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Church Post Code NG33 4NJ 

Open to visitors

It was a chilly and bright Tuesday morning in February 2023; time for a revisit to the church of St John the Evangelist, Corby Glen. I had first visited here back in 2007, armed with a basic digital camera, over the years becoming a favourite place to visit, with my last visit being in 2020; when church opening was restricted due to covid restrictions.

Corby Glen can be found between Stamford and Grantham; with Stamford off to the south and Grantham to the North West. Bourne is some eight miles off to the South East.  A pleasant village, in lovely South Kesteven countryside; an area that I have cycled regularly over the years and have grown to love!

Until the 1950’s, the village here was simply known as Corby. However, things changed and the village was renamed to avoid confusion with the Northamptonshire steel town of the same name. At this point it was changed to Corby Glen, with the Glen referring to River West Glen which runs close by. The population was 1017 at the time of the 2011 census.


This was the fourth church visited on this February morning and we had entered the village from the beautifully named Burton Le Coggles, which is a short distance off to the North West. The welcome committee was out as I arrived at the church of St John the Evangelist; but it wasn’t a great welcome to be honest, with a beautiful ginger cat completely ignoring me and heading off in to a neighbouring garden; with a look of distaste that few can master as well as a cat!

There was no mention of a church or a priest here at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086; with the church here dating back to the 12th century. Most of the present structure dates from the late 13th to early 14th centuries, with early 15th century alterations. The church was restored in 1860.

The church that we see today consists of west tower, nave with north and south aisles and clerestories, south porch and chancel.

The three stage west tower dates back to the 12th century but with the belfry stage being a 15th century addition. Gargoyles of some age look out from the four corners. The tower is battlemented with a frieze running below consisting of a repeated quatrefoil design; parts of which look to have been recently restored.


The south porch dates from the 14th century and consists of two storeys with the upper room here being a priest’s room.  This is a church of impressive dimensions, with the east wall of the nave standing out proudly above the chancel roof.

When Thomas North compiled his Victorian study of the church bells in Lincolnshire, there were four bells hanging here. The first of the ring was dated 1618, and cast by Tobias Norris I of the Stamford Bellfoundry. This has the Latin inscription ‘MEMOREM MESTIS LETIS SIC LETA SONABO’ ‘I will sing sadly to the sad, joyfully to the joyous’.

The second was also from the Stamford Bellfoundry, this one cast by Thomas Norris in 1629. This is inscribed ‘NON CLAMOR SED AMOR CANTAT IN AVRE DEI’ ‘not noise but love sings in the ear of God’.

The third was cast by Henry II Oldfield of Nottingham in 1604, the English inscription reading ‘I sweetly tolling men do call to taste of meats that feed the soule’.

The fourth of the ring in North’s day is from Henry Dand, another Nottingham founder. This one reads ‘IN NOMINE JHESU CHRIST OMNE FLECTATOR CELESTIUM TERRESTIUM ET INFERORUM’ ‘In the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in Heaven in earth and under the earth’.

There was also a sanctus bell dated 1691 which was cast by Tobias Norris III in 1691. Since North’s study, the ring has increased to six, with a new first and second of the ring added by Mears and Stainbank in 1935.


Entering in to the south porch, I was interested to see some graffiti in the form of the outlines traced around two shoes. One of the shoes is a little shorter than the other; perhaps two people leaving their mark two hundred odd years ago, one keeping an eye out whilst their friend (or girlfriend) did the carving.

Whilst on the subject of the porch; on my visit here during covid restrictions there was a sign up advising people of the dangers of lighting a candle immediately after using hand sanitizer as the latter is flammable! I hope that this warning did not come due to a previous accident!

Inside, there was a lovely light quality and it was good to stand awhile, enjoying the peace and the beauty.

There are impressive four bay arcades to north and south, with these having clustered shafts with octagonal capitals.  Beautiful old box pews lead up to the 13th century chancel arch. Close to the pulpit is a small doorway which would have led to the rood loft on which would have been mounted the Holy Rood; a huge cross, with St Mary the Virgin on one side and St John on the other. These were hated by reformers and the rood figures here were taken down and burned in 1588.

