Horncastle Church, Lincolnshire

Like everything in Horncastle, it would seem the Romans were responsible for the first church here (although it may have started life as a non-Christian temple site). This was succeeded by a Saxon Minster, but sadly no trace of either building survives to this day.

Oddly, Horncastle has never had a castle – the name is from the ‘castrum’ of the Roman period and seems to have remained as something of a quiet backwater throughout almost all of its existence.

The church which stands today in the centre of the small town appears to have been started around 1250. It isn’t entirely clear how much of the structure that stands today is from that period, most likely the nave and porch but everything is very much hidden beneath later changes. It is likely the tower dates to the 15th Century.

Everything was very heavily restored in the 1660s under the aegis of the Rev’d Thomas Gibson who was reinstated after the Civil War and Restoration. Both Gibson and the church suffered badly during the Commonwealth and it seems that it was necessary for a major rebuild.

Much of this is now swamped beneath a mid-Victorian restoration which occurred between 1859 and 1861 under the architect Ewan Christian. This makes the church impressive, but very indistinct both in architectural style and in historical record.

By Lincolnshire standards, the church is quite subdued, compared with such massive confections as nearby Louth, Spalding or Boston’s famous Stump.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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