Spalding was an important and wealthy wool town in the Middle Ages and this is reflected in its church. Built along the banks of the River Welland, this is a big church and almost impossible to photograph. The best views are from the gardens of neighbouring Ascoughfee house before the trees come into leaf.
This is the oldest building in Spalding and began as a Benedictine Priory around 1051 and continued as a priory until it was dissolved in 1540.
The nave, transepts and chancel were built in the C13th. The outer south aisle and St Thomas’s Chapel were added in the C14th when the bell tower was built. The crocketed spire with its flying buttresses was added 100 years later. A rood screen and clerestory was added in the C15th when the hammer beam ceiling with carved wood angels was built. The back of the north aisle was extended at the same time and the north porch was built.
The church was extensively restoration in mid C19th by Gilbert Scott when the Georgian box pews, galleries and three decker pulpit were removed. The rood screen dates from this restoration although it contains some C15th bits.
The first impressions of the inside of the church is also its size, with its double side aisles with sturdy arcades with pointed aches. Between them are C19th hatchments. A stained glass window above the chancel arch allows more light into the nave.
The lovely hammer beam ceiling with its carved angels dates from 1450 and was carefully restored in the C19th. The beams are supported by corbels with carved faces.
The beautifully painted chancel ceiling dates from 1959 and was the bequest of a parishioner. The very decorative rood hanging from the chancel arch was part of the C19th restoration.
There are two chapels at the end of the south aisles. The outer south chapel dates from 1315 and is dedicated to St Thomas a Becket. It was restored in the C19th when the wood panelling, altar and reredos were added. The carvings on the reredos depict St Hugh of Lincoln with his swan, the Virgin and Child, Christ in Glory in the centre with St Nicholas next to him (patron saint of of sailors) and at the far end, Thomas a Becket. Between are the symbols of the passion. It is used for quiet prayer and mid week services are held here.
Next to it is the smaller St George’s Chapel which is now the memorial chapel to the dead of both World Wars. The reredos lists the names men from Spalding who died in the First World War. Those from the second war are remembered on a stone plaque.
The beautiful statue in the south aisle is dedicated to Elizabeth Johnson of Ascoughfee Hall. The eulogy below pays homage to her many virtues.
The glorious windows in the south aisle are mid C20th. One depicts potato packing and tulip picking, both important to the prosperity of Spalding
At the end of the north aisle is the Corpus Christie Chapel. The wall tomb on the north wall beside the altar was used as an Easter Sepulchre. The host was placed here on Good Friday in preparation for the Easter Communion, depicting Christ rising from the tomb.
This is a most attractive church and is open during the day. There are lots more pictures “here”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/lincolnshire/lincolnshire_four/spalding/index.html .
The church is along the River Welland and a few minutes walk from the centre of Spalding. There is a large pay and display car park in front of the church. The post code is PE11 2RA and the grid reference is TF 249224.