St Bartholomew’s Church, Covenham St Bartholomew
The (Greater) Domesday Book records two principal landholdings in Covenham (or Couenam or
Coevham as it was then spelt). Those held by the Bishop of Durham are described as follows;
Esbjorn had 2½ carucates of land taxable. Land for 3 ploughs and 6 oxen. Now St Karilef’s has 2½
ploughs there from the bishop. 12 villains and 6 freemen with 1½ ploughs. A church; meadow, 60
acres; 2 salt houses 3s. Value before 1066, 60s now £4; exaction 20s.
In Little Grimsby is sokeland of this manor, 2 bovates of land taxable. [There is] land for 2 oxen.
It was waste now it is cultivated.
In Skidbrooke is inland of Covenham 7 bovates of land taxable. [There is] land for 9 oxen. St
Karilefhas 6 men with 2 ploughs and meadow, 9 acres
In Grainthorpe is sokeland of Covenham 4½ bovates of land taxable. 6 villagers have 1 plough and 2
oxen; meadow, 50 acres
Land held by William de Percy is described as follows;
Alsige and Ketil and Thorfridth had 3½ carucates of land taxable. Land for 4 ploughs. William has 3
ploughs there in demesne, 18 villagers and 17 freemen with 5A ploughs; 5 salt houses 2s; meadow,
150 acres. Value before 1066 110s, now £4, exaction 30s. Ketil and Thorfridth were brothers and
after their father’s death they divided the land, in such wise however, that when Ketil was in the
King’s service he should have his brother Thorfridth’s aid. William de Percy has Ketil’s and
Alsige’s land from the King, but he, the same William, bought Thorfridth’s land from Ansketil, a
cook, in the time of King William.
This is quoted from the Phillimore edition of Domesday (1986, ed. Philip Morgan and Caroline
Thorn), which includes a facsimile of the original 1086 document. No distinction is made between
the parishes of St Mary and St Bartholomew. However, the Penguin 2002 edition of Domesday,
reprinting the Alecto Historical Edition of 1992, allots the Bishop of Durham’s holdings to
Covenham St Mary and allots only the (larger) holding of William de Percy to Covenham St
Bartholomew (including further sokeland of 3Zz bovates of taxable land in Grainthorpe, with 3
freemen, 1 plough and 50 acres of meadow).
The 1115 Lindsey Survey (Lincs. Record Soc. vol.XIX (1921) ed. C W Foster & T Longley) confirms
Ludborough Wapentake; The monks in Coevham 3 Carucates
Louthesk Wapentake; and the monks in Couenam in Ludney 1 carucate
These are the monks of the Benedictine Abbey of St Carilef, founded near Le Mans (Sarthe) in the
sixth century. William of St Carilef (anglicized to St Calais) was Bishop of Durham 1081-1096
having become a monk at St Carilef and later the Prior there. His father, a knight, also became a
monk at St Carilef and was buried there. William I appointed him to Durham
where he replaced the secular canons with Norman monks before starting to rebuild the
cathedral in 1093. He was also a major force behind the creation of the Domesday Book, being a
commissioner for the south west of England.
As there is hardly any documentary or physical evidence for this ‘alien priory’, it was probably no
more than a grange, with the ‘prior of Covenham’ being a monk sent from St Calais to manage the lands, more as a bailiff or a proctor than a religious. The only documented priors are William
(1238), Reginald (c.1250) and Matthew (1261) (VCH Lines II (1906) and Transcripts of charters
relating to Gilbertine Houses, ed. F M Stenton, Lines Record Society 18 (1922)).This ‘prior’ could
not act independently of the mother house and from the evidence of other dative alien priories, may
well have been on his own (despite monastic rules about singleton monks at distant granges). In
1303, Edward I gave leave for the south Lincolnshire Cistercian Abbey of Kirkstead to purchase the
manor from St Calais; this, with the advowson of Covenham St Mary’s Church, are listed as Kirkstead
property at the Dissolution.
I have corresponded with David Roffe, who has studied and written on Domesday for many years and
edited the Lincolnshire entries for the Alecto edition. He has confirmed that he allocated the
Domesday entries to the two Covenham churches from later documentary evidence for the feudal fees,
landholdings within the manors and patronage of the churches. St Mary’s is therefore the site of
the ‘alien priory’ belonging to St Carilef’s Abbey. As only one church is mentioned by Domesday,
as part of the bishop of Durham’s holdings, this might be taken to mean that the origins of St
Bartholomew’s church are later.
Neither of the Covenham churches has any visible pre-C14th fabric and both appear to have entirely
replaced their predecessors – which is quite usual in a north Lincolnshire context. However,
there is a distinct ditched enclosure around St Bartholomew’s, that remained open fields until the C18th, whereas St Mary’s and its churchyard are embedded into the mediaeval settlement. Some rescue excavations undertaken in 1998 in advance of new buildings at Haith’s Farm, Birketts Lane to the east of St Bartholomew’s church, established C10th-12th Saxo-Norman occupation, including possibly some iron smithing (Lincolnshire History and Archaeology 34 (1999) p26).
