This is unusual as the church is built a mile away from it’s village across the stream. It is actually in Alvingham and shares a churchyard with St Adelwold’s church, Alvingham.
It was originally a chapel for the Gilbertine Priory which was built under the present farmhouse. Bumps and ditches can be seen in the ground to the west. The Priory was established in 1150 as a 'dual house' with both nuns and canons, who lived in completely separate areas. After the dissolution of the monasteries, the chapel was given to the village of North Cockerington to replace their parish church which had fallen into disrepair.
We parked in the dedicated car park at the end of the lane in Alvingham with views across to a watermill mentioned in Domesday Book. The church is reached through the farmyard accompanied by plenty of agricultural smells.
St Mary’s is the first building you see and is a small stone building with an offset tower at the back of the south aisle which was added in the 19thC when the church was restored. The large square windows are later additions too.
Entry is through the south door which leads into a short south aisle. Two arches lead into the nave which has white washed walls. On the walls are painted banners with improving biblical verses added in the 19thC. There are more along the tops of the windows and arches.
At the back of the church is a 13thC stone font. The box pews were part of the 19thC restoration and are unusual as they were unfashionable in the Victorian era. There is a simple free standing wooden pulpit and lectern.
The nave floor is brick. The chancel floor has red and beige quarry tiles. There is a low chancel arch with carved faces at the bottom of the arch.
There is a carved wood altar rail and small wooden altar with IHS and a crown on the front. Behind is a blue curtain.
In the south aisle are the remains of a stone coffin and an effigy of a 14hC knight which had a lion at his feet.
St Adelwold’s beyond, is a larger church with a solid stone buttressed tower with a parapet top. It has a stone nave and smaller brick chancel and looks the more interesting building. Unfortunately it was locked and there was no information about a key holder.
St Mary’s was one of the few Lincolnshire churches in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust that did not live up to expectation. I had been expecting big things of the church. The setting is delightful but the church was disappointing inside and we didn’t feel it had repaid the time invested in visiting.
No longer in use, the church is looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust and is always open.