- The villages around Bourne, Lincolnshire, England -
LANGTOFT is a long village astride the A15, five miles south of Bourne, between the King Street of the Romans and their Car Dyke. It belonged to the Abbey of Peterborough in Saxon times and was burned by the Danes a few decades before the Norman Conquest. The village stretches to either side of the main road with a pleasant mix of stone cottages and modern properties, all dominated by the soaring steeple of the Church of St Michael and All Angels which looks out upon the flat fens of the surrounding countryside.
The church has seen many changes during its 700 year history but is still impressive with its great array of battlements and many variations of style, the oldest part being the tower with its clasping buttresses and capped with the 15th century spire, curiously set at the west end of the north aisle, while the south porch is an attractive, early 18th century addition. The arcades are 14th century and the pillars 13th century while the arches are adorned with little heads of mediaeval men and women that look down upon the congregation.
Unusually, there are no stained glass windows in the chancel or nave but the clear mullioned lights provide a sense of space and the great west window particularly gives displays of a wonderful area of evening sun-drenched glass. A brass candelabra from the 18th century and with three tiers of 25 arms dominates the nave and it bears the inscription of one man’s philanthropy in past times: “The gift of Edward Presgrave of Tongue End, gentleman, who died 12th of January 1759.”
The old pulpit dating back to the 18th century has tarsia panels depicting flaming suns and sacred monograms and kneeling in a niche high up in the chancel is the figure of Elizabeth Moulesworth, in black Stuart gown and ruff. She died in 1648, three years before Sarah Walcot whose brass inscription on the floor speaks poignantly of her bereaved husband’s anxiety to join her.
In the churchyard by the entrance, a short flight of steps leads to a stone cross, a well maintained memorial to villagers who served their country and fell in the two major conflicts of the 20th century. Their names are listed around the base with the inscription:
To the memory of those who fell in the
An extensive programme of church restoration has recently been completed. The first phase began in 1994 after a survey revealed that major repairs were needed to the stonework, the spire and the leaded west window. The vestry was also given a new roof and redecorated. This work cost £40,000 and was financed primarily by grants from English Heritage, donations and fund-raising. The second phase was carried out in 2001 when a further £86,000 was spent on renovating the nave and again the money came from similar sources and although the church was closed for three months, the entire project was completed in time for the Christmas services. The restoration of the bells was completed in 2004 at a cost of £40,000 when they rang out for the first time in 33 years after being silenced in 1971 after the bell frame was deemed to be unsafe. The five old bells, installed between 1662 and 1825, were refurbished and a sixth new one added. A day of celebration was held on Saturday 13th March 2004 to mark the event with a simultaneous peal in the three churches of the Ness group, Baston, Langtoft and Thurlby, and the formation of the Langtoft Chimers, a team of eight who will ring the bells regularly on Sundays from now on.
Many new but small estates are springing up in Langtoft, tastefully built in red brick, and villagers have recently reclaimed an old pond as a community facility that attracts ducks and other wildlife. It now provides an even more peaceful haven in a very quiet rural location. Large tracts of land around the village have been excavated for sand and gravel and these operations continue in several places. Once the aggregates have been exhausted, the holes created are left to fill with water and most are being reclaimed by nature with a little help from man who has planted trees and landscaped the banks to provide a very attractive rural scene.