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St Marys Guildhall Lincoln

Glossary of Architectural Terms


Saint Peter at Gowts Church


Saint Peter at Gowts Church, Lincoln, is of Saxon origin, and dates to the 11th century.   Constructed of coursed rubble and dressed stone with ashlar dressings and a slate roof, it contains both rounded and pointed-arched windows, showing its Norman and Gothic roots.  Having undergone substantial development over the years, it is still in use today as the parish church of St Peter at Gowts and St Andrew.

St Peter at Gowts Church, located on the High Street, Lincoln, dates to the 11th century.  The oldest part, the tower, is typical of the Saxon-Norman towers that were built in Lincolnshire during that time. 

Located on the south side of the city, this area was chosen by the rich as a place to build their homes, resulting in many large houses in this area, a trend that continued through the Middle Ages and up to the 19th century.  Following the coming of the railway in the 19th century and the advent of the industrial revolution, many of the streets leading off the High Street accommodated houses for the factory workers in what was to become a significant manufacturing city.  This resulted in many of the existing larger houses being converted to shops and inns.

St Peter at Gowts Church got its name due to its location next to a ditch or drain, called a “gowt”, located just south of the church.  It is believed that the parish was known as St. Peter-by-the-Water-Course.

Constructed of coursed rubble and dressed stone, with ashlar dressings and a slate roof, it contains both pointed-arched and round-headed windows

Entry to the church is through the west door of the building with its simple round arch and tympanum (the semi-circular or triangular decorative wall surface over an entrance, door or window).  The entrance is Saxon with Norman modifications and is the oldest part of the building, dating from the early 11th century.  The entry leads into the ground area of the tower, with stairs leading up into the tower itself, and to the six bells which date back to 1872.  These bells have not been rung for many years due to concerns over a substantial crack in the tower. 

From the tower, a doorway leads into the interior of the church, the nave and side aisles, which are separated with arcades of pointed Gothic arches.  The south side originates from the 13th and 14th centuries when the Norman nave was extended.  The chancel has been extended twice, first in the 12th century, then again in the 19th.  The chancel’s Norman windows were retained, and the south side of the church contains some beautiful stained-glass windows.  

The arcade on the north side of the church dates from the 19th century when the north aisle and the east end were rebuilt.  Located in the south arcade is a memorial to the dead of World War I.   This lists the names of the 108 men from the parish who died in that conflict.

Above the nave is a barrel-vaulted roof with a kingpin wooden ceiling supported on stone corbels.  Suspended from the ceiling is the Rood Cross, with the symbols of the four evangelists at each end of the cross.  A Rood Cross is also known as a triumphal cross, and is the large crucifix set above the entrance to the chancel of a medieval church.  This one was created by church architect Temple Moore and was installed in 1920.

Steps lead up to the chancel with its altar, above which is a splendid 19th century carved stone reredos, a large altarpiece, screen, or decoration placed behind the altar.  At the centre of the reredos is a statue of Christ.  On the left side are statues of St Paulinus, St Peter and the Virgin Mary, while on the right are St John, St Andrew and St Hugh.  Along the bottom are smaller figures of the twelve apostles.  At the centre are the crossed keys of St Peter.

At the east end of each aisle is a chapel.  The Chapel of St Andrew is in the north aisle and was dedicated to St Andrew in 1984.  This chapel with its painted ceiling is located below the organ gallery.  Old standards can be seen hanging from its walls.  This chapel is also used by the Greek Orthodox parish of St Basil the Great and St Paisos, and serves the Greek and Cypriot community.  The altar table dates from 1671 and was given to the church by the Vicar of the neighbouring parish of St. Botolph. The vestry is located behind this chapel.

It is known that an organ was in place by 1872 which was replaced in 1920s, although this organ was originally intended, not for a church, but for a large private house.  In the 1949, this organ was replaced by an organ taken from a church in Leicester.

At the east end of the south aisle is the St. Mary Chapel built in 1347, which was originally the chantry. There are two three-light pointed arched stained-glass windows.  This chapel was originally dedicated to Radulfus Jolyf, a Lincoln merchant, and his tomb recess can be found in the north-east corner.

Located in the north aisle to the left of the entrance at the rear of the Church is the baptismal font. The font itself is of Saxon-Norman origin and is believed to have been made from a Roman pillar, although it now stands on a modern stone plinth.

The Church Hall is located across Sibthorpe Street and is part of St Mary’s Guildhall (see separate article).

Interior from Entrance Interior viewed from Tower

Altar and Reredos View towards rear

 Font                 Standards

       Rood Cross and Ceiling                                Bell Tower Lobby              



              All  Photographs were taken by and are copyright of Ron Gatepain

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