- The villages around Bourne, Lincolnshire, England -

Careby

Photographed in 2000

Photographed in 2009

 

TRAIN SPOTTERS are familiar with Careby, a name given to this village by the Danes who established a settlement here 1,000 years ago after sailing up the River Glen. The village can be found six miles south west of Bourne and the attraction for railway enthusiasts is the road bridge that crosses the main east coast line between London and Scotland that provides a magnificent view in either direction for photographers who arrive regularly with their equipment whenever an engine such as the Flying Scotsman is passing through.

It was on this section of track that the steam locomotive Mallard set up a new world record in 1938 with a speed of 126 m p h. The road over the bridge descends east into the village, past the Cotswold-style Manor Farm to the River Glen where there are two buildings of note in the vicinity, the Old Rectory and the church that has commanding views of the surrounding countryside.  

St Stephen's Church is at the far end of the village, a secluded building but it is well worth finding. It has a stone staircase built into the thickness of the walls of the tower that dates from the early 13th century and has a low pyramid roof that gives the structure a French appearance. The chancel is Norman and there is a massive 14th century inner door with an iron knocker in the shape of two lizards whispering into St Stephen's ears, specially made for the use of criminals claiming sanctuary, while another treasure, preserved in glass, is a crimson velvet altar frontal made from a beautifully embroidered 15th century cope depicting the Virgin Mary entering into heaven, surrounded by angels, seraphims and twin-headed eagles.

The monuments include a stone figure of a 14th century lord of the manor in chain mail with angels by his head, a 13th century carving in the vestry of a shield below two hands holding a heart, and in the south aisle, an early 13th century stone knight in armour lying beside his wife, their hands clasped in prayer but their bodies disappearing under a stone bearing his shield. These are the memorials of the Hatcher family who owned the manors of Careby and Little Bytham from 1620 and lived in a fine mansion in the parish. The windows are Perpendicular as are the arcades but the most memorable feature of the interior is an unusual vaulted roof of pitch pine, probably added during Victorian times. Twice during the 20th century the church was flooded to a depth of two feet when the river overflowed its banks.  

This church is also well tended, both inside and out, a sign of a continuing faith in a world where religion is in decline, for sufficient money has recently been found to add a lychgate to mark the millennium and the date 2000 has been carved into the front. The stone and oak beams used in its construction were all found locally and even the ironwork strap hinges on the doors were crafted by a blacksmith who lives in the vicinity. It is a most worthy addition to this beautiful country church and is so sturdily built that it should stand the test of time well into this new millennium.

Careby Wood, a mile to the south east, contains the remains of what was probably an Iron Age fort, oval shaped and protected by a ditch and two lines of fortifications 40 yards apart, and so it is evident that although this village is small, it is steeped in local history.

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