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Wakerley, St John

Church in Wakerley

Situated on a hillside overlooking the Welland valley and a little way to the south of the village, this church hints at an impressive past, both inside and out.

It was clearly built to serve a far larger community than the 200 or so present inhabitants of Wakerley. The exterior suggests a building from the middle ages, but inside the architecture tells a different story. The chancel arch has the distinctive moulded and zig-zag ornamentation of the Norman period, yet it is not typically semi-circular, but pointed in the early English style, presumably as a consequence of a later rebuilding.

The first surprise is to be found in the carvings of the capitals of the arch: to the south, a real riot of intertwining plants and mythical beasts, and opposite, a realistic depiction of a pair of Norman knights on horseback riding from one building to another. The sculpture is in deep relief and was clearly executed by a master stonemason. The second surprise is an astonishing collection of roof bosses, perhaps from the 15th century, so high up in the ceiling that to see them properly requires a pair of binoculars.

One above the chancel arch depicts the upper half of a person who seems to be frowning with a downturned mouth, and holding a round pot. Another has a lady apparently being tormented by a black-faced demon wearing a striped costume. A third portrays a couple sitting at a table, holding whips or fetters and separated by a black monster, who may have his arms around them. All are painted in bright colours. These decorations all point to a period of a high status role for this church.

Also worthy of note in the north east of the chancel is the tomb of Richard Cecil, grandson of Robert Cecil, Queen Elizabeth's favourite counsellor and builder of Burghley House near Stamford. Wakerley church is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.

Contact & Opening Times

Main Street, Wakerley, Stamford, LE15 8PA|

Opening Times:

Daily 11am to 4pm

Contact Details:

contact CCT Cambridgeshire region, 01223 324442

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Click the pins on the map to see other attractions nearby

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