File includes illustrated printed circular and printed notices for Institution of incumbent, 1877, and Choral Festival, 1878. Minutes: Volume 18 pages 65,267,278, Volume 22 pages 6,32,49,141,2 20th century There were restorations again in 1927, when the pulpit was relocated. A further move in 1984 re-positioned the pulpit as part of the pew ensemble on the south side of the nave. There were further works in 1963. Again, the ICBS has the following records, and there are faculties and details in the CBC file on the church.
Front page of the appeal for the restoration, perspective created by BODLEY, George Frederick: b. 1827 d. 1907 of London. From Church Plans online.
STOW BY GAINSBOROUGH, St. Mary the Virgin (1927-1934) Lincolnshire ICBS 11867 Folios ff.138. Grant Reason: Repairs Outcome: Approved Professionals CAROE, William Douglas: b. 1857 d. 1938 of London. PASSMORE, Herbert: b. 1868 - d. 1966 of London Firms CAROE & PASSMORE (Architects) .Notes: For repairs to roof and walls. File includes printed circular and copy of LINCOLN DIOCESAN MAGAZINE, April 1931, with article on church. Stow by
The remainder was restored 1864-78, with added vestries in the angle of nave and north transept and reordering also by Pearson. The stair turret previously at the north-east corner was rebuilt by Pearson in the external angle of nave and north transept. He also restored the roofs to their original pitch.
Gainsborough also known as Stow in Lindsey. Minutes: Volume 34 pages 27,101, Volume 35 page 351 No plan exists in the archive
c 950 Earliest church and burials.
STOW BY GAINSBOROUGH, St. Mary the Virgin (1963-1964) Parish of STOW BY GAINSBOROUGH, Lincoln diocese ICBS 11867 Folios ff.39-49 Grant Reason: Repairs Outcome: Approved. Professionals BOND, Lawrence Henry: b. 1909 - d. 1993 of Grantham (Architect). For roof repairs.
1066-88: Norman Conquest, Stow St Mary in the hands of the Bishop at the time of the Domesday survey. Value in 1066 £32, in 1086 £30. Households: 20 villagers. 3 freemen. 1 priest. 4 ploughlands.
c1050: Building on the present plan has been built and is a Minster.
1091-94: Declining Minster briefly refounded and rebuilt(?) as Benedictine Abbey by Bishop Remigius, then becomes parish church.
From the above one can note that some of the most celebrated architects of the 19th and 20th centuries have worked on this fine church.
Mid 12th century: nave and chancel rebuilt. 13thcentury: New font and windows.
There were further major repair works. In 2008/2009 with the help of James Robertson Challenge Fund of the WMF, English Heritage, National Churches Trust and WREN the north and south transept roofs were repaired and re-leaded. The chancel roof has just been repaired in 2011/2012 with funds provided by the Lay Rectors, the Church Commissioners and English Heritage.
15th century: Restoration, and tower rebuilt. 1536-40: Reformation, destruction of wall paintings, glass etc. 1685: Tower repaired, restoration and changes to interior – preaching box. 18th century: Reordering and refurnishing of interior with box pews and galleries.
Timeline: Summary of the salient dates in the development of the church.
1848-78: Alterations and restoration by J L Pearson.
c 100 Some form of Roman settlement - possibly a villa – at Stow.
1927: Repairs and changes to interior. c 300 A Christian community and church? No firm evidence.
1963-4: Repairs. 1983 Repairs. Excavations on north side find porticus of earlier church
c 420 Roman troops leave Britain – could a church have continued in use? No proof.
2008-9: Repairs of north and south transept roofs with WMF and EH money.
c 900 Saxon settlement in Stow suggested by finds from the churchyard
2011-12: Repairs of chancel roof with Church Commissioners funds and English Heritage grant.
shafts on each side, the central shafts with chevron decoration. The arch rests on scalloped cushion capitals with geometric decoration above and abaci. Round head with two chevroned inner orders, a roll moulded order and chevroned outer order. Plank doors.
3.3.2 Description of the church today Ground plan: 3-bay nave, north and south transepts, crossing tower, rectangular 3-bay chancel, north-west vestry, north stair turret. Dimensions: Nave and crossing 22m (75ft) long, 16m (55ft) wide, chancel 16m x 8m, transepts 6m x 5m (eastwest). Building materials: Uncoursed and coursed limestone rubble, limestone ashlar, lead roofs with stone coped gables and cross finials of various designs. Some slate.
3.3.3 Description of the exterior There can be no doubt that this is one of the major parish churches of England. It is arguably the most famous ancient parish church in Lincolnshire, although not the largest â€“ this is Boston St Botolph (Boston Stump). However, the church preserves more original Anglo-Saxon and Norman masonry than any other church, and this is a rare survival anywhere. The sheer scale cannot fail to impress.
The west door To the north (left) of this is an early 15th-century pointed niche with cusping. Two pointed 19th-century lights above set in 19th-century rubble filling a large 14th-century opening. Above this is a 12th-century flat string course, with an oculus in the gable.
The nave Beginning the description at the west end, the nave west front has a chamfered plinth and flanking pilaster buttresses. Steps lead up from the road below to the partially restored and very fine 12th-century doorway, of four orders with inner rectangular jambs and three
The nave seen from the south-west, both doors visible
The south side of the nave has three pilaster buttresses, that to the east masking the join with the south transept. The path from the road to the south, the main entrance to the church, leads to a large mid-12th-century doorway to the west bay of the south wall. This was also partially restored in the 19th century.
East of this is a stair turret, removed in the 19th century from its original position against the north-west jamb of the interior crossing arch. It has a 19thcentury string course, quoins and pyramidal slate roof, and four Anglo Saxon round and round headed lights re-set on its north and west sides. Vestry 20th-century lean-to vestry below string course to east, with two re-set windows to east, one with pointed, the other a round head, and coal-hole door below. North side of vestry with double glazed doors with three lights to east with pointed heads.
