St Guthlac, Fishtoft, Lincolnshire

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Feature Sets (3)


This is a large Fenland parish church. The evidence of the lancet windows and a clerestory lancet headstone suggest that the chancel and nave were rebuilt during the 13thc. The S arcade is of the 14thc. while the N arcade, clerestory, and W tower are all later medieval work. There was a major restoration in 1853-54 under the direction of the rector, Rev. Henry Holdsworth during which the S porch was completely rebuilt and the vestry added. Extant Romanesque features are the priest's doorway, segments of the chancel string course, and numerous re-set stones in the chancel, nave, and aisle walls.


The Domesday Survey records that among the land held by Guy of Craon, the village of [Fish]'Toft' had both a church and a priest in 1086. Thompson, following Dugdale's Monasticon, cites a 12thc. charter in which Alan de Croun presents the church at Toft to Croyland Abbey (along with Freiston church and others) for the founding of a cell of monks from Croyland; this cell was established at Freiston.


Exterior Features


S doorway, chancel

Square headed, of two orders. Located in the S wall of the chancel as usual for a priest's doorway.

h. of opening 1.66 m
w. of opening 0.715 m
W capital:
h. (incl. necking) 0.20 m
max. w., E face 0.18 m
max. w., S face 0.19 m
E capital:
h. (incl. necking) 0.20 m
max. w., S face 0.18 m
max. w., W face 0.185 m
First order

With chamfered jambs.

Second order

Detached, en delit nook-shafts on worn attic bases. The W capital is a triple-scallop type with upright triangular wedge between cones. On the shield of the E scallop, S face, there is a series of drilled holes emphasizing the edge of the shield curve. Fillet necking and on the abacus a row of short, inverted, fluted, scalloped leaves. Impost is gone. The E capital is fluted with vertical, narrow, pointed leaves (?). Fillet necking and hollow chamfer on the abacus. Impost is gone.

Interior Features

Interior Decoration

String courses


At the height 2.47 m above floor level there is a string course with an upper/lower chamfer and a flat face profile on both the N and S walls. This placement coincides with the sill level of the 12thc. windows, one of which, on the N wall, is still in situ. Based on the cutback stones at this same level on the E wall, it is likely that the string course originally turned onto the E wall as well.

S wall:
w. from S2 window to S3 window 2.37 m
w. from SE corner to S1 window 1.15 m
N wall:
w. from N1 to N3 window 6.25 m
w. from NE corner to N1 window 1.76 m


Stones with Type 1 motif

The most prevalent motif is that of a semi-circular roll mould cut flush with the surface of the stone; the area below the roll mould arch appears to be sunk in relief in some cases. Stones with this motif are located at the following positions and, where measurements were possible, the following dimensions:

1. Chancel, E wall.

2. Chancel arch, N wall, W side.

3. Chancel arch, S wall, W side and abuts S wall of the nave.

4. Nave, N wall and N wall of chancel arch; above rood door by the pulpit.

5. Nave, S wall, in the middle of the spandrel above pier 3.

6. S aisle, S wall.

7-9. N aisle, N wall; three consecutive stones in the same course.

10-12. N aisle, N wall starting at 3.95 above floor level and between windows N2 and N3. Three stones right above each other in three different courses.

13-15. N aisle, N wall.

16-17. N aisle, N wall (now modern narthex).

h. above floor level 3.09 m
h. above rood door 0.50 m
h. above floor level and abuts arch 3.31 m
approx. h. above floor level 4.50 m
h. approx. above floor level and between windows N3 and N4 4.00 m
h. above floor level and W of window N1 3.95 m
h. 0.17 m
h. above floor level 0.26 m
w. 0.26 m
w. from E wall of S aisle 3.44 m
h. approx. above floor level and between window N4 and NW corner 4.00 m
h. 0.15 m
h. above floor level 2.49 m
w. 275 m
w. from NE corner of chancel 0.80 m

Stones with Type 2 motif

Though only one face is visible due to re-setting, the motif is likely that of a straddling directional chevron.

1-2. N aisle, E wall. Two consecutive stones in the same course. S stone is approx. 0.40 m w. and the N stone is partially hidden by the prayer board.

3. N aisle, N wall.

h. approx. above floor level and between windows N2 and N3 4.00 m
w. approx. 0.40 m
h. above floor level 3.81 m
w. from N nave arcade 0.50 m

Stones with Type 3 motif

Chevron voussoir; tapered stone.

1. N aisle, N wall only.

h. 0.145 to 0.165 m
h. above floor level 2.17 m
w. 0.25 m
w. from N door in aisle 0.52 m


The insertion of the 13thc. lancet window directly above the priest's doorway has resulted in the square door heading here. The fluted E capital on the priest's doorway is similar to those used by Fowler for his reconstruction of the S aisle doorway at the neighboring church of Freiston, St. James. Thompson notes that the re-set stones inside the church were discovered in their current positions when the plaster was removed from the walls during Holdsworth's renovation of 1853-54.


  • Domesday Book, 57, 37.

  • Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Lincolnshire, London, 1990, 277-8.

  • Thompson, The History and Antiquities of Boston. Boston, 1856, 484-489; 508.

General view.
Interior, nave from W.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
TF 364 425 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Lincolnshire
now: Lincolnshire
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: Lincoln
medieval: not confirmed
now: St Guthlac
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Thomas E. Russo