Facilities and features
A separate small building in the churchyard on the north side of the church contains a modern toilet. This is kept locked but access is available at service and events times.
These are available in the toilet.
Unfortunately the church has no specific parking area. Cars have to be parked in the adjacent roads, some of which are narrow. Please do not park to obstruct other road traffic
There is a modern purpose build toilet, suitable for disabled persons, in the churchyard in a small building on the north side of the church. A key is required to access the toilet.
There may be a space close to the church at the south entrance to the churchyard suitable for a disabled person.
The defibrillator is housed on the wall of the toilet building in the churchyard on the north side of the church
The church has both a north and south entrance. The north entrance has a ramp for wheelchairs and the south entrance has two steps down.
The induction loop is operational during services
Assistance dogs are welcome in the church
The chancel east end wall contains late Victorian stained glass (1905) in four panels, all of which are associated with the church.
The church is open daily for private prayer
Visitors Guide to the Church of St Guthlac,
This is an exact copy of a handwritten record by the Revd. Earnest G Peirson, Rector of Stathern, at Easter 1905. Whilst the church has been altered since that date, many of the alterations have been superficial, and these notes are still relevant today in the 21st century.
It may interest you to know something of the church at which you are looking.
There stood here up to about the end of King John’s reign (AD1215) a NORMAN church (consisting of chancel, nave, and small aisles), of which perhaps no trace is now left visible except the line of the original roof, which you will see above the TOWER ARCH. This church, built by the Normans, stood unaltered for about 100 years, say from 1115-1215, through the reigns of King Stephen, Henry I, Richard I and John. Somewhere early in the reign of Henry III (perhaps about the year 1220 when Sir Simon Borhard “Lord of Stathern” was the patron of this living and when the priest of the name of Robert, who had been instituted by Saint Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, was the Rector), the church was enlarged by pulling down the narrow Norman aisles and building the present aisles and porches around the old nave which stood for another 100 years. You will notice the three narrow lancet windows, and also the dogtooth ornaments round the doors and the nailhead ornaments on the capitals of the external arches of the porches – all of which are characteristic of the building of this date.
A century later (perhaps between the reigns of Edward II and Edward III, somewhere between the years 1320-1350 when Robert Chamberleyn was the Rector), the Norman nave, which had been left standing after the new aisles were built round it, was taken down and the present PILLARS and ARCHES, with the CLERESTORY above them, were erected. Notice the seven heads – the eighth was never carved – at the bottom of the timbers that support the nave roof. The three heads on the south side are those of women, the four on the north side are those of men’s heads. This alteration must have made the church, which had then, you must remember, only the narrow lancet windows, much lighter and loftier.
Again, a century later (probably in the reign of Henry IV, somewhere about the year 1450) the tower appears to have been rebuilt, and the present beautiful ARCH was opened through the old Norman wall into the church. The upper part of the Tower was probably almost rebuilt again some 200 years later; the TOWER DOOR was blocked up less than 50 years ago. In the reign of Edward IV (or perhaps a little later, somewhere about the year 1480), the LADY CHAPEL, (so called after “Our Lady”, the Virgin Mary) which we now use as vestries, was added to the church, and the larger of the two arches, which open from the Lady Chapel into the Chancel was then pierced.
The WINDOWS at the east end of the SOUTH AISLE, and also the two WINDOWS in the Lady Chapel, as well as all the windows in the aisles (except of course, the original lancet windows) were probably all put in between the years 1400 and 1520, though they are of different designs, and some have been reconstructed at later dates. You should notice the original carved faces at the ends of the dripstones above the outside of some of these windows.
You will see that I have said nothing about the CHANCEL. That is because it has been so much rebuilt that it is difficult to say much with any certainty. Most of the present Chancel is probably of the same date as the Lady Chapel. The SOUTH WALL was built within living memory. The large EAST WINDOW replaced a much smaller original window, has itself been reconstructed more than once. When the walls were scraped a few faint traces of colour were found under the limewash, on the plaster of the wall dividing the Chancel from the Lady Chapel. So this NORTH WALL is probably the original wall. The bottom part of the EAST WALL may possibly be the original wall also, for, as you may see, there still remains the projecting ledge, which was a continuation of the stone altar which once stood in the Chancel. There cannot originally have been any receptable or stone shelf above the altar; the present shelf has only lately been put into place. I expect that at one time the Chancel fell into such disrepair that it was entirely shut off from the nave. This is made possible by a groove, which as you may see, has been cut in the underside of the Chancel Arch, and also by the fact that there was in the upper window of the South Wall of the Chancel , as late as 1794, a head of St Guthlac, in coloured glass, and underneath it a fragment of an inscription, consisting of the words “….cancellam fieri fecit”, which would seem to mean that someone or other caused the Chancel to be rebuilt.
