Over 90 historic churches, located across the stunning landscape of West Lindsey, Lincolnshire, are waiting to welcome visitors over two weekends: 7/8th and 14/15th May.
The message is clear: welcome back to this year’s Churches Festival, and what a glorious celebration is on offer as the people who care for these churches come together after two years of absence due to the pandemic.
The year 2022 sees the Queen’s platinum anniversary and in celebration, four churches in week one are holding exhibitions in honour of this wonderful achievement. Holy Trinity, Swallow will include personal reminiscences and souvenirs of the Queen’s seventy years reign and at St John’s, Southrey, which was built by the villagers during Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee year, a celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee with a red, white and blue themed flower display. At Middle Rasen, the theme of St Peter & St Paul’s is ‘The Queen – Service before Self’ and Nettleton St John the Baptist have chosen ‘Anniversaries’ as the theme with flowers and exhibits on view.
Other exhibitions to take note of during both weekends are: St Andrew’s, Apley, which is celebrating 25 years of this West Lindsey Open Churches Festival with a special flower display. Stainfield, St Andrew have a theme of ‘Consider the works of our hands’, celebrating local craftspeople and their skills and St Peter & St Paul, Owmby by Spital have a similar display. Reepham St Peter & St Paul focus on ‘Past, present and future’ with an archive of the village as will All Saints, Upton cum Kexby.
A new stained glass window commemorating all who have served at RAF Scampton over the last 100 years takes pride of place in the church’s ‘Allies in the Air’ exhibition.
The history of these Lincolnshire churches spans back to those first Christian saints. Visitors can follow in the footsteps of St Oswald from Rand, via Stainfield with its connections with the Benedictine nunnery, to St Lawrence church, Bardney. Here they can also explore the connection between Venerable Bede, St Oswald and Bardney Abbey. There really is 1400 years of English history in this one building!
Every one of these churches is waiting to share its story with you. And the organisers promise there really is a different story in each, and challenge visitors to find out the importance of Henry Dudding of St Edmunds at Riby, or Anne Ayscough of St Mary & St Nicholas at South Kelsey!
Whichever churches you visit, you will be guaranteed a warm welcome.
Organiser Linda Patrick sums up the feelings of many involved: “The last two years have been most difficult. Churches were closed for long periods of time and unable to raise income from their many activities, including normal collections and the hiring out of buildings. So please join in and celebrate this festival and support as many churches and chapels as you can over the two weekends. Not only will you be supporting our church heritage, you will also be supporting many of our small villages, helping to ensure that the lovely community spirit that binds these rural Lincolnshire towns and villages together stays forever.”
The festival’s website can be found at https://www.churchesfestival.info/ where every church has its own page. Details include where lunches are being served and where organ recitals can be heard, along with the facility to download a 50 page PDF of the event brochure.
The festival is active on Facebook and Twitter, and asks visitors to share their images using the hashtag #LoveLincsChurches throughout the two weekends.