St Thomas a Becket, Bassingthorpe, Lincolnshire

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Feature Sets (3)


A stalwart church solidly holding its own on this windswept hill, St Thomas à Becket consists of a W tower, a nave with S aisle, and a chancel primarily of the 13thc; the S porch dates from the 16thc. The chancel arch, the S arcade of the nave, and a reused grave-marker in the piscina are Romanesque.


Though there is an entry for Bassingthorpe in Domesday Book, there is no mention of a church here in 1086. 


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

The chancel arch has triple responds carrying a round-headed depressed arch; two orders E and W.

1st order  (E and W)  

On both the N and S sides the C responds have no bases remaining; each rests on a square plinth.  Semi-circular, coursed responds carry a highly decorative scalloped capital with cable necking: one scallop to the E and the W and double scallop to the S.  The cones of the scallops are themselves sheathed and scalloped and the shields are large rosettes of pointed, fluted leaves with various beading motifs. There is a drill hole in the centre bead of each rosette.  The E rosettes on both the N and the S capital have been cut away.  The continuous impost has a lower chamfer and on the face a quirk, wide fillet, quirk, narrow fillet, and quirk.  In the arch there is a semi-roll on the soffit with a chamfered edge both E and W. 

2nd order  

E side: the base of the N nook-shaft is a double chamfer but with a convex profile, almost bulbous in form; there is no base left on the S nook-shaft.  The shafts N and S are coursed and attached, and the capitals are the same as the C respond capital; again the E faces are cut back smooth.  The impost is as before. 

There is no label on the E side.

W side: the bases are the same as on the E side but the W half of the S nook-shaft base is renewed.  The shafts are as on the E side. The N capital is severely damaged and has just a trace of a scallop remaining; there is roll mould necking.  The S capital has also been damaged, but enough survives on its W face to reveal that it was similar in design to the C responds. The impost  is as before; the section at the angle above the N capital is new. There is a plain arch, and over it is a label with a top and bottom chamfer with alternating roll billet on the chamfers.  On the L side some sections of the label are new.



S arcade

The S arcade has three bays of round-headed arches of two orders.  Both orders of the arches are chamfered with a pyramidal stop-chamfer above the piers on the 2nd step on the N and S sides.  The label, which is on the N side only, has nailhead. 

E respond:  the base is a rather wide, flat roll with a smaller roll above it.  The semi-circular, coursed column has no capital, or a truncated one at best.  There is roll mould necking and then the capital dies into a polygonal lower impost.  The lower impost has a chamfer, roll, and nailhead on the face; there is some red pigment on the S side.  The impost proper has a lower chamfer.  The N section of the impost is new. 

Pier 1: a polygonal plinth and a base of three concentric rolls of which the E and W sections appear to be insertions.  A round, coursed column carries a polygonal waterleaf capital with roll mould necking and nailhead between the furled tips of the waterleaf.  Between the large leaves is a small leaf tip.  An incised quirk terminating in two drilled holes delineates the base of each leaf. The polygonal abacus is plain; the polygonal impost has a lower chamfer

Pier 2: the plinth and base are as on Pier 1 though not as high above the nave floor. A round, coursed column carries a polygonal, nicked, waterleaf capital with roll mould necking.  The abacus is plain and the polygonal, nicked impost has a lower chamfer.

W responds: same as E respond.


Piscinae/Pillar Piscinae


The piscina is located in the S aisle wall 0.99 m. from the E wall and 0.80 m. above the aisle floor.  The back wall of the piscina is actually a reused 12thc grave marker carved with a cross. The cross has four equal arms which flare outward like axe-heads. The design is sometimes referred to as a 'Canterbury Cross', from an Anglo-Saxon example of c.850 found in Canterbury in 1867.  The rest of the piscina is 13thc or later.


The use of two drilled holes to delineate the base of each leaf on the Pier 1 capital is similar to that found on the Pier 1 capital of the nave N arcade at SS Mary and Andrew in Stoke Rochford, just 5 km. to the west.  Is this an element of a common setting-out technique, or perhaps a specific workshop feature?


  • Frances Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications: or, England’s Patron Saints, Vol. 3, London 1899, 44.

  • N. Pevsner and J. Harris, The Buildings of England, Lincolnshire,  New Haven and London 1989, 128-29.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SK 966 285 
now: Lincolnshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Lincolnshire
now: Lincoln
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: St Thomas a Becket
medieval: St Thomas a Becket
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Thomas E. Russo 
Visit Date
20 November 2000