Monday 9th December 2019
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Photography: Ashley Taylor (ExploreChurches) and Josh Holmes
Featured in the September 2019 issue

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The Lincolnshire Wolds & Coast Churches Festival 2019 is going to be a great celebration, with 140 churches opening their doors during the weekends of 31st August & 1st September and 7th & 8th September.

With free entry, churches and chapels from Louth to Woodhall Spa, Wragby to Sutton on Sea, will be celebrating their rich architecture and heritage and offering visitors the chance to become treasure seekers and discover hidden secrets. 

“Our churches are full of wonder,” says Rev Nick Brown, rector of Louth St James. “Each offers a different experience, whether it is beautiful tranquillity and spirituality or vibrant exhibitions and music or simply offering a welcoming oasis of peace and calm.

“The festival is also about having family fun. Time is so precious today as families juggle busy lives against quality leisure days out. So we have created fantastic activities that every member of the family will want to get involved in. Some churches will have backpacks available, encouraging ‘treasure seekers’ to explore the beauty of our stained glass windows, and even create their own masterpiece window to display at home. And we also invite everyone to take the challenge and try and spot all the treasures in our brand new Church Treasure Hunt book, not only during the festival weekend but beyond as well.”

Mini museums on your doorstep
The festival is the perfect way to discover these “mini museums” on your doorstep. The Festival covers a wide area of rural Lincolnshire, encompassing the market towns of Louth, Spilsby, Alford, Horncastle, Tattershall, Wragby, Woodhall Spa and Skegness as well a hundred rural hamlets and seaside villages in between, each church is unique, with an intriguing story to discover:

St James, Louth has the tallest steeple of any medieval church in England and played a pivotal role in the Lincolnshire Rising.

Raithby has the oldest Methodist chapel in the county. Built in 1779 and opened by John Wesley, it reveals an exquisite and lovingly preserved Georgian interior.

Fulletby St Andrew, set high in the Wolds is constructed like many churches around, in local greenstone. Although undergoing many alterations, the church still retains a two-seater sedilia from a previous medieval church. A small exhibition on local Victorian poet, Henry Winn provides an entertaining look at life in rural Lincolnshire, and also explains why Winn is featured in the Guinness Book of Records.

St James, Spilsby with its Willoughby chapel contain fine tombs and brass connected to the Willoughby de Eresby family. They are well worth a visit as well as the stone memorials for Sir John Franklin and his brothers.

Lincolnshire’s seaside churches hold a charm of their own. Many are large like Theddlethorpe All Saints, which is also known as the “Cathedral of the Marsh” due to its impressive spaciousness and beautiful exterior carvings. And next door, St Helens has a fine stone reredos. Other striking churches found in this landscape are close by including Addlethorpe, which is holding a flower festival celebrating the “Angel Roof”, Croft All Saints with its fifteenth-century altar screen and Skidbrooke with the early medieval isolated church of St Botolph standing alone in the Lincolnshire marshes.

Then there are churches that hold quirky facts. For instance, St Andrew, Ashby Puerorum claims to house the oldest bell in England! And a gamekeeper who was murdered by poachers on the estate of Well, close to the Georgian chapel, is reputed to be the source of the Lincolnshire Poacher song! And what about Stewton, St Andrew? Who would have thought that tucked away in rural Lincolnshire you would find the church used by Hornby, the international company, to be a model for their Skaledale village!

Many activities are also planned: from organ recitals to flower and art exhibitions, bell ringing to afternoon teas. There will also be exhibitions at many churches including Holy Trinity, Hagworthingham; St Andrew, Anderby; St Lawrence, Revesby and St Margaret, Thimbleby.

Every church really does have a story to tell. Full details of what each church is offering can be found on the festival website: www.lincswoldsandcoastchurches.org.

The festival invites people to join them on Facebook/LincsWoldsAndCoastChurches and Twitter/ChurchesFest and use hashtag #WoldsAndCoastChurches when talking about the event online.

Brochures will also be placed in libraries, Tourist Information Centres and participating churches, and can be requested by emailing: lincswoldsandcoastchurches@gmail.com or calling 01507 527905.

Find hidden treasures
“The invitation is offered to everybody to come and celebrate our rich church heritage,” sums up Nick. “Whatever the weather, make sure that during two weekends in September, you take to the outdoors. You’ll be able to learn about our communities’ heritage, view magnificent carvings, memorials and stained glass, chat with local historians, listen to the sounds of church music and of course, find all those hidden treasures! You will not be disappointed.”

Of course, all the Lincolnshire Wolds & Coast churches are here for every day, to be explored and enjoyed at any time, not just for visiting for two weekends of the year.

The festival is managed by the National Churches Trust and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (through the generous donations of National Lottery Players) as well as the following organisations: ExploreChurches, National Lottery Heritage Fund, Visit Lincs Coast and East Lindsey District Council.

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