English Churches - Lincolnshire
A superb church with a colourful Bodley interior
Boughton is a small village of beautifully maintained brick
or stone houses just north of the A17, near Newark. The tall
spire of St Helenís church dominates the view as you
approach the village and was described by Pevsner as one of
the most elegant in Lincolnshire. Once in the village, you
lose the church as it is set back off the road and is easily
We parked on the main street and followed a signed public footpath between the houses which brought us to the east end of the church and up steps made of old grave stones. Our hearts sank when we realised the south door was locked.
Fortunately we walked round the church and discovered that the north doorway is the one in use and was open. The church car park is on this side of the church.
From the outside it is a superb church, described as Gothic architecture at its best and is featured in Simon Jenkinís ďEnglandís Thousand Best ChurchesĒ. The very tall tower is crocketed with lines of knobbles. There are more crocketed pinnacles on the battlemented nave and side aisles. The chancel has a carved frieze and more crocked pinnacles. In fact everywhere you look it is crocketed. There are gargoyles and carved heads under the window arches and more carved figureheads at the tops of the wall buttresses. There are two small sundials on the south wall.
Entry is through the north porch. There are three carved stone roof bosses with a pelican plucking her breast to feed her young, a rose and a lamb and flag. There are wall arches with foliage and more carved heads.
The inside of the church was restored in the C19th by GF Bodley. Octagonal pillars supporting pointed arches separate the nave and side aisles.
At the back of a church, a pointed arch with the head of a king and queen leads into the base of the tower. This has panelling around the base of the walls with old tombstones on the floor and a bier.
Eyes are drawn up to the painted angel roof. The church was restored by Bodley in the C19th and great care was taken to keep as much of the original C15th woodwork as possible and match the medieval colouring. The angels are worthy of the great East Anglian wool churches of Blythburgh, Southwold, and Woolpit.
Along the roof are carved angels with golden wings holding a shield. The nave beams have gilded bosses and are painted with black and white chevrons on a red background. This has black stencilled designs and golden suns. The side aisles have a black roof with red beams with a pale flower motifs. Around the walls of the nave and side aisles is a frieze with black script of the Nicene Creed written in Latin on a white background.
There are carvings under the roof beams of minstrels, praying angels and figures holding a shield. Below these are animal carvings.
The colourful stained glass windows are C19th and have images of saints, prophets and kings.
Iron chandeliers in the aisles were made by the local blacksmith.
At the back of the church is a carved stone font with an elaborate carved wood steeple top. We didnít open this but afterwards wished we had as I later found out the inside of the doors are painted sage green with gold decoration. In the centre are three figures. Archangel Michael is killing the dragon (Satan) with St Nicholas and St Agnes. There is a photograph here.
At the end of the north aisle there is a wooden screen with gilded carving with honor, gloria, laus and potestas painted on the base panels. On the north wall is a reconstruction of the Daubeny Tomb with carved shields on the sides and an old wooden chest. Linen fold panelling separates it from the vestry beyond. The roof is painted in panels of red and green with a crown motif with H underneath surrounded by a floral decoration.
The chancel was demolished in 1812 and completely rebuilt and is typical High Church Bodley. In front of the rood screen is a carved wood floor standing pulpit and a brass eagle lectern.
The beautiful rood screen has carved panel bases with open tracery arches and a carved frieze along the top. Above is a painted crucifix with the Virgin Mary and St John on either side. In the centre two metal doors with an open four petal design on them open into the chancel.
Steps lead up into the chancel and to the altar. The carved rood choir stalls have a tracery design and metal candlesticks holding two candles. On the north wall is a massive organ with linen fold carved panels on the front and more carved woodwork around the pipes. There is more linen fold carving on the north wall. The panelling continues round the east wall behind the altar and reredos. On the south wall is a stone sedilia topped with arches and pinnacles all covered with carving. Beyond is a small piscina.
The altar is covered with a beautiful embroidery and tapestry cloth. Behind is an elaborate painted wood reredos. This has carvings of the four disciples set below ogee arches. In the centre is a C15th German painted panel of the Ascension into Heaven.
The beautiful fan vaulted ceiling has a pale sage green background with floral motifs in red, gold and a darker green with IHS in the centre. Suspended from it is an iron chandelier with candles.
This is a delightful church with a beautiful exterior and immaculately restored interior. It is well worth visiting. There is plenty of parking on the main street. The post code is LN5 0QX and the grid reference SK 916539
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