Our History

A Millenium of History

Historic Records

All the historic records for Barrowby are now held at Lincolnshire Archives, please search for Barrowby here (https://www.lincstothepast.com/ ) to view the list of parish documents.

Our History

The village on the hill

The village of Barrowby is situated 2 miles W.N.W. of Grantham just off the A52 from Grantham to Nottingham, and separated from Grantham by the A1. The church commands a fine view of The Vale of Belvoir, and on a clear day it is possible to see the towers of Lincoln Cathedral on the horizon. A good defensive position, fresh water springs and, latterly, a position close to major north-south and east-west routes, together with its proximity to, but separation from, a town of reasonable size, have meant that Barrowby has proved to be a popular village through the centuries.

Barrowby derives its name from the Scandinavian languages, the old Norse being Bergebei, the Danish Bergr and the Anglo-Saxon Berg all meaning a hill and this, together with the "by" ending, indicates a Danish settlement. So although archaeological records indicate that people have lived here since at least Iron age times, the village got its present name from Viking settlers, sometime before the first millennium.

The first written record of Barrowby occurs in the Domesday Book of AD 1086. The Survey states 'In Bergebei Godwin has 8 carucates (1) of land (assessed) to the geld. There is land for 15 teams. Robert has 5 teams there (in demesne) and 2 sokemen on (de) 10 bovates of this land and 50 villeins and 2 bordars having 10 teams and 1 mill rendering 3 shillings. There is a church there and a priest, and 60 acres of meadow. It was worth 12 pounds, now 16 pounds'

Our church

Our church stands in the centre of a roughly circular site, and it at least the second Christian place of worship to be built there. The nature of the site suggests that it may have been a focus for pre-Christian worship, before the first church was built. It was quite common for the early church to take over sites which were already regarded as sacred and ‘convert’ them to use for Christian worship.

The church referred to in the Domesday Book was probably wooden. We have no way of knowing when it was built, or whether it was the first Christian building on this site. The only indication of that church is some Saxon carving embodied in the present church structure. The present church is an ironstone and limestone building of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, consisting of a nave, with two arcades of four bays each, a chancel, a tower and spire containing six bells.

Like most very old buildings which have been in constant use, unravelling its history is something of a detective story. Each generation has added, and sometimes taken away, the things which seemed important to them in their time, and the internal appearance of the church has undergone a number of more or less drastic changes. This is an indication that our church has housed, and still houses, a living, changing community of Christians, who have adapted the building in which they worship to suit the needs of their own times. This process of change has gone on throughout the church’s history, and continues today, as we seek to continue to be a worshipping and celebrating church serving God and our community into the third Millennium.

Even the present dedication of the church: ‘All Saints’ has had its variations, as at various times until the mid sixteenth century it was referred to by the older term ‘All Hallows’ (2)

The Mediaeval Church.

Although the church is mediaeval, it is entered through a fifteenth century porch. Stone benches on either side were used to rest a coffin on before it was taken into the church for the Burial Service. On the right is a list of Rectors dating from 1220. The doorway to the church itself belongs to the early thirteenth century, and is built in the Early English style.

As you enter the church, one of the first things you see is the font. Fonts were symbolically placed near the entrance to the church, indicating that it was through Baptism that the new believer became part of the church.

The font is one of the treasures of the Church. A beautiful example of Decorated work of the fourteenth century, it is octagonal, with each panel, separated by a buttress, elaborately carved to show different styles of window tracery - Geometric, Decorated and Perpendicular. All the mouldings terminate with a small carved head - the faces, perhaps, of Barrowby villagers of long ago! It would hardly be surprising if, in the century that saw the Black Death sweep country, and reduce the population of Britain from around six million to less than two, people wanted to preserve an image of themselves, or those close to them.

Above the panels a frieze is worked, again a different design for each side. The base is formed with fruits and leaves, with a hollow stem. Through the ornamental perforations a three-headed monster can be seen in chains, perhaps suggestive of the restraint put upon evil through the power of baptism, or of the stonemason’s hopes for salvation, both from the ravages of disease in this life, and from hell in the next.

The small lancet window in the west wall is probably the oldest in the church, dating from the early thirteenth century. Above it to the right a piece of stone, inscribed with a petal design, with an extension to the left, is from Saxon times.

