St Benedict’s Church, Lincoln

A small, old church in the centre of the city of Lincoln.

This is a very strange city centre church.There is no separate nave and chancel, the window dates are all over the place and the tower looks like a late Saxon tower. There is one window that is in the Early English style, five windows in English Decorated style, two Perpendicular and one Reformation. Nikolaus Pevsner, writing in 1964, was of the opinion that this was a small Saxon church that was partially modernised in the thirteenth century but the modernisation was never complete. I don’t think that the evidence in the stonework supports this

Anomalies that need to be addressed are the presence of an arch in the west wall that a is filled in and overlaps with the tower. If the tower was a remanent from the Saxon period, why would they build an arch that was bigger than the available space in the wall and then fill it in? On the north side of the west wall there is a window that is partially obscured by the tower. Again, why did they not fit the window to the available space? My third objection to the idea that the chancel was built up to the pre-existing tower is practical. Why, when demolishing the Saxon church, leave just the tower in the midst of a building site when the tower was not required either? The tower could not be used if there was no church attached and it would be seriously in the way. Also, the west wall extends significantly higher than the rest of the building – suggesting that this wall was a part of a higher structure (a nave?).

west wall is too high.

My reading of this conundrum is that the tower was originally a part of a large Saxon church and was situated much further west than it now is. The Saxon church was demolished, being replaced by a ‘modern’ 13th century church consisting of the chancel and nave and reusing the old tower. At a later date, the nave has been demolished and the tower moved east to sit against the west wall of the chancel being made to fit as well as possible in a place it was never intended to be.

Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, the church is closed and I have not been able to get inside. I do not have a lot more that I can say about the outside. There is evidence of much repair. The original structure was built in Lincolnshire limestone but there are extensive areas of repair in red brick. This sticks out like a series of sore thumbs but the repair work is far from recent and so now has historical value. There are also more modern repairs that have been carried out in limestone Following are pictures of the external structure.

stone coffins

Author: John Margetts

I am a keen photographer who also collects cameras. I am retired with about 45 years photography experience.

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