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St Thomas, Heighington chapel, Lincolnshire

(53°12′42″N, 0°27′32″W)
Heighington chapel
TF 030 694
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Lincolnshire
now Lincolnshire
  • Thomas E. Russo
10 Nov 2000

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Feature Sets

Heington is a village located 4 miles SE of Lincoln. Of the medieval chapel almost nothing remains. The present building dates to 1865 when renovations by Michael Drury were made for the chapel to become a school. This replaced an earlier chapel which had been renovated by the patron Thomas Garratt in 1619. The massively broad W tower arch has Romanesque responds.


Heighington is not listed in Domesday Book as a settlement in the county. Given that the building has always been known as a chapel, not a church, it is likely that its origin was as a 'chapel of ease' or a 'field church' in relation to the parish church of Washingborough, the parish to which Heighington has always belonged. According to Frank East, what may be the first written documentation of a religious structure at Heighington is found in the Kirkstead Cartulary, c. 1200, where a priest of 'Hictington', named William, appears as a witness to a deed of gift. Much later, a will of 1524 clearly records a gift to the chapel of Heighington. Thomas Garratt, who purchased the chapel from the Crown c. 1619, set up a Trust fund in his will for the chapel to be used as school. The Trust still owns the chapel. In 1993 the Bishop of Lincoln, Robert Hardy, dedicated the chapel to St. Thomas.


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches

The waterleaf capitals and keel moulding of the W tower arch suggest a date of the late 12thc for the building of a stone church here. The arch here is massive and appears out of proportion with the responds below; the crisp edges of the arch and the extension of the second order of the arch laterally beyond the imposts below suggest that it was part of Drury’s 19thc renovation. Additionally, the insertion of new material in the responds and the height differential between the respond bases, 0.15 m. above floor level on the S and 0.04 m. above floor level on the N, suggest that this entire arch had been rebuilt. Though rebuilt, Drury may have been following an historical precedent here for the three-centered design, though as a chapel of ease the width of this monumental arch would seem out of character. Conversely, he may have had in mind the well-known chancel arch at St. Peter’s, Tickencote (Rutland) with its highly decorative six orders on a three-centered arch. Examples of three-centered, tower arches are also found at St. Peter, Duxford and at St. Mary, Swaffham Prior (both in Cambridgeshire – see Baxter.)


"St. Thomas' Church," Heighington Parish Council, online at: http://parishes.lincolnshire.gov.uk/Heighington/section.asp?catId=33150 (consulted 18/1/2017).

R. Baxter, 'St Peter, Duxford, Cambridgeshire,' The Corpus of Romanesque Scultpure in Britain and Ireland, http://www.crsbi.ac.uk/ed/ca/duxsp/index.htm#H13.

R. Baxter, 'St Mary, Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire,' The Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland, http://www.crsbi.ac.uk/ed/ca/swaff/index.htm#H13.

N. Pevsner and J. Harris, The Buildings of England. Lincolnshire, London 1989, 378.