Time stood still…

… at Coates-by-Stow in Lincolnshire.

Coates by Stow, Lincolnshire

The church of St Edith Coates-by-Stow appears to have avoided the notice of the sixteenth century reformers and has preserved it’s pre-Reformation fittings more-or-less intact.

Coates by Stow, Lincolnshire

It’s in a fairly isolated spot, with only a farm for company, so it’s perhaps no surprise it is so well preserved. There is nothing particularly fancy about the furnishings of this building, and as such they are probably fairly representative of the medieval furnishings many country churches have lost. The church itself is essentially a Norman building, rebuilt in the fourteenth century. Windows in the nave and the tub font betray the Norman origins of the building. Like many churches of this period it was refurnished in the fifteenth century. And the rood screen, complete with its loft, a traceried pulpit and poppy head pews all date from this one campaign.

Coates by Stow, Lincolnshire

The loft, which has a projecting desk in the centre, perhaps used for reading the Gospel? or bidding the bedes, is backed with a simple plank typanum. The rood was evidently painted onto this typanum, as the head of Our Lady appears ghostlike against the worn oak background. The centre part of the typanum, where the cross would have appeared, has sadly been renewed.

Coates by Stow, Lincolnshire

Coates by Stow, Lincolnshire

The dado of the screen and the loft are decorated with blank tracery and delicate carved foliage. The glorious silvery oak of the furniture, mixed with the stone and brick of the floors makes for an evocative building with immense charm and texture.

I am in the middle of packing at the moment. In two weeks time we move to Saxilby near Lincoln, where I am to be assistant curate in the Saxilby group of parishes. In the New Year the Stow group of parishes, including Coates-by-Stow, will added to this group. I’m looking forward to the immense privilege of celebrating mass in this lovely building.

8 thoughts on “Time stood still…

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  1. It is a remarkable survival, a veritable time warp. So much so that the modern liturgical colour sequence has never found its way to Coates so they are still using red the medieval ferial colour. As all churches did until the mid nineteenth century.


  2. The Easter Sepulchre would be the recess on the north side of the liturgical chancel; the recess in the nave is most likely for a memorial slab.


  3. I would love to see a picture of the screen from the altar looking out. How are the seats for the clergy and clerks arranged? Would that be possible.Also on the red frontal: as red is said to be our Lord's colour from Genesis to the Book of Revelations, it is particularly appropriate for use on the Lord's Day. Look at the Lesson for the Epistle in 1662 and you should instantly realize its appropriateness. I can hardly think of it as ferial, but then I find the idea of “ordinary time” as used in the modern Roman rite almost obscene.I shall be doing my very best to send as many as possible to this particular posting and indeed this whole blog.


  4. The cusped recess is a fourteenth century tomb recess. The Easter Sepulchre does survive, but in a rather battered state. It retains a defaced figure of the risen Christ and a censing angel, but was appropriated as a backing for a monumental brass in the sixteenth century. The sepulchre can just be glimpsed through the screen on the north side of the chancel. Canon Tallis, I'm afraid to say the chancel has received the roughest restoration and no original seating remains. Presumably there were return stalls against the screen and very little else. I will check my photo archive to see if I've got a photo of the chancel looking west, I think I have. Yes red is less ferial when you see it in that way. Can't say I'm fond of the term 'ordinary time', rather a crude term I've always thought.


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