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Church Post Code PE10 0LS

Open to visitors

I first visited the church of St Michael & All Angels at Edenham back in the early days of my interest in churches.  It was the summer of 2007 and I visited here during a six day tour of South Lincolnshire. Armed only with a basic digital camera, it was always my intention to pop back one day and reshoot. This finally came about at the end of February 2015, only to find that the church was covered in scaffolding.

It took a further five and a half years to revisit, with the photographs that you see on this page all coming from my visit in October 2020. Just over 13 years between first visit and finally shooting it properly; no point in rushing!


Edenham can be found some three miles north west of Bourne, towards the furthest north westerly edge of the catchment area for my sites. Peterborough is some 19 miles away. This is a pleasant, quiet South Kesteven village which had a population of 291 at the time of the 2011 census.

The church is located centrally, with Edenham Regional House, which offers retreats and quiet days, close by. The River East Glen flows through the village and is sometimes called the Eden, hence the village name.

There was no mention of a church or priest at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086. However, there are things in the church which date back as far as the 8th century. There was a Cistercian Abbey in the parish which was built in 1147 and dissolved in 1536.

It was October 2020; covid restrictions had eased and we were free to travel; it was not too long though before we were to be locked down as a nation for the second time. In our travels in that period, the majority of churches were closed but Edenham was open which was great to see. An open church can be a powerful Christian witness, especially when the times are challenging!


   The church of St Michael itself peers out from behind some fine cedar trees, which are growing in the church grounds; the church here not being the easiest to shoot as a result The biggest of these hangs out over the main road going past the church and is thought to be more than 150 years old.

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

The west tower dates from the 16th century and is perpendicular, buttressed, battlemented and pinnacled. There is a clock mounted to the west face and the base of the west doorway dates from the 13th century, indicating that there was a previous tower here.

There is a frieze around the top of the tower of a repeated quatre foil design, with some of these containing coats or arms. There is evidence of some restoration in some areas of the frieze and the clerestory window frames; this no doubt explains the scaffolding on my previous visit.

Gargoyles of the highest quality can be seen around the tower, including the almost obligatory mouth puller, a lion and a male human figure with bulging, slightly crossed eyes which appears to be in some distress.

Much of the church here dates from the 13th century, with the south porch and clerestory being later additions.  The 14th century south porch has an empty image niche at the top and some fine carvings on its east and west sides. Another frieze, with a repeated quatrefoil design runs along the nave and porch. Looking at the chancel; windows on the north and south walls have sadly been bricked in to accommodate the memorials inside the chancel.


   When Thomas North was compiling his study of the church bells of Lincolnshire, which was published in 1882, there were five bells hanging here. Three dated from the early to mid nineteenth century and were cast by Thomas Mears of London.

The other two are older and more interesting. The fourth of the ring was dated 1721 and was cast by Peterborough founder Henry Penn. This bell has inscribed on it the names John Bacon and Robt Allen, the church wardens of the day. Michael Lee's excellent book on Penn states that the date of this bell though is 1712.

  The fifth of the ring was cast locally by Thomas Norris of the Stamford bellfoundry, being dated 1636. This is inscribed with the name Thomas Doncombe, the rector of the day.

  Things are much different today with ten bells hanging here. A sixth was added in 1909, two more in 1931 and a further two more in 1985. All of the twentieth century bells were added by Taylors of Loughborough who also recast the Norris bell in 1931.

   The present tenor bell is thought to have been cast using metal from a bell from the Abbey of Valle Dei, which stood in nearby Grimsthorpe Park.


Entry is through the south porch and then an inner doorway which dates from the 13th century. It was good to see the exterior of this church without scaffolding and the interior free from dust sheets. Walls are whitewashed and it was remarkably bright inside considering that it was quite a dull day.

The attention of the visitor will be immediately drawn by some really ancient stonework here; with the eldest being a fragment of a cross shaft, which has been dated back to the 8th century. This is a curious thing, featuring a headless figure with very long arms and really thin legs! At the bottom of the reverse side is a niche, in which is what appears to be a crouched or seated human figure.