It is well known that the listing of churches in Domesday is highly erratic. David Roffe has
written to me on this topic;
In the Alecto intro for Lincs I argued that the church of the Lines folios (as elsewhere) was
predominantly private, i.e. belonging to a manor, with more or less full parochial rights. More
recently, I have generalized and slightly modified that view in Decoding Domesday in asserting
that, outside the terra regis (where there was definitely a concerted survey of all royal
churches), only foundations that rendered soke dues are noticed. That leaves three possibilities
for churches that are not recorded in GDB. 1. they had not yet been founded, 2. they were
dependent chapels or daughter churches, or 3. they were major foundations. Would your
archaeological evidence not also fit a minster or some such? The Cll tenurial profile of C
would not be inconsistent with such a conclusion and it might explain the form of the very odd (in
a Lines context) Ludborough Wapentake.
The majority of pre-Conquest minster churches were either re-founded in the C12th as religious
houses (often Augustinian) or because of their wealth became substantial parish churches, perhaps
with one or two ‘daughter’ churches or chapels of ease. Some failed to
progress so far and it is possible that Covenham St Bartholomew’s is one. It continued to have a
greater value than St Mary’s for taxation purposes right into modern times (when the rectory was
more valuable), though this value is not very large by mediaeval standards. The existence of the
priory at St Mary’s (and its ownership of half the vill of Covenham cl240) perhaps inhibited the
growth of St Bartholomew’s, but it is noticeable from surviving late mediaeval wills that local
people left greater sums to St Bartholomew’s. For instance, the will of Robert Mawer of Cawthorpe
(6 January 1532/3) asks for his body to be buried in the churchyard of St Bartholomew’s, gives
8d to the high altar and 3s 4d ‘to the church worke’ of St Bartholomew’s, but just 12d to the
church work at St Mary’s (Wills 1532-34 Lines Record Soc. 89 (2001) no.138).
This might only be an accident of survival, but it may also be because St Bartholomew’s was seen as
the parish church of the hamlet of Cawthorpe (or Calthorpe), a now deserted mediaeval settlement
within the parish of St Bartholomew, probably part of the Percy fee and so not belonging to the
Priory or after 1303, Kirkstead Abbey.
Three further pieces of evidence support the idea that St Bartholomew’s is the senior of the two
sites. It was common practice among minsters to dedicate the principal church to an apostle, with
subsidiary churches dedicated to St Mary and/or a local saint. (J Blair, The Church in Anglo-Saxon
Society, 2005, 200-1). Another possibility for the existence of two nearby churches comes in the
Domesday entry for Stowmarket (Suffolk). We are told that in the time of King Edward, four
brothers who were freemen built a new church adjoining the cemetery of the existing church,
because the mother church was too small to accommodate everyone. Although St Mary’s is not now
‘adjoining’ St Bartholomew’s, it might have been on the border of its curtilage in the early Cllth;
perhaps the Esbiorn mentioned in Domesday (or his predecessors) had done something similar
before the Bishop of Durham held the fee of St Mary’s?
Secondly, some late C12th charters are witnessed by Hamelin ‘dean of Covenham’ in the late C12th
(Transcripts of charters relating to Gilbertine Houses, ed. F M Stenton, Lines Record Society 18
(1922) pl07). In these contexts (that include another Hamelin, apparently dean of Louthesk), he
is presumably a senior priest, what we now formerly call a rural dean. As Hamelin cannot be a
functionary of the priory, he must be a priest associated with St Bartholomew’s. In 1526, there is
both a rector and a stipendiary chaplain recorded (for collection of a subsidy) at Covenham St
Bartholomew (Oxford Hist. Society 63 (1909) pl5).
The third point is the cruciform plan of St Bartholomew’s church. Even when totally rebuilt, later
C14th churches do not usually take this form. Unless there is a C13th aisled nave to work with, at
this time the normal plan for a modest parish church is an unaisled nave, often with a west tower
and possibly a porch and an unaisled chancel, the plan of Covenham St Mary’s, in fact. A chapel or
two might be added at the east end of the nave – such as at Utterby – for private chapels or
chantries. A cruciform plan may be a straight rebuilding of an earlier church – even a mid-Cllth
church like Stow – or a conscious attempt to emulate a major church plan. In either case, there is
surely the clear intention to establish a higher status than the ordinary parish church through a
different architectural model.
Unfortunately, the mediaeval chancel has not survived (see the Post Reformation history) and so
it is not known if St Bartholomew’s had a grand curvilinear window like St Mary’s,
though it is clear from the existing proportions of the nave and transepts that the lost chancel
was smaller than St Mary’s. Nor is it clear whether there was a stone crossing. The lack of a
western ‘crossing arch’ makes a stone crossing tower highly unlikely. However, there might have
been a larger and taller timber tower (some timbers of which might still survive re-used in the
present structure). It is possible that this was preceded by a western timber tower, as there
are no windows west of the nave doors but there are (or were) pilaster buttresses that could
have helped to support a timber structure over the western bay.
A 1566 inventory (at Appendix 1) tells us that the Rood, Mary and John ‘with all other images of
papistrie’ were destroyed in 1558, but the rood loft itself was only ‘defaced’ in 1566. Other items
like the (Lenten) veil and the (Easter) Sepulchre were also destroyed in 1558, as were two altar
stones. The latter were presumably the high altar in the chancel and another dedicated to Our
Lady (or possibly a Rood altar?) in one of the transepts, which might suggest that the north transept had
already been demolished. Interestingly, St Mary’s had three altar stones (of which two were ‘pavid
in the church’), and their rood loft was sold in 1565 (English Church Furniture, ornaments and
decorations at the period of the Reformation, ed. Edward Peacock, (1866)).
