January 2011 and a return visit to the church of St Mary at Cowbit. There are strange and unusual village names within the catchment area of this site. The village sign here was a beauty. Most village sign have several important historical links to a particular village on them. Most have a coat of arms of the local Lord of
the Manor, usually the church is depicted. Places such as Connington have a bomber aircraft on their sign, commemorating their Second World War heriatage. The village sign at Cowbit though had on it....a cow! I use the past tense as well as the village sign had been taken down in between my first and second visits here. By the way, the word Cowbit is an old English word for Cow Enclosure.
Cowbit, pronounced Cubbit by the locals, is three miles from Spalding. This is a noisy place, with the church right at the side of the busy A1073. The noise levels are increased more by the excited chatter from the school next door.
Sadly, this church is not going to win any architecture awards. The whole structure is actually sinking and the area of the church itself is considerably lower than the rest of the church grounds, as is indicated in the photograph fourth from the bottom on the left. As well as that, the tower is leaning over at an angle, and seems to be trying to tear itself away from the nave! It was sad to see the church locked on this return visit. I had returned to re-shoot the exterior of the church as there was tarpauline on the porch on my previous visit after someone had taken the lead off the porch roof. A keyholders number is pinned up for those wishing to take a look inside.
There has been a church here on this site since 1380. This original structure appears to have been very basic. In 1480 the west tower was built, with the nave being extended at the same time. The church was consecrated, and dedicated to St Mary, in 1486. The battlemented and buttressed tower is a curiously shaped affair, and has a modern effigy of Mary and the infant Jusus in an ancient recess. It was mentioned earlier that the church was sinking. Anyone standing outside the church walls to the west of the tower, and looking down, will see how sharply the tower has sunk over the years.
There were three bells hanging here at the time of North's study of church bells in Lincolnshire. One of the bells was described by North as being badly damaged. It is thought that this bell was cast by an early London founder. This bell does not hang here today, leaving just a ring of two. The first of these was cast by Josepy Eayre of St Neots in 1769, this being the re-casting of an earlier bell originally made by an unknown founder. The third bell is dated 1788 and was re-cast by Edward Arnold of Leicester at that time. This bell was originally cast by the Norris family at the Stamford bellfoundry, and had the inscription
"Thomas Norris Made Mee (sic) 1633".
The porch and nave are mostly of red brick. The nave is very long and there is Victorian stained glass in the chancel, which, to be truthful, is not of the highest quality in my opinion. This is a pretty basic structure, there being no north or south aisles and no clerestory. The whole structure is very heavily buttressed. A single plaque commemorating the Revd Richard Brown, who passed away aged 25 in 1834, has the Latin inscription which reminds us that life is brief.
The British winter of 2010/11 was proving to be the coldest since records began. The sun was shining brightly whilst I was at Cowbit, but it was seriously cold as well! The light quality was just beautiful and, despite the cold, it was a delight to be out.
Due to subsidence, the church grounds are quite frightening in places! Away from the church itself though, things level out and there are some very worn, but nicely carved Georgian gravestones to be seen. The church grounds are very lengthy to the east, with the grounds looking neat and well kept.
As I mentioned earlier this is not the most attractive of buildings. The tower and the chancel do not go with the red brick of the rest of the building. The church is sinking and the tower leans over at an angle. When I went in to the church though on my first visit here I found it bright and welcoming. The church is well soundproofed, and the noise of the traffic was cut out completely.
I enjoyed my stay here very much.....but, in hindsight, it might have been better to have visited in the summer!!!