TICKENCOTE : CHURCH OF ST PETER

CARED FOR BY THE CHURCHES CONSERVATION TRUST

Church Post Code  PE9 4AE 

Please check CCT website for opening details

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It was September 2016. and a return trip to the church of St Peter, Tickencote. This was the last church photographed in a week long churchcrawl in Lincolnshire and Leicestershire. It was a dull day and this was to be the last church photographed on my break, with the rain starting shortly after I left here and continuing for the rest of the day.

   Tickencote is a small village close to Stamford, with the population being less than 100. There are some delightful cottages here, along with the church of St Peter. It is a peaceful place, despite the close proximity of the A1, the old Roman Ermine Street, which runs close by to the north.

   Along with Ufford, Tickencote is a church which has closed to organised worship since my first site was originally set up. As with Ufford, the church here is now cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust.

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The church here is most noted for its superb Norman chancel arch. For anyone visiting this church for the first time, enter in through the south porch. Don’t look to your right. Ignore the chancel arch for a few seconds. Walk to the western edge of the nave then turn around and take the chancel arch in, in one go, Jaw dropping!

    The church of St Peter was built in or around the period 1130 – 1150, with the church being restored in the late 1700’s. This is a Georgian rebuilding in a Norman style. The church consists of nave, south porch, curiously offset south tower, north transept and chancel. There are no aisles or clerestories here.

    The exterior walls of the chancel are ornately carved, with Norman dog tooth carvings around the windows and blind arcading consisting of interlocking round headed arches on the walls themselves.

The odd grotesque head can be found, including a beast like creature with goatee beard, sightless eyes and may teeth, who looks out to the west.

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The church here was always open to visitors, with the only time that it was closed being in the time that the CCT took over, doing the necessary repairs until they opened it up to visitors again. It will have closed, along with everything else when covid hit. In revising this page a couple of weeks before Christmas in 2021, I noted that the church here is currently closed for repairs. If you  intend visiting here please check with the CCT website to see if it has opened again.

 The chancel arch consists of six orders, with each of the orders having a different design. The third order is of particular interest as it consists of grotesque heads, alternating with foliage designs. Amongst the designs are two crowned heads looking away from each other and it is suggested that these might represent King Stephen and Queen Maud, the rival claimants for the English throne at the time.  It has been said that in those early days, the church here was just a single cell and the chancel arch was the main doorway in to the building.

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    The chancel ceiling dates from 1160 – 1170 and it thought to be unique in construction. It consists of six ribs, which converge to a central ceiling boss in which three heads are arranged, a monk and two muzzled bears.

   Close by stands an intricately carved font, which dates from seventy years or so later than the chancel arch. The font itself dates from the 13th century, but the four pillared stone block on which it rests appears to be nineteenth century.

   There is much stained glass to be seen here. The east window is partly obscured by the top of the reredos, and consists of several (almost) roundels including John the Baptist about to be beheaded, the Annunciation and the risen Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene on Easter morning. Several I am struggling to identify. One of these involves several knights in chainmail kneeling in prayer as a priest offers up a chalice at an altar. Normally when I see something like this I mark it down as coming from Revelation and let you try and work it out!

At the west end of the nave is a stunning depiction of the crucifixion. Composed in deep, vibrant colours, Christ is crucified, Jerusalem silhouetted behind as the sun starts to set. Roman soldiers with spears upturned stand guard. Mary Magdalene weeps at the foot of the cross, head in hands. John looks haggard! There is some real emotion set in to this panel.

 Interestingly, there are two children, a young boy and a girl depicted at the cross here as well. This is not something that would normally be seen. I cast my mind back to a tiffany stained glass window at Kimbolton in Cambridgeshire where two children, sadly deceased in real life, were incorporated in to the depiction. I wonder if this is the same here. Perhaps, perhaps not!

   Elsewhere, St Andrew is pictured with the saltire cross on which he was later to be martyred and Jesus is depicted comforting a small child.

    The large amount of stained glass here leaves the interior of the church a tad on the dark side. However, the visitor is well catered for here with the church lighting spotlighting the chancel superbly.

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   A wooden effigy of a knight rests against the inside south wall of the chancel. Dating from the time of Henry III, this is believed to be a representation of Sir Roland De Daneys, who fought in the French wars. It is thought that this figure would once have been covered in brass and placed on top of a tomb.

   This church was restored in 1792, with much work being undertaken at that time.  An inscription on a tympanum over the south porch records that the benefactor Eliza Wingfield  "with that true sense of religion and reverence for her Maker which ever distinguished her life, repaired this church in the year 1792". The church was rebuilt using, in part, materials from the old church.

  Before the bell cote was taken down during the restoration, two bells hung there. One of these, thought to date from before the Reformation period, was cracked and unable to be used. The UK Church Bell Database has this bell dated at circa 1500, with the founder possibly coming from London. This bell still stands in the nave. The other bell was made locally in 1630 by Thomas Norris of the Stamford bell foundry. This bell was re-cast in 1934 by Taylors of Loughborough, with the same founder making a new bell to replace the cracked one.

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Church grounds are well maintained, and there are some glorious late 17th century graves, sinking in to the ground and leaning over at all sorts of angles. Several of these are unreadable but still legible is a grave to one William Osbourne who passed away in 1659. A grave featuring two winged cherubs holding a crown over an effigy of the deceased is a super piece of work. No date readable but I would think that this is from the late 18th century.

It goes without saying that it is sad that the church here is no longer used for regular worship. It has passed in to good, safe hands though and will be there for future generations to enjoy. As I said earlier there is work ongoing on this church as this is being typed, but this is an essential visit, once it is open again if you are anywhere in the Stamford area.

If you would like to see more Churches Conservation Trust churches please click on the photograph above left to be taken to the page for St Andrew, Steeple Gidding. Click on the photograph anove right to be taken to St Andrew, Ufford.