A History and Walk Round Guide - originally by Allan B. Barton 


In the mid 870's the Danes sailed down Tetney haven on their passage west to conquer the Saxon Kingdom of Mercia. The group of invaders was just one of many landing on the east coast during the second half of the ninth century.

But instead of settling peacefully the Danes caused great havoc in their path, killing all the inhabitants of Tetney and burning down the Church but other than that you would never have known they were there!


This incident far back in our past, shows us how long a Church has been established in Tetney, well over 1000 years, and that a Church building may have been on the site of the present one for just as long. But not much evidence of this building survives. It has been rebuilt and restored many times in its history, to form the present beautiful building.

But we must remember that it is not just a building. It has witnessed the prayers and praise of the centuries offered by many thousands of parishioners and visitors. This long tradition of prayer is continued today by the present congregation.

Some architectural notes on the Church fabric

The oldest part of the present Church is the rough wall of the South aisle. The masonry is mainly Norman in origin being from a Church built by Ivo Tallboys the Domesday lord of the manor. It is interesting to note that this walling contains scorched red stones from the Saxon Church burnt down by the Danes. Also along this stretch of wall is a doorway blocked during restoration in 1862. It dates from about 1280 and is in the Early English style of architecture. The main part of the Church, the Nave, dates from 1363.

The exact date is known due to the fact that on the second pillar from the west on the north arcade is the following inscription. 'This work was completed A.D. 1363 Robert Day the vicar'. Robert Day was a native of Tetney, being the son of John Day, a local farmer. When he became vicar, he immediately began to rebuild the Church as it was in a dilapidated state. The work Robert completed is in the latest perpendicular style of his day. There are five bay arcades to the North and South aisles, each with typical perpendicular arches, but pillars and pillar bases that are more typical of the preceding decorated style of architecture. There are no windows of a Triforium or Clerestory above the arches, the result is not typical of the style, it is relatively dark.


The windows of both aisles are also perpendicular in style, but not all of them are original, many are Victorian imitations. The lovely East window of the South aisle is completely old. It has three lights and beautiful panel tracery. The other windows in the aisles are all of the same design. Some have two lights, some have three. If you compare the tracery of all the windows, you may notice that some of the stonework is quite worn whilst some appears to be clean and recently cut. This is due to some of the windows being either inserted or heavily restored in 1862.

The next part of the Church to be built was the Chancel followed by the Western tower. These were erected during the incumbency of Thomas Jeckyll (1461-1501). The broad and tall marshland tower is built of Lincolnshire oolitic limestone in the last version of the perpendicular Gothic style of architecture.

The tower is renowned for its double bell openings under ogee arches, as well as the panelling of the lower parts of these openings. The tower is large enough to contain eight bells, it has only four. The three bells that are rung weigh just over one and a half tons. The treble weighing eight and a half hundredweight , the second bell nine and a half hundredweight, and the tenor bell eleven hundredweight. The bells all have inscriptions and dates. The treble dates from 1700 and has this inscription in Latin, 'Cwm voco ad templvm venite 1700', in English, 'When I call, come to God's house 1700'. The second bell has the following, 'Beatvs est popvlvs qvi exavditet clangorem 1700', 'Blessed is the people who hear my voice 1700'. The heaviest bell the tenor has the following, 'T. Mears of London fecit 1823', 'T. Mears of London made me 1823'.

One other bell weighing two and a half hundredweight is hung in the tower. This is a small calling bell of Pre-Reformation date, with no inscription. In 1823 the bell was taken from the tower by Bishop Tomline of Lincoln, to adorn his hermitage at Riby Grove. The parishioners not knowing what had happened came rushing from their houses when the bell toppled from a cart. The parishioners dismayed at their loss at once rehung the bell in the tower, it hasn't been moved since.

In 1912 all the three main bells were quarter turned and rehung, the treble bell was recast. In 1934 further repairs costing £55 were undertaken, as the bell chamber was found to be unsound due to death watch beetle.

