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Church Post Code    PE10 0UJ

Open to visitors


Off all the churches to be found within the two websites that I have put together detailing the parish churches that surround Peterborough; one of the most commanding, to my mind, is to be seen at Morton, Lincolnshire.

This beautiful, perpendicular, cruciform church stands on slightly raised ground at the east end of the wide village main street. This is a real statement piece and a church that I am very fond of.

Morton is a large village with a population recorded of 2,406 at the time of the 2011 census. With the exception of Haconby, which is a little less than a mile to the north, this is the most northerly church covered by my sites.

Bourne is two miles or so off to the south; Spalding roughly 13 miles off to the east. The landscape is flat, beautiful but bitterly cold in the winter, and the tower of the church of St John the Baptist at Morton stands proud as the visitor makes their way in from the south.


I have fond memories of being based close to here on several cycling churchcrawls over the years. There were regular unsuccessful attempts to finish off a mixed grill at the Five Bells next to the church. Hazy memories of a sunny Friday evening; sitting in the church grounds here, sobering up before heading back to my digs after miscalculating the cider intake! A pleasant village with friendly locals! This revisit was in May 2022, with this being my first trip out after catching covid. It was good to be out again!

Parts of the present structure date back to the 12th century, but the majority of the church dates from the 14th to 15 centuries. It is possible that there has been a church on this site for longer than that though, with a church and priest mentioned at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086.

    It is thought that there was much rebuilding during the second quarter of the 14th century, with perhaps building being halted for a time as the Black Death swept the country. Building continued until well in to the 15th century. The church was restored in 1860.

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

 The visitor approaching the church from the west will be drawn to the perpendicular west end of the church. A four light window can be seen at the west end of the nave; rising up above the mid 15th century western porch; with similar three light windows to be found on the western walls of the north and south aisles.  The tower, which is 90 feet high is battlemented and pinnacled, with gargoyles looking out from all four sides, a few of which were being used by the local starlings. A close up look shows a collection of small heads running between the gargoyles; strange mythical beasts including the almost obligatory mouth puller. The eagle eyed will notice the remains of a scratch or mass dial which would act as a sun dial, indicating when a mass was due to take place.


A very large church clock is set to the western face of the tower and a stair turret is to be found at the south east corner. The chancel walls are of alternating bands of ironstone and limestone, which reminded me of neighbouring Haconby over the fields to the north. The whole structure is heavily buttressed.

At the time of North’s Victorian study of the church bells in Lincolnshire there were five bells here, which is logical given that this is the name of the neighbouring pub. Today there are six bells in the ring here with a new first of the ring added by Taylor of Loughborough in 1892.

Of the bells that were here in North’s day, the first, fourth and fifth of the ring were cast by Thomas Eayre of Kettering, with each of these dated 1755. Each of these bells has a Latin inscription, which when translated read ‘My voice is sweet my appearance sparking’, ‘We are made for the praise of the Lord Glory to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ and ‘When I sound if you do not wish to come you may never want to pray’.

 The second of the ring is dated 1816 and is inscribed with the name of the Vicar of the day, Samuel Hopkinson, who was the vicar here for 46 years. The third of the ring was cast by John Briant of Hertford in 1798. The Latin on this one translates as ‘It is appointed unto all men once to die’.


There is a large amount of stained glass to be found here; which is of great quality. I will just take a quick look at some of this. The sun was shining brightly as I looked around the church, with multi coloured patterns being cast through the stained glass to the south. Much of the glass here dates from the period of Victorian restoration.

 The east window illustrates four of Jesus’ parables with, from left to right, the Good Samaritan, the Sower and the Seed, the return of the Prodigal Son and the parable of the Lost Sheep.

The church here is dedicated to John the Baptist and there is a three light window in the north aisle which shows three scenes from his life and death. First up we see John calling on people to repent as the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, with a mixed response from those gathered to be honest!

 Central we see John baptising Jesus and finally we see, rather graphically, the head of John the Baptist presented to Herod Antipas on a platter.

At the east end of the north chapel we have a fine three panel depiction of ‘Doubting’ Thomas inspecting Jesus’ wounds, needing to see the physical proof before he believed. Close by is the scene of Easter morning. Jesus emerges from the tomb, wounds visible, with hand raised in blessing. This central panel is flanked by the three Mary’s, who are pictured making their way to the tomb, and an angel of the Lord who is to tell them ‘He is not here He has risen’.

Over to the west end of the south aisle there is a representation of Faith, Hope and Charity, which is my favourite out of all the glass here. The representation of Faith I particularly like with a young woman carrying a cross looking upwards towards Heaven, with the Holy Spirit in the form of the sun’s rays streaming down towards her.

morton window8.jpg

There is some interesting graffiti to be found inside the church mainly on the window ledges on the south side. There are mainly just names or initials, along with a date. Most of these date from the 17th century; with some looking to be hastily scratched, others more elaborate and not giving the impression of being carved quickly with half an eye out to avoid being caught!

Robart Newton was here in 1642, the first year of the English Civil War. George Little signed his name with a flourish in 1626. The informative church guide makes an interesting point. Are these the marks of people visiting or memorials to those who had passed away; those who would have been buried without a gravestone.

The church guide mentions the name Kellam Clarke with a date nearby of 1626. Church records show that a Kellam Clark, the son of Kellam Clark died that year. Records also show that his father was unable to sign his name. Perhaps here we have a memorial, carved by someone else, as memorial to a beloved son who was buried without a gravestone!


The church grounds are well maintained and there are a varied number of graves, both ancient and modern. As with other churches in the area there are some finely carved slate graves. Given that they are slate, they have weathered very well. Some of the finest examples here, and in the locality, have the name Fish of Bourne carved at the bottom of them.

Several show the deaths head, a carving of a human skull, designed to remind the onlooker that Man is mortal and will die. This message was passed over in the form of symbols at a time that few could read or write.

   A slate gravestone commemorates Richard Lister, who died aged 34 in 1827 passes over its own message in script rather than symbols; this message being the transitory nature of human life. Death is inevitable and it can be sudden. Live a good Christian life and be at peace with God. It may be later than you think! This one reads…

‘Stop traveller, and drop a tear, my time is gone, and yours draws near, Oh my dear friends, prepare in time, for I was called in my prime In love he lived, in peace he died, his life was craved, but God denied Go home dear wife, and child so dear, I must lie here, until Christ appears and if you will, from grief refrain I hope in Christ we'll meet again.

This is a glorious church and it was really good to visit it again. The church here is open to visitors and is well worth looking around if you are in the area, as indeed is the village itself.

morton graves detail.jpg
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