Church of St Lawrence - Bardney

St Lawrence Parish Church

St Lawrence Parish Church


  • Bardney Parish Church was originally built as part of the Benedictine Abbey complex, which was dedicated to St Peter, St Paul and St Oswald. It was built in Saxon times and the Danes destroyed the whole site in 870 A.D. It was re-constructed by Bishop Remigius and Gilbert de Gaunt (Earl of London) in 11th century.
  • The land around the Abbey church was low-lying, and very boggy and prone to flooding in the winter months. Due to this, attendance by the locals was poor. The monks also tended to resent the intrusion of parishioners, disrupting their own prayers.
  • Before the present building, it is reputed that another church was built, on Abbey Road. This would have been a wooden structure. Unfortunately, the actual site is unknown, so this theory cannot be substantiated.
  • It was rebuilt, on its present site, in approximately 1434, following a petition to the Bishop, requesting a better site for the church. Eventually a grant of land was made, to the village, by the monastic chapter on 19th September 1434. This was the highest ground in the village, less vulnerable to winter floods.
  • It forms an integral part of the social fabric of the village, located by the Manor, School, Almshouses, Hospital and vicarage.


  • The new church, dedicated to St Lawrence, was built with ashlar-faced stone blocks quarried from Edlington. The building is noted for the contrasting red brick chancel, using locally made bricks from Stixwould. Although the chancel looks like a later extension, it was all built at the same time.
  • Stonemasons, under Lord Cromwell, who had been previously employed building Tattershall Castle and church, constructed the chancel and it is believed that they used the surplus bricks to build the chancel. The bricks were, reputedly, exchanged for timber from the Abbey woods.
  • The brickwork has diamond diaper patterns deliberately built on the east gable, with more on the north wall of the chancel. There are also a number of chevrons built into the lower part of this wall, just above the drip moulding. They are made up of over-burnt, or vitrified,  headers, symmetrically laid in the walls, which copied similar features on Tattershall Castle. These features were later copied during Tudor times.

 Diaper brickwork

Photo by D Miles

Diaper brickwork

    The monks from the abbey are reputed to have built the nave.
  • The roof is covered by ‘Rosemary’ clay tiles on the upper section, with slates on the lower areas.
  • The gargoyles, window mullions and doors denote the structure was erected during the ‘perpendicular’ period. At some point, during the Reformation Period (first part of the 16th Century), the porch on the north side was removed. The remains can be clearly seen. The church contains many artefacts from the Abbey.


1878 church plan

Photo by Lambeth Palace Library

1878 Church Plan



There are three altars within the church:

  1. The high altar slab is made of a large altar stone, surrounded by an oak frame, which was discovered under the chancel floor, in 1873. It is unusual as it bears seven crosses. It is believed to be the shrine of St Oswald, King of Northumbria, who was slain in the battle of Masserfield in 642 A.D. (If correct, it possibly the oldest piece of Christianity in Lincolnshire). The altar stones are from the abbey and bear the seven consecration marks (there are usually only five). St Oswald was buried in the Abbey, and a statue of him is by the altar.
  2. In 1916, in the north aisle, a side altar was erected, using stone from the abbey, to form a Lady Chapel. A wooden memorial forms a window sill, dedicated to the fallen in World War I. On 7th November 2009, 9 Squadron gave their 44 year-old standard to St Lawrence's Church, to be proudly displayed over this altar.
  3. The third altar, on the south aisle, was brought from Waddingworth church. 


The church originally contained four large Bells:

  1. The greater bell has the inscription “JESUS BE OVR SPEED” 1615.
  2. The next bell SANTUAS DOMINO 1663.
  3. The next AD. 1670.
  4. The last bell SOLI DEO HONOR ET GLORIA T.T.W.K. Church-Wardens 1644.
  • These are evident from an inventory produced in 1709.
    1907 church bells

