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Church of St James and St John, Dorrington

Reference Name MLI88199

Church of St James and St John, Dorrington

Church of St James and St John, Dorrington. Parish church built in the 13th century, with 14th and 15th century additions.


Parish church built in the 13th century, with 14th and 15th century additions. The church was restored in the 19th century. Constructed in coursed limestone rubble and ashlar, with ashlar dressings. The church has slate and tile roofs. The church comprises a west tower, nave, aisles, south porch chancel and vestry. For the full description and the legal address of this listed building please refer to the appropriate List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. {1}

Church of St James and St John is 13th century with a Perpendicular clerestory. {2}

St James and St John's Dorrington has Transitional to Perpendicular features. The church is in normal use. No Saxon work was seen nor noted. {3}

The church has a Transitional tower arch with waterleaf capitals and already a double-chamfered pointed arch. The simple north doorway could be of the same time. Two bays, the north pier quatrefoil with dogtooth up to the diagonals, the south octagonal with elementary capitals. The chancel, side lancets and the chancel arch are also 13th century. The east window with its reticulated tracery, the roll-moulding applied externally to mullions and tracery, and the shafted ogee-headed niches left and right inside, is in Decorated style, as is the west tower higher up. It is a tall tower, ashlar faced and with impressively little in the way of fenestration. The Decorated bell-openings are tall and of two lights. The top parapet looks bald now, but originally there was a spire. The north and south aisle windows, the latter under segmental arches, are also in Decorated style. The mouldings of the south doorway are characteristically Decorated too, as is the ogee-headed niche by the east window. Late Perpendicular clerestory with uncusped windows. Outside, above the east window, a length of frieze of the Last Judgement (probably 14th century). To the left figures climbing out of their graves, to the right the mouth of hell. Inside the church are monuments dedicated to Anthony Oldfield and family (erected according to a will of 1715) and several other 18th century tablets. {4}

The church is dedicated to St James, and consists of a tower, nave, north and south aisles, chancel and a modern porch and vestry. The whole was no doubt originally Early English, as evidenced by its tower and chancel which still remain, while the pitch of its former roof is indicated on the eastern face of the tower. The isolated position of the church on a little eminence quite apart from the village is remarkable; but there is reason to believe that formerly some houses stood nearby. {5}

There was a local legend attached to the building of the church. The story tells of a time 'years ago' when an attempt was made to build a church down in the village on Chapel Hill where the base of the cross stands. However, for two nights running, all the work that had been done during that day was undone in the night. On the third night, the workmen stayed up to watch - nothing happened, so they went off to get their breakfast. When they came back, all their work had been undone again. One big stone had been taken right up the hill to where the church now stands, so it was decided that the church would be built there. After that, the work was completed without trouble. Another version of this tale exists which names the church builder as Tochti, a Saxon thane, and says that he tried to build the church using stones from a pagan temple. Again, the day's work was destroyed in the night three times, and the stones were carried back to their original location, where the church was eventually built as in the first version. This implies that the church is built on the site of a pagan temple. The church is also said to be 'very much haunted'. {6}

1 Index: Department of the Environment. 1987. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. 4/29
2 Index: SMR. Sites and Monuments Record Card Index. TF 05 SE: BB, 1980, TMA
3 Index: Ordnance Survey. Ordnance Survey Card Index. TF 05 SE: 7, 1965, Seaman, B.B.
4 Bibliographic Reference: Pevsner, N. and Harris, J., with Antram, N.. 1989. Buildings of England (Second Edition). Lincolnshire. pp.257-8
5 Bibliographic Reference: Trollope, Edward. 1872. Sleaford and the Wapentakes of Flaxwell and Aswardhurn in the County of Lincoln. pp.231-2
6 Bibliographic Reference: RUDKIN, E.H.. 1936. Lincolnshire Folklore. pp.56-7

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Last updated: 06-December-2017 13:53:31

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