The south door and path It has four orders with inner rectangular jambs with moulded profile, and three shafts on each side, the two outer shafts on each side with chevron decoration. Scalloped cushion capitals with geometric patterning above, and scored abaci. Round head with five orders, the two inner orders with chevroned decoration, third order roll moulded, fourth order with complex chevron and outer order with double billet. Plank doors. A string course runs above the doorway with scallop decoration.
The vestry in the angle of north transept and nave North transept The lower levels of c1034-50, and upper levels of 1090. Stepped plinth. West side of north transept with tall, pointed mid 13th-century window of two pointed lights with quatrefoil above and hood mould. Slab quoins.
There is an 11th-century(?) stone coffin set against the wall to the east of the door, a rare survival. Above, three round-headed windows with pilaster buttresses between marking the bays. String course continues and runs over the corner pilaster buttress.
North wall with narrow window with massive through stone jambs and rectangular head. 12th-century oculus above. Coped gable with 19th-century cross finial with interlace decoration. East wall with tall, pointed mid 13thcentury window of two pointed lights with quatrefoil above and hood mould.
North side of nave with plinth and flat string course running over corner pilaster buttress. Above the 20thcentury lean-to vestry (see below) is a 12th-century round headed window. 20
Lower levels of south transept possibly of c1034-49, and upper levels of cl090. Stepped plinth with square and chamfered profiles. Slab quoins on south-east and south-west corners. East side with small round headed opening with hood mould. Mid 13th-century window to south, of two lights with quatrefoil and hood mould. South side with narrow round headed light of cl090 with hood mould with Jews' harp decoration. Tall early 13th-century window to west of 2 pointed lights with plate traceried quatrefoil and hood mould. 12th-century oculus above.
The chancel In the corner of the chancel and north transept projects the corner of the 11thcentury chancel bonded into the transept wall, with slab quoins. There is a clear masonry break with the north wall of the later 12th-century chancel from the 11th-century work. Stepped plinth runs round chancel. Four pilaster buttresses alternate with two tiers of three windows, these restored in the 19th-century. Three lower windows with round heads niche bands and nook shafts. Three upper, smaller round headed windows. Corbelled eaves and parapet above.
West wall of transept with single small narrow 12th-century window with round head and hood mould with small monster head label stops.
East end of chancel with flanking pilaster buttresses. Wall and windows in between reconstructed in 19th century, with central pilaster running up to just below gable. Single round headed window on each side with chevroned heads, nook shafts and cushion capitals. Single smaller round headed windows flank pilaster above. Single oculi with cable decoration flank the pilaster in the gable. South side of chancel with 4 pilaster buttresses alternating with two tiers of three windows restored in the 19th century. Three lower windows with round chevroned heads and nook shafts. Three upper, small round headed windows. Corbelled eaves and parapet above.
The south transept. Note the changes in colour, stonework, and the quoins, and irregular fenestration
In the corner of the chancel and transept projects the corner of the 11thcentury (Pre-Conquest) chancel with slab quoins and bonded into transept wall, and with clean masonry break from the 12th-century chancel.
The tower Early 15th-century crossing tower on 11th-century foundations. Single narrow rectangular lights flank steep pitched roofs rising against tower. 11thcentury round light re-set in this position on north side. String
course with bell openings on all 4 sides above. Each bell opening with pointed head with 3 pointed Lights and vertical tracery above. Moulded eaves above with corner gargoyles and gargoyles in centre of each face. Battlements above with ornate corner pinnacles and standing figures of Four Evangelists in centre of each face.
flower heads. Those on the north side are 14th-century, those to the south copies, and here the pulpit has been built into the easternmost block. This was done in 1984, though a brass plaque records an earlier move of the pulpit in 1927. This arrangement looks rather odd today, and the pulpit is rarely used.
3.3.4 The Interior of the church: The interior is thickly plastered and whitewashed, but with architectural details such as arches and window frames left as exposed stonework. There is a problem with historic and recent damp ingress which has discoloured and damaged the plaster in many places, and some of the high level stonework is green with mould. Unless the weather is very warm, the visitor will also be struck by how cold and damp the place feels.
The Medieval bench-ends in the nave In the north wall there is a pointed doorway with plank doors and 17thcentury lintel above, now leading into the early 20th-century vestry with modern toilet facilities. Small pointed recess to the east of the doorway.
The sense of grandeur and simplicity is arguably even more powerful than from the outside. Looking up the nave has a fine tie-beam roof inscribed 1685, partly restored in the late 19th century and thereafter. The floor of the nave is of plain red quarry tiles, uneven and cracked in places and showing signs of damp and salt penetration. There are steps down to the crossing, from which there are steps down into the transepts and a step up to the chancel.
Looking east, the large crossing is 35 metres square, the masonry up to impost level is of c1034-49. The heads of the crossing arches and above of is masonry of c1090. There are signs of fire damage on the earlier masonry. The piers stand on massive plinths of one square and four chamfered stages. Each jamb is decorated with single pilaster strip and half shafts with crude bases. Outer arches of crossing with round moulded heads, the outer order of western arch with Jewsâ€™ harp decoration. Inner face of crossing with 12th-century pointed, moulded arches supported on 12th-century massive polygonal piers on tall, chamfered stepped plinths inserted into the 11thcentury corners of the crossing.
There are attractive brass and wood chandeliers and electric lighting, although lighting levels could be looked at in terms of both safety and aesthetics. There are six rows of benches on each side of a central alley in the east bay, the bench ends with cusped tracery and 22
paved floor with various 18th-century ledgers.
Low down on the south crossing pier, a rough scratching of an oared sailing ship can just be distinguished. Previously considered to be the earliest known representation of a Viking ship in England, it probably dates from the late tenth or early eleventh century, according to Prof Stocker. North transept with narrow west doorway of c 1034-49, leading into the vestry described above, with non-radial voussoirs, chamfered imposts and long and short quoins running through thickness of wall. To the north of the west window of the north transept is the remnant of an 11th-century window jamb with exposed quoining.