    1907 Church Bells

  • On 17th October 1907, a dedication ceremony was held for the bells. The original bells of 1663 and 1670 were re-cast, the ones from 1615 and 1644 were quarter-tuned and two new ones were added. Funding came from the Parishioners, friends and Mr John Sharpe and family. ( A commemorative brass plaque is in the church).
  • The Lincoln Cathedral Company attended the ceremony and made an entry in their minute book: "The company were invited, by the vicar of that village, to re-open Bardney bells, which had been re-hung and some re-cast.The company proceeded from Lincoln in a close conveyance as the train service was unsuitable. Arriving at Bardney, the dedication of the bells took place by the Bishop of Suffragan of Grantham. A large concourse of people assembled to witness the ceremony.  After the service, ringing was indulged in a 720 of Bob Minor was rung. Grandsire Minor was also rung. Owing to the people flocking into the belfry and talking, it was impossible to keep our mind upon the ringing. The Company attended the opening, the Bishop preaching. When the service was over the local men tried their hands, but required practice. The Vicar (Mr Lacey) provided public tea at which ample justice was done. Before leaving a Supper was given to the Ringers and Church workers. A vote of thanks was accorded to the Vicar for his hospitality. The Company arrived home about midnight."
  • Refurbishment and re-hanging of the Bell mechanisms was carried out in 1999, by Fred Pemberton. They were fitted with ball-bearings.
  • A re-dedication service was held on 11th April 1999.
  • The principle details of the current bells are:
  1. 27"dia. Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel, London; 1907
  2. 28.875" dia. Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel, London; 1907
  3. 30.625" dia. William Seller, York; (possibly) 1644
  4. 32.875" dia. Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel, London; 1907
  5. 34.875" dia. Mears & Stainbank, Whitechapel, London; 1907
  6. 37.25" dia. Henry Oldfield II, Nottingham; 1615


  • The chancel arches were filled with boards, which carried boards with the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer painted on them.
  • Two large pews were situated at the front for use by the Earl of Harrowby (Lord of the Manor). These were eventually moved into the chancel
  • The chancel was restored in 1873, when an altar stone was discovered buried beneath the floor. This has been incorporated into an oak frame, and forms the present high altar.
  • All the windows with stained glass and were fitted in 19th century.
  • The walls are covered with several paintings, notably twelve Apostles by Albert Wilitz, in 1934, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the church.
  • The chancel was re-roofed during 1958 and again in 1993.
  • The paintings, on the south chancel wall, were renovated during 2000.


  • The piscine is at the rear of the chancel and is a dedicated memorial to Ilena Goulsbra, one of the prominent ladies of the parish. It is thought to be the original font.


  • The organ was built in 1920, during the time of the late Reverend W T French MA (1818-1931). It was financed partly by the Carnegie Trust and the parishioners, during the time of Reverend Cyril Gordon Biddle.


  • The nave contains three rows of five massive arches supported by octagonal stone pillars. The arches are flattened Gothic style, common to the perpendicular period.

  • Up until 1852 the church had a false ceiling, with the walls plastered and painted white. The floor was covered with slabs.

  • In 1873 – 1878 restoration work was carried out to remove the false ceiling and high pews. The cost was £2,500. It was re-opened by the Bishop of Lincoln on 27th July 1878.

  • The south-facing porch was removed between 1878 and 1908.

  • In the 1930’s as electricity was being installed within the village, electric lights and heaters were fitted in the church.

  • In 1969-70 most of the floor of the nave was replaced.

  • An incised slab, commemorating Richard de Horncastel, Abbot of Bardney [d. 1508] is by the south door. It weighs up to four tonnes.

  • Four rare 17th century Charity Boards are sited above the main and south doors. These are to commemorate acts of charity by people of the parish. Their rarity is due to the portraits of the benefactors depicted on the boards. These are dedicated to:

  • Joseph Knowles & John Knowles (uncle to Joseph - 1603)

  • William Hurstcroft

  • Thomas Kitching.

(see Attachment for Charity Boards)


  • The pulpit has four panels – on each of which was painted one of the four Evangelists.


  • The Rerodos is the ornate carving behind the altar. This may be the original one but the statues that were intended to stand in the niches were stolen and have been replaced with five hollow oak statues, carved by George Lancelurban at Oberammergau in 1906. They are of Mary, St Hugh, Peter, Paul and Francis.
  • Around 1915, the Rerodos was paid for, by subscriptions of the friends of Mrs Sidebottom, the Doctor’s wife. It was intended to be illuminated in red, blue and gold, but due to her death, was never completed. 