Post Reformation history of the building
Most parish churches in Lincolnshire were visited and drawn by J C Nattes c1790 and his views
incorporated in the Banks Collection held at Lincoln Central Library. Regrettably, no drawing
exists for either of the Covenham churches and I have been unable to find any other pre-C20th
illustrations; the earliest views I have found are two coloured postcards of the exterior of the
church from the road in the Central Library collection of early C20th date.
However, there are a series of descriptions from 1835 (reproduced in Appendix 3) and two documents
in the Lincolnshire Archives; the Churchwardens Accounts Book 1808-1895 (Covenham St
Bartholomew PAR/7/1) and a Vestry Minute Book 1876-1921 (CStB PAR/10). These are of
limited value as;
expenditure entries in the Accounts Book are frequently in favour of named individuals and only
rarely are their trades or the reason for the expenditure noted expenditure on the 1863-4
restoration was presumably the responsibility of the Restoration Committee (for which no
documentation seems to have survived) the pages for 1881-1905 in the Vestry minute Book have been
Further information comes from a bundle of receipts from the early C20th (CStB PAR/23), five
faculties 1907-1949 (CStB PAR/9) and information published in 1934 by Rev Harold Harding Andrews
in his History of the parishes of Covenham St. Bartholomew with St Mary, referred to as Andrews
(1934). This appears to be the only parish history or church guide ever produced.
The Churchwardens Accounts record nearly £50 paid out to individuals 1819-1820, a very large sum in
this context that might suggest major work being done to the fabric. In 1823 £5 10 is paid for the
‘belframes makeing’ and 5s for ‘fetching bell’. This date accords with the C
St B entry in the Bells and Bellfounders of Lincolnshire volume ed. John R Ketteringham (2000 ),
p62, recording a wooden bellframe ‘which would appear to be the work of James Harrison II
c.1800-20’. The central tower that houses the bellframe is recorded by Monson in 1835 to be
‘wooden’ and Bonney in 1846 as ‘slated not only on the top, but on its sides’. He also records the
chancel and south porch as being slated (as they are now). As I have no record of any
re-slating, I suggest that the surviving dark blue slates are one and the same. They look
Welsh to me, which would normally indicate a re-roofing after the arrival of the railway, but the
railway to Louth was not opened until 1848. However, the Louth Navigation Canal from Hull was
opened in 1770, making Louth a major entrepot for coal and building materials; it is barely two
miles to the east of the church. The most likely date for this slating then, is just before or
perhaps at the same time as, the bellframe was made in 1823. In 1846, the floors and roof are
recorded as ‘good’.
The 1846 description also tells us that there was a west gallery, and that ‘the pews, pulpit and
desk are panel and neatly painted’. This surely adds up to a major repair of the roofs and
interior of the church around 1820, perhaps during the incumbency of the Rev John Fretwell
1811-29, who Andrew (1934) states was also the Patron ‘for this turn only’. A pre- 1897 photograph of the interior of St Mary’s church shows early C19th panelled box pews and pulpit that gives some support to the idea that St Bartholomew’s was repaired and reordered at this time. Some of the pew panelling now forms the dado of the nave walls at St Mary’s.
Archdeacon Bonne/s Note states ‘The South transept must be repaired’. He also indicates that the windows needed attention, ‘the mullions of most of the windows are very rugged’ and records that both east and west windows have wooden frames, describing the west window as having ‘ a wooden frame inserted in it with panes partly square and partly diamond’. This suggests that an older stone surround existed at the west with the diamonds being ancient quarries salvaged from this former window. The east window is simply described as having ‘a wooden frame’, though the two two-light south windows are described as they are now. The relatively small scale of the chancel, the lack of any indication of lost sedilia, piscina, aumbry or tomb recesses internally, the smaller scale of the external walling stones compared to the uniform size of the nave and transept fabric and the lack of any mid-height stringcourse (as exists around the whole nave and
transept) all suggest to me that the chancel has been much rebuilt. The almost mediaeval depth and the retention of the two south windows might suggest that this is the result of a heavy post Restoration, late C17th repair. The timber east window might then be part of a completely rebuilt east wall. An examination of the old roof timbers hidden by the 1863-4 matchboarding
might confirm this idea; Dr Rodwell suggests that this is a C18th roof in his 1986 Report.
Kelly’s 1868 Directory appears to be the first documentary evidence for ‘five windows’ being inserted in 1854-5. The Terrier of October 1864 tells us that this does not include the west window, as it is then described as ‘new’ and the Louth Advertiser article of Christmas Eve 1864 also refers to the ‘new’ west window. With its Victorian tracery design and big leafy hood stops
(similar to those on the chancel arch corbels), the west window is a more stylistically assertive design than the east window, whose tracery almost has a Commissioners’ Gothic character with small, standard king and queen hood stop sculpture.
Rogers & Marsden’s work has a ‘rogueish’ character to it elsewhere and I think the west window is their design, replacing the wooden frame that Bonney records. It probably follows the shape of a C14th window similar in scale to the three-light nave windows, which partly explains its more open character. Although the stonework above the window into the gable has been remade, the new jambs are likely to be careful replacements of older work.
I suggest that the five windows ‘inserted’ in 1854-5 can be identified as those in the east chancel wall, the former north transept arch (both wholly new with a row of stone voussoirs above the hoodmould), the two-light east window of the south transept and both three- light nave windows.