The Chancel was built in 1470, ten years before the tower, but the architecture is more in keeping with that of the Nave. Note the Tower and Chancel arches are almost identical in design and shape. The Chancel was partly demolished in 1862 and rebuilt on its old foundations. For this the medieval windows were reused and the Chancel and North Chapel arches retained. At the East end of the North aisle a screen is built. This was put in during the restoration of 1862 and it partitions the vestry (also of 1862) from the rest of the Church. The vestry was built on the site of a medieval North Chapel using old materials including the North door.


The numbers in the text correspond to the numbers on the plan at the back of this guide. This should make it easier for you to locate features as you move around the Church.

You will probably enter the Church via the vestibule of 1924.

1) This is where the tour will start. As you close the inner door notice the Church restoration plan of 1862, by the architect R.J. Withers.

2) If you look carefully at the plan you will notice that the alignment of the Nave and Chapel is about a foot out of true. There is no reason for this, but a number of theories have been suggested. One possible theory is that this slight dis-alignment represents the bowing head of Christ as he lay dying upon the cross.

3) Turning down the north aisle notice on the second pillar from the west the inscription of 1363, carved high up. The latin inscription reads "This work was completed AD 1363 Robert Day then the vicar".


4) Moving on look for the two inscriptions set into the north wall, these are memorials to the De Elkyngton family who were tenants of Tetney manor. They lived in the Manor House in the North End during the 13th and 14th centuries.


By the time this Manor House was demolished in the early 19th century, it was an extensive rambling building. It had been extensively rebuilt by the Lacon family during the 15th and 16th centuries and was occupied by the Hewson family in the 18th century. It was replaced in the 1870's by the present Manor Farmhouse.

5) Now we move along into the Lady Chapel with modern style altar and furnishings.

6) Hanging from the ceiling is the reserved sacrament lamp, which was recently restored and given new parts. The wooden screen behind the altar partitions off Vestry from Church.

7) The Vestry contains two Pre-Reformation incised tomb stones set into the walls high up. They date from about 1280, and were found used as blocks for building when the Church was restored in 1862. The people commemorated are unknown, but they must have been fairly wealthy, as this type of monument was costly. The slabs are carved with the figures of a Lady and a Gentleman, both in the attitude of prayer, under fine canopies. You may be able to pick out traces of red and black paint on each slab. The slabs may date from 1280, the paint may have been added a little later.

8) On the sill of the east window in the vestry is a piece of wood on which is inscribed crudely in capitals: 'THOUGH LACONS FADE AWAY THEIRE GIFTS REMAIN TO FEED THE POOR AND GOOD WORKS TO MAINTAIN.' This piece of wood is the last surviving part of the late 18th century pews, replaced in 1862 by the present pews. The inscription records the 'Lacons Dole' - a charity instituted in the will of Edward Lacon from 1612, which still survives today. Before you leave the vestry note the pictures of past incumbents above the wardrobe.

Moving out of the Vestry past the pulpit and into the Chancel.

9) The Chancel is decorated in the Victorian style, with fine stained glass and hand painted reredos. There are fastenings for oil burning lamps still in place on the choir stalls.

10) Not on plan.

11) The organ is situated in the Medieval North Chapel arch is of 1904. It was built and fitted by Messrs. Cousans of Lincoln, at the bequest of Miss Dinah Stubbs. It has one manual, pedals and seven stops.

12) On the North wall is a tablet to a former Vicar, John Wild, who wrote an excellent History of Tetney at the turn of the century.

13) On the South wall is another tablet to a Vicar, this time to the Rev. Richard Northon Matthews. The processional of silver gilt is also his memorial.

14) Also along this wall is a tablet to the Rt. Rev. William Proctor Swaby, a native of Tetney, and first Bishop of Barbados, later the Archbishop of the West Indies. The Archbishop was a great benefactor of the Church, giving all three of the stained glass windows in the Chancel, and the lectern as his family memorials.

15) The last memorial that is in the Chancel is that of another Vicar, Thomas Jeckyll who died in 1501. Like the De Elkynton slabs it is set deep into the wall. Thirty years after the death of Thomas another priest was laid to rest in the Chancel. His name was Richard Butler. At his death in 1531 he gave to the Church a silver gilt cross carved with figures, and a number of Lenten veils. No doubt these were swept away at the Reformation, only ten years after his death.

