St Helen's church, Brant Broughton :: Shared Description
Described as “without doubt one of the most glorious of all Lincolnshire churches…like a medieval dream”. Much of the credit for this beauty must go to Canon Frederick Heathcote Sutton, who was Rector from 1873 to 1888, and in partnership with the architect G.F.Bodley (1827-1907) he carried out an extensive programme of rebuilding and restoration, mainly between 1874 and 1876.
The roof-line of the 13th century church is still visible on the wall of the tower arch, and the Decorated style west windows in the aisles were also part of this building. In the next century came the lower part of the tower and the arcades with their octagonal pillars. The crocketed spire, 198 feet high, is a landmark for many miles
Two fragments of a stone effigy, comprising the robed torso of a priest and a hand holding a chalice, were found beneath the floor at the base of the tower, and Canon Sutton thought they might have come from the tomb of John Torald (Thorold) who was Rector here from 1457 to 1468.
The clerestory and the fine roof were added in the 15th century and are Late Perpendicular. From the central aisle it is interesting to compare the roofs, doors and early Perpendicular windows of the side aisles. Although they appear identical at first sight, their style and decoration differ in several respects, the south side having been built later than the north aisle.
During the Bodley restoration the bowl of the old font was re-worked, decorated with sunk panels and carving and set on a new shaft and base. The font cover was designed by Thomas Garner. Its decoration echoes the crockets and pinnacles on the spire of the church. The cover opens to reveal a painted interior, and carved figures of St Michael, St Nicholas and St Agnes.
The Rood screen and choir stalls were erected in 1890 by Canon Arthur Sutton. The figure of the crucified Christ was added in 1919. The chancel arch marks the beginning of the re-building undertaken in 1874, when the chancel of 1812 was demolished and replaced by the present structure. The north-east aisle and the vestries were also built then, in part on pre-1812 foundations.
The Gothic design of the chancel blends perfectly with the ancient church to which it was added. Canon Sutton designed the Reredos installed in 1887 and gave the painted panel depicting the Ascension which is its centrepiece. This, part of a polytych, dates from about 1490 and is the work of the artist known as the Master of Liesborn. The reredos, with its carvings of the four Evangelists and its rich gilding, was inspired by medieval German work. The ceilings of the chancel and the choir aisle are outstanding examples of High Victorian design by a great architect.
During the demolition of the old chancel some long and short work from the original Saxon church was uncovered at the north-east angle of the nave. Other finds included a piece of interlaced Saxon stonework. Fragments of monuments of the Daubney family (Lords of the Manor in the 13th and 14th centuries) were found in the old walls and later reconstructed to form the table tomb in the north east aisle.
On the south side of the church are two sundials, one in the angle of the buttresses at the south-east corner of the nave and the other between the south-east buttresses on the wall of the tower. The porches, dating from the late 14th century, both have fine stone vaulted roofs. Like the aisles they are similar, but not identical and both have a number of interesting carvings.
(Condensed from Church Guide)
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Created: Thu, 3 May 2012, Updated: Thu, 3 May 2012
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