The south transept interior South transept has three Medieval corbel heads re-set high in the wall, two wearing hats. Stone paved floor with various 18th-century ledgers. Victorian benches, loose but usually ordered collegiate style, this rarely used.
The east wall of the transept has an ornate niche heavily restored in 19th century, containing remnants of very rare early13th-century wall painting of the murder of Thomas Becket exposed at that time, and since badly degraded. This is another of the glories of the church even in its present state, and could be made much more of.
Chancel of c1170, heavily restored in the 19th century.
The chancel looking east Quadripartite rib-vaults of three bays with chevroned ribs and ball flower decoration, by Pearson using some original material. Vaults supported on corbel heads to west and tripartite responds to east with scalloped or beaded cushion capitals, decorated bases and abaci running into string course on wall. This vault by Pearson is one of the glories of the church; it is possible to get up into the roof space and see it from above.
The Becket painting in the north transept To the east of the north transept arch is a rectangular opening at waist height with steps originally leading to the preReformation rood loft across the chancel arch, now blocked. Two corbel heads of musicians in north transept, and two smaller plain corbels. Stone 23
followed by brief descriptions of the moveable furnishings and fittings.
One of the other glories of the church is the richly carved wall arcade which runs round north, east and south walls with plain shafts (these mostly replaced in 19th century), round heads with rich chevron and ball flower decoration and cushion capitals with various decorations.
Altar: Altar tables of oak in the chancel and transepts, 19th-century. Reredos: None except the Norman arcading in the wall behind. Pulpit: 17th-century polygonal pulpit with decorative panels, restored in 1877 and moved to present position in 1984. An odd arrangement. Other woodwork: Two 16th-century chests in nave. Ornate 16th-century chest in north transept. Highly ornate 17th-century chair with arms and back decorated with daisy heads and swirling leaves. Two wooden statues of St Mary the Virgin and St John in the north transept from rood screen (?).
The chancel arcading The windows above have surrounds decorated with chevron and key pattern. The east end was rebuilt in 19th century with scalloped string course above the wall arcade and another above lower windows which continues over north and south walls. Upper windows plain except for south window with nook shafts and roll moulded head.
Lectern: The brass lectern was a memorial to the Revd George Atkinson, by Hardman of Birmingham.
The chancel has good quality choir stalls lining the walls with black lamp shades to the choir lights. This looks rather tired, and the fabric covered chairs in front of the stalls are generally shrouded in plastic sheeting. A new look at this arrangement with a view to enhancing the appearance and use of the chancel might bear dividends. Tiled floors.
The font, looking west Font: An octagonal stone late 13thcentury font, each side with single motif; a green man; serpent; Star of David and flower heads. Bowl supported on cluster of shafts with foliate capitals and face and foliate motif in north-east and south-east corners, and long tailed dragon stretching between north-west and south-west corners. A very fine piece, now standing on a simple
Furnishings and fittings: all c 1880 unless otherwise noted. The architectural features (those things which are fixed) are described first,
Victorian plinth block of re-used masonry.
(Fulk's wife). On the north pier of the chancel arch is a brass memorial to Richard Burgh of Stow Hall (died1616). It also commemorates his son, Sir John, 'a noble and valyeant souldyer' killed while serving as Colonel-General of Charles I’s expeditionary force to the Isle of Rhe in 1627.
There are also fragments of a 12 century font with blind arcading. Stained glass: Chancel east window contains Victorian stained glass of 1880-1, depicting the Annunciation (upper left), Christ the King (upper right) and (lower windows) six roundels illustrating the Creed, from 'Born of the Virgin Mary' to 'Ascended into Heaven'.
Bells: In the tower is a ring of eight bells, as follows, a fine ring, the two oldest listed for preservation by the CBC.
High up in the walls to the north and south are small windows with Victorian glass depicting St Etheldreda and St Hugh with his pet swan. The glass is not of high significance technically or artistically.
1998 1998 1888 1770 1888 1888 c1550
Monuments: A fine collection, only the most important are listed here.
1762 Four fragments of mid-10th to early 11th-century grave covers have been found in the church during restoration, although only one now remains. It is displayed in a cabinet in the foyer beyond the north door of the nave and is a Lindsey type. A fragment of another is built into the nave north wall exterior.
J Taylor & Co J Taylor & Co J Taylor & Co Henry Harrison, Barrow J Taylor & Co J Taylor & Co Henry I Oldfield Walker & Co, Rotherham
The oldest bell dates from circa 1550. The tenor bell dates from 1762 and is the last known ringable example of the bellfounders, Walker & Co of Rotherham. The 1998 treble bell was purchased, in part, with funds donated by the Red Arrows Trust and has the logo of the Red Arrows Aerobatic Team imprinted on it.
Monument on south wall of nave to Thomas Holbeach, died 1591, of stone with coat of arms and scrolls.
There is also a clock bell by J Taylor & Co, 1932, transferred from the redundant church of St Luke Pontnewyndd, South Wales and donated by John Underwood in 1998. It is hung dead and can also be used as a sanctus bell. The letter ‘G’ in the word ‘Ground’ in the inscription on the tenor bell is reversed.
14th-century fragmentary tombstone inscribed with ornate cross and other ornate fragments. Coffin lids in chancel floor, probably 13th-century, both with faces and hands clasped in prayer viewed through round openings. That on the south side has an inscription in English which probably reads "Alle men that ben in lyf prai for Emme was Fuk wyf"
The six bells oldest bells were re-hung in the present composite frame by Taylor’s of Loughborough in 1888 and in 1978 they were re-hung on ball
bearings. A steel extension was added in 1998 by Hayward Mills Associates when the two trebles were added. All eight bells are hung from cast-iron headstocks on ball bearings and the canons have been removed from the original six bells.
War memorials: Oak board in memory of the fallen in World War I and II. Miscellanea: Photographs of church, late 19th- and early 20th-century, watercolours and postcards, and other photographs and drawings, in the church.