At the West End is the Tower Arch of the fourteenth century. Above the arch can be seen the roof line which has been heightened.

There is no north door now as the thirteenth century doorway has been blocked up but the outline can still be seen. It now has the War Memorial for the 1914-18 War and was added to after World War II. The original use of this door would have been to allow direct access into the churchyard for burials.

Our artist’s impression shows how the mediaeval church might have looked - no pews, of course, and lit only by candles, with the Rood Screen still in place.

Under the carpet of the chancel are three brasses:

Just in front of the sanctuary steps on the south side are brasses commemorating Nicholas Deene and Catherine (daughter of Walter Pedwardine) his wife. He is represented in a civilian gown with collar and cuffs of fur, with a purse suspended from his girdle. His hat hangs behind him. Catherine wears a butterfly headdress of the time of Edward IV. Her dress also has a collar and cuffs of fur. Below is a group of nine sons, but the daughters are missing. The inscription is partly missing - onIy:Hic iacent Nicholas Deen et. . Octoly Anno dm milimo CCC . . is left. From documents of 1634-42 we know it read "Under this monument lye buryed the bodyes of Nicholas Deen and Catherine his wife (daughter and herye of Waiter Pedwardyn) who died the eleventh day of October Anno Dm 1479”. (3)

On the north only one brass remains of the pair. It can be seen from the matrix, the man James Deene was in armour. He was the grandson of Nicholas Deene. His wife Margaret, daughter of William Armine, is wearing a mantle emblazoned with the family heraldic bearings over a dress with a chain belt. Her headress is a lappeted cap of the time of Henry VII. Margaret married twice, her second husband was Sir John Markham, Knight. The inscription reads 'Of your charity pray for the soules of James Deen and Margaret his wife the which James deceessed the XXIX day of Aprill the yere of our Lord 1498 and the seyd Margaret died the XIX day of January the year of our Lord 1508 on whose soules thou have mercy. . . (the last word is missing).Three daughters are below the inscription, the sons are missing.

Nearer the screen is a matrix of a knight in armour. In 1895 there were three: a knight with a lady in a butterfly headdress c1470 and two civilians with their wives. What became of the others is not known.

In the north sanctuary wall is an early-thirteenth century blocked up doorway once leading to the outside.

A tour of the outside of the church reveals more about the way our medieval ancestors worshipped and worked: on the west side of the porch doorway are three Mass Dials. These are a type of sundial used to mark the times of the church services before mechanical clocks began to be more commonly used in the fifteenth century. In medieval days the church walls were covered with a form of cement and limewashed both inside and outside. The mass dials were usually painted in the scratched lines; a metal rod called a gnomon projected from the central hole to cast a shadow.

A difference in stonework near the top of the west wall of the south aisle is where it was improved in the fourteenth century from being a lean-to construction to its present structure.

Moving towards the tower and west end you will see the frieze just underneath the roof line is decorated with ballflower and quatre flower carvings. The buttresses are of limestone as are the corners, the main stonework of the walls being ironstone. You don’t have to dig for very long in Barrowby to understand why so many of the older buildings in the village are built of ironstone!

The tower is built in three divisions, and the windows are of the Decorated style from the fourteenth century. Below the parapetare gargoyles for draining the water away, amidst variations on the quatre flower design. The octagonal spire rises from the tower and has two alternating storeys of lucerns. Two sculptured heads in balaclaver type headgear are at the base of the hood moulding of the west window in the tower. Access to the parapet is now severely limited by the bells, which obstruct the original spiral staircase, and the outside can only be reached by crossing a series of ladders across the top of the bells.

In the south wall, halfway up between the Decorated and Perpendicular windows and behind the drainpipe is the part of a Saxon Cross. It has been incorporated into the stonework. The east end of the panel bears an incised Greek cross, the remainder enclosed within a cable moulding is a simple strand of interlace with a loose end and two complete knots either side of a central arm. Nearby is the blocked up Early English doorway

A twelfth century stone coffin found in the nave of the church while work was being done early this century is by the porch. It is carved out so that a body could rest in it, with a special niche for the head. There is another, hollowed out circular stone artefact from the same period. This may have been an earlier font, or possibly, although less probably, another coffin, in which the body of a small child lay curled round.

