TALLINGTON : CHURCH OF ST LAWRENCE OF ROME.
Church Post Code PE9 4RU
Church generally open to visitors
It was a gloriously sunny January afternoon, without a cloud in the sky, and a return visit to Tallington, this being the seventh of what turned in to a ten church crawl. Tallington is some four miles east of Stamford, and eight miles south east of Peterborough. Tallington Leisure Parks is a short distance off to the north and King Street, the old Roman road is not a million miles away to the west.
The village had a population of a tad fewer than 500 at the time of the 2011 census. We are in Lincolnshire, but only just, with the county boundary some 100 yards to the south.
The church here is set a little away from the main road which runs through the village, and against the north bank of the river Welland. I have fond memories of standing off to the south west of the church on an unseasonably warm and gloriously sunny New Year’s Day 2012. The tower with its tiny cap stood out over the top of the trees; a small scattering of houses surrounding it; the river fast flowing in the foreground.
Moving around to the west, a small herd of sheep with dreadlocked wool covering their eyes conveniently grazed in front of the west end, making for some decent long range shots. Three of them came over and watched me; dispelling the gut reaction that they couldn’t see a thing. The churches are important; they are the reason that I do what I do. However, what and who we see along the way all add to the store of memories! Many of these memories involve animals and it is always amusing to see that whenever there is an animal in shot, my Facebook hits go up!
The church is dedicated to St Lawrence of Rome, and dates back to the 12th century. The church that we see today is cruciform in structure, consisting of west tower, nave with north and south aisles and clerestories, north and south transepts, south porch and chancel.
The west tower dates to the 14th century and is of three stages. It is buttressed and battlemented and is a little off set to the north. There is a small cap on the top, which replaced a spire which was destroyed in a storm in August 1762. The London Chronicle at the time reported this as follows…
‘On Friday night, at about two in the morning, a dreadful storm of thunder and lightning happened at Tallington near to Stamford in Lincolnshire, during which the steeple of the church at that place, as low as the upper windows was thrown down, and the lower part of it as well as the body of the church was greatly injured; the walls being in many places separated so wide, as to admit a person’s arm. The leads and windows were also melted and shattered, but no other damage was sustained in the parish…’
This is a substantial church now, but it would have been ever more so in the past. As well as the spire being lost, there looks to have been a north chapel here at one point; the ghosted outlines of an arch still discernible on the north wall of the chancel, with this space now housing the organ.
Some ancient, weathered gargoyles look out from all four corners of the tower; including the almost obligatory mouth puller, with these looking old enough to have survived the collapse of the spire.
The clerestory windows are very small, and the transept on the south side is substantial. There is a small bellcote at the east end of the nave, again suggesting that there would have been a chapel here back in time.
There are three bells in the ring here. The first is attributed to Robert Newcombe from the Leicester foundry, and is dated to the 16th century. North, in his 1888 study of the church bells of Lincolnshire, notes this as being inscribed ‘JOHANNES’. North attributes the second of the ring to an early, Nottingham founder, remarking that this one was inscribed ‘AVE MARIA’.
The third was not connected to a particular founder. This One was inscribed ‘SIT NOMEN DOMINI BENEDICTUM’ which translates as ‘Blessed Be the Name of the Lord’. The second and third bells of the ring were each recast by Taylor of Loughborough in 1950.
The bell that was hanging from the small bellcote at the east end of the nave was described as being ‘cracked’ and unusable; and was made by an unknown 17th century founder. There was a foundry on the doorstep in Stamford at that time and is tempting to suggest that it might have come from one of the Norris family. However, they always ‘signed’ their work!
In pre covid days, the church here was open on each occasion that I visited. It was open on my visit during January 2022 as well, but, at that time, the church was only open two days a week between 10 and 4.
Entrance is through the 14th century south porch, with the inner doorway dating from the mid 12th century; the latter having a plain tympanum arch. This is a bright and spacious interior. There is little stained glass here so that helps. The interior fittings all look to be Victorian, probably from a period of restoration in 1879.
There are three bay arcades to north and south. The chancel arch is late 13th century. The tower, as mentioned earlier, is offset to the north a little, correspondingly, the 14th century tower arch is offset similarly. The stonework throughout the interior has been repointed with pinkish coloured cement, which would doubtless not appeal to everyone!
The east window is of five lights, and is of clear glass. The altar has just a couple of candlesticks; there is no reredos and a cross stands on the sill of the east window. There is a bricked up arch on the north wall of the chancel.
There are several carved heads in the nave, of vastly differing styles. A figure in distress, mouth opened in anguish, was similar to others at Glinton that I saw later that day. There are two mythical creatures with impressive facial hair. One has its mouth wide open, showing an impressive three teeth. The other has tongue stuck out in medieval gesture of insult.
Huddled by some pipework, a crouched figure with pursed mouth carries what might be its young. Close by, a very curious, angular figure, almost cartoonlike in appearance; and having a haircut of nightmares!
Some of the carvings in here are quite weathered, which is unusual for interior features, and the thought did cross my mind as to whether any of them might have been repositioned here after previously being on the spire which fell.
There is a little glass here, but to be truthful, nothing to get too excited about. One three light panel depicts St Phillip central, flanked by St Jude and St Paul. One further two light panel shows St Matthew and St Luke.
Moving back outside a gravestone dated 1734 in slate can be seen close to the chancel; this is to one Alice Walter who passed away at the age of 36 years. This has a human skull, crossed bones and the gravedigger’s shovel; all symbols of the mortality of Man. This has sunk in to the ground over the years. Three lines of inscription are still above ground; these read ‘Afflictions fore long I bore physicians were in vain, till God did please’. The rest is sunk from view but would read something like ‘To give me ease and cure me from my pain’. This stone also has a very cross looking angel, chubby faced angel!
This is a delightful church, in a peaceful picturesque setting, in a beautiful part of Lincolnshire. Well worth taking a look at if you are anywhere in the area.
The two photographs at the foot of this page are from my New Year’s Day 2012 visit.
Please click on the photograph above left to be taken to the page for my visit to neighbouring Barholm. To see the page for my visit to Bainton, please click on the photograph immediately above right.