Thurlby is a large village two miles South of Bourne. A busy place, with the A15 going through the centre of the village. The church of St Firmin stands back from the main road, right on the edge of the Lincolnshire Fens.
The Carr Dyke, an ancient Roman waterway, runs literally by the west side of the churchyard. This was built in between the years 140 and 180 AD and it stretches a massive 122 km, along the edge of the fens, starting off at Waterbeach near Cambridge and ending up South of Lincoln where it joins up with the river Witham. A massive feat of engineering in its day, the Carr Dyke is nearly as long as Hadrians Wall.
Given it's fairly close proximity to the busy A15, it is quiet and peaceful in the church grounds here. The grounds are massive and for those who like flat fenlands the view to the South and the East from the back of the church grounds is amazing. This must be a bitterly cold place in the depths of winter.
This is an unusual dedication, with the only other St Firmin in the UK being at North Crawley in Buckinghamshire. St Firmin (or Fermin as the spelling sometimes goes) was the son of a Roman Senator in 3rd Century Pamplona. He converted to Christianity and was later to become the first Bishop of Pamplona. Whilst preaching the Gospel he was behaeded at Amiens in France around the year 303). Certain relics of St Firmin were found and brought back to Pamplona in 1196. The cult of St Firmin was to be of considerable religious and economic significance during the Middle Ages.
It is thought that parts of the tower here date as far back as Saxon times, this being backed up by a saxon coffin lid being propped up against a wall in the porch. This really is a glorious church, particularly for me when viewed from the south
Some very ancient looking gargoyles surround the tower. These are very worn, particularly those on the South side. Not surprising really considering countless years of screaming wind that must have come over the Fens. A frieze runs the length of the nave, on both north and south sides of the church. This features several animal shapes and one very strange human head.
Five bells hang here with four od these originally being cast in 1713 and 1714 by the Nottingham Bellfoundry. The other was cast in 1790 by Edward Arnold of Leicester. North;s Victorian study of the church bells of Lincolnshire states that the bells here are "...exceedingly dirty and require care and attention". All bells were re-cast by Taylor of Loughborough in 1908.
This church was open for visitors on a Saturday morning, and there was a helpful and friendly steward on duty. It was good to see St Firmin open as, on several earlier trips, it was closed. Inside, the church is bright and welcoming. Old pews are gone, being replaced by new chairs. When I attended half of the chairs were facing away from the chancel due to a double Christening taking place the following day.
Lots of stained glass here with an impressive piece at the east end of the chancel. No massive age to the vast majority of the glass but a few fragments of medieval glass were found in 1929 and have been re-set in to a window in the nave. The octagonal font dates back to the 12th century.
The large church grounds are well maintained. A few graves here appeared to date from the 17th century but were too weathered to date. A few interesting deaths head stones and some nicely carved slate caught the eye.
A lovely church to visit, Well worth a look if you are in the area.