From a very careful examination of their stonework, the two nave windows have new tracery within an old frame, as some stones of the jambs and arches are mediaeval. However, the east window of the south transept looks to be all new; oddly, Bonney calls it Perpendicular, and not
Transitional Decorated like its neighbours in the south wall of the chancel. As he is normally quite particular about his tracery descriptions, might the present form be an 1854 ‘correction’? It could once have been taller (perhaps as big as the adjacent chancel two light windows) as the wall above it now is of three courses of red brick and a top course of greenstone.
The south transept roof is certainly very low; it virtually sits on top of the apex of the south gable window. However, the tracery designs of all five windows are found in nearby churches (including St Mary’s), so I believe that the 1854-5 masons simply copied what was there, perhaps sharpening and extending the curvature of their cusps and the mullion mouldings, as they look more C19th than C14th to my eye.
The Accounts Book only records the following payments clearly related to major expenditure on the building;
March 1854 new stove £5 5s 0d
March 1856 Evison’s glazing bill £4 3s 7d
Ablewhite’s stone bills for 2 new windows £30 9s 4d
March 1857 Ablewhite’s bill £23 9s 4d
March 1865 Paid balance of Accounts for last year to church alterations £11 7s 3½d
March 1870 Baywaters Bill plumber £9 4s 1d
Could the 1856 bill be for the wholly new east and north transept windows and the 1857 bill for the new tracery and repairs made to the other three windows? My only explanation for the reference to the ‘church alterations’ in 1864 is that this is the shortfall after the Restoration Committee had
paid out their funds or, as it is a modest figure, the PCC’s contribution for specific items that they were responsible for. The plumber’s bill of 1870 could well refer to repairs to the lead roofs, following the casing of the internal timbers by the Restoration Committee.
The 1863-4 Restoration
From the two 1864 accounts quoted in Appendix 2, it is clear that the 1863-4 restoration was not a particularly happy one. I have not located any paperwork relating to the Restoration Committee or the Louth practice of Rogers & Marsden to throw light on the situation. Canon Clarke is the
only source I have found for the £350 cost, so whatever source he had for that figure may emerge one day. The most likely scenario is that the thorough job one might expect Rogers & Marsden to specify (judging from other restorations) was simply too expensive – £350 was not a very
large sum – and the Committee took it on themselves to run the job. It is interesting that the rector, John Mossop is only joint secretary of the Committee and one might guess his heart was not in it. He was rector from 1829 to his death in 1873 at the age of 76, a not unusual span in C19th rural ministry, of course. He ‘wrote a book, with coloured illustrations, on butterflies and kept rare birds, including an eagle, in an aviary in his garden‘ (Andrews 1934). His co-secretary was rector of Fotherby (about 3 km SW of Covenham), who had virtually demolished his small mediaeval church in 1863 and replaced it with a larger church (with spire) by James
Fowler of Louth, that is faced internally with red brick and stone bands.
The new work that can be attributed to Rogers & Marsden designs are the west window and the chancel arch corbels and the tiled floors. Similar work can be seen in the chancel of Hatcliffe (about 10 km NW of Covenham) which they built in 1861, especially the corbels.
The chancel furniture at Covenham was apparently ‘removed and disposed of by Rev W B Allnutt before his death in 1924 (see faculty of June 1926, CStB PAR/9 in Lincolnshire Archives). Harold
Andrews replaced it in 1926 with the redundant 1866 chancel furniture recently displaced from Holy Trinity Louth, Rogers & Marden’s best church (all but the tower destroyed by fire in 1996).
Therefore, only the pulpit (similar to that at Hatcliffe) and the pews at Covenham are original to 1863-4.
Canon Clarke is wrong to state that the church was re-roofed or that the walls were scraped. The roof pitch is clearly neither mediaeval nor Victorian and ancient timbers of some scale can be seen at the heads of the external walls. Dr Warwick Rodwell was able to access the nave roof and central tower in March 1986 and reported;
The low-pitched king-post roof of the nave appears superficially to be wholly Victorian, but it is in fact a complete 15th-century structure; each original timber has been fully cased in 19th-century moulded boarding. This applies to the trusses and purlins; the common rafters are hidden by
boarding and cannot be seen.
The structure of the timber belfry above the former crossing is difficult to inspect under present conditions. The base-frame upon which it is carried could contain very early timbers, although encasement once again obstructs inspection. The corner-posts, top-plates and curved braces of the belfry are all mediaeval, with considerable later repair. The pyramidal roof is wholly 19th
The chancel has a canted and boarded ceiling, added in the 19th century to what appears to be an 18th century roof structure. The timbers of the porch roof cannot be seen owing to boarding, but probably date to the 18th or 19th century.
Removal of some casing from belfry timbers and tie beams during an inspection in 2007 by Anderson & Glenn, confirmed that they were of oak and likely to be mediaeval. By comparison to St Mary’s and other local churches, it is most likely, then, that the tie-beams of St Bartholomew’s
are mediaeval and there are other re-used ancient timbers. However, the shallow pitched roof structure above, with the king-posts running east-west and with stubby raked struts to the purlins, is surely post mediaeval. From local comparisons, it is highly probable that the mediaeval church had parapets and gutters (most likely of greenstone) but there is no sign of
them anywhere at Covenham. Dr Rodwell suggests the nave roof lead is ‘Georgian’ and notes the survival of interesting graffiti.
