Essendine Church

St Marys Magdalene Church

St. Mary's Magdalene Church has stood beside the West Glen River for some 900 years, and people have worshipped God here for all that time.

The Church has seen the Christenings, Weddings and Funerals of many generations of Essendine folk over the centuries, as well as regular, Sunday-by-Sunday Christian worship.
It is a particularly attractive building, in the Norman style. It is thought that St.Mary's was originally the chapel of a castle which used to stand on this site. One very interesting feature is the Norman doorway with its tympanum depicting Christ with two angels, which dates to 1130-40.
Others built St. Mary's as an act of faith in the future 900 years ago. We hold this treasure in trust for the present generation, and for generations yet to come.

A full descripion of the church, with many photographs, may be found on this website:

St. Mary's is part of the Benefice (group of parishes) of Ryhall, Essendine and Carlby. We are also part of the Diocese of Peterborough. Our Sunday Services 1st. Sunday of the month: 10.00 am Family Service

2nd. Sunday of the month: 9.00 am Holy Communion

3rd. Sunday of the month: 10.30 am Holy Communion for the Benefice (This service is held in rotation in one of the 3 churches)

4th. Sunday of the month: 9.00 am Holy Communion

When there is a 5th. Sunday in the month, the Service is Holy Communion at 10.30 am at Ryhall

All are very welcome at our Services The Vicar of the Benefice: The Revd Jo Saunders Vicar of Ryhall with Essendine and Carlby Secretary of the Parochial Church Council of St. Mary Magdalene, Essendine: Mrs. Katy Parkinson Manor Farm, Manor Farm Lane, Essendine, Stamford PE9 4LA 01780 751479 ricparkinson9@aol.com

Essendine is a small village on the main road between Stamford and Bourne. It has no pub or shop and nothing to make you stop. Well that was what we thought until Diana once exclaimed to this sceptical driver "that church has a Norman doorway". And so it has. Visible from the road for those with the eyes to see. This is kind of discovery that, to be honest, excites us much more than following the "Simon Jenkins Trail".

We were astonished to discover that Essendine once had a castle, and this little church is located on the edge of what looks like a bit of wasteland but, it turns out was actually the castle moat! The castle was built in the late c12 or early c13. When it was demolished is unknown.

The church comprises a chancel and small aiseless nave. Substantially it is c12 but the chancel was rebuilt in c13 and some new windows were inserted. A lot of changes were made in c19 and the west wall was rebuilt. Externally, then, it looks like a quite run-of-the-mill small village church. It doesn't even have the dignity of a tower. That Norman doorway shines like a diamond amongst dross and gives the clue that all is not as it seems. The door is believed to date from 1130-40, although a page from an antiquarian book posted on the wall of the church claims it as Saxon. The door jambs indeed have a Saxon look about them but this is not a Saxon church. The British History website comments on there being a filled-in gap between the tympanum and the door arch and suggests that the tympanum is older and was brought from a church elsewhere or else that the whole doorway was reconstructed at some point. Whatever the answer, the whole doorway seems to me to not quite fit together. Either side of the door, both inside and out, are slabs of stone with very weathered decoration. These sit between the decorated (but, again, badly weathered) pillars and the door itself. That is very unusual and to have decorations inside the door is even more so, although the likely explanation is that these were originally outside.

The tympanum is Christ in Majesty supported by angels on either side. It is crude and engagingly naive and, again, is reminiscent of Saxon rather than Norman art. The decorations on the door posts and jambs are hard to discern now, and on the inside at least it is clear that there has been some re-ordering of the slabs which makes identification of specific themes and images nearly impossible.

The north side is difficult to access because that is where the moat is. If you scramble round, though, you will find a c12 door with a square crudely decorated lintel. The chancel arch masonry is c12 but was reconfigured into a pointed arch in c13. The bell-cote too is c13 - a quite elegant one of its type.

This is not, to be sure, one of the great churches, but it is full of interest, particularly that south door. It is a crying shame that no way has been found to protect it.