I first visited the church of St Luke at Tixover on the early days of this site, arriving for the furst time on what was to be the hottest day of the year. The isolation of this church intrugued me, the church being quite distant from the rest of the village. It was quiet and peaceful and I always said that I would come back one day, with a better digital camera, to re-shoot. For pure picturesque beauty, from whatever angle you look at it, Tixover would take some beating. That return visit would be in the early summer of 2014.
Tixover is a small village and the church is to be found several hundred yards away from the nearest house. My gut reaction on seeing anything like this is that the village was decimated with the plague and was demolished and then re-built. I was told by a very friendly and knowledgable local that this was not the case though. He told me that the village simply relocated a few hundred yards after the bridge that crossed the river Welland was rebuilt in a different position. Tixover's Wikipedia entry disagrres, and states that 95% of the village population was wiped out in the Bubonic Palgue. The entry goes on to say that there are a large number of graves of plague victims in the church grounds. My eyes may well need testing but I saw very little if anything in the church grounds from those days, so I am with the nice man with the dog on this one!
So, anyway, it was a bit of a hike past a farm and through a field, with the castleated tower of St Luke nestling between some trees, and with bright yellow oilseed rape fields dotted around to all sides.
The tower here dates from the early 12th century. It is a three stage tower with string courses separating the layers. A gargoyle sits on each side of the tower. Sadly, these were worth noting only as they were probably the most weathered that I had ever come across. Even with full magnification on the camera, and whilst looking at them later on the computer, it was impossible to tell what they had been at one time! A single bell hangs here, this being cast by R Hille, in London circa 1430. On the south side are a row of circular clerestory windows, which are far too small to let much light in. Even when we visited, on a glorious summer afternoon, it was a little dull inside the church as a result.
The chancel and nave both date to the early part of the 13th century The south aisle dates from the late 12th century whilst the north aisle dates from the early 13th century.
I did notice a very ancient looking carving on the 15th century porch, which I thought looked Saxon, which looked to have been repositioned at some point in time. I find this a beautiful, but curious church. The tower looks too big for the rest of the structure, and the nave is just tiny.
The church grounds are just a delight. They have been deliberately left to grow, giving a home to a vast number of insects. Brightly coloured butterflies and bees of all shapes and sizes were busily engaged in whatever they do all day. One of two Georgian graves, but I suspect that there has been a pretty comprehensive graveyard clearance at some point back in history.
Moving inside, a large monument in the chancel is to one Roger Dale, who died in 1623, with the monument being erected by his wife Margaret. The monument shows Roger and Margaret kneeling on either side of a prayer desk, a cherub looking down over each character. Below this are figures of their two daughters. There is much damage to this monument sadly, with the hands on all of the figures being removed. The head of one of the daughters is also missing, but has been replaced by a roughly carved piece of stone. This is not the best, or most flattering, piece of work.
While I was looking around the chancel my friend was looking for the light switch. He always prefers to photograph with the lights on, unlike myself who prefer what natural light there is. I am affraid that my friend was disappointed as he couldn't find any light switches. We left thinking that the church was not connected up to the electricity.
The font is very ancient, dating back as far as the 12th century. Was also very impressed with the carving on the pillars in the arcade to the north west of the nave. Some very lovely and ancient work here.
There are a few pieces of stained glass here, including some European glass dating from the 16th or 17th centuries. One of these sections of glass features a haloed queen with crown and long flowing orange dress. Elsewhere, a king with long flowing hair and beard holds a mitre.
The church is kept locked to visitors, but the church key is in the village, hanging on a hook in front of a house, with a helpful sign saying 'church key' pointing at it! What a good idea.