07a. Historical Visits

For all (non-school) group tours and visits please contact our Tourism Officer:

Mr. Melvyn Rose

Tel: 01427 872080

Mobile: 07565192464

Email: [email protected]

All enquiries relating to visits should be made through the Tourism Officer

Please note that for group visits there are set charges:

Visit plus short talk - £3.50 per person

Visit only - £2.00 per person       

History and Architecture

Like many English parish churches St Andrew's is full of history. Now Grade 1 listed, it was mostly rebuilt during the 14th and 15th centuries but incorporates a 12th century nave arcading from an earlier building. During recent work to install underfloor heating evidence of a Saxon building has been found. In 1641 the Chancel was partly destroyed during the civil war and a smaller chancel was built; side chapels were removed in 1672/73.

It is best known for the fact that Samuel Wesley was Rector from 1695 to 1735 and his sons John and Charles were born and brought up in Epworth. It is therefore seen as the Birthplace of Methodism; the Wesley children were baptised in the font and probably received their first Communion from the C17 chalice which is still used on special occasions. John Wesley assisted his father as curate in the 1720's and after Samuel's death he famously preached from his father's tomb which can be seen just outside the south door.

The church is chiefly constructed in the Perpendicular style, although the chancel is in the decorated style. There are few closely dateable architectural features in the church but the earliest surviving elements are the north and south arcades of the aisles. Stylistically these may date to the period from 1190 to 1270. There are no complete windows of a contemporary date. The majority of those in the aisle walls are of late 14th – 15th century style with mixed jamb profiles, and of plain square headed form or with round headed lights and with plain lintels formed from separate blocks. It is probable that the severe erosion seen in the remaining limestone masonry is the main reason why no substantial early window elements have survived. The tower is from the 15th century and has been inserted into the west end of the nave. The clerestories are dated from the 15th – 16th century. The chancel was built in 1675 although its windows are in the 14th century style. It is not entirely clear if those in the south and north walls are originals or copies.

18th and 19th century restorations

The nave was re-roofed in 1782 and the names of the churchwardens and carpenter are visible carved in the beams. Renovations were carried out in 1721 to the north porch which bears the arms of the Mowbray family, and much later in 1871 to the south porch. In 1868 major restorations were carried out under the direction of James Fowler of Louth according to the ideas of the time. These included the building of an organ chamber, the removal of a gallery, reseating and re-roofing of the aisles. This had the effect of fixing the interior of the church for more than 140 years.

The east and west windows along with others are by W H Constable of Cambridge. The east window depicts scenes from the infancy, passion and resurrection of Christ and the west window shows our Patron St Andrew, flanked by St Peter and St Paul.

The two keyboard manual Abbot Smith organ was given to St Andrew’s in 1890 by Mr B G Pulleyne of Leeds. To date it has undergone three restorations one in 1952 when an electric blower replaced the old manual pump, a second in 1973 when a tremolo stop was added and a third in 1999 when a major restoration was undertaken.

21st century restoration

In the late 1980’s it became clear that the fabric of St Andrew's was in a very poor state and an extensive programme of repairs and maintenance was carried out over a period of fifteen years beginning in 1999. Extensive restoration on the higher levels of the tower was carried out in 1999/2000 including new pinnacles. Subsequent repairs, extensively funded by English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund, have been carried out to the nave, chancel, aisle roofs, parapet stonework, rainwater goods, and other remedial work to stonework. Photo-voltaic cells were installed on the nave roof and the external restoration was completed in 2011.

Major work to the interior of the church took place in 2012-14 including a new limestone floor with underfloor heating, a ringers’ gallery in the tower with a heritage/meeting room underneath, kitchen and toilets. At the same time the church was completely rewired and rush seat chairs replace the Victorian pews. The result of this is a church building in which the mediaeval fabric is more visible and can be used for concerts, fund raising events as well as worship.


The church has a fine peal of eight bells in the tower with a tenor of a little under seventeen hundredweight. 1937 saw the removal of the previous peal of six bells for them to be recast with some additional metal to form the current peal of eight bells. “To commemorate the Coronation of HM King George the V1, May 12th 1937”. This recasting was undertaken by John Taylor and Co of Loughborough. Further restoration of both organ and bells is planned in the near future.

Heritage Room

In the base of the tower a heritage room can be found which has been formed by a free standing oak gallery structure. The upper part of this gallery is from where the bells are now rung whilst in the room below a range of interpretation facilities can be found which include browsing books, display panels and an audio visual display. At the entrance to the church an information system can be found for use with G4 phones and tablets.

Town Trail

A short circular walk takes you to some of Epworth's most interesting buildings and features.

Explore leaflets are available in the church and at the Old Rectory.

Allow 45 minutes for a gentle stroll. There are cafes, pubs, shops and toilets along the route.

Wesley Trail

Information panels located around town tell you more about Epworth's most famous sons, John and Charles Wesley, founders of Methodism.