S MARY MAGDALENE, GEDNEY, LINCS
Heading east along the road from Spalding towards Kings Lynn, you pass a succession of notable churches, part of what Henry Thorold once termed the via mirabilis for church crawlers, Weston, Moulton, Whaplode, Holbeach, Fleet and Gedney. Many would say that Gedney is the finest of these. The tower is striking – its construction took a couple of centuries, the base being 13th c. and the top third 15th. A stone spire was intended, but that never got beyond the very bottom part, so now the tower is topped by an endearing spike. The nave has lots of windows, the clear glass and the vast late Gothic clerestory above giving the interior a light and spacious feel. Once there was a lot of stained glass, of which little remains, thanks to a combination of Puritans and a German land-mine, but there is a striking patchwork quilt in the E window of the N aisle. The pulpit’s a bit later than those Jacobean pieces that you regularly meet, more like 1700, but it has more character because of its carved cherubs’ heads.
Gedney will stay in the mind because of three monuments. The most obvious is in the south aisle, one of the familiar composition pieces of c. 1605 with a husband and wife, Adlard and Cassandra Welby, kneeling at a prayer desk facing each other. Up in the chancel is a simple slate tablet, to a couple who died within months of each other in 2002, Charles and Constance Bainbridge. Charles lived to the age of 93, and had been a chorister for 85 of those. The most poignant is the riddel-posted high altar and reredos, given in 1940 in memory of Theodore Crombie Gobat, Vicar 1930-37. He was the last chairman of the Church Socialist League, and on the day before his death he had officiated at the marriage of his daughter Jean, who was given away by her godfather, George Lansbury. The next morning her father went for a meditative walk along the railway line before morning service, to be run down by a train. His daughter received a telegram with the horrifying news when she arrived at her honeymoon hotel in Innsbruck.
Map Reference: TF403243