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Church of St Mary

A Grade I Listed Building in Stamford, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 52.6514 / 52°39'5"N

Longitude: -0.4782 / 0°28'41"W

OS Eastings: 503043

OS Northings: 307054

OS Grid: TF030070

Mapcode National: GBR FVR.RXD

Mapcode Global: WHGLX.MMG6

Plus Code: 9C4XMG2C+HP

Entry Name: Church of St Mary

Listing Date: 22 May 1954

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1062961

English Heritage Legacy ID: 193731

Location: Stamford, South Kesteven, Lincolnshire, PE9

County: Lincolnshire

District: South Kesteven

Civil Parish: Stamford

Built-Up Area: Stamford

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Stamford St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln

Tagged with: Church building

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836/1/254 ST MARY'S PLACE


A complex construction history. Early C13 W tower and chancel. Nave arcades are largely late C13. Substantial rebuilding in the C15 included the nave, aisles, N chapel and S porch. Tower repaired in 1788 and 1842. Church refurnished and restored in 1859-60 by Edward Browning; further restoration and chancel refurnished in 1890 to designs by J D Sedding.

Rubble and limestone ashlar. Lead roofs to nave and aisles, stone slates on chancel and N chapel.

Chancel with N and S chapels and S vestry, nave with N and S aisles and S porch, W tower. Vault under N chapel.

The church is dominated by the richly decorated C13 tower and the C14 spire, which forms an important landmark in the town. The tower is early C13 and has five, richly decorated stages with tiers of varied blind arcading and tall lancets in the bell stage. The C13 W door has decorated orders and a carved tympanum. The opening was apparently reduced in height in the C18. The C14 broach spire has statue niches retaining their original statues and gabled lucarnes.

Otherwise, the exterior is largely of the C15 and has low pitched roofs and embattled parapets throughout, except for the N chapel, which has a steeply pitched roof with embattled gables. The lower part of the chancel E walls is early C13, but the upper part was rebuilt in 1860, when the E window was replaced. Part of the E wall of the N chapel is C13 or early C14. The rest of the N chapel was rebuilt in c.1380, but it was given new windows in the C15, when the N aisle was rebuilt and the rood stair turret between the N aisle and chapel added. The S aisle, S chapel and S porch are also C15. The S vestry was added in the C19. The windows have a range of late C15 tracery forms, mostly with vertical tracery and cusped lights. The C13 window in the vestry was brought from No. 17 St George's Square in 1881.

The interior reveals the complex, multi-phase history of the church more clearly than the exterior, with evidence of rebuilding around an existing church from the early C13 onwards. The E end is dominated by Sedding┬┐s very fine refurnishing scheme of 1890. The early C13 tower arch is richly moulded and has stiff-leaf capitals. The weather courses for two former roofs are visible against the E face of the tower. The lower relates to the pre C13 roof; the other was probably for a roof built at the same time as the tower or perhaps when the aisles were added or rebuilt in the later C13. Above the tower arch are two C13 openings with trefoiled heads, but it is unclear if these opened externally or internally, as they are below the lowest visible weather course for the former roofs. The SW respond of the S nave arcade is also early C13 and similar in character to the tower, and was probably for an extension of an earlier arcade that was subsequently entirely rebuilt in the later C13, the date of the E respond of the S arcade. The N arcade was rebuilt at the same time, as the E and W responds of the N arcade are also late C13. The arches and the piers on each side were rebuilt in the C15, probably when the aisle walls were rebuilt and the clerestory was added. The arches are double chamfered on piers with four shafts and crenellated capitals; the moulded bases to the piers are particularly fine. The tower vault with panelled ribs and a central opening for the bell ropes was also a C15 insertion.

The development of the chancel is equally complex. The chancel had reached its present length by the early C13, presumably replacing an earlier, shorter chancel whose presence may still be detected in the differing widths of the chancel S wall seen in the internal offset between the S chapel and the vestry. The C19 chancel S window replaced a medieval window. The N chapel, narrower than the present N chapel, and the western part of the S chancel chapel were added in the late C13.Shafts in the corners of the S chapel suggest that vaulting was intended. The western arches to both chapels are late C13. The N chapel was widened in the later C14, when the eastern arch to the N chapel was inserted or rebuilt; there are three tomb recesses in the N wall, one of which contains an effigy of c.1380. A late C14 window in the chapel W wall was blocked when the rood stair turret was added in the C15. The upper and lower rood stair doors are visible in the N chapel. The chancel arch was rebuilt and enlarged in the late C15, presumably at the same time that the rood stair turret and now lost screen were added. The N chapel roof was ceiled in c.1480, and the chapel was further modified in the early C16 when the Phillips tomb and adjacent door were inserted into the NE chapel arch.

