Mention was made of a Christian church in Bourne as far back as the Domesday survey in 1086. In the early 12th Century there was a great revival in religious thought and action, and this led to the present Bourne Abbey being formed in 1138. In the Middle Ages it is thought that schemes were drawn up to increase the size of the Abbey to be like that of a cathedral. However, this came to nothing and it has been suggested that the Black Death might have been the reason.
The Abbey was home to Arrouasian monks, a sub division of the Augustinians, and was one of only five connected to that order. In 1535 the Abbey was dissolved with the nave being used after that date as the parish church.
The nave is the oldest part of the present structure, dating back to 1138. The church is kept open for visitors and entering the nave through the west door my gut reaction was how impressive it is. It is bright and welcoming, particularly on a gorgeous day like this with sunlight streaming in through the south windows.
In the centre of the Nave is a beautiful brass chandalier, similar to one hanging at nearby Langtoft. This was donated in 1742 by Matthew Clay, in memory of his daughter who passed away at the age of 22.
The font is interesting. The carving around it reads, in a form of Latin shorthand, "Jesus, the name above all other names". There is evidence that, at one time, it was painted and gilded. Grimacing carved heads with sightless eyes peer down at those entering through the west door.
Lots of Victorian stained glaas to be seen here, with the eye being caught by a fine five panel in the chancel with the cricifiction being depicted in the centre panel, the words "It is finished" written across the bottm. Another window on the south wall of the chancel shows the ascension with Jesus, wounds visible on hands, being attended by two angels as he rises up towards heaven. The sun was shining in through this window, casting multi coloured reflections across the high alter, quite beautiful. Another window shows a crowned Jesus holding out a chalice, with the text "Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the water".
A monument on the south wall of the chancel showed a cherub in mouring, head in hands and flame of life pointing to the ground as he mourned Catherine Digby, who passed away in 1836.
The lower parts of the west tower here dates back to the 13th century, with the upper part dating from the 15th century. There are six bells hanging here, with all six bells being cast by Peterborough founder Henry Penn in 1729. As historical items these six are of particular interest as they were the final bells ever cast by Penn before he went out of business. Four of these bells were re-cast, three by Gillet and Johnson in 1926 and one by Mears and Stainbank in 1905.
The first bell of the six is inscribed 'William Dodd Vicar. The second has the Latin inscription 'LAUDO DEUM VENUM' (I praise the true God), the third being inscribed 'ET CLAMOR AD COELOS' (and cry to the heavens). The fourth bell has on it 'UT MUNDUS SIC NOS NUNC LAETITIAM NUNC DOLOREM' (look how elegantly we rejoice and express pain). Bell five reads 'PLEBEM VOCO CONGREGO CLERUM' (I summon the people I call together the clergy). The final bell has the Latin 'DEFUNCTOS PLANGO VIVOS MONEO' (I toll for the dead the living I remind). with this latter bell also having the names John Hardwicke, Lyon Falkner and James Ley, the church wardens of the day inscribed on it.
Those who are regular visitors to my site will probably have picked up of my love of stone carvings. Gargoyles, grotesques and old gravestones are a great interest of mine. In the church grounds here we have several seventeenth century gravestones, but one catches the eye more than the others, and I have this down as being one of the most unusual and important gravestones to be found within the catchment area of this site. The stone is pictured at the foot of this page and at first glance there is so much going on that it is difficult to figure out what is being depicted. What is evident is a man with a beard on the far right, what appears to be a pole with a snake wrapped around it and prone human figures. Curious! However, a friend of mine (whose knowledge of the Old Testement is obviously better than mine) suggested that I look at Numbers Chapter 21 where it says ....
"Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived."
So here we seem to have a small part of the book of Numbers depicted. It is interesting that few lines of Numbers is depicted. The symbol of the medical profession is a serpant wrapped around a pole, and has been for hundreds of years. So, it is not too great a leap of faith to suggest that this might be the gravestone for a seventeenth century doctor. Fascinating. Was surprised to see that this grave does not have a listing in its own right.
Gargoyles include on with one hand to his mouth and one hand to an ear. Possibly a warning to the congregation not to gossip, or listen to gossip.
It was lovely to be here. It was quiet and peaceful inside and it was one of those times where the light quality was just about perfect. Enjoyed my stay here very much but it was time to move on and the next point of call on this glorious January afternoon was a mile and a half away to the north at Morton.