The Archbishop of York gave two ‘great bells’ to this church in the eleventh century. In 1556 the churchwardens reported that ‘the handbelles which belonged to the church in Queen Mary’s time had been broken in peces and sold to a tinker ano 1562’.
The condition of the fabric and churchyard Based on the latest Quinquennial Inspection Report by Glew & Smith of Lincoln. The church fabric is generally in reasonably sound condition following a campaign of high-level repairs, but with a number of issues which need attending. The chancel roof was being repaired with a grant from the Church Commissioners and English Heritage at the time of writing.
Stow people clearly thought their bells far superior to those of their neighbours, whence the old rhyme: Marton s Cracked Pancheons And Torksey Egg Shells Saxilby Ding-Dongs And Stow Mary Bells Sundial: Parts of a sundial of circa 1090 were found in a pile of rubble outside the church in 1971, and is in private ownership. There is the potential that these sundial pieces could be returned to Stow Minster for display.
A programme of environmental monitoring has been instigated following a report by Tobeit Curtis in April 2009. There are signs of damp throughout the interior affecting the stonework, plaster, and the congregation and visitors, making the church too damp and cold to use for much of the year. Major investment will be required to solve these problems.
Organ: Brindley and Foster of Sheffield built the organ in 1873. A fine instrument. GREAT Open Diapason, Lieblich Gedact, Dulciana, Octave, Mixture III; SWELL Violin Diapason,Viola, Flute, Celeste, Octave, Trumpet; PEDAL Bourdan. 32 Couplers. The swell Viola and Celeste have been replaced by a Blockflote and Larigot and a pedal Bass Flute added.
In terms of security and safety, the church is kept open during the day. No valuables are kept on location except under lock and key.
Communion plate: Not inspected. Registers: From 1561. Held in Lincolnshire Record Office.
4 ASSESSMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE Major Early Medieval churches and churchyards such as Stow Minster are rare, and of enormous interest and research potential, not only for the historian, archaeologist, and architectural historian and art historian but for everybody interested in local and national history, rich in material resources for understanding the past. A church has stood here as a beacon of continuous Christian mission for more than a thousand years, placing worship at the very centre of local life. Churches are by no means static or frozen in time, indeed the fact that they have been subject to constant change throughout their history makes them all the more important and fascinating. In order to manage this change responsibly, it is necessary to define the relative significance of every aspect of the church and churchyard within its local, regional and national context. This relative significance is articulated thus, following Kerr (1994) and the CBC guidance (2007). • • • • •
Exceptional – important at national to international levels. Considerable – important at regional level or sometimes higher. Some - usually of local value but possibly of regional significance for group or other value (eg a vernacular architectural feature). Local - of local value Negative or intrusive features, ie those which actually detract from the value of a site, for example a concrete boiler house adjacent to a medieval church.
The church building with its fixed contents is of exceptional significance as a major medieval church with a complex architectural, archaeological and art historical development and history, recognised in its Grade I listing. Date listed: 16th December 1964. The churchyard (and the ground under the church) is designated a Scheduled Monument because of its archaeological significance, and is of exceptional significance in this regard. No building ground works are permitted within the curtilage of the village of Stow without an archaeological watching brief being in place. There are no Tree Preservation Orders applying to trees within the churchyard There are presently no other statutory designations beyond those given above.
A detailed breakdown of what is of significance:
One of the great parish churches of England, and arguably the most important Early Medieval church in Lincolnshire, of exceptional architectural significance and landscape value, and of exceptional historical and archaeological significance. The
site is of potentially exceptional significance, especially seen in the context of the earlier church buildings and associated burials. Social, religious, community The church is of exceptional significance as a focus and centre for mission and worship for the congregation, parish, Diocese, and for the Church of England. It is the major physical manifestation of the durability of the Christian faith in this place. The church is of exceptional significance as a symbol of civic identity and pride in the history and cultural continuity of Stow, being together with the other churches one of the largest and oldest buildings still used by the community (and for the original purposes). The church and churchyard are of exceptional significance as a landmark visual feature in the village of Stow. Stow Minster is a tourist attraction in its own right, with the church contributing greatly to the attractiveness of the village and area. It is therefore of considerable, potentially exceptional significance as an attraction for the tourist industry and economy of Stow and Lincolnshire and wider region. The significance of the church for our understanding of medieval liturgy The architecture and arrangement of any church are dictated primarily by the liturgical rites which take place within and around it. The form of the church building is therefore of exceptional significance for our understanding of the evolution of a medieval church in terms of its liturgy. The basic cruciform plan form is of exceptional significance for how early Minsters worked. More research into these issues could add considerably to our understanding. The significance of the church for our understanding of Post-Reformation liturgy The evidence for this exists only in the form of illustrations of the interior dating to the 18th and early 19th centuries, and accompanying descriptions, which is of some significance for our understanding of the liturgy of this period. The significance of the liturgical developments of the 19th and 20th centuries The remnants of the Victorian scheme is in itself of local significance as an example of the liturgical fashion of the late 19th century, and of the work of J L Pearson. Musical significance The organ is of considerable significance as a fine modern instrument with excellent tonal qualities, which exploits superb acoustics within the church. The bells are a fine ring of eight of considerable significance, part of a long tradition of bell-ringing here and considered one of the better rings in Lincolnshire.
The considerable significance of music to the parish and its worship is illustrated by the fact that the church is a favoured concert venue for community choral events, for major and small instrumental performances and during festivals, and it is intended to increase this use in conjunction with other institutions (the cathedral?) and events. Ecological significance The church in its surroundings is of some ecological significance, with mature grass and lichens. Archaeological significance The church building itself is of exceptional archaeological significance. Despite the many changes including window and fabric replacements, much original and cumulative fabric remains. The site is of exceptional potential for the archaeology and history of the Early Medieval period, reflected in its designation as a Scheduled Monument, and reference should be made to the Historic Environment Record and contact made with the County Archaeologist and English Heritage if any development of the site or building is being considered. There is also potential for the existence of Sub-Roman (including possibly a church and cemetery), Roman or prehistoric remains. The potential for such remains would raise the significance, already defined as exceptional, still further if confirmed. The site is of exceptional archaeological significance as a burial ground used for at least 1000 years, regarding its potential for the study of human remains and burial practice over this long period. Historical significance The evidence represented by the church and site is therefore of exceptional significance for the development of Christianity in Lincolnshire and England as an early Minster, Cathedral, Priory and parish church. Within the church the intramural monuments are of considerable historical significance in themselves for the understanding and research of local and social history, recording the clergy, dignitaries, families and beneficiaries of the church and village. The War Memorials are of local significance. Art Historical significance The Medieval and 17th-century monuments are of exceptional art historical significance. The Victorian and later furnishings and fittings are of local significance. The chair and chests are of considerable significance.
