Lincolnshire’s best known church – Lincoln Cathedral – needs no introduction, but the rest of our county is also studded with remarkable old churches which are well worth a visit.
Many are record-breakers: St Wulfram’s in Grantham was described by Simon Jenkins in his book England’s Thousand Best Churches as having “the finest steeple in England”, while St James’ Church in Louth has the tallest spire of any mediaeval parish church in England (295 feet).
Another tall tower can be found in Boston, where St Botolph’s Church (known as ‘Boston Stump’) looms large over the low-lying fenland. It is the widest parish church in England, the tallest to roof and one of the largest by floor area. Many of the dimensions of St Botolph’s relate to clocks and calendars: there are 12 pillars, 52 windows, seven doors, 24 steps to the library, 60 steps to the roof and 365 steps to the top of the tower.
As for the oldest church in Lincolnshire, Stow Minster must be a candidate, dating back to 975 and possibly three centuries earlier than that, sometimes called the ‘Mother Church of Lincolnshire’ and one of the largest and oldest parish churches in England. Part Saxon and part Norman, it appeared in the World Monuments Fund’s list of the world’s 100 most endangered sites in 2006.
Stow Minster is home to the earliest known example of Viking graffiti in England – a rough scratching of an oared Viking sailing ship which probably dates from the 10th century.