Exploring Lincolnshire heritage: the Churches Festival

Throughout this project, we have come across fascinating heritage projects and enthusiastic history groups developing projects across the county.

One project coming up is the Churches Festival in West Lindsey. The 2016 Festival is taking place on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 May, and on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 May.

West Lindsey Churches Festival 2016

West Lindsey Churches Festival 2016

This year the Festival is in its 20th year, and 94 churches will be open for people to explore. Organists from the Lincolnshire Organists Association will be playing over the two weekends, with music also featuring in concerts at Stow and Brocklesbury, along with recitals and organ trails.

Stories associated with the churches will be a feature throughout the festival. At Gautby for example, they will be telling a story of intrigue, kidnapping, ransom and murder related to the Vyer family. Kettlethorpe church is associated with Katherine Swynford, the third wife of John of Gaunt, and the story of a missing cook features at Riby.

Details of the festival and churches involved can all be found on the Churches Festival website: www.churchesfestival.info 

In their own words:

“Many of the churches are still the focal point of our villages and will provide you an insight into the history and life of their parishes.  Others offer a vibrant collection of stained glass, architecture, carvings and artefacts.  And some of our smaller churches open their doors simply to provide you with an oasis of peace and spirituality, a place to relax and witness the Holy Spirit. And finally, we offer intrigue and mystery as we uncover some hidden stories that our churches have kept so secret over the years!”

Click on the images below to find out more about their music programme, their flickr photo feed, and their walks.

Organ pipesstained glass crucifixionfields

Hidden heritage? The Baptist chapel at Monksthorpe

In the grounds of Gunby Hall in Lincolnshire sits a tiny and largely hidden historic Baptist chapel. Monksthorpe Baptist Chapel is supported by a group of volunteers called the Friends of Monskthorpe.

Monksthorpe Baptist Chapel

Monksthorpe Baptist Chapel (CC BY-SA 2.0 Brian)

The chapel is now owned by the National Trust, who manage Gunby Hall, but a successful partnership with the active Friends group has seen the chapel continue to be used throughout the year. They hold monthly services in the summer, and a candlelit carol service in December.

The Friends group have been instrumental in developing historic interpretation at the chapel. Further information can be found on their website, at www.monksthorpe.com, and on the National Trust’s webpages, and in their published booklets.

Monksthorpe is a hamlet about 7 miles inland from Skegness, and a couple of miles from Gunby Hall, near Spilsby. RAF Spilsby airfield is nearby, from where Lancaster bombers flew in the Second World War. Near the airfield’s huge hangar, but hidden by trees, sits the plain, brick-built chapel.

The chapel has undergone major restoration since its acquisition by the National Trust. It was originally built in 1701, and although it is not known what the chapel looked like inside, it would have been plain. The building was refurbished in the 1840s.

The chapel’s small graveyard includes the grave of John Dowse, a minister and historian of the chapel in the early 20th century. There is an outdoor baptistry, where church members were baptised by full immersion in water from a nearby dyke.

The National Trust point out a number of features for visitors to spot, including an 1800s harmonium, a balcony, a pigsty next to the graveyard, Hugh Ayscough’s tomb under the pulpit, the war memorial, an escape door, and a pot-bellied boiler to keep the congregation warm.

The Friends of Monksthorpe tell the stories of religious persecution, as early Baptists dissented, refusing to worship according to the state law. They began meeting in Monksthorpe as early as 1669, in the open air at first. Those who refused to worship in the Church of England were often forced to hide to escape persecution.

In 1701, Hugh Ascough gave the Baptists two acres of land, on which they built their chapel in the form of a barn – to escape attention. In 1782 there were just under 100 members of the congregation from 20 villages across Lincolnshire.

You can read more about the history and people’s memories of Monksthorpe in their anthology, which is available through their website.

Do you know any other hidden stories about rural Lincolnshire that you think are important to tell? If so, we’d love to hear from you.

Flickbook Theatre present… Our Lincolnshire in Grantham

Flickbook Theatre have successfully completed their first heritage performance Showcase, which was held in Louth. This coming weekend, they will be performing again, this time in Grantham. This will be a different performance, designed to reflect Grantham’s rich history and particularly the town’s strong female presence.


Join them in Grantham for a free performance, with free cake!

This performance is a culmination of six weeks of workshops. They have enjoyed immersing themselves in Grantham’s rich history and heritage with the help of local residents, who have also been keen to share what it means to be a real local.

Flickbook are performing at the Guildhall Arts Centre on Saturday 26 March at 6.30pm, telling their story of Grantham’s heritage.

If you would like to find out more, contact Phoebe at phoebe@flickbooktheatre.com or by phone on 07796 384102.