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Church Post Code NG33 4JP

Church open when visited but not sure of current opening times.


I first visited the church of St Thomas A Becket at Burton Le Coggles back in 2007; it was closed to visitors due to builders being in. I tried again a few years later; the church was closed due to decorators being in. Three more attempts during covid years saw the church closed to visitors, with the third of these having a hand written note apologising that the church had had to be closed at short notice.

It became a long running joke that this is one that wasn’t going to happen, with attempts to contact the church directly being unsuccessful. In the end, at the sixth attempts and some 16 years after the first visit, I finally saw inside!

We had started the day at Rippingale, on a sunny February morning in 2023 and were heading towards Corby Glen when roadworks led to a diversion. The diversion took us fairly close to Burton so we took a look and found it open.

Burton Le Coggles, although the ‘Le’ is sometimes not used, is a small village in South Kesteven. The village here is some 27 miles north west of Peterborough, this being the furthest church to the North West covered by my websites. Grantham is some eight miles away to the North West with Stamford 15 miles to the south.


The church here is dedicated to St Thomas A Becket but was once listed as St Thomas the Martyr and is called St Thomas of Canterbury on the church sign hanging on the railings. It can be found to the east of the village, in a wide expanse of green. The village pub, the Cholmeley Arms is close by. A typical, beautiful small picturesque English village!

There was no mention of a church or priest here, at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086 and the church that we see today dates back to the 12th century. The church consists of west tower with spire, nave with north and south aisles and clerestories, south porch and chancel. Much of the church dates from the early 13th to early 14th centuries, with restoration in 1874.

The square western tower dates back to the early 13th century and is without buttresses. An empty image niche is set in to the west face. The squat broach spire also dates from the same period, and has two tiers of gabled lucarne windows, which are set at the main compass points. The windows of the lower tier have dogtooth edging.

Separating tower and spire is a corbel string, again dating from the 13th century, which has a selection of grotesque heads. At the foot of the tower, a bench looks out to the west; an attractive proposition on a warm summer evening, drink in hand, enjoying the end of the day, listening to the birds as thunder rumbles off in the distance; but not so much today with the temperature just a few degrees above freezing!


The 14th century gabled south porch has a plaque at the apex, on which is a date of 1624, which would refer to rebuilding work. Inside this porch, on stone benches to the east and west are two early 14th century effigies of knights.

Each of these is crossed legged and wearing chain mail armour. It is suggested, but not by all, that knights carved in this cross legged fashion indicates that they fought in one or more of the crusades and died in the Christian faith. One of the carvings is particularly ornate, with the Knight’s head supported by an ogee canopy on which are carvings of angels.

The nave is quite short, with the 14th century clerestory consisting of three, two light windows to north and south, with gargoyles looking out from between the windows on each wall.

With the exception of the tower, the church is buttressed throughout. The east window in the 14th century chancel is of three lights, with carvings of a King and his Queen on the label stops.


There are three bells in the ring here, with the first two of the ring being cast by Thomas Norris of the Stamford bellfoundry. Thomas Norris was a founder for an impressive 50 years, from 1628 until 1678.

The first of the ring was from the first year of Thomas Norris; career. It is inscribed ‘Omnia Fiant Ad Gloriam Dei’ which translates as ‘Let all things be done for the glory of God’. It is also inscribed ‘Thomas Norris made me 1628’.

The second of the ring dates from 1660 and is inscribed ‘Thomas Norris cast mee 1660’.

The third of the ring is of real age, being dated at around 1500 and being cast by Richard Mellours of Nottingham. This bell is inscribed ‘Sancta Maria Ora Pro Nobis’ which translates as ‘Saint Mary pray for us’.


Moving inside, there are three bay arcades to north and south, with these dating from the 14th century, with these having octagonal piers with moulded capitals. There are two ogee headed doorways against the north side of the chancel arch; these being the lower and upper doors which led to the rood loft in pre reformation days.

