Eighteenth century Lincolnshire was faced with arrears of church maintenance, and rebuilt around sixty churches. For some, like Saxby St Helen (c.1775), the façade with its Tuscan columns recalls a pagan temple. A bell turret sits above the portico. Well (1733) is another of that ilk, sitting in the grounds of the Hall, as a landscape feature.
Push open the door of one of these ‘brick boxes’ though, and you never know what surprises await. Langton-by-Partney (c.1725) has a splendid three-decker frowning over an assembly of box-pews arranged facing each other, college-chapel style. At Baumber, the faculty ‘to make new works and alterations’ was an early Christmas present to the Earl of Lincoln on 24 December 1760. You enter through an unsuspected Saxon west tower (encased in brick like all the rest) to be faced with an amazing Gothick screen, the nearest thing to Shobdon this side of Herefordshire. And there’s sweet little Gautby (1756), with a splendid Ionic pilastered chancel arch, its two 17th c. Vyner monuments brought from St Mary Woolnoth in the City of London, and its overtones of early 20th c. Anglo-Catholicism.
The Victorians and their successors looked critically upon these buildings which did not meet their gothic ideals; we, in our turn, can be more sympathetic.
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