Close by is a striking figure of a lady at prayer, which dates from the 13th century. This has been damaged at some point back in history, with her face erased, along with the heads of two figures who were attending her.

A 14th century monument of a Knight and Lady, display the shields of the Simeon and Neville arms; both figures recumbent with hands raised in prayer. A dog and what could possibly be a bedesman can be seen at the feet of the lady and another animal is at the feet of the man.

While I am looking at that area of the church, there is a beautiful 12th century door with rounded arch at the west end of the north wall. This was moved to the church here in 1967, from a chapel of ease at nearby Scottlethorpe. It is suggested that this may originally have been part of Vaudey Abbey, a Cistercian Abbey located nearby. This door has a tympanum with a very light zig zag design on it, with carved human head central in the arches.

There are four bay arcades to north and south, with quatrefoil piers and angular capitals. The church organ is housed at the western end of the nave. The 16th century tower arch is tall and pointed, with five light window of clear glass visible on the west wall of the tower.


The chancel is filled with monuments, which line the north and south walls. Several of these are to members of the Bertie family, Dukes of Ancaster and Kesteven. Robert Bertie, the 1st Duke stands; an imposing figure, dressed in Roman toga as was the fashion of the day. He died in 1723, aged 63 years.

Peregrine, the 2nd Duke died in 1741 aged 55. He is depicted, also in Roman toga; leaning on an urn underneath which is a medallion with an image of his duchess Jane, who is being attended by a putto.

The third and fourth Dukes are together on one memorial; having died within a short time of each other. Peregrine, the 3rd Duke is seated, looking sadly in to a cameo of his Duchess. He died in 1778 Robert the 4th Duke, stands alongside, also dressed in Roman toga. He passed away a year later of scarlet fever at the age of 23 years.

A memorial on the south wall of the chancel shows the head and shoulders of seven members of the Bertie family; with all again dressed in Roman attire.


The east window is of five lights, with Victorian patterned glass. Elsewhere, there is some interesting glass to be seen. One two light window sees Paul in chains as he dictates one of his letters. The adjoining panel shows Paul captive again; but not for long, with his chains having fallen off as an angel of the Lord leads him to freedom.

Paul also features in another two light window. He is in his traditional stance, with sword pointed downwards. Joining him is Peter, again with his usual symbol of keys.

A fine depiction of the ascension shows the risen Christ emerging from the tomb; the Roman soldiers guarding him mainly asleep. The three Mary’s are in the background, and in the tracery angels carry instruments of Christ’s passion.

John is shows with a serpent rising up from his wine. This is not Biblical, but a tradition which comes from a story associated with the biography of the saint: it is said that, while in Ephesus, John was offered a glass of poisoned wine. Before drinking, he blessed the drink and the poison came out of the cup in the form of a snake.


Elsewhere, John the Baptist prepares the way for Jesus. ‘Ecce Agnus Dei’, ‘Behold the Lamb of God’ reads the text. Close by Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead.

Jesus’ miracles are further highlighted in another window where he feeds either the 3,000 or 5,000 with loaves and fishes and when Lazarus is raised from the dead.

There looks to be a few stained glass fragments up in the tracery of one window with a couple of angels at prayer, beautifully depicted in shades of blue, these flanking two Bishops, one of whom is carrying a church.

The circular font dates back to the 12th century, predating the vast majority of the rest of the structure here.


Moving back outside, the church grounds are of interest, with a churchyard cross, which dates back to the 14th century, having a Grade II Listing. Also listed are several tombs in the church grounds.

Fine detail on an 18th century slate gravestone reads ‘Search the scriptures how short is life’. This is accompanied by a few items from Christ’s passion, along with a winged hourglass ‘Tempus Fugit’ time flies.

Elsewhere, the skull and crossed bones on a gravestone, weathered and will a coating of orange lichen, reminds the onlooker of the transitory nature of human life.

It was time to move on. This had been the second church of the day in what turned in to a 12 church crawl. We headed in a north westerly direction to neighbouring Swinstead where there is another monument to a subsequent Duke of Ancaster. The church at Edenham is full of interest and history. Open and welcoming; an absolute must see if you are around. It was great to see it without scaffolding and dust sheets.

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