St Michael, Heydour, Lincs

You never know what you’ll find along the byways of Lincolnshire; one of the county’s lesser known marvels is just over a mile off the Grantham-Sleaford road, and in a badly-signposted hamlet at that. Lincolnshire must have been a busy place for church builders in the mid-14th c., the century which gave this church its tower and nave, though the building has something from every era from Romanesque to the 17th c.

The N aisle has some of the very best glass in the county, of c.1360; one window has the three deacon martyrs Vincent, Lawrence and Stephen. Next to it is a remarkable window with Edward the Confessor, George and Edmund, remarkable because Edward and Edmund are shown as soldiers without any nimbus, standing below militarized canopies, a reminder that this glass was painted in the hubris following Crécy and Poitiers. Before you head into the 13th c. chancel (itself with Kempe glass filling the lancet windows), don’t miss the angels in the tracery here and in the E window of the S aisle.

Pull back the red curtain on the north side of the chancel and go through the door behind to see one of Lincolnshire’s best-kept secrets, the 17th –18th c. monuments to the Newton family of Culverthorpe Hall. Two are by Rysbrack and two by Scheemakers, but the saddest – and the hardest to spot – is the slab covering the grave of the last Newton heir, John, Lord Viscount Coningsby, born 16 October 1732, died 4 January 1733. Taken from his cradle by the family’s pet monkey, the infant was dropped to his death from the roof of the Hall. Bizarre, yet dreadfully poignant.

Map reference: TF009395

Simon Cotton