LANGTOFT : CHURCH OF ST MICHAEL
Church Post Code PE6 9LP
Church regularly open for Saturday coffee mornings
Over the years, food and drink has become an important part of my churchcrawling. It wasn’t so in the early days but as I have got older the chance to sit and enjoy what a tea room has to offer has become more important. It is all part of the joy of the day!
This sunny Saturday morning in July 2022 was a mini crawl consisting of just two south Lincolnshire churches. The trip was based around a church coffee morning and a relaxed lunch at a tea room in Bourne. It occasionally appears that these days the churches are sometimes fitted in around the food; perhaps down deep in my subconscious that is indeed the case!
The church having the coffee morning was St Michael at Langtoft; and this was the first church of the day. Langtoft is a large village in South Kesteven, on the edge of the Lincolnshire fens’ which had a population of a tad over 2,000 at the time of the 2011 census.
Langtoft can be found between Peterborough, which is 10 miles or so off to the south and Bourne which is six miles off to the north. Stamford is eight miles off to the west.
The church of St Michael sits against the busy A15, at the centre of the village, with the traffic particularly busy on this bright and sunny Saturday morning. I have fond memories of a gloriously warm and humid September evening back in 2013, photographing the church here from the west with the harvest being brought in, in fields close to the church.
The church here commands the flat landscape. I approached from the south, coming in from neighbouring Market Deeping. The church of St Michael consists of west tower, with recessed octagonal spire, nave with north and south aisles with clerestories, north and south chapels and chancel.
Looking at the church from the south, the square tower, which is offset to the north, is buttressed and has a clock to the south face in the traditional colours of blue and gold. It appears to me that there may have been a chapel here against the south wall of the tower at some point; with as bricked in arch and previous roofline visible.
There is a fine five light window of clear glass in the west end of the nave. The view of the church from the south is obstructed by trees, but the nave and aisles are battlemented; the south porch has an eighteenth century feel to it. The chancel has large three light windows along the north and south walls and the east window of the chancel is of three lights.
Stone heads look out from the length of the exterior, some seeming to be of great age, with one crowned figure looking out through sightless eyes, sporting an impressive lichen encrusted beard.
The church here dates back to the early 13th century, with much of the present structure being built at that time. The church was substantially restored in 1859.
At the time of Thomas’ North’s study of Lincolnshire church bells, which was published in 1882, there were five bells in the ring here. The first two of the ring were each cast locally, by Thomas Norris of the Stamford bellfoundry in 1662.
The third was dated 1772, being cast by Edward Arnold of St Neots. The same founder worked out of premises in Leicester from 1784.
The fourth and fifth of the ring were each cast by T Mears & Son of London. The fourth was cast in 1810 and is inscribed with the name of the rector of the day, John Mossop and church warden John Gee. The fifth was cast in 1825.
The situation today is different in that there are now six bells here with the new first bell of the ring being added in 2004; this being cast by Taylor of Loughborough.
The church here is normally closed to visitors. There is a coffee morning on most Saturdays here though, with the third Saturday of the month being bacon buttie Saturday, which appeals greatly. Sadly, it was the fourth Saturday in the month! The church was already open as I started to work my way around the exterior.
The week prior to my visit saw Britain record its highest temperatures ever, and a blackboard still stood at the doorway stating that the church had open for anyone wishing to come in and cool down. All three churches in the Ness group opened their doors in similar fashion.
Moving inside, I was immediately struck by how bright it was inside. Unusually, there is no stained glass to be seen here and the sun was streaming in through the south windows.
I started to look around the interior as a friendly local got my tea ready; a quick look at the plate of biscuits confirmed that there were indeed chocolate hobnobs and we were good to go!
There are four bay nave arcades to north and south, these dating from the 13th century. The piers are tall and slim, quatrefoil in design, with a mason’s mark on one pier to the south; a reminder of a craftsman who had probably passed on a century before the Black Death hit! The arches are pointed and the same in style as the chancel arch itself, which dates from the same period. The interior flows beautifully!
There are two bays in the chancel leading in to the north chapel and three bays leading to the south chapel. The chancel itself in long and shows the hand of the Victorian restorers.
The east window is of clear glass and consists of three single light windows. The altar is plain and simple, with just two candlesticks; a cross standing on a ledge on the east wall. There is no reredos; a large aumbry can be seen against the north wall of the chancel and an ornate crocketed piscina is off to the south of the altar.
A ledger slab on the chancel floor reads ‘Here lyeth the body of Sarah the wife of Bernard Walcot of Langtoft in the county of Lincolne Esq by who he had issue fower sonnes and three daughters who dyed the 24th of August A Dmi 1651.
This bed of rest reserve for him a roome who lives a man divorced from his deare wife, that as they were one hart soe this one tomb may hold them near in death as linkt in life. She’s gone before and after comes her head to sleep with her amongst the blessed dead’.
Close by is a wall monument to one Elizabeth Moulsworth, who passed away in 1618. She kneels towards a prayer desk; hand missing which otherwise would have been raised in prayer, supporting a fine ruff. I do wonder if this monument has been moved at some point as the deceased is facing west and not east. Perhaps originally, this might have rested on the north wall of the chancel so that she faces east!
A scattering of chairs are set around a simple altar. A lovely, bright and welcoming space! The east wall of the south chapel is without a window but does have two wall plaques; with one being to William Hyde senior who passed away in 1694. He was the sheriff of Rutland for a time and MP for Stamford on two occasions.
There is a piscina to the south wall of the south chapel, indicating that communion was taken here in the past. This is similar in design to that in the chancel, with the drain itself enclosed within a trefoil shape; but this one is a little less ornate.
Stone heads can be seen throughout the interior, including one male figure with long flowing hair, who has both hands held up to his ears. In the nave, a female figure wearing a head dress and a male figure with impressive moustache and scallop shell each look out through sightless eyes. The male figure has the scallop shell on his head gear.
Moving outside, the church grounds are of interest, with some finely carved 18th century gravestones. To be fair though, there is little of rarity. One gravestone appears to date from the late 17th century in style, but the inscription is mostly illegible.
In amongst the angels is an hourglass; an often used memento mori symbol, passing on to the onlooker that Man is mortal and will die. Opposite the hourglass is the book of life which records the deeds of the deceased.
It was good to be back here again. A pleasant time spent with friendly people. It was a short bus ride to the Ginger Fox at Bourne where a locally sourced all day breakfast was waiting. After that a visit was planned to Thurlby, where the church warden had kindly agreed to open up for me.
St Michael at Langtoft is a lovely church, and is well worth a visit; particularly on the third Saturday in the month of you like bacon! The photographs at the foot of this page are from previous visits.
If you would like to see my pages for the other two churches in the Ness Benefice then please click on the photograph immediately above left to visit the page for St John The Baptist, Baston. Click on the photograph above right to visit the page for St Firmin, Thurlby. Each page will open up in another window.