The font is of considerable significance as example of late 13th-century carving. The remnants of the earlier font are also of considerable significance. The Medieval monuments, including the carved slabs, are of exceptional significance. Generally, the 18th-20th century wall monuments and ledger slabs are of some or considerable art historical significance for the development of funerary art and lettering during this period. The 17th- and 18th-century liturgical items are also of considerable art historical significance, the 19th and 20th-century items of local significance. Architectural significance The Anglo-Saxon and Norman parts of the church are of exceptional architectural significance, bridging the interface between pre- and post-conquest architecture. The tower is of exceptional significance as an outstanding example of the Perpendicular style of the mid 15th-century in Lincolnshire. The plan form of the church is of exceptional significance for the development of Minster churches. The chancel vaulting by J L Pearson is of considerable significance, the Victorian / Edwardian reordering in general is now so compromised as to be of low significance as already noted.
ASSESSMENT OF POTENTIAL AND CONSTRAINTS
5.1 Issues affecting the church and possible solutions: General The status quo is unsustainable in the long term, putting an impossible burden on a small number of people. The church needs a new vision, and new uses, to make it fit for purpose in the 21st century. Change is in the best interests of the church, facilitating visual, aural, physical and other means of access to the church and to the Gospel, but this is not enough. A much wider and far reaching offering of the building through community discussions and input is a vital and necessary step. The potential of the church for enhanced cultural, educational and tourist purposes is yet to be properly scoped, but may be considerable. Furthermore, it has been suggested that there may be opportunities to enhance the use of the church as a place of spiritual contemplation by reviving links with Anglican and other monastic orders, and possible closer links to the cathedral. Options for the use of the building in the ways outlined briefly above and now to be considered in more detail may include the need to reconsider the role and legal status 30
of the church in the Deanery and Diocese. There is considerable flexibility within the Church’s systems following changes to the law, particularly the Pastoral Amendment Measure (PAM, 2007) and the Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure (2010). Facilities The absence of adequate modern catering arrangements is a major constraint on the use of the church. Heating, lighting and advanced audio needs must be addressed. A modern and sensitive update of all aspects is urgently needed. Failure to adequately address these issues will make the church more vulnerable through reduced attendance and limited potential for complementary use. Fabric The external fabric of the church – the “shell”, particularly the roofs of the North and South Transepts and Chancel – is in general in excellent condition due to the success of the PCC and Friends in raising funds for its repair, a major and noteworthy achievement. As the next step, the interior is in need of a new vision and considerable investment. Some fabric consolidation, conservation of features and furnishings, and replacement will be necessary on a rolling basis, along with new heating and ventilation measures to address the damp. These works have the potential to impact negatively on the significance of the fabric, furnishings and fittings if not carried out with due care and consultation. They also however have the potential to reveal and enhance this significance. Health and safety An issue which increases the vulnerability of the church in this respect are the perceived demands of recent legislation. Health and Safety Regulations have made it more difficult for volunteer labour to carry out a variety of routine tasks. This means that expensive equipment such as scaffolding may need to be hired for high level works. The recent emphasis on conservation-led maintenance and repair also mitigates against volunteer involvement, as specialist (and increasingly, accredited) expertise is required for jobs previously done by laymen, or by building firms with limited experience of working with historic materials and fabric. There are, however, various grant-aiding organisations which can help in this respect, on which the DAC and CBC can advise. Risk management All heritage assets are exposed to losses from disasters such as fire and flood, but historic buildings and their contents are particularly vulnerable to such damage. The church is especially vulnerable to fire damage because of the extensive use of timber in its structure as well as in its internal fixtures and fittings. Damage may be caused accidentally or deliberately. Equally, however, buildings and collections are also extremely vulnerable to damage from inappropriate fire safety regimes, protective works and equipment. A Disaster
Management Plan (for which the CBC has developed guidance), and regular reviews of the safety equipment and procedures, should be instituted.
