St Mary's Church Swineshead Lincolnshire.
St Mary's Church , Swineshead , is built on the site of an earlier church dedicated to St Salvador and St Mary as there is a record of Alan de Croun, a local nobleman, making a donation to the church of this name ' in the market there' .
In the fourteenth century the present church was built of stone which was brought by barge up the Swin , a tidal creek at the head of which the village of Swineshead developed. Early patrons of the church were the de Grelley and de la Warre families and the church once contained stained glass windows with their coats of arms. Unfortunately these windows no longer exist.
In the mid eighteen hundreds the local school was held in the church and evidence of this can be seen in the floor by the organ where the memorial to Richard Benet and his wife has small holes cut into it where the children reputedly played marbles .
Restoration work took place in 1847 when the chancel was rebuilt and the roof repaired at a cost of £2000. This restoration was funded by Trinity College, Cambridge which had the advowson at that time. Again in 1868 further work took place when the nave was lowered by fourteen inches to its original level and three blocks of new oak seating were installed. The floor was relaid in Ancaster stone, plaster and paint were removed from the walls and most of the windows reglazed. the money for this work was raised by subscription locally and cost £1287.4s. 5d.
During this work an ancient altar slab found in the floor was removed to a new site in front of the altar. This was one of two 1000 year old altar stones taken down during the Reformation, the other one having been broken. This stone has been moved twice more and now forms an altar table under the east window of the south side.
In 1794 a peal of eight bells were cast for the church. Before this date there were only four bells. In 1883 four of the bells were recast and again in 1922 the tenor bell was recast. Between 1926-1937 further work took place when the bells were rehung and the nave roof repaired. A heating system was installed at the same time. the chantry chapel along with the south aisle had some restoration work done in 1952. The organ , originally built by Brindley of Sheffield , was rebuilt in 1961by Messrs Jubb & Son of Gainsborough. In 2004 all eight bells were repaired, re-tuned and re-hung in a new steel bell frame. This restoration was made possible by a very generous legacy from the estate of William Lawson Smith.
On the wall behind the lectern is a white marble plaque dedicated to Canon Joseph Holmes who died in 1911. He was the longest serving vicar of Swineshead , having been the incumbent for 63 years. He was aged 90 when he died. Another long serving vicar was Rev John Cragg who was also a local historian and was particularly interested in Swineshead and its church.
The rood screen dates from the 15th century . Beyond it in the chancel the Locton Memorial is set in the wall on the left hand side . Sir John Locton acquired the Swineshead Abby lands after the Dissolution of the Monasteries and in 1607 began to build himself a house from the ruins of the abbey. Unfortunately , he died in 1610 and his wife , Dame Frances, erected a large monument to his memory. It also commemorates their eleven children who died in infancy or childhood. This remnant is only a part of the memorial as it stood elsewhere in the church .
Near the south door can be seen lists of the local men lost in the two world wars . In the south west corner of the church is the baptistery where the plain octagonal font stands on a tiled floor.
Near the north door can be seen an ancient stone coffin of unknown vintage. On the west wall is a board headed Benefactions , which lists the people who have left land and/or property for the benefit of the villagers. John Butler who left 'One Messuage , Barn, Stable Out Houses, Garden, Yard, and Five Acres of Arable Land..' gave rise to Butler's Charity whidh still exists today , the rest of the benefaction having been joined together under the title of the Poor Charities.
Many plaques and inscriptions can be seen around the interior of the church including one to James Jessop, who died in 1840 aged 35 ''suddenly and awfully deprived of life by the accidental discharge of a gun''.
On the exterior of the church can be seen many excellent gargoyles. Of particular interest are the ones along the outer walls of the chancel. These include a boar's head. This has nothing to do with the name of the village as Swineshead gets it's name from the old English worn 'swin ' , meaning a tidal creek and the Anglo Saxon work ' heda', meaning dock or landing place. Therefore 'Swinsheda' eventually gave rise to Swineshead.
The church tower , which is 15th century , is 160 feet high. It contains a clock bearing the date 1767. this clock was refurbished in 1952. There is a fund held by the church following a historic request for the upkeep of the clock.