St Hybald’s Church

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November, 2015

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St Hybald’s Church is the burial place of a C7th Saxon Saint. Little is known about him, although a prayer attributed to him exists in an C8th/C9th prayer book. There are only three churches dedicated to him. The one in Hibaldstow, another in Scawby, two miles away and one in Ashby de la Launde near Sleaford. It is thought he was abbot at a nearby monastery, possibly at Bardney but this is uncertain. A booklet in the church suggests that The monastery may have been at Hibaldstow, thus explaining why St Hybald was buried here.

The present church dates from the mid C19th. The previous church dating from the C13th was in very poor condition and falling down. The intention had been to retain the tower and shore it up while the nave was completely rebuilt. Unfortunately this didn’t work and the tower collapsed in 1875. There wasn’t the money to rebuild the tower and the bells were hung in a wooden shed next to the west end of the nave. It wasn’t until 1958 that money was available to rebuild the tower.

When the chancel was rebuilt in 1866, a stone coffin was discovered beneath the floor. This was believed to be that of St Hybald and contained his bones. It was reburied beneath the floor, opposite the buttress in the south wall.

St Hybald’s is a typical small Victorian church built from local rock, in the C13th style with tall lancet windows. The tower is built of much more carefully shaped blocks and has a small pyramid roof.

At the back of the church is the font, all that remains of the earlier church. With its elaborately carved bowl, it is thought to date from the C15th.

A row of round, Norman style pillars separates the nave and north aisle. Walls are plaster and there is a simple beamed ceiling. The Stations of the Cross were painted by an unknown visiting artist. The wrought iron scones hanging from the ceiling now have light saving light bulbs.

At the end of the north aisle is a small altar, referred to as the Altar of Repose and traditionally used on Maundy Thursday when the main altar is stripped of its frontal.

A simple pointed arch leads into the chancel, with the organ set on the north wall. The simple altar rail came from St Hybald’s Church in Scawby when it was rebuilt.

The windows are all plain glass, except for those in the south wall of the chancel, dedicated to Rev Thomas Grey who was vicar here from 1874-1903.

At the back of the north aisle is another stained glass window in memory of Corporal Francis Thomas Watmough of the Royal Garrison Artillery who was born in Hibaldstow and was killed fighting in France in 1917. It appropriately has images of St Michael and St George slaying dragons.

This is a simple, but attractive church. Perhaps the main reason to visit is because it is the resting place of St Hybald. Most saint’s relics were destroyed at the time of the Reformation making this a rare survival. Perhaps the St Hybald was such an obscure saint he escaped desecration.

The church is kept locked, but a key is available from Church Street Stores. There is plenty of on street parking. The post code is DN20 9ED and the grid reference SE 980028.

There are more pictures “here.”:


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