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St Mary, North Witham, Lincolnshire

(52°47′8″N, 0°37′31″W)
North Witham
SK 928 218
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Lincolnshire
now Lincolnshire
  • Thomas E. Russo
27 November 2000

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North Witham is located in the SW corner of the county, less than 1 mile W of ancient Ermine Street. St Mary’s chancel dates from the 13thc, the S porch entrance from the 14thc and the W tower from the early 15thc. The N chapel seems to have been added around 1400. The church was restored in 1887 by R. J. Withers; during the restoration a late 10th/early 11thc. An Anglo-Saxon cross shaft fragment was discovered; this in now located in the S porch. Replacement of the roof was carried out in 1974 and in 1977 a major restoration of the spire and tower was undertaken. In the nave, the Romanesque remains consist of the N and S doorways and the chancel arch.


The Doomsday Book records a church at North Witham in 1086 on land held by Thomas, the archbishop of York; a third of the church was held by Edward Young. In the 12thc St Mary’s church came into the possession of Robert Grimbald, who owned land in North Witham. Sometime before 1166 Grimbald granted the church to the Augustinian abbey of Owston, which he founded, in Leicestershire.


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

The irregular masonry of the nave and chancel walls suggests a date in keeping with the chancel arch and the N and S doors. As Pevsner notes, the chancel arch is indeed narrow but the arch opening itself is in fact wider than that of the jambs that support it. The line of the arch does not fall directly over the jambs. Another curiosity is the elaborate ornamentation of the imposts against the plain treatment of the jambs and arch. Could the chancel arch have been rebuilt? The narrowness of the opening between the jambs and the use of massive stone blocks for the jambs may be elements of the original chancel opening while the impost blocks and wider arch were added later.


D. Knowles and R. Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, London 1953, 169.

W. Hoskins (ed.), 'Houses of Augustinian canons: The abbey of Owston', A History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume 2, London 1954, pp. 21-23.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Lincolnshire. London and New Haven 1990, 589.

P. Everson and D. Stocker, Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture: Lincolnshire. Vol. 5, London 1999, 239-40.

The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, North Witham: A Brief History, unpublished church guide, 1990.