January 2nd 2012 and Winter still had not hit! I took the opportunity to get rid of some of the Christmas excesses and do a few miles on the cycle. It was not warm, and it was a tad on the blustery side, but it was a gloriously sunny day and the lighting conditions were really good. The church of St Mary at Bainton was the second church visited that day. The church nestles by the side of the B1443, four and a half miles south east of Stamfod. The ancient and beautiful village of Barnack, with its Saxon church, is just a mile away.
As with neighbouring Helpston, the church is to be found next to a butter cross, which can be seen in the photograph above left. Buttercrosses date back to medieval times and were a focal point where local residents would lay out their locally produced produce such as milk, butter and eggs. Bainton is a small picturesque village. Back in 1845 the population was around 160, this figure having doubled by the time of the 2001 census. I can't imagine that Bainton has too many claims to fame but England cricketer and BBC commentator Jonathan Agnew spent his childhood here, terrorising local batsmen in the process I daresay! This is an area where, for the most part, the churches are kept open. Neighbouring Barnack, Tallington, Helpston and Glinton are open to visitors and, in my experience, the people that I have met here have been very pleasant. A nice place to visit. Information about St Mary on the internet is sparse but I can tell you that the oldest poart of the current structure is the north aisle and chapel, dating from the early 13th century. The west tower is 14th century and the chancel dates from the 15th century, as does the wide battlemented south porch. Four bells hand here with three from the Stamford bellfoundry and one of considerable age from London. The latter was cast by William Chamberlain of London circa 1440. The three from the Stamford Bellfoundry all come from different founders. The first is dated 1604, and was cast by Tobias Norris I. This is a very early example of Norris' work. Thomas Norris added another in 1652 and after the death of Tobias Norris III in 1699 the business passed in to the hands of Alexander Rigby, once a foreman at the foundry, who ran it until his death in 1707. Rigby cast a bell here at Bainton in 1702, on which the names T Beaver and P Notingham are inscribed, these being the church wardens of the day. With the sun shining brightly and flooding in through the clear south facing windows, it was very bright inside. The large window at the east end of the chancel is also clear. Walls are limewashed and it looks as if most of the inside fittings are Victorian. A memorial to one Robert Henson Gent was of particular interest. He passed away in June 1755 aged 69 years. The inscription states..."In The year 1734, He was the Returning Officer for the Borrough of Stamford. His conduct and intergrity was such that he not only obtained the Approbation but the applause of all wise and honest men: Bribes not being able to corrupt, Promises suduce, nor Threats deterr him from doing his duty". Almost hidden away to the north side of the church is another memorial to the Henson family. This is to Marie Robert Henson who died in 1805. This memorial features a male Grecian figure who is in the act of mourning.The font is plain and octagonal and rests on a more modern base. A stone carving of a female human head can be seen in the ceiling of the south porch. Perhaps this head might be a depiction of the virgin Mary.. A single gargoyle looks out over the church grounds from its vantage point on the south wall. Some fine carving can be seen on some of the gravestones, mostly though are sadly quite worn. Quiet, peaceful, picturesque and a delight to visit.