The Reformation

Whilst the Middle Ages could hardly be described as times of peace and tranquillity, they were nothing in comparison to the upheavals that faced the Church during the sixteenth century. Reforming zeal abroad found its way to England through the crisis precipitated by Henry VIII’s break with Rome in 1536. For Barrowby Church, as for so many other ecclesiastical buildings, these changes were to result in considerable damage. The nearby Abbey of Neubo was suppressed in 1566, and soon pulled down. Almost all of the medieval stained glass in the church was destroyed, with only a few tiny, high up pieces remaining, presumably because they were difficult to break.

Where the present screen divides the nave from the chancel, a Rood Screen stood. Both sides of the remaining screen are from the fifteenth century, in Perpendicular style, the centre part is only about 70 years old. The Rood Screen would have supported a large crucifix, flanked by the gilded figures of the Virgin Mary and Saint John (in 1524 one Sir Richard Bozon had bequeathed 20s for their gilding). In 1561 these figures of Mary and John were burned. Such screens were pulled down and destroyed in hundreds of churches at this time, often despite vociferous local objections, and sometimes scenes of violence!

The surviving screen has been in various parts of the church through the centuries; it was in its present place 1848 but from the Ven. Ed. Trollope’s notes in 1867 we know parts of it were placed on either side of the east window in the chancel. Later in the century it was moved to a place under the tower, returning to its present place this century, when the middle part was carved.

Parts of the pulpit are made of old wood but it is basically Victorian. The old wood from the Decorated period could have come from the screen. Other parts were made into seats for use in the church in 1563, the rest was kept, gradually being used for mending beams.

The original altar stones were broken and used as paving stones for the porch in 1565. At the same time the altar cross, fourteen candlesticks and a pair of censors were sold to George Vernon who resold them to Arthur Wilson a pewterer of Lincoln. The other item destroyed in that year was the Easter Sepulchre. No trace of this remains. In 1566 the churchwardens reported that 'two hand belles' which belonged to the church in Queen Mary's time had been 'sold to Thomas Clarke the younger sens Michaelmas past and he hath broken them in pieces’. Amongst things lost were the holy water vat of brass and copes and other vestments which were torn or defaced - one parishioner bought a cross cloth and made it into cushions.

During the reign of Elizabeth I, the Church of England was formally established, its doctrines enshrined in the 39 Articles of Religion . A sense of stability gradually returned, and with it came a fine new Rectory in Barrowby (now a private house).

More troubled times.

On the south wall of the chancel, by the brass to Nicholas Deen, is a stone decorated with fruits on either side inscribed: “Dr Hurst hath Iyeing within this chancel seven children namely, Anne, Lewis, Mary, Elizabeth, Charles, Sarayh, and Anna. This is to their memory 1675.” On the floor is a marble slab showing where Anne, widow of Dr Hurst is buried. She outlived her husband by sixteen years dying 26th March. 1689.

Thomas Hurst was born in Barrowby in 1598, and became Rector of Barrowby and Leadenham in 1629, having gained a Doctorate in Divinity. He was a chaplain to King Charles I, and during the Civil War he spent two years away from his parishes preaching to the Royalists. As a result he lost his living in 1644, not to be reinstated until 1660 after paying a fine of £640. While deprived of his livings he lived in Grantham; his house there bears the date 1653. It is interesting to note his signature still appears in the Parish Registers until this date.

In his will he remembered the poor of Barrowby and Grantham. The Hurst Almshouses are west of St Wulfram's Church, Grantham and in Barrowby the Hurst Trust Fund was distributed on St Thomas’s Day each year. Dr Hurst died 17th March, 1674. The people of Grantham were so grateful for the help he gave during the plague there in 1637 that he was given the freedom of the borough.

The memorial to Dr Hurst is to be found on the wall to the left of the window in the small vestry behind the organ. Dr Hurst's memorial is in Latin: the other memorial carved in ill spaced lettering is to his father, which reads: 'Here Iy intered the bodyes of Richard Hurst. Gent. buried February the 12 1628 and of Alice his wife buried March 9 1641 and they left. . . Thomas Hurst Bar. son of. . . church who married Anne. Heire to Mr. Lewis Somersall of Grantham and daughters Dorothy, Elizabeth, Mary, Susanna and Frances all of them parents of divers children’

There are, at the present time, six bells in the tower, the oldest of which is the present tenor. This was hung sometime before 1600 on an old medieval frame, when there were, we believe, four bells, this being the 3rd at that time. It was probably cast in Nottingham, as on it is a Rose and Shield being the stamps used by Robert Quernbie and Henry Oldfield before 1600. It bears the inscription 'Celeorum Xte placeat tibi rcx somis iste' (O Christ, the King of Heaven, may this sound be pleasing to Thee). The diameter is 39 ins. 

