January 2nd 2012 and a day out on the cycle in some of the most glorious lighting conditions that I had experienced in some time. The wind was cold and blustery but it was glorious to be out and about, and particularly useful to be getting rid of some of the Christmas excess! I arrived at Tallington at lunchtime to find a small herd of extremely cute and inquisitive sheep already tucking in!
Tallington is a village that is probably most famous for its lakes and its dry ski slope. The church of St Lawrence is tucked in a sleepy lane. Very quiet and peaceful. As with several others in the area, this church is normally left oepn during daylight hours for prayer and visitors.
The west tower is 14th century. The spire was destroyed in 1762 and was restored in 1879. The arcades and possibly the transepts are 13th century, as is the inner doorway. It appears as if there was a structure here as far back as the 12th century as two pieces of 12th century stonework are inseted in to one of the interior walls. There was Victorian restoration here, and it looks as if the stained glass comes from that era.
The church was open and it was glorious inside with bright sunlight flloding in through the south windows. The last time that I was here it was a drab, dismal day and it was likewise inside. It is amazing the difference that sunlight makes.One monument inside is of particular interest. This is dedicated to one Charles Bertie, who died in April 1730. His last will and testement decreed that 12 penny loaves were to be distributed amongst the poor of the parish every Lord's Day (Sunday).
A row of carved heads can be seen on the north and south walls of the nave. Several of these have their tongues stuck out in typical medieval gesture of insult. Two heads catch the eye in particular. These figures are both male, each with shirts buttoned up at the front, with one having a pointed beard, the other seemingly wearing a wig.
A gargoyle sits at each of the four sides of the tower, nice pieces of work but like the rest of us they are past their best! There are three bells at St Lawrence, plus a sanctus bell. The first bell is thought to have been cast by Robert Newcombe of Leicester in the 16th century. The second bell, according to North in his 19th century book on Lincolnshire church bells, was thought to have been cast by an early Nottingham founder. A quick check on the National Church Bell Database shows that this bell was re-cast by John Taylor and Co of Loughborough in 1950. The third bell North allocates to one William Ffounder. This bell has the initial IS and a coin mounted on it, and this could point to it being made by a founder with the same initials in Reading in the 1550's.
One gem in the church grounds was a slate gravestone dating from 1734, marking the final resting place of one Alice Walter. This is in slate, so this has not deteriorated over the years.This is a death head stone. These stones used pictures to get home a particular message in days when little of the population could read or write. This is in the same way that wall paintings were once used to tell Bible stories when the people attending the church couldn't read.
The message here is a simple one. We are all mortal, and we will go the same way as the deceased. There is a human skull in the bottom left hand corner of the stone. In the bottom right are crossed human bones and the gravediggers tools of pick and shovel. Sometimes, but not here, these are accompanied by a torch as burials were undertaken at night. These are all images of Man's mortality and stones such as these are relatively common. To my mind, this is a particularly nice example and some of the carving reminds me very much of work that can be seen in the church grounds at Hacconby, several miles distant.
This is a delightful church in a beautiful, rural setting., and I enjoyed my stay here very much. Came out of the church and spent a little time with the sheep (just exactly how do they manage to see anything through all that wool covering their eyes?).It was a bank holiday and you could tell as there were dozend of ramblers out and about as I headed over to neighbouring West Deeping. Like me, they were making the best of the best of the last day of the Christmas holiday. I daresay that some were also making the best of the sunshine with gales and torrential rain forecast for most of the country during the rest of that week.. The church of St Lawrence is well worth a look if you are in the area.