Greatford is a small village a few miles to the south west of Bourne. It is quiet and peaceful here, although it is not far away from the A15. I made two visits to the church of Thomas A Becket, Greatford. To say that weather conditions were contrasting is an understatement. Came back from my first trip with slight sunburn, and had to spend 45 minutes or so in the porch on my next visit as heavy rain belted down on a truly miserable Friday morning!
The visitor here will notice immediately that the tower here is not at the west end of the structure but is to be found just to the right of the south porch.Tthe bottom of the tower dates from the first half of the 13th Century. An addition was made half way through that century, with the top of the spire being added in the first quarter of the 14th Century. Much of the main body of the church dates from the 14th Century, but it is thought that a blocked doorway on the North wall is Norman, dating from 1080 - 1150 or thereabouts. More work was done here in the 17th century and the Victorians restored the church in 1854.
A peal of five bells hang here, with some being of some age. The treble was cast by Taylor & Co of Loughborough, and is dated 1886. The second and tenor are both dated 1732 and were cast by Thomas Eayre of Kettering. Each have the Latin Inscripton "Omnia Fiant Ad Gloriam Dei" with the tenor also stating "Eayre Kettering Fecit Anno Dom 1732".
The third bell is the oldest, being cast by Robert Newcombe of Leicester in 1593. The inscription on this reads "Praise The Lord". The fourth is dated 1787 and is courtesy of Edward Arnold of Leicester.
The bells here became unsafe to ring for quite some time but all five bells were re-hung by Taylors of Loughborough and a service of thanksgiving and re-dedication took place in May 1988, with the first peal of the restored bells coming three weeks later.
As with most others in the vicinity, the church here is open to the public. My attention was immediately drawn to a very ancient looking font, beautifully carved. A glorious piece of work. One panel shows six people knelt in prayer and another shows what may well be a dead body with an angel watching down over it. I can't find out any information on this font at all, neither on the internet nor in the history booklet that the church has produced.
Most of the stained glass here is late Victorian, and is of very high quality. One window shows Peter standing with the key to the Kingdom of Heaven, whilst the text at the top of another window reads "God Is Love".
There is lots of interest outside. Firstly, looking upwards you will notice four grotesques, one on each side of the spire. These are nice pieces of work but are quite worn sadly. These have faces screwed up and tongues out in medieval gesture of insult.
Elsewhere in the grounds, two ancient tombstones stand in the North West, these are said to date from 13th Century. In the East of the church grounds stands a memorial to one Charles Charity who was one of four people killed when a granary floor collapsed whilst they were working.
For pure age though, nothing can compete with the Roman coffin that sits by the side of the porch. This was found in the vicinity and is thought to date from the second half of the 4th Century. It contained the skeleton of an adult male, aged around 40, who had a Nene Valley bowl, made locally near to Castor, and two glass goblets buried with him. To find stone Roman coffins in church grounds in unusual but by no means unique. There are also coffins at Chesterton, Water Newton and Castor, all three villages rich in Roman history.
During my travels working on this site, I have developed a love for the work of the stonemason. This could be a gargoyle high up on a tower, or a sinple headstone in a graveyard. I have seen some beautiful and ornate pieces of work, but at Greatford there is one gravestone that is simple and quite exquisite, one of the loveliest pieces of work that I have seen. Pictured at the foot of this page, a simple cherub with eyes closed and wimgs furled up. Simple, elegant and beautiful. Less is sometimes definitely more!
This is a lovely church in what is a favourite part of South Lincolnshire. Normally quite a few open churches in this area as well with Braceborough and Wilsthorpe very close by. Well worth a look if you are in the area.