Market Deeping.  CHURCH : ST GUTHLAC

Late summer 2014 and a re-visit to the church of St Guthlac, Market Deeping, Lincolnshire. We had planned an evening prayer service here and the sun was shining gloriously as we arrived. Just had the time to smap off a few shots before the service started. By the time the service had finished the light was fading fast, so I decided to pop back and re-shoot the interior at some point later, that turned out to be in mid January 2015. All interior shots are from that latter visit.

   St Guthlac was an Anglo Saxon hermit who was once a soldier. He decided to live a life of solitude and religious study, opting to live in seclusion at Crowland (also known as Croyland), which was then an island. He built a small chapel there with two helpers. He died in 714, aged around 40. Crowland Abbey was founded in his memory, with his sister, Pega, also building a church at nearby Peakirk.

  There is much history here, with the Roman Carr Dyke, a man made waterway for transporting goods, running 250 metres to the east of the church.

   The oldest parts of the church date from the late 12th to early 13th centuries. The three stage western tower dates from 1440. There was much restoration here in Victorian times with the church re-opening in 1878 after 18 months of work being done.

   There is an impressive ring of eight bells here. The first two in the ring are of no real historical interest, being cast by Taylor of Loughborough in 1998. However, the other six are all from Joseph Eayre of St Neots, with all six being cast in 1766. Two of the bells are inscribed with the name of the Rector of the day, Lawrence Maydwell, along with John Mawby and John Boyall, the church wardens of the day.

   Several of the bells have Latin inscriptions on them. One reads CUM VOCO VENITE 'Come when I call', another reads OMNIA FIANT AD GLORIAM DEI which translates as 'Let all things be done for the glory of God'. One further is inscribed EGO SUM VOX CLAMATIS 'I am the voice of one crying'. A final one reads IN DEI GLORIAM ECCLESIAE COMMODUM 'In The Glory Of God And In The Good Of The Church'.

  Lovely to see a glorious sundial on the south and north sides of the tower. This was originally dated 1710 and reads 'The Day Is Thine' on the south side. The northern side captures the last of days sun and reads 'The Night Cometh'.

   It was good to see this church open and this in generally a pretty good area for open churches. Liots of high quality stained glass here, including two windows devoted to St Guthlac on the south wall of the chancel. Each window has six roundels in it, each depicting a scene from the life of St Guthlac. An image of Guthlac dating from the 19th century,  can also be seen in a niche to the north side of the alter.

  Other stained glass here includes a depiction of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, post crucifiction with wound visible on hand and foot, carrying a lamb with other sheep surrounding him. Two men worsjip Jesus, one of which is St Peter, carrying the key to the Kingdon of Heaven.

   A nativity scene shows Mary cradling the baby Jesus, with the three wise men giving gifts. Text below this window reads 'And Thy Sons Shall Come From Afar'.  There are several other windows here, but one small detail of a large window caught my eye. A delicate angel with huge eyes and beautiful delicate wings, holds up one end of a scroll which reads "All Kings Shall Fall Down Before Him. All Nations Shall Do Him Service".

   A plaque on the north wall of the nave records the passing of a colourful local character. It reads "To the memory of William Goodale who died April ye 9th 1716, aged 110. At the age of 50 he married Hannah his wife, who was then 25 years of age and by issue with her 15 children. At his death, having been married 60 years his youngest son was 30 years of age. Also of Hannah his Widow who died April ye 21st 1723, aged 92" Creative accounting with regards his age? Possibly, especially given that the church records for the period in which he lived were destroyed by the then Recrors wife in a fit of passion!

   Mention has already been made of two niches in the chancel, one of which has a 19th century carving of St Guthlac in it. The other niche has a carving of Saint Hugh of Lincoln. He was cannonised in 1220 and is the Patron Saint of sick children, sick people, shoemakers and swans. A beautiful reredos depicts two angels either side of a cross, all done in mosaic form. The 15th century chancel roof features six angels.

   Stone heads can be seen throughout the nave. One has a hand to and ear and his other hand to his mouth, possibly suggesting to the onlooker that they might care to watch their tongues and not to listen to gossip. A little distance away a ferocious creature shows a fearsome display of teeth, another has tongue out in medieval gesture of insult.

  The church grounds are long and thin. With the main road from Peterborough to Bourne running right past the church, the grounds stretch out to the south. Most of the interesting stones are to be found close to the church itself. A side panel of a box tomb is certainly worthy of mention. This is badly weathered and some of the finer details may have been lost, but what the onlooker can see is a figure reclining against a skull with the sun shining down on him. Almost cartoonlike in appearance, this goes to symbolise victory over death. Undated but possibly from the late 17th century.

  A fabulous church, well worth a visit. This church is now generally open during the day to visitors.

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