Braceborough.  church : st margaret

The reason for the importance of the village in days long gone was the existence of a spa about a mile from the village. The healing waters of this spa drew people in from far and wide, and George III was drawn here, visiting the church in 1770. The Royal coat of arms adorns one wall of the nave, which commemorates his visit. George III was looking for a cure for his mental illness, and was treated by the famous doctor Willis, with the Royal patient being treated in a wing of the nearby Shillingthorpe Hall, now demolished. This hall later became a private lunatic asylum.

    Spa's were very important in Victorian times and the railway station, built in 1860, was there primarily to handle to vast numbers of people who bathed in the "health giving" waters.

    There was a church mentioned at Braceborough at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086. This original structure would have been a very basic wooded affair, with thatched roof. Nothing remains of that early structure.

   Today's structure dates from the 14th and 15th centurues, but the font is earler than that, albeit with later alterations! Much work has been done here over the years. The south doorway dates from the 14th century, with the porch added in 1662. Much work has been undertaken here over the years. In 1859 the chancel was rebuilt, the date of the rebuilding to be found on the south wall of the chancel.

   Thomas North's Victorian study of church bells in Lincolnshire found that there were three bells hanging at St Margaret. All of these were cast by John Taylor & Son of Loughborough in 1845. There is little information on this church on the internet, but what North does point out is that, prior to 1845, there were only two bells hanging here. Therefore, one bell would probably have been cast from new by Taylor at this time, but perhaps the other two were recast from earlier bells made by founders unknown. Of the 1845 bells, one of these is inscribed with the names Revd George Rogers, Rector of the day, and James Francis Churchwarden. Two further bells were cast, again by Taylor of Loughborough, in 1896.

    It was good to see that the church was open, and in general most of the churches in this area are. As was mentioned earlier, there was much Victorian rebuilding here and the chancel was rebuilt in 1859. The stained glass is also Victorian and was produced in London by Charles Eamer Kempe. Kempe's work is still appreciated today and there is a society devoted to his stained glass. At one point his company employed 50 people. Kempe himself is an interesting character. He wanted to be a preacher, but a very bad stammer, and great shyness, prevented him from doing this. He once said that if he could not preach, he would do something else that would adorn the inside of a church, so he took to making stained glass windows. His work is beautiful!

   With its whitewashed walls, the inside of St Margaret's is light and welcoming. On the subject of whitewash, it was interesting to see that the inside of the porch had also been whitewashed, including sadly, a lionlike grotesque, with tongue sticking out in typical medival gesture of insult.  A floor slab indicates the final resting place of Frances, the infant daughter of Richard and Frances Osborne, who passed away in 1707.

 It was interesting so see what was left of the grave of Thomas De Wasteneys, who died here of the Black Death in 1349, the grave once ornate but plundered during the English Civil War. It is thought that Thomas took part in the battle of Crecy (1346) and the siege of Calais (1346 - 1347) in the Hundred Years War against France.

   Church grounds are well maintained and there is an ancient looking font being used as a planter, complete with horseshoes leaning up against it! Some nicely carved gravestones here, but most are badly worn. Some of the graves date back to the late 17th century, with the inscriptions faded but legible. A grave to one Robert Sipser, who passed away in 1690 still stands to the gravestone to his wife Elizabeth, who died seven years later.

   My friend and myself enjoyed our short time here. It is always nice to see an open church, and this area has several which are normally kept open to visitors. We continued on our way, to the tiny and exquisite church of St Faith at Wilsthorpe just down the road.

Braceborough floor tablet Braceborough cherubs

Autumn 2013, and a return trip to the church of St Margaret at Braceborough. This is a small village, a few miles south of Bourne, not far off the busy A15. These days, Braceborough is quiet and secluded, the type of place that you only visit if you have a need to be there. In Georgian and Victorian times though, this was a thriving place, even having a railway station which was opened in 1860 before closing in the early 1950's.

   Braceborough was even a village "by Royal Appointment" with King Goerge III a regular visitor here.

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