Turning out of the Chancel look up above the Psalm board and you will notice a Victorian lamp bracket still in situ.

17) A little further along this wall there is a door quite high up from the ground. If you have the strength open this and a narrow flight of steps will be revealed. These are the Rood stairs which led to a loft over the Rood screen which was removed in the early 19th century. The surviving fragments of the screen are now hung under the tower.

18) In the south-east corner is the Children's Chapel, with simple altar surrounded by Riddel posts and curtains beneath a fine window.

19) Evidence points to this Chapel being a Chantry Chapel in Pre-Reformation days. The sole purpose of a Chantry was for the prayers or masses of the dead to be sung within them, or as a Mausoleum for the benefactor. Richard Butler endowed a Chantry within this Church, it is recorded in his will: 'One preste to singe for a yere and to evermore continewe.' Another theory for the use of the Chapel is that it was the Chapel of the guild of St. Mary of Tetney. It would have been used for the same reasons as a Chantry, for 'Trentals' (Masses for the dead). The Altars of such Chapels would have been of stone, the High Altar is believed at present to lie beneath the
tiles of the Sanctuary.

20) By the Children's Chapel, is the eagle lectern already mentioned, and another Swaby memorial the brass tablet attached to the aisle wall.

21) Inserted into the tiles of 1862 along the south aisle are four lozenge shaped inscriptions to the Borman and Searle families. The present little stones replace ledger slabs which were once here and have since been removed. After serving as the paving for the Vestry they have since been removed to outside the North aisle where they can be examined.

22) Turn out of the south aisle and into the Nave, but before you leave notice the carved corbel head where the arcade springs from the wall. This is the only example of carving from the 1363 rebuilding.

23) Now enter the west end of the Church and take in the interior as a whole.

24) Not on plan.

25) This is the Choir vestry, but it is also used for the storage of some furnishings. Leaning up at present against the south wall is a recently discovered Victorian Royal arms. It is hoped that it will be restored and rehung in the main body of the Church, within the near future. Above the arms are three photographs of the Church at the turn of the century, 19th century bell ringers rules, and a plaque to a long serving bell ringer, Matthew Lakin

26) The stone font is of 1862. It is thought to replace a medieval font that lies buried beneath the High Altar

27) Turn to face the west door and look up at the large west window. On the sides of the window near the bottom is graffiti carved in the early 18th century.

28) Before leaving this area of the Church, note the fragments of the rood screen above the choir wardrobe.


Note also the parish chest which contains the Churchwardens accounts dating back hundreds of years. Now as you leave the tower look for the cross slab tombstone and the worn effigy.

29) Above is hung the roll of honour.

Now you leave the Church by the west door of the tower or the north vestibule, turn south past the tower for the exterior tour.

Notes of interest in the graveyard and the Church exterior

There are many fine gravestones in the Churchyard but few are very old. The oldest stone was put up in 1740. By the Vicarage gate in the south west corner of the Churchyard is the grave of the Rev. John Wild, marked by a marble cross. A little to the south in the same row is the grave of the Rev. T.R. Matthews, Rector of North Cotes. It is a flat grave with a surround. The Rector was quite a well known composer in his day, writing the music widely used for hymns such as: 'Thou didst leave thy throne and Kingly Crown', and 'O my saviour lifted'. The Rector was the father of the Rev. Richard Norton Matthews vicar of Tetney.

Near to this grave is that of a family drowned and washed up on the beach. Another simple stone is crudely carved with the following inscription, 'God who is on high sent his messenger to fetcheth'.

A circuit of the Church will allow you to see the fine doors and windows, and the scorched stones. Note also on the Chancel buttresses the consecration crosses. As you leave the Churchyard you will no doubt notice the stump of the 14th century cross, a listed building in its own right.



We hope you have enjoyed your visit to this lovely old Lincolnshire Church, steeped in History. Please come again for a visit, or join us in one of the services shown on the notice board.