Standing at the chancel and looking to the west, the outline of the previous roof line in pre clerestory days can be seen on the west wall. High up on the west wall we can see an exquisite 12th century, round headed recessed single light window. A 14th century piscina, where the priest would wash his hands and the holy vessels used during the celebration of the mass, can be seen at the east end of the south aisle. Several medieval memorial brasses are mounted further to the west of the same wall, high up and hard to photograph.  .

  Looking around it was interesting to see several hexfoil or daisy wheel designs, like many of us did at school, creating a flower with six petals with a compass. These are one type of apotropaic marks which were scratched in to the walls of churches as a form of protection against evil. These are normally to be found in areas close to doors and windows. A fascinating glimpse back in to the mindset of those living in days of superstition and fear of evil. These are particularly good examples, with some elaborate patterns formed by combining several of these designs together.


The chancel shows the work of the 19th century restoration, with the roof, the elaborately carved stone reredos, which runs the full width of the chancel, and double piscina set in to the south wall all dating from that time.

The fine east window also dates from the 1874 restoration and is courtesy of Hardman, who were prolific stained glass artists of the day. This one sent me scurrying for my Saints Signs and Symbols book, and I still had to ask help from my Facebook group.

 At the top is Christ in majesty, throned with one hand raised in blessing; and holding a globe.  Wounds are visible on hands, feet and side.

The risen Christ is attended, on the left hand side as we look at it, by St John who carries a goblet; no serpent emerging from this one,  St Peter who carries the key to the Kingdom of Heaven and St Paul, who holds a sword point downwards.

To the right we have St Edmund, King of East Anglia, who holds arrows, which denotes the manner of his martyrdom. Next to him is another crowned figure who holds a ring; I think that this is Solomon. On the far right is the much more easy to identify image of John the Baptist.

At the foot of this window we have three groups of three, with angels above holding crowns. We have St George, who is dressed in armour, with foot on a vanquished dragon’s head. A male figure with hands and feet tied, shot with arrows, and is liable to be St Sebastian. Inbetween, a figure with receding hairline holding a sword point downwards, looks like Paul again but probably isn’t!

Three female figures show Mary, crowned as Queen of Heaven at the centre. She is depicted as usual in blue robe, with sword pointing downwards. She is flanked by St Agnes who carries a lamb and St Barbara, who carries a chalice. The third group of three, at the bottom right as we look at it, consists of a Bishop or Archbishop, holding a sceptre, which may be Thomas A Becket, St Stephen who carries stones; again symbolising the manner of his martyrdom and St Laurence, who carries a griddle on which he was roasted.


Other glass which can be see here are panels detailing some of the events of Holy Week. We see Jesus at prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane; wearing a blood red cloak and shown with blood red nimbus. He stares at the cup from which he is to drink as disciples are asleep in the foreground. Close by Jesus, wearing the crown of thorns is beaten and humiliated by his captors.

We also see Jesus carrying his cross on the way to execution, being whipped as he walks; glancing back at Mary his mother who has her hands clenched in anguish. This is coupled with the crucifixion, with Mary the Mother of Jesus and John in their usual positions. Mary Magdalene is wrapped around the foot of the cross; with long hair trailing. As always she is the most visibly affected!

One further panel recounts Matthew Chapter 8 verse 3 where Jesus heals a man with leprosy ‘Be thou clean’ reads the text at the foot in the words of the King James Version. There are also panels which show scenes from the life and death of Thomas A Becket, after whom the church is dedicated.


Moving back outside, the church grounds are large and well maintained, with very little in the way of gravestones. There has obviously been a substantial clearance here at some point back in time. What we have left is a very pleasant space, but there is little to comment on with the regards the stones that are left and nothing in the grounds has its own listing.

It was good to finally see inside this church; and a fine church it is as well with lost for the visitor to see. I am not sure what the arrangements are with regards opening. The sign of the gate, which by the way uses the dedication Thomas of Canterbury instead of Thomas A Becket, states that the church is open daily but I suspect that this may have been up since pre covid times and things may not necessarily be the case now. It is well worth taking a look at if you can though.

We headed off in the direction of Corby Glen; enjoying a day away from work and a gentle churchcrawl in an area that I have grown to love over the years.

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