Another old bell hanging at the same time is missing. Its inscription was 'In multis annis resonet campane Johannis' (For many years may John's bell resound).

In 1774 a new five bell frame was installed followed, above it, in 1897, by a steel frame, to accommodate a new treble, cast by Taylors of Loughborough, making the six bells that are present today.

The 2nd, 4th and 5th bells were all cast by Thomas Hedderly of Nottingham in 1774. The inscriptions are:

2nd: 'Glory be to God on high' Diameter 31 ins.

4th: 'John Dorr, Churchwarden' 33 ins.

5th: 'Glory be to God on high John Dorr Churchwarden' Diameter 36 ins.

The 3rd bell bears the inscription: 'God Save His Churche. Mark Jenkinson 1712' on it but does not say where it was cast.

The 6th bell is the 16th century 'Tenor' which is mentioned above.

By the end of the century, the weather cock which surmounts the spire was in place. It has been there since 1794 at least, when from the accounts it cost 12s for gilding.

In 1805 a gallery was built at the West End, only to be removed before the end of the century. The Rector's Vestry was built in 1806.

Victorian Restoration

The first organ the church had was positioned under the tower in the early nineteenth century, previous to this there had been a church band playing for services.

White’s Directory for 1856 reports: ‘After being many years in a mutilated condition, the old pews were removed, and the church was restored, beautified and refitted with neat open benches of pine’

There was other repair and restoration work through the nineteenth century: in 1879 the spire was repaired and in 1889-90, re-roofing was done in 1889.

The choir-stalls are also from the nineteenth century. The present organ was installed in 1870. From hearsay it is thought the organ covers some interesting burial slabs. This could be, as it can be seen behind the organ that some slabs, both on the floor and wall, are partly hidden by the works.

The East Window of the late fourteenth century had its three lights fitted with stained glass in 1884; the centre light depicting the crucifixion was given by the Rector, the Rev. George Earle Welby, the other two showing the Virgin Mary and Mary Cleophas, were by subscription, all at a total cost of £140. Turning to the south wall of the Sanctuary, the lancet window contains stained glass to the memory of the Rev. George Earle Welby’s three young daughters, Edith, aged 10 years, Augusta, 5 years, and Katherine, 3 months. Part of the window was shattered during the last war and the glass refitted is not the right shade of blue. Canon Welby was Rector for fifty years, and contributed a great deal to the church and village. He was responsible for the foundation of our church school in 1851, and the building of the Reading Room on the corner of Church Street in 1899, and gave the Lych Gate as a gift on his Golden Wedding Anniversary. He retired to The White House in Casthorpe Road, taking with him the clock tower from the Rectory stables, which can still be seen there!

Gifts to the church in this period include the Litany Desk given as a gift by Lady Emily Mostyn after the birth of her daughter Rhona in 1894, and the brass lectern given in memory of William Downing 1892.

The Twentieth Century

Most of the stained glass dates from the early twentieth century:

The window depicting the Parable of the Sower is to the memory of Edward Grinling 1854-1935 and was designed by Heaton Butler and Laneton. The window in which Mary and Joseph are presenting Christ to Simeon and Anna in the Temple was dedicated on Ascension Day 1913 by Archdeacon Jawdine, Rector of Harlaxton and is to the memory of John and George Clark Downing. Both these windows are in the north wall.

A small lancet window depicting 'The Light of the World' in stained glass is in the west

wall of the tower was given as a gift in 1937 by Lady Emily Lloyd Mostyn.

The War Memorial is set into the earlier doorway into the churchyard in the north wall. The names of those who died from the village are commemorated, and a brass plaque with St. George killing the dragon is above the list of names. It was designed by Omar Ramsden of London. To the right of the memorial is a wall plaque to the memory of Cpl. Lawrence Frederick Swallow who was reported missing from the Battle of the Somme 1916.

