Church of St John the Baptist

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March, 2016

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The square tower of St John the Baptist is a prominent landmark of the Stamford skyline and is one of the five surviving Medieval churches. The rest of the church, with its small graveyard, is tucked away between buildings on either side. It is almost impossible to photograph.

There has been a church on this site since the C12th and this is the third church to be built. It was completed in a very short time in the mid C15th and shows a remarkable degree of architectural unity. It has a square tower at the north west corner, nave with clerestory, side aisles and chancel.

It was virtually untouched until the C19th when there was a major restoration in 1856. The pews and floor tiles were replaced, walls limewashed and new glass was put in the east and west windows. By the Mid C20th the nave arcades needed consolidating as a result of subsidence from the burial vaults beneath the floor. The tower parapets were renewed then.

The church joined with “All Saints’ Church”: in 1980 and was declared redundant in 2003, when it was taken over by the Churches Conservation Trust.They have repaired the roofs repaired and improved heating and ventilation.

It is a simple, but very attractive church. C15th Perpendicular arcades separate the nave and side aisles. The chancel is very simple with a altar beneath the east window. The rood screen was removed in the late C19th so the full glory of the east window could be seen from the nave. Part of the screen survives across the south and north chapels.

The massive east window with the adoration of the Magi and the west window with scenes of the resurrection flood the church with light. Fragments of Medieval glass survive in the tops of the windows.

The roof is the original C15th roof resting on carved stone corbel heads. One is two faced with a smiling and grimacing face. Between are winged angels. The roof was repainted during the C19th restoration and caused a certain amount of controversy at the time. The Stamford Mercury described it as clothing angels in ‘motley and theatrical attire’. They are still a trifle garish.

In the nave floor is a C16th brass to Nicholas Byldsdon, and his wife Kateryn. The inscription commemorates Kateryn who died in 1489. Nicholas outlived her and was Alderman of Stamford in 1492 and 1501. The two small plates commemorate their four sons and five daughters.

The C15th font with quatrefoil panels stands by the south door. The cover is C17th. The pews are mid C19th and have carefully carved poppyheads. The pulpit is C20th and was given by E Bowman and Sons who undertook restoration work in the church.

There is a splendid old clock by the tower and the original wooden poor box by the north west entrance.

Memorials to wealthy Stamford residents on walls, including Sir Malcolm Sargent who is buried in the town cemetery. His father was organist and choirmaster. He sang in the choir and learnt to play the organ.

The church is no longer used and cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust. It is just off Red Lion Square and is open daily. There is no parking round the church. The nearest post code is PE9 2AJ and the grid reference TF 029 071.

There are more pictures “here.”:


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