The FONT is of the same date as the present NAVE, somewhere about the year 1350. At the east end of the South Aisle, there once stood (where you can see the wall has been built up in modern times) a second Altar. You will see the remains in the South Wall, close by, of an AUMBRY (a cupboard in which the sacred vessels for the Holy Communion were kept) and a PISCINA (at which the vessels were washed after use). From besides this Altar, steps went up to the doorway, which is now blocked up, at which opened onto the ROOD LOFT, a broad beam which formally ran across the chancel arch an on which stood the ROOD or CRUCIFIX. A third ALTAR stood at the east end of the North Aisle, long before the Lady Chapel was added. This altar was dedicated in honour of the Virgin Mary and was found in a Chantry by the then rector, who was named RICHARD de BOSCO BORHARD. This was in the year 1249. He was appointed a priest to “sing Mass for ever, within the Parish Church, and to pray for the Founder’s soul” at the Altar, and in 1290 and again in 1292 he gave land and money to support the priest. One of the earliest of these Chantry priests was Sir Robert Tiringham (1350) and the last was Richard Smyth (1539). This Chantry was put and end to in Edward VI’s reign, and the property belonging to it was handed over, on the order of the Lord Protector Cromwell, to a man of the name of Anthony Urvedale. Probably some 50 years before this the Chantry had been replaced by the present LADY CHAPEL. This Lady Chapel was turned into a Parish School in the 18th century and was so used until well on into the 19th century. The two arches that then existed were bricked up and a doorway of which you can still see the outline from the outside was opened into it. Several men still living went to school in the Chapel. When it was once more returned to the church, about 50 years ago, the smaller of the two arches was pierced in the Chancel wall.
The Tower Arch was also bricked up till well into the 19th century and the clock dial set in this wall, facing the church. To enable people to see the time by this clock, when the church was locked up, holes were cut in both church doors so that children might be able to look through, and a hole for the same purpose was also made in the brick wall that shut off the schoolroom in the Lady Chapel.
On the north wall of the Chancel is a MEMORIAL TABLET to a previous Rector of this Parish. The inscription which is in Latin may be translated as follows:
“Here lies the remains of the Rev. Richard Cooke D.D., who, after being, for a long time, a fellow of the venerable Society of St Peter, was afterwards, by the kindness of the same Society, transferred to this village, as an acknowledgement of his deserts; here he devoted himself to the cure of soles for 14 years, with diligence and much success and at his death left a charity of one shilling, to be distributed every Sunday for ever in loaves of bread among the poorer of those attending the Parish Church. Dear to his friends, liked by all, hated by none, orthodox in his belief, noted for his piety, and worthy of imitation by everyone in everything, he died on October 23rd aged 63, in the year of our salvation 1704”.
The EAST WINDOW of the Chancel was filled with coloured glass in the early part of this year. The four figures in it, beginning from the left, are St. Guthlac, St. Peter, St. Mary, and St. Hugh. St Guthlac was a Saxon nobleman, who in his younger days lived a wild and reckless life, and after his conversion, in his shame at his former life, went to live as a hermit in what was then the dreary fen country around Crowland in Lincolnshire. So terrible was his remorse at what he had done that he spent his whole life in his lonely cell, in prayer and in struggling with the evil spirits which, as he believed, were constantly assailing him. Strange tales spread through the countryside about him, and gradually he came to be held in great honour for the holiness of his life and the severity of his self-discipline. In the window he is holding in his hand the scourge with which he used to flog himself, and under his feet is an evil beast. In the panel below he is represented as designing the Abbey, which was built at Crowland over the spot where his cell stood. Above his head are the arms of Crowland Abbey and in the next light, above the head of St Peter are the arms of Peterborough Cathedral. St Peter holds the sword of martyrdom and the keys, which typify the authority committed by Our Lord to the Church through him. In the panel below is a little picture of his repentance after his betrayal of his Master. The panel below the figure of the Virgin shows the Annunciation. She is represented as clasping to her breast the Holy Dove. In the fourth light, St Hugh, the great Bishop of Lincoln, who died in 1200, and under whom there was a great religious revival, through all this part of England (to whom, among other things, we owe the rebuilding of much of this church) is represented as holding a model of his Cathedral of Lincoln, as it appeared in his day. Over his head are the arms of Lincoln Cathedral, and in the panel below is the tame swan which, in his lifetime, followed him about as a dog.
Earnest G Peirson, Rector of Stathern, 1905.
Footnote: It is now over 115 years since Revd Peirson wrote these notes during which the church fabric has remained substantially unaltered. We might now query a few of his findings and add information about the pulpit, bells, clock, organ, the arms of Peterhouse College Cambridge, and discoveries such as graffiti, consecration crosses and mass dial. But Peirson’s notes are a concise record of the development of the church building over the first 700 years of its life. For visitors, there is now is a small history exhibition in the tower base with photographs and church exhibits.
Prof Roger Hawkins, 2021
Music and Worship
We have a small team of bell ringers who ring for services, but since Covid we have not been holding practices. There are 5 bells in a modern steel frame. Two of these were commissioned in the 1990s and three are dated 1607 and 1613
There are occasional events in the church such as concerts, exhibitions and the annual Horticultural Show. To find any specific details please go to the Stathern Parish Council website and click on the bi-monthly Stathern Star village newsletter where we advertise the times of service including special services and other events in the church
The small one-manual, 4 stops organ with short pedal board is rather special. It has a Grade 1 Historic Organ Certificate, meaning it is of exceptional original quality
Groups, Courses and Activities
Help for Visitors
At our Communications Corner in the south aisle of the nave we have a number of free leaflets about the church which you might like to read.
The church is open daily for private prayer and visitors. There are two doors, at the south side and north side porches. Usually the church is open from 9.00am till 4.00pm
During services we use a lectern microphone and the officiant may have a radio microphone. There are facilities to play CDs.
The church lies within the Stathern Conservation Area and within its own closed and wooded churchyard. There are some attractive buildings in the vicinity.