For the Decorated Style Lincolnshire is the best county of all.’ Pevsner says so, therefore it must be true. And Sleaford must be the centre of the best area; as you travel around, you are never out of range of splendid spires. To see Decorated at its best, you need a church entirely in that style, and Heckington is a winner, dominating its village.

Your eyes are first drawn to the spire and the porch, with wonderful carvings; the window tracery is something else, especially the south transept and east chancel windows. The scraped interior is lit by some less-than-good Victorian glass, but ignore that, and make a beeline for the chancel, built by Richard de Potesgrave (Rector 1308-49); chaplain to King Edward II, he was buried here. In its south wall are excellent triple sedilia and double piscina; in the north wall is one of the very finest Easter Sepulchres in England.

In the medieval liturgy, a crucifix, together with a consecrated Host, was ritually ‘buried’ following the Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday, until early on the morning of Easter Day. Pious benefactors would have their tomb designed to double up as an Easter Sepulchre, perhaps to gain merit by association with the solemn liturgy. At the bottom of the Sepulchre, the Roman soldiers sleep outside Christ’s tomb; the niche is flanked by the angel of the Resurrection and by the Marys, witnesses to the resurrected Christ above, who is surrounded by angels.

Pray the Easter Sequence, Victimae Paschali:

Christians, to the Paschal Victim offer sacrifice and praise.
Tell us, Mary: say
What you saw on the way.
“The tomb the Living did enclose;
The angels there attesting;
Shroud with grave-clothes resting.”
That Christ is truly risen from the dead we know.

Grid reference TF142441

Simon Cotton