Therefore, I suggest that the nave (and probably the south transept) roofs were replaced, disposing of the mediaeval parapets, most probably in the period C.1660-C.1750, and before the central tower was clad in slates c.1800-20 (or else these roofs would also be of slate). This may also be the period when the north transept was demolished and the chancel rebuilt. The curious decorated braces rising to the tie beams from stone corbels look to be of Victorian timber, but their design has a c.1700 character. I doubt that these and the fairly crude matchboarding originated in a Rogers & Marsden specification, which probably called for total re-roofing. They, and the casing of the roof timbers visible from the ground, are probably the result of the Restoration Committee’s efforts to concentrate on the internal reordering to Tractarian principles within the sum available.
Canon Clarke was also wrong about the ‘scraping of the walls’. The Miscellaneous papers in Lincolnshire Archives (CStB PAR/23) include a number of payments for treating damp walls and in 1904, the £4 offering for the Harvest Festival was ‘devoted to expenses incurred in pointing the
fabric of the church’. This could admittedly be anywhere, inside and out (and it seems that no external work was done in 1863-4). As the south nave and south transept walls were clearly re-plastered in 1863-4 and other church interiors by Rogers & Marsden are also plastered, I feel sure
that they are not responsible for the stripping of the internal north nave and chancel walls. The current strap pointing is very cement-rich and this is more likely to have been considered acceptable in the first half of the C20th than in the High Victorian period. An undated entry in the Vestry Book (from which many pages have been ripped out) but probably of C1917/8 and written in the hand of Revd WB Allnutt (rector 1886-1924) states
The walls of the fabric require pointing and distempering and the roof leaks in several places and plaster has fallen off the wall just under the church bells so requires seeing to. The Archdeacon of Stow drew attention to this and said the work must be undertaken at once.
John Bowles reports a conversation with Sheila Larter, daughter of the last churchwarden, reporting that the north nave wall plaster had fallen off just after World War II; again, strap pointing would not be considered unusual then.
The brickwork of the chancel arch, painted white and on the east side, with false painted joints to suggest stonework, is the butt of most criticism. Presumably, there was no arch there in 1863-4, either because it had been removed (as at St Mary’s and many other mediaeval churches, probably
to accommodate a large rood loft) or as a result of the posited post-mediaeval rebuilding of the chancel. Whether Rogers & Marsden were specifying a new-and too expensive? – stone wall and arch (as at Hatcliffe) is unknown. It is clear from their brick masterpiece, the Louth Market Hall
of 1866-7 and other brick facades in Louth, that they relished using ‘specials’ and the Covenham brickwork is rather plain. I suspect that it was the decision of the Restoration Committee to save money and use ordinary brickwork, with just a stone corbel to Rogers & Marsden’s design, which
perhaps contributed to the friction between the architects and the Committee. Perhaps the Rev T J Freeth extolled the use of brick from his experience at Fotherby?
‘In the circumstances’, as the Louth Advertiser reporter wrote, ‘as much work had been done as could fairly be expected; indeed the general opinion seemed to be that the church had ‘come out’ far better than had been anticipated’.
Externally, there are some hard red bricks used around the church to replace the eroded greenstone and in the bottom corner of the wall inserted into the north transept arch beside the drain, the date 1884 has been scratched into the mortar. This could well be the date of the eastern
buttress of the former north transept.
There are five faculty papers in the Lincolnshire Archives, PAR/9, four submitted by Revd Harold Andrew, rector from 1925, and the churchwardens.
1907, January 31. East window stained glass; John Glover Willis?.ws, farmer of Rushton (Northants) is given approval to remove the glass from the window at the East end of the chancel and to insert…stained glass in memory of his late father and mother…to the design of which is more particularly shown in the cartoon thereof filed in the Registry.
With FAC Papers/1907/5 is an approximately A5 coloured tracing, certified as ‘the original drawing’ by Bentley and Hall, Architects Grimsby and Louth. There is no other name mentioned anywhere.
The left hand figure is indistinct, but the centre light shows a Crucifixion with Mary Magdalene holding the Cross, with a saint in the right light and angels in the tracery above. This is therefore the existing window (with Mary Mother of God in the left light and St John the Evangelist to the right).
1926. June 1. chancel furniture; following the PCC’s purchase of the choir stalls and Prayer Desk of pitch pine removed under faculty dated October 1925 from the parish church of the Holy Trinity Louth as otherwise they would have missed the opportunity of obtaining good choir stalls at a
reasonable price, approval is given to Revd Harold Andrew and the churchwardens to install this furniture at Covenham. The papers explain that there are at present no choir stalls at Covenham St Bartholomew and that the pews which were originally in the chancel were removed and disposed of
by the then Incumbent who has since died.
1938, January 13, new altar; Revd Harold Andrew and the churchwardens are given approval to provide and place a new oak Altar 5ft 6ins in length, 3ft Oins in height and 21ins in width in the Transept Chapel… in accordance with the design a copy or tracing of which has been filed in the Registry (not found). In his guidebook published in 1934, Harold Andrews states (pl8) that the south transept has lately undergone repair by the removal of fungus-eaten woodwork of pews and wooden floor. At the same time a new concrete floor was laid down and later extensive restoration work was done at the north-west angle of the Church and in the repair of the arch and base of the west window.
1947. February 7. electric light installation; approval is given to provide an Electric Lighting Installation…with lamps wiring and fittings as described and shown in the plan and estimate copies of which have been filed in the Registry (not found). The cable was to be brought underground and the work to be done by Mr L Hancock, electrical engineer of Grimsby.
1949, April 23. heating; approval for the provision of an Electric Heating Installation…with tubular heaters and bowl fires. Again, the plan, specification and estimates ‘filed in the Registry’ were not found.