The church was largely refitted in the C19, and the Arts and Crafts scheme of 1890 by J D Sedding is particularly fine, but it retains some medieval furnishings including an octagonal, carved C15 font, a C15 stoup outside the N door, a C15 piscina in the N chapel and another undated, medieval piscina in the S chapel. There is a c.1300 statue of the Virgin in the N chapel. A few fragments of C15 glass in the N chapel and N aisle.

Nave benches with traceried ends of 1852-3 to designs by Rev. T. James, and reredos (not visible in 2009) of 1860 by Robert Tinkler. The Sedding scheme includes the excellent bronze altar frontal in an Italian style by Stirling Lee. Choir stalls by Sedding, similar to those in Holy Trinity, Sloane St, London, also by Sedding. The choir screen is also by the same architect, with a rood of 1920 by Howard Bailey, added as a war memorial. Two lecterns by Watts. Some very good C19 glass, including the E window of 1860 by Wailes & Co and the N chapel E window of 1890 by Christopher Whall.

The richly decorated nave roof is late C15 and has foliate bosses, wall posts on grotesque corbels, and angels on the intermediate principals. The N aisle roof is also C15. The steeply pitched N chapel roof is probably C14, but is covered by an elaborate waggon ceiling of c.1480 with carved bosses and painted plaster panels with relief decoration. An inscription on the S cornice commemorates the benefaction of William Hikham (d. after 1486) and his wife Alice (d.1484). The chancel ceiling was designed by J D Sedding and painted by R Farrell and Wilson with E. Sedding in 1890.

Some impressive monuments, notably the in the N chapel E arch the canopied chest tomb with effigies of Sir David Phillips, d. 1506 and his wife Anne, who is buried elsewhere. A small contemporary door to the S of the tomb provides access between the chapel and chancel. Also in the N chapel, N wall, three late C14 tomb recesses, one with an elaborate surround and a tomb chest with a military effigy of c. 1380, probably for a male Brown or Usher, the others plainer. There are also many good wall tablets of the late C17, C18 and C19.

There was a church here by the C12. The W tower is c.1220, but was built against an older nave. The chancel was also rebuilt and extended c.1220. The W end of the S arcade was begun around the same time, but not completed. The S arcade and aisle were completed in the late C13, when the N aisle and N and S chancel chapels were added. There was a guild of St Mary founded c.1310 and another to Corpus Christi by 1350 that may have used the N chapel. In the C14 the N chancel chapel was widened and the spire added to the tower. The nave and aisles were rebuilt in the later C15, a substantial S porch was added, the chancel arch was rebuilt and enlarged, and new windows were added. The late C15 rebuilding may be partly associated with destruction in the sack of Stamford in 1461, but the richness of the work also reflects the prosperity of the town's late medieval wool merchants. The N chapel ceiling was given by William Hikham and his wife c.1484, and they are commemorated by an inscription on its cornice. The tower was restored and strengthened in 1788 and again in 1842. The church was repewed in 1859-60 to designs by the Rev. T James. It was further restored, and the chancel E wall rebuilt in 1859-60 by Edward Browning, and the vestry was rebuilt and the chancel refurnished in 1890 to designs by John Dando Sedding (1838-1891), a noted Victorian church architect who also an influential figure in the Arts and Crafts movement.

Pevsner, N and Harris, J., Buildings of England: Lincolnshire (2002), 2nd Edition, 693-5
RCHME Stamford (1977), 23-27

The church of St Mary, Stamford is designated at Grade I for the following principal reasons:
* Parish church with fabric of the C13-C15 and evidence for an earlier church.
* Outstanding early C13 W tower, one of the best of its type, with a very fine C14 broach spire, which plays a prominent part in Stamford's fine townscape.
* High quality C15 work, including outstanding roof of c. 1480 in the N chapel.
* Interesting monuments, including an excellent tomb of c.1380 and the Phillips tomb of c.1506, as well as a number of lesser memorials.
* Very fine C19 furnishings, notably the chancel and chapel screens and chancel decoration to designs by J D Sedding, constituting a fine instance of High Anglican enrichment of a medieval church.

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Register. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 27 October 2017.

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