THE CHURCH BUILDING

Origins

 Consecration CrossThe most commonly asked question about this small, Grade One Listed church is: "How old is this church?" Unfortunately we do not know for sure, but the church was probably built to serve a settlement dating from the time of King Alfred (849-899). Unusually for church of this age, a consecration cross survives and its style suggests that north eastern corner of the original stone building dates from somewhere between the years 950 to 1050. (The consecration cross is not easily seen because the external corner of the building on which it is incised is now part of an internal wall hidden behind the organ.)

During the reign of Edward the Confessor a Dane, Ulf of Fenisc, was one of the greatest landowners in Lincolnshire and his lands included the Manor of Cranwell. The manor belonged to Ulf until the Battle of Stamford Bridge in September 1066 when Ulf's lands were confiscated by the Normans.

A few year's later in 1086 the Domesday Book lists the manor as being in the ownership of the new Norman lord, Gilbert de Gaunt.  Gilbert de Gaunt was William the Conqueror's wife's nephew and one of his seventy tenants in chief. It was probably Gilbert de Gaunt who extended the church by the addition of a north aisle separated from the nave by the colonnade of Norman arches.

Carved StonesThe fine stone carvings mounted on the aisle wall are Norse ringerike dating from this turbulent era and these may well be the remains of Ulf of Fenisc's tomb. It is likely that Ulf's tomb was destroyed by the Normans when they extended the church. The carved stones were discovered in the foundations of the north aisle when the organ chamber was built at the beginning of the 20th Century.

 

The Building Today

From the outside, the church is unusual in that which is missing: there is neither tower nor spire. Another oddity is that the chancel roof is higher than the nave, and the western end of the nave is surmounted by a 17th century bellcote.

Norman ColonnadeInside, the major architectural feature is the colonnade of Norman Arches but much of the rest of the church was rebuilt during the Early English period (1190 - 1250). The font is also Early English. The south wall of the nave was rebuilt in the Decorated Period (1272 - 1380) and in the Perpendicular Period (1330 - 1550) when the chancel was also lengthened. The oak chancel screen is also from the Perpendicular Period.

Extensive restoration was carried out between 1897 and 1934 and in this period the "box" pews were replaced by pews made from oak panelling taken from the nearby manor house demolished in1816.

 

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