Access The Disability Discrimination Act is generally, and to some extent erroneously, perceived as a difficulty for churches, necessitating instant reactions and change. The concept of reasonability in this context has yet to be tested, but knee-jerk reactions to perceived problems generated by this legislation can be damaging. This is a problem at Stow, particularly the west entrance with its steep uneven steps and the steps from the south gate onto the path. From the crossing visitors have to step up into the chancel and nave, and step down into the north and south transepts. There is ample space for manoeuvring wheelchairs once inside, but it should be noted that all kinds of disability are included and this is not just about wheelchair access; such things as large print books and an audio loop fall within the remit of the legislation. The lack of a dedicated car park is an issue for the church. It might be worth exploring if there is any land which might be designated a Community Asset under the new Localism Bill to provide this, and/or whether the Minster (or Diocese) owns any land or assets which might be traded for such a plot. This may be a way the Minster and local community can work together to mutual advantage. Summary evaluation of the present position: This is a famous historic church in an attractive village and area, there is a large number of visitors (estimated 3,500 a year), and around 400 people live in Stow and the immediate surrounding area. The church is in good structural condition, is beautiful and fascinating, has excellent acoustics and rudimentary facilities. However, there are weaknesses which make its position vulnerable: (a) This building as it now exists is not viable for sustainable, 21st century use: •
it has poor pedestrian access, particularly for the physically disabled;
it has only two small toilets;
its heating and lighting system is expensive and ineffective;
there is only one safe route for normal personnel access to, and egress from, the building;
(b) in order to resolve the immediate shortcomings, the following are needed: •
good access for pedestrians;
nearby parking and manoeuvring space for a sensible number and variety of vehicle types;
safe, multiple routes of emergency egress from the building;
improved toilet facilities;
support of services to provide sustainable heating and lighting, and storage
(c) in order to make it possible to resolve the immediate shortcomings, the following are needed: •
good, pro-active relations between the Church community and its various neighbours and stakeholders, territorial and ecclesiastical;
the will and the energy (in all the parties) both to perceive that various solutions are possible and, in addition, the legal, financial and practical resources to implement an agreed solution;
the leadership to develop and maintain the motivation to effect a sustainable solution
Assessment of potential for change: The church building is in very good condition, and inherently sustainable in terms of its materials. If it is to continue in use for worship, complementary uses and forms of community engagement may need to be found or better exploited, whether tourism, cultural offerings, etc. The location is extremely attractive. There may be more potential in this large church than is currently realised. To achieve this potential, sustainability is needed in various aspects: (i) Human sustainability – sufficient in amount, capability/skills, and motivation; (ii) Financial sustainability – capital and revenue; (iii)Energy/environmental sustainability. It must be remembered that Stow is on the fringe of both the Lincoln and the Wolds tourist areas, so looks both ways, towards Lincoln and its tourist attractions, and to the rural hinterland. Visit Lincolnshire’s August 2010 Press Release noted that the value of tourism in Lincolnshire reached £971 million – 14% of the overall economy. This is the social and economic context for the development of this building – a challenge, but also an opportunity. The proposed way forward To solve these problems and grasp the opportunities, the CBC intend to work with the PCC, community and diocese on development plans to re-order the church, creating space and facilities for use of the church by wider sections of the community, and perhaps for one or more major user; however an options appraisal regarding these needs is still in its infancy at this stage. The options include various legal models, whereby the status of the church within the diocese and deanery may change, although it will remain primarily a place of worship. These changes will be considered in consultation with all the stakeholders, first and foremost with the present PCC. These plans may include complementary or alternative use of large parts of the interior, but retaining at least the chancel for regular worship – it is by itself as big as many parish churches. The nave and crossing could still be used for larger services, weddings etc if these areas are designed to be flexible. 33
Initial ideas for development of the building include: •
Development of the west end, providing flexible space perhaps for a small shop / crafts / meeting area. At the same time, thought might be given to improving access through the west door for weddings, funerals etc, which might involve repositioning the font.
Development of the nave, addressing the unsatisfactory configuration of the pews and the pulpit, as well as the redundant Victorian pulpit base in the crossing, to provide a flexible space suitable for large services but also music concerts and art exhibitions / cultural events
Development of the south transept for a flexible meeting room
Development of the north transept for a heritage visitor centre focusing on the Medieval Becket wall painting and fine musician’s carvings. There might be space for a small kitchen / servery.
New environmentally sustainable heating and lighting, and reducing the running costs and Carbon Footprint of the church will be explored
Re-decoration throughout following the above, with new, attractive seating to replace the current plastic chairs, as part of a new vision for the use of the interior which embraces functionality, but within a clear liturgical and aesthetic vision.
Following this necessary options appraisal phase, a development plan will be devised and funding will be sought, probably including a major application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. This programme of works is to be carefully considered with full consultation and if funding is found, is to be completed over several years.
Potential areas of conflict:
Changes in patterns and styles of worship may lead to vulnerability in terms of change to the internal order of the church, particularly its furnishings and fittings. As in so many cases, the successive Victorian and later reorderings responded to the liturgical fashions of the time and may not be considered suitable for the forms of worship practised by the present and future congregation, as well as other complementary uses. This can lead to a conflict of differing values, as changes to the interior of the church to further mission and worship and new complementary uses may at times clash with conservation issues. The outline development proposals outlined above will also have a potential effect on the appearance, fabric and use of the building. This will require early and open consultation with the relevant secular and ecclesiastical regulatory and advisory bodies. Development can only be successful in the context of partnership with a number of stakeholders – the local community whether they worship at the church or not, the pub 34
and shop, the parish and local authority, etc. Only in this way can the potential for conflict be mitigated or removed. This CMP process will help the various partners to identify such issues and address them at an early stage.
Impact assessment of any current proposals:
This section will be revised (this is of course true of the entire document) as any proposals for change are articulated in more detail. The current ordering has been articulated as of local significance, as an example of Victorian liturgical arrangements as interpreted by a leading architect of the period (J L Pearson) but with many later changes. Little of Pearsonâ€™s reordering in fact survives following successive changes to the interior in the 20th century. A new look at the interior could enhance its appearance and significance. There is a great deal of flexibility, as there is no fixed seating in much of the nave, transepts and chancel, and what there is might be made moveable, which would have to be carefully considered, particularly the handling of the Medieval bench ends. The position of the font, and implications of moving it, need to be particularly carefully evaluated and justified. The north transept has been considered as the space for a visitor heritage and education centre within the church. The impact on the interior, sight lines and spaces would have to be carefully evaluated if such a scheme were to be successful. Some form of permeable division between the various areas and activities might be needed. There are no fixed furnishings in this area to inhibit such considerations. There might be space for a small kitchen/ servery. The south transept has been considered as a flexible meeting area. This would have an impact on the appearance of this area, as with the north transept. Again, there are no fixed furnishings in this area, though there are moveable benches and an altar at present. One proposal which is being considered is that the chancel become the dedicated worship area, with the possibility of break-out into the crossing and nave for large services, weddings, funerals etc. This will require a new look at the layout and its present and possible future liturgical functions, and how modern needs might be better served. Experience at other churches teaches us that without careful planning and a holistic vision, such mixed use of the church can lead to untidy, chaotic interiors. Although nothing that is being proposed seems likely to have an impact on the fabric, archaeological stratigraphy relating to the earlier phases of development of the church survive at a shallow depth, which must be taken into account in the provision of modern facilities. As necessary archaeological assessment should be carried out, which might involve both non-invasive (perhaps Ground Penetrating Radar) and invasive (test trenching) work, all of which would require Scheduled Monument Consent. This work should enable the development of a Mitigation Strategy to minimise damage, delays and cost.