The current list description (Appendix 1) is essentially correct in its description of the building, although the stained glass of the east window is of 1907 and not known to be by Clayton & Bell, and the Skipwith brass is now back in its matrix.
However, the description does not make clear that the nave and south transept (and the stubs of the east and west walls of the north transept) are all of one build. The north nave door is not C13, but, like all the windows, courses with the chalk block walls. If the tracery has been replaced correctly – and the south transept two-light window is nearly all mediaeval – then this is all work of the later C14th/early C15th. The chancel is likely to be a post-Restoration rebuilding, possibly on the old foundations and its partly ancient south windows, with their ogee heads under a flat arch, may indicate that the mediaeval rebuilding took place in the late C14th. It was presumably completed before Sir John Skipwith was interred in 1415. The two head corbels of the internal south transept arch are quite similar to those on the tower arch of St Mary’s and are probably re- tooled mediaeval work. As the west tower window of St Mary’s is identical to the south window of the south transept at St Bartholomew’s, it is probable the same
mason’s workshop built both. St Mary’s is also built of large chalk blocks, with greensand base courses, and with the same string course running around the whole building, all as at St Bartholomew’s.
Although the roofs are likely to be of cl800 date (probably in conjunction with a re-fitting of the interior and certainly by the time the bell frame was erected in 1823), they reuse many older timbers, which are most likely to be original to the cl400 rebuilding.
More importantly, St Bartholomew’s may well have been a pre-Conquest minster church, set within the ditched enclosure that can still be seen. Although St Mary’s was to be the site of the alien priory of Covenham, belonging to the French Abbey of St Carileph C1086-1303, St Bartholomew’s is most likely to have been the first church in this settlement and came to serve the lost hamlet of Cawthorpe (or Calthorpe) in the later mediaeval period.
As a mainly mediaeval building, of an unusual plan form and with a pre-Conquest site history,St Bartholomew’s surely deserves to be upgraded to II*, as a building of equal historic interest, if not architectural interest, to the grade II* church of Covenham St Mary.
Richard Halsey November 2008
Appendix 1, List description
Appendix 2, Descriptions of the church
Appendix 3, Religious Census 1851
Appendix 4, 1566 Inventory
loE number; 195309
Church of St Bartholomew, Village Street, Covenham St Bartholomew, East Lindsey, Lincolnshire
Date listed; 09 September 1967
Date of last amendment; 09 September 1967 Grade II
TF 39 SW
COVENHAM ST.BARTHOLOMEW TF 39 SW VILLAGE STREET 7/2 Church of St. Bartholomew 9.9.67 G.V. II Parish church, now closed. C13, C14, C15,1854, restoration 1863 by Rogers and Marsden of Louth. Squared chalk rubble with brick patching, greenstone and slate hanging. Lead and slate roofs. Nave, with bell turret at the eastern end, chancel, south chapel and porch. The nave has a lead roof and at the west end is a 2 light C19 window. In the
north wall is a blocked C13 pointed headed doorway. Beyond are 2 C15 3 light windows having trefoil heads to the lights, panel tracery and moulded hoods. Above the east end of the nave is a low slate hung belfry with hipped slate roof. The chancel east window is C19 of 3 lights. The chancel south wall has 2 C14 3 light windows with cusped ogee trefoil heads to the lights,
chamfered square surrounds and moulded hoods. The apex of the chancel roof has a floriate finial.
In the east wall of the south chapel is a similar 2 light window. The south wall of the chapel has a 2 light C15 window with trilobe heads to the lights, panel tracery and moulded hood.
The nave south wall has a single similar 3 light C15 window, restored C19. The south porch is in greenstone rubble with brick patching and slate roof. The outer doorway is C19 and single chamfered; above is set a large corbel head of a bishop. The inner doorway is C14 with continuous sunk wave moulding and hood. Interior. C19 brick chancel arch has ashlar annular corbels. Double chamfered medieval arch into south chapel is visible where C19 plastering has fallen away; otherwise the details are all C19. In the south chapel is a matrix for a small C15 brass of a knight with shields and in the chancel is the matrix of the brass of Sir John Skipwith which is
now in the Church at Covenham St Mary. The altar table is C17 with turned legs.
The font has been removed. On the west wall of the nave is a wall plaque to John Wallis d.1773.
There are fragments of medieval glass and a stained glass window of 1880 by Clayton and Bell.
Appendix 2 Descriptions of the Church
The State of the Church (in the reigns of Elizabeth and James I) Lincoln Record Society
August 1602 The churches and chancels of these parishes [the list includes Covenham St Bartholomew]
are well repayred and kept decently
Lincolnshire Church Notes made by William John Monson, FSA 1828-1840 Lincoln Record Society (1936)
Notes taken in the church of Covenham St Barthomew , 24 August, 1835—
On a stone at the west end in the wall is an inscription to John Wallis who died Dec 27, 1773, aet.73, and Mary his wife died May 15, 1776, aet. 76.
In the chest in the church are preserved the brasses* which had been taken from an old stone in the chancel, one is the brass figure of a man in plate armour with his hands clasped before him, and a lion at his feet, the other has this inscription in church text: Hie iacet Joh’es Skypwyth armiger
qui obiit xv die mensis | Julii Anno D’ni Mill’imo ccccxv cujus anime propicietur deus. Amen.