  • A headless statue of St Lawrence is in the Sanctuary. It has been restored and is situated on the north wall. The iconic figure, which is mounted on a plinth at the end of the altar-rail is dated around 700 AD and was found in the ruins of the Abbey. It is of St. Lawrence he is portrayed with the griddle on which he was killed. (He has a griddle in the far left panel of the East window, as does the painting of St. Faith on the South wall.)
  • A Crusader’s tomb is on the north wall.
  • Two memorials are in the Sanctuary, to local people who were killed in the Great War - a brass memorial to John Sharpe and a stone one to William Hazard MC.


  • The tower was initially thought to have been built with timber. In 1812 a square wooden spire was added. It was constructed diagonally to the tower. The spire was thirty feet tall and cost £50, on top of which sat a weathercock, adding another £9 to the cost.
  • It is now built of matching ashlar-faced stone with a castellated parapet and eight pinnacles. There were originally six pinnacles and two more were added in 1907. There are two clock faces on the north and south aspects. The design was to allow it to be seen by the villagers to the north and the squire, in the manor to the south. 


  • Five of the windows are decorated with stained leaded glass:
  • The north window depicts the legend of Joseph of Arimethia and the Holy Thorn of Glastonbury.
  • The east window was fitted in 1895 and the window in the east end of the north aisle was added in 1920.

The decorated Windows represent:

1: (South side of Altar)

  • The East Window shows Jesus on the Cross in the centre panel, with Mazy, his mother, on the left of him as we look and John, the Apostle whom Jesus loved, on the right. On the far left is St. Lawrence, the patron of this church, with the griddle on which he was burnt as a martyr.
  • On the far right is St. Oswald, the soldier King who was brought to Bardney after his death in the battle at Maserfield (probably Oswestry, or Oswald’s tree) on August 5th, 642AD.
  • The legend of the Open Door of Bardney comes from this incident, as when Oswald’s followers asked for safe lodging in the Abbey the monks refused to let them in. A light from heaven filled the Abbey and a voice said, “Never close your door on one of my people.”
  • Dedication:
  • “To the Glory of God and in memory of ELIZABETH COOK & MARY SIMPSON daughters of GEORGE & BETSY COOK on whose souls may Jesus have mercy”.

2: (South side of Sanctuary)

  • The window nearest the altar is of the angel meeting the Apostles Peter and John and the lathes at Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning. He tells them Jesus is not there, he is risen, and he says the words written across the top of the window, “Fear not, for I know that ye seek Jesus who was crucified.”
  • The window nearer the congregation shows one of Jesus’ appearances after he had risen from the dead. He shared supper with two of his followers in a village called Emmaus. They had not recognised Jesus until he sat down with them, and they knew it was Jesus when he broke the bread.
  • Dedication:
  • “In affectionate memory of GEORGE COOK for 26 years Churchwarden of this Parish. Departed this life June 18th 1942. On whose soul Jesus have mercy”.

3: (North side of Sanctuary)

  • The window is a delightful picture of Jesus gathering the children to him:
  • “Let the children come to me; do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Mark chapter 9 verses 13 to 16)

4: (North aisle - Lady Altar window)

  • This window again focuses on Jesus’ death on the cross. See the angels collecting Jesus’ blood in their chalices, and the angel over Jesus’ head who is too upset to watch him die.
  • The cross itself is portrayed as the tree of life, and on its branches are St. Michael the Archangel on the left and St. George and the dragon on the right.
  • The two small medallions in the window are very common symbols of Jesus Christ: the Prince of Peace shown as the lamb that was sacrificed for humanity on the left, and the pelican feeding her offspring with her own blood on the right.
  • The symbol stands for Christ being the first two Greek letters (XR) and another symbol is the first three letters of the name Jesus (IHS).

5: (Window over West Door - in the Tower)

  • This is a very traditional window with three lights each with a figure of a saint.
  • The left-hand saint is St. Peter, with the keys to the Kingdom of God.In the centre is St. John, with the chalice, bearing a snake.
  • The right-hand Saint is portrayed with a book and a sword. He may be St. Bartholomew, but we do not know why he may have been placed there.


On 13th October, a display of Bardney Abbey carved stones was formally put on display in St. Lawrence's church. It was designed by James Thomas of Lincoln University, co-ordinated by the Jews Court and Bardney Abbey Trust and sponsored by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Lincolnshire Cooperative. The display uses a number stones originally excavated during 1914-19, by the Reverend Laing and his team.