This section sets out the policies that have been identified during the process of preparing the CMP as required for retaining and enhancing the significance of this major church and site in the face of its vulnerability. These policies will be fully evaluated with the PCC. Policy 1: To create a mechanism for a Review Procedure of the CMP itself. Our knowledge of places like major churches is constantly increasing, and of course the church and site and its environment are also in a constant state of change. The CMP will provide a framework for managing information, to which new information can be added as it arises. An obvious solution is to bed the Review Procedure into the Quinquennial Review process, to ensure that the document continuously evolves and remains accurate and useful. The maintenance of the CMP as a digital document allows this to be done at minimum cost and effort; printed copies will be produced after each major review. Policy 2: To retain the church as a place of worship, and work with the other churches to maintain and enhance its active role within the parish, group, deanery and diocese. This may involve development of the building and site. Advice and support will be sought from the Diocese, the Church Buildings Council and other partners and organisations, including English Heritage and the local authority. Policy 3: The PCC will use the adopted Conservation Management Plan to assist them in managing the historic environment of the church of St Mary, its churchyard and associated structures and features. Management decisions will be taken in accordance with the principles and policies set out in the CMP. Policy 4: The PCC will develop a strategy for the sustainable care of the building and site, which will enable a strategy for funding the repairs to emerge. Such funding will be energetically sought, with advice from the Diocese, the CBC, English Heritage and the local authority. Policy 5: The PCC are determined to enhance the ambience and retain the heritage of Stow and will adhere to modern building conservation principles. Maintenance and repair of this major historic building will continue to be carried out using appropriate materials and techniques which are not damaging to its historic fabric and character. The PCC will take care to make appropriate decisions and use appropriate materials so as to avoid visually intrusive features in and around the PCC. Policy 6: The PCC are mindful of their obligation to the congregation, the local community and its many visitors to provide access for all. The PCC will explore potential for better public access where this is appropriate and not in conflict with existing (or possible future) uses. Policy 7: The PCC will explore other appropriate related or alternative uses for all or parts of the building eg for community purposes, and for concerts, exhibitions etc especially if a degree of income enhancement can be achieved. Policy 8: Safety, security and inclusion: 36
Policy 8a: The PCC will commission a Disability Audit to ensure compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (the terms of which came into force in 2004). A disability audit should be made by a qualified person, and its recommendations considered by the PCC. It puts the statutory obligation on the PCC to consider all disability issues and take â€˜reasonable stepsâ€™ to eliminate discriminatory arrangements. This should be done as soon as possible. Once this is done the PCC will seek to implement its recommendations so long as these are acceptable in conservation terms and do not involve negative impact on or intrusion into significant fabric (including visual intrusion). Policy 8b: The PCC will ensure the protection of the building, including interior fixtures and fittings integral to the design and function of the building, from fire, lightning, and other safety and security hazards, undertaking specialist safety audits and risk assessments to best current practice as necessary. This should include provision for staff and contractors to receive appropriate and adequate induction and on-going training. The PCC will also work on producing a Disaster Management Plan, to help ensure that in the event of a disaster they can respond with preparedness and in the most effective ways. The CBC has issued guidance on this. Detection and alarm systems need to be kept serviced and up to date. Training, close co-ordination and co-operation with the Fire Brigade are essential prerequisites of successful disaster prevention. A realistic appreciation of protective measures might suggest that the building be separated into zones. Evacuation procedures in the event of an emergency when the church is in extensive use, eg major services, concerts etc should be developed and appropriate training given. New legislation makes it essential that persons responsible for non-domestic buildings maintain records of asbestos in the building, for use by those carrying out works and by the emergency services. This should include a plan showing the location of any asbestos, a risk assessment and a plan for the management of assessed risks.(A type 2 Asbestos Building Survey was carried out by Rilmac Insulation Ltd, Lincoln in May 2005.) Policy 9: Periodically review the statutory requirements and constraints governing the management of the church and site with the help of the Archdeacon and DAC, particularly in the light of the proposed Heritage Protection Review and Heritage Protection Agreements with English Heritage and the local authority. If necessary, short guidance notes to be circulated to PCC and other interested parties so that all are fully aware of necessary procedures. Policy 10: The PCC will make strong representations to the appropriate planning and strategic bodies matters on all issues and proposals that might affect the PCC directly or indirectly, making use of the material in the CMP. Policy 11: There are various aspects of the church and its furnishings and fittings which would benefit from research into the possibilities of proactive conservation techniques. The DAC and CBC should be approached for advice and possible funding. Efforts will be made to procure grant aid towards research and conservation work, including:
• • • •
The monuments The wall painting The internal carvings and fabric The woodwork, particularly the Medieval items
Policy 12: Visitor management is an issue in terms of outreach. The parish will continue to keep the church open during daylight hours for visitors. The printed guidebooks will be reviewed and updated according to the information in the CMP and as part of the Quinquennial review process and/or when new information becomes available. All possibilities to improve visitor appreciation and numbers will be actively considered Policy 13: Archaeology policy. Policy 13a: The church and churchyard have been defined as being of exceptional archaeological significance. The policy of the PCC is to protect and if possible enhance this significance. The guidance set out in ADCA 2004 and Elders 2005 will be followed. Policy 13b: The policy of the PCC in regard to human remains and their archaeology is to follow the procedures laid down by the Church of England/ English Heritage 2005 guidance document. Policy 14: The PCC will work in the long term with the architect and potential external partners such as English Heritage and university departments towards developing and maintaining a comprehensive database (in hard copy and digital formats, with appropriate storage locations and environments) of accurate records for the interior and exterior of the church and the area surrounding including: •
A geophysical survey of the floors within the church and the whole churchyard would greatly increase knowledge of the development of the church, while providing useful information regarding possible future development of the building and site. A fabric typology survey (internal and external) identifying original fabric and subsequent phases of repair/restoration graphically, photographically and in text would be of great use to disentangle the complex history of the building
Policy 15: The PCC will encourage diversity of habitat in areas of open space where this is appropriate. Be aware of lichen on walls and monuments and protected species and legal requirements in this respect. (A bat survey was carry out by Conservation Constructions on October 5th 2010). Policy 16: The PCC will take into account in all its policies the need for environmentally and economically sustainable development and management, and will consult the DAC regarding playing its part in “Shrinking the Footprint” of the church in terms of its environmental impact. The Environmental Audit (Appendix 1) will be kept up to date.