This church consists of a nave, chancel, and south transept rather small, with a wooden lowtower at the intersection. In the chancel is a stone (R) in which has been a figure and two shields now taken out, and another smaller one similarly deprived. The font is curious, though not nearly in
such good preservation as in the sister church. It is an octagon, having the representation of the Trinity on one and the Virgin on another pannell, and in the other the apostles in pairs, St Peter with his keys, St Andrew with his saltier. The base is supported by four angels each holding a shield, but the bearing effaced. There is a south porch and three bells.
*These brasses are now affixed to a stone in the floor of the chancel, which covers the grave of John Skipwith, 1415.
Archdeacon H K Bonney’s Church Notes 1845-8, ed. N S Harding (Lincoln, 1937), 114-115
COVENHAM ST. BARTHOLOMEW. Aug. 7th, 1846.
This church consists of a nave, much patched with brick, a tower in the middle, slated not only on the top, but on its sides. The North transept is down, the North door of the nave built up.
The South transept must be repaired. The chancel is small and slated. There is a South porch slated. The East window of the chancel has a wooden frame, the South windows of it square headed Transition Decorated. The South windows in the transept and windows in the nave are Perpendicular.
The West window of the nave has a wooden frame inserted in it with panes partly square and partly diamond. The mullions of most of the windows are very rugged. The pews, pulpit and desk are panel and neatly painted. The floors and roof are good. There are three small bells in good order.
The Comn. cloth is green and good, as are also the linen cloth and napkin. The Communion plate is a silver chalice and top, and a pewter flagon and plate. There is a gallery at the West end of the nave. Mr. Mossop is the Incumbent and is living in the Glebe House, which he is improving.
Fences of the Glebe are good. Service once on a Sunday. Sacraments four times a year. Church room sufficient and church yard sufficient. The fences are in moderate condition, sheep only are allowed to enter.
Kelly’s Directory 1863
A small and ancient structure which has been much more extensive.
Kelly’s Directory 1868 and other dates, also White’s Directory 1877 on
..is a small ancient edifice, originally an extensive cruciform structure. It has three bells; the font of octagonal form is curiously sculptured with figures of the Virgin and child and Joseph, the Twelve Apostles and the characteristic emblems., brass of John Skipwith dated 15 July 1415; five
windows were inserted in 1854-5.
The Louth and North Lincolnshire Advertiser Saturday July 10 1897 in a series on local churches taken from the excursion notes of the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Architectural and Archaeologica Society
It has been so much modernised that there is not much of interest left in the fabric. The south transept is the part more nearly in its original condition, the arch opening from the nave into it and the pretty little two-light window being good examples of 14th century work; [mentions piscina
as evidence for an altar] the south door and the two square headed windows in the chancel being the only other remains of old works. [Describes font, John Skipwith brass and the two chancel seats made of old wooden panelling]. Just outside the south porch is another marble slab, formerly on the floor of the church which also contained a brass.
Note by Canon BFW Clarke (c1970?) Church Building Council library
Here again we were informed that the church has been listed grade A; here again we could not imagine why. The outside is an example of Pleasing Decay: the inside is awful. Of chalk with a good deal of brick patching: a slate-hung turret over the east of the nave. Chancel, nave, S. porch and
south transept. The porch is of greenstone. Much ivy, and ferns growing in the numerous damp places.
Chancel and transept are C14th: there is the ghost of a blocked doorway on the N. 5 new windows were inserted between 1854 & 55. A restoration & reseating 1863-4 by Rogers and Marsden of Louth: the cost is said to have been £350: if so, they did a great deal of harm for the money. All reroofed: walls scraped: brick chancel arch – and general insensitiveness. We cannot
blame them for the hanging heaters, but they are the last indignity.
C15th font with the Trinity, Apostles and Virgin & Child. The hair stands out round the Apostles’ heads as if it were an African-type hair style. Brass of Sir John Skipwith, 1415.
What can be done with a church such as this? There is another one, St Marys, just down the road; it is not good eno’ for the Fund; no one in a place this size wld. want it as a place of meeting; it wld be expensive and unsatisfactory to adapt as a house; &poor as it is , it is just interesting enough not to be demolished…The task of the Advisory Board is not always easy.
Terrier 1864 (prepared for the Visitation of the Bishop at Louth, 27 October 1864); Lincolnshire Archives Covenham St Bartholomew PAR/3
An ancient building now under restoration internally including inter alia a new West window and chancel arch, the said chancel being (70ft long including the chancel within the walls, 17ft 6ins breadth) …a cupola or Steeple covered with slate over the Eastern part of the nave, contains
three bells… 1634 chalice…one table of the Lord’s Prayer and ten commandments about to be divided into two; one pulpit, one reading desk and one lectern, each of oak and all new; one octagonal stone font.
The restoration of Covenham St Bartholomew Church The Louth and North Lincolnshire Advertiser, Saturday December 24th 1864
Thursday 15th December is a day to be much remembered in the annals of this somewhat remote and retired agricultural village…reparation and re-seating of the cruciform parish church had been accomplished…Anterior to the morning service, the Rural Dean [Revd J P Parkinson MA DCC] who
had been the chairman of the Restoration Committee, took an official survey of the church and appeared to consider that the repairs and reseating had been satisfactorily effected and that, under the circumstances, as much had been done as could fairly be expected; indeed, the general opinion seemed to be that the church had ‘come out’ far better than had been anticipated so decayed and dilapidated had become the venerable fabric. The new west window is perhaps the most
conspicuous part of the building that strikes the traveller in passing through the main thoroughfare of the parish. But to proceed to the events of this memorable day.
[Before the morning service, the daughter of the Lord of the Manor and churchwarden Thomas Young Esq., his only surviving child, was baptised by the rector].