Augusta Welby is remembered by the stained glass picture of the Resurrection the chancel; this is the work of Heaton. Butler and Bayne of London dedicated in 1904.

Under the east window is the oak reredos of 1920 with five painting sof saints, from left to right Augustine, George, Mary holding Christ, Michael and Hugh: this was given by Lady Emily Sarah Mostyn in memory of past worshippers the oak panelling on either side being given by the congregation in place of curtains.

In front of the altar and slightly to the sides are two wooden candlesticks carved with the names of those who lost their lives in World War II; the appropriate badge is between the name and rank.

The most modern window in the church is in the south wall, depicting Mary with the infant Jesus. It is in memory of Kathleen Swallow 1904-56 and was designed by Francis Skeat.

To the left of the south door is a figure of the Good Shepherd put there in 1909, being paid for by voluntary subscription; at the time the Rev. Stephen Gladstone - son of the Prime Minister - was Rector and Dr King. Bishop of Lincoln dedicated it. Outside and above the doorway of the porch is a stone statue of Mary holding Christ, it was dedicated at the same service as the Good Shepherd.

Present and future

The second half of the twentieth century has seen much hard work to ensure the continued good condition of the church, and also to ensure that it meets the needs of its worshipping community in the present age. Like all the generations who have gone before us, we seek to make changes and adaptations suited to our needs, although with more respect for our heritage than many of them have shown!

The Churchyard

To the left of the main pathway, looking from the porch are some fine eighteenth century tombstones to the Jenkinson Family. Most have angel heads carved but the fifth one in from the pathway to Jane Jenkinson with its scroll work is particularly fine.

The slates belong to 1780-1840, where all the lettering is centred and the decorations are of urns hourglasses and garlands of flowers. The second one from the pathway is an exception having a bird etched in flowing lines. One of the finest slates in the churchyard belongs to this period. It is the first slate on your left as you leave the church. The dove and angels heads are carved in great depth, a difficult thing to do in slate; it is to the memory of Richard Broughton died 1782 and his wife Eleanor died 1777, the Sculptor was George Sparrow of Ratcliffe

Continuing along this pathway on your left hand side after the second yew tree is the oldest stone dated 1722, a small headstone erected to Richard Hare.

The churchyard is carefully maintained to preserve its traditional character as a haven for wildlife. In the Spring, snowdrops and primroses are to be found in abundance, and later cow-parsley and ox-eye daisies bloom. At the same time, the churchyard is kept neat and attractive in keeping with its function, and is pleasant place to visit, with views of open countryside to the north. The area leading off to the right at the bottom of the churchyard belongs to the Parish Council.

Our church building stands as a monument to all the hundreds of men and women who have worshipped in it, and in its predecessor, for perhaps a thousand years. Through the centuries, it has been a focus for the spiritual life of our community - a place to which people have come in the good times and the bad - to celebrate, to mourn, to seek comfort, to give thanks, and to ask for help. Today, it remains the place to which we come to bring to God our lives, our hopes and our fears, and to offer him our worship.

1 a carucate was the amount of land one man could keep under the plough in a year. In Lincolnshire, this was approximately 160 acres, with an 8 ox team. The ‘geld’ was a form of taxation - about 2 shillings, per 8 carucates.

2 Wills: Miles Blakey 1521, Thomas Raby 1530, although Agnes Aumbler’s will of 1522 called ‘All Saints’

3 Other pieces missing from this brass include the coats of arms; it was quarterly.-

Argent 2 barrs sable, a border gules

Gules 2 chevrone argent

Sable 3 cinquefoils, a border engrailed argent Argent 3 birdbolts gules


1 The Markham family later inherited the Abbey and lands at Neubo, after the Dissolution.

2 An Augustinian house which lay at the bottom of Casthorpe Hill

3 You can find these in the Book of Common Prayer.

4 The Jenkinson family gravestones are an interesting feature of the churchyard.

5 That the present ‘pews’ are referred to as ‘benches’ may suggest that the pews they replaced were of the ‘box pew’ type. Whether the ‘mutilation’ meant that the church was in a bad state of repair, or simply that it did not please the Victorian enthusiasm for restoring the Gothic style is not known.

Page last updated: Wednesday 6th September 2023 4:59 PM
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