Elsham is one of the small villages nestling under the slope of the northern edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds. The church is set on a rise to the north east of the village. Surrounded by trees and shrubs it is not easy to find. It is not easy to take photographs of either.
It is a typical small parish church with nave, chancel and a massive west tower with heavy buttresses. On the buttresses are two C13th carved panels of the Last Judgement. On the right is an angel with five doomed souls. The panel on the left is badly eroded and would have been the souls rising from the dead. With the eye of faith it is possible to make out a figure climbing out of a grave.
There is little know about the history of the church. There are records of an Augustinian Priory in Elsham in the early C12th, probably on the site of Elsham Hall. The priors were in charge of the church until the priory was dissolved in 1536.
The tower is thought to date from the early C13th and the rest of the church is thought to be C13th or C14th. There was a major restoration in 1973-4.
It is a simple church with plastered walls and wood beamed roof. The doorway into the bottom of the tower is Norman. At the back of the church is the font, part of the C19th restoration. The old font was discarded but found in a local garden and now stands in the base of the tower.
The windows in the nave are tinted Victorian glass, except for a stained glass window with an image of Holman Hunt’s ‘The Light of the World’. Pews are C19th and have brightly coloured embroidered kneelers made by the congregation.
On the south wall is the family pew of the Astley Corbetts, previous owners of Elsham Hall. Above the porch, this is reached by a wooden staircase. Now used for storage, it had a very good view down onto the congregation although views of the altar were more restricted. In a corner was a small fireplace.
Steps lead up to the altar with a carved stone reredos behind it. The east window was erected in memory of the nine year old son of Sir John Dugdale Astley and his wife Eleanor Blanche Mary of Elsham Hall. The three panels represent “I am the Resurrection and the life” on the left. In the centre is “suffer little children to come unto me”. On the right is “I go to prepare a place for you”.
During the Second World War, there was a major airfield at Elsham Wold flying Wellington, Halifax and Lancasters. Over 1000 airman were killed while on active service. They are remembered by a simple memorial in the chancel and a thanksgiving service is held in the church every August.
This is a very attractive church. It is open on Wednesdays from April to the end of September. There is a “keyholder”:http://www.visitnorthlincolnshire.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/CH-Leaflet-2-compressed.pdf in the village.
There is parking on the road to the church. The nearest post code is DN20 0RG and the grid reference is TA 036125. Disabled access is poor as there are steps up into churchyard and steps down into church.
There are more pictures “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/lincolnshire/lincolnshire_two/elsham/index.html