Holiday was observed throughout the village…and the three excellent bells having merrily pealed their harmonious notes, a procession was formed in the rectory garden [prior to Morning Prayer at 11.00]. It included Rev J P Parkinson MA DCC Rural Dean, Rev John Messop BA Rector of the parish,
Rev A J Wilde Rector of Louth and Chaplain to the Diocesan, Rev T J Freeth MA LLD Vicar of Fotherby, joint secretary with the rector of the Restoration Committee. [Sermon, collection of £8 10s, lunches at various points in the village]
[2.30 Afternoon service ‘chorally rendered’ by the Rector and other guests, collection of £7 2s 6d] The congregation in the afternoon was crowded and numbered not less than 200 persons. In the morning the attendance was not quite so large.
The decorations of the church were of a superior order, evergreens flowers and banners tastefully arranged on the walls, reading desk and lectern while the font and pulpit wee ornamented with real flowers, as was also the holy table.
The heating apparatus is similar to that in use in Fotherby church [rebuilt by James Fowler of Louth 1863]. The repairs and sittings were principally based o the designs and plans submitted to the Committee by Messrs Rogers and Marsden, architects of Louth who, however, are in no degree
responsible for any deviations from their suggestions or non-compliance with architectural proprieties, inasmuch as their plans etc. were not uniformly adhered to, nor did they superintend the execution of the works. The accommodation is nearly doubled and the church will now contain
about 150 persons with ease.
Lincoln Diocesan Architectural Society, list of church restorations in 1864 (Associated Architectural Associations Papers, VII (1864) Ixxxv
This church has been repaired and re-seated, but as the architects – Messrs Rogers and Marsden – repudiate the responsibility of these works, with much reason, because they only supplied the designs which were partially carried out, and this even not under their direction, we fear the result is not such as to elicit much praise, as ecclesiastical work without the careful
superintendence of a practised architect must almost of necessity prove a failure.
Appendix 3 1851 Religious Census Lincoln Records Society LXXII(1979) 197
1071 COVENHAM ST. MARY
Page I of 1
Population 195. ST. MARY’S PARISH CHURCH. Endowed with tithe £122, about 20 acres of glebe £30.
Free sittings 40 Other sittings 120. On 30 March In morning General Congregation 14. Average
Attendance during previous 12 months In morning General Congregation 20 In afternoon General Congregation 50. Remarks A single service, taken alternately, morning and afternoon. The Sunday School in Covenham St. Bartholomew’s common to this parish. Signed John England Rudd, Rector.
WESLEYAN METHODIST CHAPEL. Erected 1818. Separate and entire building. Used exclusively as a place of worship. Free sittings 54 Other sittings 106. On 30 March In morning General Congregation 80 Sunday Scholars 14 In evening General Congregation 70 Sunday Scholars 10.
Signed John Hay, Wesleyan Chapel, Covenham St. Bartholomew.
1073 COVENHAM ST. BARTHOLOMEW
Population 273. ST. BARTHOLOMEW’S PARISH CHURCH. Endowed with tithe £165, 60 acres of glebe £75. Free sittings 40 Other sittings 160. On 30 March In afternoon General Congregation 60 Sunday Scholars 12. Average Attendance In morning General Congregation 25 Sunday Scholars 20 In
afternoon General Congregation 60. Remarks A single service taken alternately, morning and afternoon. Signed John England Rudd, Officiating Minister, Covenham St. Mary.
PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHAPEL. Erected 1836. Separate and entire building. Private. Used exclusively as a place of worship. Free sittings 30 Other sittings 58. On 30 March In evening General Congregation 55. Signed Wm. Wright, Steward.
Appendix 4 Extract from Edward Peacock, ed. English Church Furniture, Ornaments and Decorations, at the Period of the Reformation (London, 1866)
MONUMENTS OF SUPERSTITION
COWNHAM BAKTHOLOMEWE.—Jhon maver Thomas Drabery churchwardens £6. April 1566.
Imprimis the rood mary and Jhon wth all other Images of papistrie—brockin and defacid by Robert collinwodc Rychard rigate then churchwardines in anno psmo elizabethe.
Itra one mase booke ij portasis and one manuell—burnte in the sam yere and by the sam churchwardines.
Itm ij vestmentes one crose cloth—Tare them and the crose clothe sold to xpofer chelles and he hathe defacide them the other is in the church defacid also.
Itfn candlestickes sold to henrye maver and Robarte willimson in anno sexto and know not whether they hath defacid them or not but they shall by.
Itm one crose of brase—brockin and defacid in anno sexto by Jhon maver and thomas drewery churchwardines.
Itm …. handbelles brockin and defacid in a 1566 by philip maver xpofer challes.
Itm ij crewettes ij altar clotes ij towells and a crismatorie— made awaie A° pino Elizabth by the forsaid churchwardens how wee knowe not.
Itm or hollie water fate—was broken the said fyrst yeare. Itfn ij altar stones—broken the said fyrst year.
Itm a sepulker—sold to Robt South* A° pimo Elizabeth who defacid it.
Itm a crose cloth and a banner clothe—defacid the said fyrst yeare Robt Collingwood and Richard Rigat churchwardens.
Itm a veale—torne in peces the said fyrst yeare and given to poor people. Itm a pax—broken in peces the said fyrst yeare.
Itm a Rood loft—defacid this yeare by the churchwardens now beinge.
*This family settled at Kelstern, a village near Covenham