St John the Baptist Church

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Collingham is an attractive village with many interesting old houses along A1133 a few miles north of Newark. It was originally two villages, each with it’s own manor house, church and pub. Over the years the villages have gradually spread and merged into each other, but the two churches remain.

St John the Baptist is in South Collingham and had a rector. All Saint’s in North Collingham had a Vicar. Now they share the same priest. The churches are kept locked although arrangements can be made with the church wardens for them to be opened. They were open as part of the Open Churches of Nottinghamshire weekend.

Set off the main street, on Westfield Lane, at the edge of the village, St John the Baptist is hidden by trees. A gate leads into the churchyard with a notice saying it is locked at dusk because of lead thieves in the area.

There is the usual square tower with massive corner buttresses, battlemented top and four very tall pinnacles at the corners, nave with clerestory, side aisles and chancel. Enjoy the small carved heads on the outside of the windows.

Entry is through the south porch. There is a small consecration cross carved on the door jamb. A wood and glass screen on the east side of the door protects the congregation in the south aisle from draughts.

As you enter, your eye is immediately caught by the glorious round arches of the north arcade with their zigzag decoration. Dating from 1120-30 they are the oldest part of the church. On one is a most unusual carving of a dragon’s head. Stand underneath and look into its mouth to see the human head being eaten by the beast…

Opposite the south door is a large stone font thought to be 13thC.

The south arcade is later from about 1250 and has pointed arches. At the base of the arches are carved heads; one sticking his tongue out at you.

The dark wood pews have been lovingly polished over the years and positively glow. This is a well loved and well cared for church. Walls are whitewashed and there is a wooden beam ceiling. The square clerestory windows date from the 17thC. The stone corbels from the original roof can still be seen on the walls below them.

Hanging from the ceiling is a modern rood. In the centre is christ on the cross with The Virgin Mary and St John.

The chancel is separated from the nave by a carved rood screen with panels at the bottom and open carved arches at the top with an inscription in Latin.

The chancel feels quite dark after the nave with its 19thC stained glass. On the north wall is a large organ with linen fold carving. There is a carved altar rail and altar with a dark green cloth. Behind are gold drapes.

On either side of the east window are age darkened painted panels with the ten commandments. Below them are small painted panels set in decorative border of gold, red and green. That on the left is a rather garbled quote from Psalm 6 “ not to rebuke oh Lord in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy Heaven displeasure” That on the right is quote from Psalm 51 "Have mercy on me, Oh God”.

This is a delightful church. Unfortunately we didn’t have as long as we’d have liked as it was due to close. The nearby church of All Saint’s had also shut by then. Visit website

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