Moving in to the chancel, there are three arches built in to the south wall. These left me puzzled; with these being too small for sedilia, the seating for priests during the mass and possibly not piscina, for washing the holy vessels, as there were no drainage holes. There is, however a fine double piscina at the east end of the south aisle.


The east window dates from the time of the Victorian restoration; a three light window with the central panel showing Jesus with four children. I was told when at the church that the four children depicted were those of a previous rector here who had all passed away. This is flanked by Jesus as the Good Shepherd and Jesus carrying his own cross, wearing the crown of thorns.

A celestial band is playing in the tracery at the top of this window, with two angels holding a crown above the central depiction of Jesus.

Other glass nearby shows an angel appearing to the three Mary’s on Easter morning ‘He is not here He is risen’ and later, the risen Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene. Inbetween these panels is Dorcas, engaged in an act of charity.

At the west end of the north aisle is a medieval stained glass depiction of St John the Evangelist in a small quatrefoil panel. Close by, also in a quatrefoil panel is a depiction of Jesus; golden haired with flaming nimbus.


The church here is most notable for its wall paintings, which date from the 14th and 15th centuries. These were discovered in 1939, when a church warden peeled away some flaking whitewash.

There are some fascinating paintings depicting the nativity. A couple of scenes show the shepherds, surrounded by their flock and a dog, with one of the shepherds pointing upwards towards Heaven. There are also two scenes showing the wise men, who carry their gifts, with again one pointing upwards.

There is also a depiction of Herod which is unusual. I have seen him in stained glass but never in a wall painting. He is shown crowned and seated on a throne, carrying a sword over his shoulder. Herod, and other characters, are shown wearing long pointy shoes which; no matter how hard I try not to, remind me of series 1 of Blackadder!

There is also a depiction of Mary, who is crowned as queen of Heaven. She sits throned, holding a sceptre with the infant Jesus at her side.

At times the paintings are difficult to pick out, with some 14th century paintings being covered over from paintings from the 15th century. St Christopher, in his normal position on the north wall of the nave, opposite the south porch, carries the Christ child; this being over painted with the seven deadly sins. In the midst of this, again difficult to pick out until your eyes get accustomed, is a pieta; Mary the Mother of Jesus cradling the body of her crucified son.

Close by, St Anne teaches the Virgin Mary to read and a headless St Michael holds the scales on which the souls of the dead will be judged. This is very faded but we can pick out a queue of people who are waiting to be judged.

Over the chancel arch is the very faded remains of a doom painting, with this showing the scene on the day of judgement when Christ will come again and all will be judged. In its day, we would have seen Christ at the centre, with Mary the Mother of Jesus and St John close by. St Michael would be there, holding the scales on which souls would be weighed. Those deemed to be righteous would be taken off to Heaven; always to the left as we look at it. Those judged to be condemned would be shown herded off to the right; taken off to hell, which would often be portrayed as a serpent’s mouth.

 All that can really be seen here now is the outline where a wooden cross would have stood at the centre and a solitary angel blowing a trumpet at the top left as we look at it. These were hated by the reformers, with the cross and the figures on it taken down and destroyed; with the rest painted over.

I am pretty safe I think in saying that these would be the best wall paintings to be found within the catchment area of my sites, with possibly those at the church of St Pega, Peakirk disputing this!


Inside, there is a very clear compass design of six petals, known as a daisy wheel or hexfoil. There is some dispute about the meaning of these. Some say that they were designs from the stonemasons; as an aid to teaching their apprentices the basics of geometry. Others put forward that they were symbols of good luck or protection from evil influences; evil being attracted in to the design and then unable to get out.

The church grounds are of interest, but there is nothing which has its own Listing. There were no chickens in the church grounds this time, as there was on my previous visit. Just to mention a gravestone from the 18th century, which has two human skulls carved on to it; a reminder to those looking on that Man is mortal and will die, so be at peace with God as you did not know when your own time would come!


This is a beautiful church and it was good to be back here again. Full of interest; open to visitors and an absolute must visit if you are in the area. It was time to hit the road and we headed a short distance to the south west, to neighbouring Swayfield, where our hundred percent open churches record that day was maintained.

The photographs used here are from my February 2023 visit, with the exception of the covid poster which was from my visit in 2020, when churches had just started to open up after the first lockdown.

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