Lincolnshire’s churches are the most underestimated in England. The south-western part of the county, Kesteven, is especially rich in spires. An important factor in this is the abundance of limestone from the belt that slants up England from the southwest right into Lincolnshire.

The earliest of these are broach spires, in which the spire emerges directly from the outside of the tower, with no parapet to intervene. One of the first broach spires to be built is that at North Rauceby, where an early 13th spire and belfry were built on a base from the previous century (c.1180?). Spot the plate tracery in the bell-openings and its steep broaches. The nearby town of Sleaford was building its tower at a similar time, from the late 12th into the early 13th c. This tower rather suffers from being engulfed by later aisles. A similar process was followed at Frampton at much the same time, with a tower constructed at the period when the Norman style was undergoing the transition to Gothic. 

The little village of Aunsby has another fine example, from the mid-13th century, and another of that era is at Threekingham, where the mId-13th c. broach spire again sits on a slightly earlier tower. There are three tiers of lucarnes ventilating the spire, arranged in alternating directions, a common feature in the area. Pickworth is another broach spire, dating in its present form from the mid-14th c., sitting on a 12th c. base. The top tier of lucarnes is rather too high to be successful aesthetically, compare it with North Rauceby, where it is managed better.

Broaches become less common as the 14th century moves on, but other features like crocketing increasingly appear.


Further reading: Julian Flannery, Fifty English Steeples: The Finest Medieval Parish Church Towers and Spires in England, London, Thames and Hudson, 2016. He examines North Rauceby in detail.