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND SOURCES
Directories and inventories Morris and Co’s Commercial Directory and Gazetteer of Lincolnshire (1870). Pigot and Co’s (1830) Directory for Lincolnshire Whites Lincolnshire Directory (1850). White's Gazetteer of Lincolnshire (1882). Recent Surveys and archive material Church Buildings Council survey file on the church, with much original material pertaining to the history of the church since the mid-19th century. Environmental Surveys and Action Plans 2009-, Tobit Curteis and Glew & Smith Available for view at the CBC library at Church House by request. Notes from ICBS, from Church Plans online Parish records, available from Stow PCC Log book and inventory. Latest Quinquennial Inspection Report compiled by Glew & Smith of Lincoln. Local Plans, available from Lincolnshire County Council Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Plan, available from Lincolnshire County Council. History and Archaeology
1983 excavation report by N Field, unpublished. The Buildings of England Page 722-5 by Nikolaus Pevsner and John Harris; revised by Nicholas Antram 1989 Lincolnshire Atkinson, G, 1850-1, ‘On the Restorations in progress at Stow Church, Lincolnshire’ AASR 1, 315-26. Atkinson, G, 1863, ‘Saxon Churches: Stone or Wood?’ Gentleman’s Magazine, 1863/1, 755-62 Brock, E P, 1890, ‘Churches of the City of Lincoln ‘, JBAA 46, 17-28 Brown, G B, 1925, The Arts in Early England II: Anglo-Saxon Architecture, London, passim esp. 354-6. 39
Clapham, A W, 1946, ‘Stow’, Archaeological Journal 103, 168-70 Elspeth, Sister, 1906, ‘The Abbey of Stow’, Victoria History of the Counties of England. Lincolnshire Volume II, (ed. W Page) London, 1906, 118 Everson, P and Stocker, DA, 1999, The Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture 5: Lincolnshire, Oxford. Fernie, E, 1983, The Architecture of the Anglo-Saxons, London, passim esp 124-7 Field, N, 1984, ‘Stow Church’, Lincolnshire History and Archaeology 19, 105-6. Fisher, E A, 1962, The Greater Anglo-Saxon Church – An Architectural-historical study, London, passim esp. 297-306 Gem. R D H, 1984, ‘L’Architecture pre-Romane et Romane en Angleterre’, Bulletin Monumental 142, 233-72 Gem 1988, ‘The English Parish Church in the 11th and early 12th centuries: A Great Rebuilding?’, Minsters and Parish churches. The Local church in transition 950-1200 OUCA Monograph 17 (ed. J Blair), Oxford, 21-30. Gem, R D H, 1991, ‘Tenth Century architecture in England’, Settimane di studio del Centro Italiano di studi sull’ alto medioevo 38, 820-36. Irvine, J T, 1891, ‘Barholme Church Lincolnshire’ JBAA 47, 308-12 Livingstone-Blevins, F, nd, Stow, The Dowager Minster of Lincoln, Lincoln Okasha E; 1985 'A Sundial from Stow, Lincolnshire'. Medieval Archaeology, 29 :146147. Roffe, D (ed.), 1986, The Lincolnshire Domesday, Alecto edition, London. Sawyer, P, 1998, The History of Lincolnshire III, Anglo-Saxon Lincolnshire, Lincoln Spurrell, M, 1984, Stow Church Restored, LRS 75, Woodbridge Stark, A, 1817, The History and Antiquities of Gainsborough together with a topographical and descriptive account of Stow …, London Stark, A, 1852, History of the Bishopric of Lincoln, London Sympson, E M, 1905-6, ‘Where was Sidnacester?’ AASR, 28, 87-94 Taylor, H M, 1974, ‘St Mary’s church Stow’, Archaeological Journal 131, 362-6. Taylor, H M, 1978, Anglo-Saxon Architecture III, Cambridge, passim.
Taylor, J and Taylor, H M, 1965, ‘Stow’ in Anglo-Saxon Architecture II, Cambridge, 584-93 Thompson, A H, 1907-8, ‘Pre-Conquest Church-Towers in North Lincolnshire’, AASR 29, 43-71 Thompson, A H, 1911, ‘Saxon churches in Lincolnshire’, Memorials of Old Lincolnshire (ed. E M Sympson), 53-80 (esp. 58-60). Trollope, E, 1865-6, ‘Stow’ in ‘Notes on churches visited from Gainsborough’, AASR 8, 245-51 Tithe maps and plans in Lincoln CRO. English Heritage List description 16.12.64. Scheduled Monument Notification English Heritage, Scheduling Amendment, 28Feb-1995. Church Archaeology guidance Association of Diocesan and Cathedral Archaeologists Guidance Note 1: Archaeological work in churches and churchyards: 2002. Available on the ADCA web site at http://www.britarch.ac.uk/adca/documents/ADCAGuidanceNote1.pdf Church of England/English Heritage: Guidance for best practice for the treatment of human remains excavated from Christian burial grounds: 2005. Available on the EH at http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/upload/pdf/16602_HumanRemains1.pdf. Elders, J A. Discovering the past, informing the future: a guide to archaeology for parishes: Church House publishing 2004. Churchcare web site http://www.churchcare.co.uk