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St Clement, Rowston, Lincolnshire

(53°5′37″N, 0°23′3″W)
TF 083 564
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Lincolnshire
now Lincolnshire
  • Thomas E. Russo
09 October 2000

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Rowston is a village about six miles N of Sleaford. The church lies at the centre of the village and is of coursed limestone rubble with ashlar dressings. The building consists of a chancel, a nave and a four-bay N arcade, a Perpendicular clerestory, a N vestry and a W tower. The church was restored in 1904. Romanesque sculpture survives on the N doorway, on the tympanum reset in an interior wall of the W tower, and, finally, in a reset chip-carved fragment with saltire crosses in the exterior wall of the chancel.


The Domesday Survey records that in 1066 'Rovestune' was held by Toki, son of Auti; in 1086 it passed under the lordship of Geoffrey Alselin. The manor valued £1.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration


Interior Features

Interior Decoration


Nikolaus Pevsner (1990, 615-6), suggested that the tympanum now reset in the tower may have originally been set over the N doorway. While the width of the base of the tympanum and the width of the doorway are not exactly the same, they do allow for this possibility. However, if the tympanum with its combination of Anglo-Saxon and Romanesque motifs dates from the late 11th or early 12thc, then the imposts with their unornamented, integrated capitals are later insertions. This tympanum and the one above the S doorway at the church of St Benedict, Haltham (Linconshire) share numerous elements, which led Nikolaus Pevsner to conclude that they were carved by the same hand. Both tympana are carved in low relief and display a variety of ornamental motifs, two of which are identical: the Solomon's knot inscribed within a circle and the equal armed cross. Both also share a degree of compositional disarray, yet the Rowston tympanum, with its four horizontal registers and the central axis occupied by two superimposed cross forms (the equal armed and interlaced crosses) is clearly more structured than that at Haltham. It should also be noted that the interlocking ring motifs and the rows of saltire crosses on the Rowston tympanum appear together on another 12thc object in the county: the large sarcophagus displayed in the morning chapel at the Lincoln Cathedral. All these pieces may indeed be the product of the same workshop.

Along with the reset saltire cross fragment, three fragments of Anglo-Saxon sculpture are also reset in the S wall of the chancel. All these fragments fit in nicely with the coursing of the surrounding masonry and were likely to have been reset here at the time of the construction of the chancel in the 13thc.


C. E. Keyser, A list of Norman tympana and lintels in the churches of Great Britain, London 1927, XXXV, 47, pl. 25b.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Lincolnshire, London 1990, 615-6.