St Martin's Church
Lyndon Church stands in a grove of trees at the northern
end of the village. The two magnificent Wellingtonias, the Scots pine, the
cedar, the other conifers and in the spring the daffodils on the north side of
the church, and the fine seventeenth century Hall on the south side make a
gracious setting for the medieval village church. The stone arch at the west
end of the churchyard leading to the Hall and another at the east end which
leads round behind the old Rectory (demolished in 1996) and past the east gates
to the Hall indicate that this was and largely still is an estate village. The
door in the stone arch at the end of Post Office Lane which gives access to
this path to the church was in the past opened only on Sundays to allow
parishioners to attend church and locked immediately after the church service.
Lyndon Church is for the most part thirteenth and early
fourteenth century: the font (see below) may point to the existence of an
earlier church. There is evidence of considerable restoration in 1865,
described in more detail below.
The tower is built in three stages. From the
outside you can see the string courses, the moulded plinth at the base and the
battlemented parapet above. It is fourteenth century , with the upper part
being rebuilt in the fifteenth century . The thin coat of original mortar on
the upper part especially of the south face of the tower should be noted: many
churches, particularly those built of small soft stone, were rendered in this
way. The original fourteenth century window with Victorian stained glass (1866)
depicting the Expulsion from Paradise and the Nativity and the thirteenth
century coffin lid inside set in the floor are also interesting. The north door
of the tower was rebuilt in 1865.
The south porch was restored in 1924 but the south
doorway is thirteenth century .There is a scratch dial on the east jamb of the
doorway. The broken cross on display in the porch was found when part of a
house in the village was demolished. According to one account it is part of the
village cross which stood at the cross roads, while another claims that it is
the head of a finial cross from above some chancel arch and dates back to about
The nave with its arcades and the chancel
arch are from the early fourteenth century. The double chamfered arcading
and the clerestory were the subject of much restoration in 1865. On the north
arcading, an aperture in the eastern pillar indicates the previous existence of
a rood loft: see the remaining stairs on the north side of the pillar. Opposite
on the corresponding pillar on the south side is a plaque which records Thomas
Barker's gift to the poor of Lyndon in 1708. This Thomas Barker died without
direct heirs and the Hall then passed to Samuel Barker of South Luffenham, the
father of another Thomas Barker, the meteorologist.
There is an interesting variety of carved heads -
on each pillar of the tower arch, in the spandrels of the centre pillars of the
nave and at the springs of the roof arches. Most of these appear original but
one or two are probably more recent. The clerestory windows are in the
style of the fourteenth century architecture of the rest of the church but are
part of the 1865 restoration, only the hood moulds being original. The glass
itself, according to the architect of the restoration, was probably eighteenth
century. The pews were installed in 1865, and the chest by the south door is
The font is twelfth century: the square stone bowl
with its rudely carved animal, scroll and ornamental features stands on a more
recent base. It was found buried in the churchyard in 1865.
The south aisle dates from the early thirteenth
century church. The empty stone bracket for a statue at the east end below the
brass memorial plaque to members of the Conant family is intriguing. The
1914-18 War Memorial is on the south wall at the west end. The north
aisle was widened in the 1865 restoration. At the east end is an early
window, with tracery and mullions removed, and the remains of the staircase to
the rood loft. The pointed three-light windows are from the 1865 restoration,
built in the fourteenth century architectural style. The glass again is
probably eighteenth century.
The chancel dates from the fourteenth century. The
west window, the arch to the organ chamber and the doorway on the south side
are all built in that style but are part of the 1865 restoration. The window in
the south wall was inserted in 1893 in the same style as the fourteenth century
west window in the tower . The marble pulpit dates from 1856: the marble
reredos erected in 1865 depicts on the north side of the altar the
Passover in Egypt (Exodus xii); on the south side Moses with the bronze snake
(Numbers xxi.4-9); and on the centre panel the symbols of the four evangelists:
the winged book of St Matthew, the winged lion of St Mark, the winged bull of
St Luke and the eagle of St John.
The organ chamber was added in 1865 and the arch
opening into the chancel is from that date. The organ is a Henry Willis
organ built about 1865.
The nave and aisle roofs are copper; The chancel,
organ chamber and porch are roofed with Collyweston slate (Collyweston is a
village about five miles to the east where the quarries are still open). The
four large gargoyles to the nave roof are worth inspecting.
As for the floor of the church, because the church
stands on clay there has been both movement and dampness. The nave and the
aisles were re-floored in 1897 because the oak timbers, taken down from the
roof in the 1865 restoration and re-used as floor supports, were then found to
be completely rotten and the floors unsafe. The chancel floor has been restored
in recent years with Victorian tiles from the nave and the nave covered with
Amongst the memorials in the churchyard, the
eighteenth century headstone to William Whiston (see below) is noteworthy. It
has been moved to the west wall of the churchyard at the southern end. The
stone to Thomas Barker, the meteorologist (see below), has not been identified
but is possibly against the south wall with those of other members of the
The tablet on the east wall of the porch has the following
inscription, now almost indecipherable:
Sacred to the memory of John Barsby
died Dec.1 1810 aged 87 years.
Also his wife who died May 24 1788 aged 61
He was forty years clerk of this place.
He sung his psalms, he's
run his race.
He's closed his book, he's said Amen.
In Christ he hopes
to rise again.
The Church has four bells:
Treble: diam. 26 inches. Nunc Martne Cana Vobis
Ore lucundo Remmedg hunte 1597. Now O Martin I sing to you with pleasant voice
(Remegius Hunt inherited the manor of Lyndon in 1586 and died in 1618).
Second: diam. 28 inches. Omnia fiant ad gloriam
Dei. A.D. 1624. Let all things be done to the glory of God. Cast by Tobie
Norris of Stamford.
Third: diam. 30 inches. Samuel Barker Esquire
Tenor: diam. 34 inches. Sr. Thomas Barker Baronet of
Lindon M.P. Clayton Rector 1687.
The treble and second bells were recast by Taylor and Co
of Loughborough in 1889.
The parish registers are now deposited at the Record
Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland. Amongst them there is a
register of baptisms, burials and marriages dating back to 1580. The registers
continue to 1997 with some small gaps.
The first known Rector of Lyndon was Magister Stephen de
Sandwich, sub deacon, whose patron was the Lord of the Manor, Alan de Lyndon.
He was instituted in 1234. By the south door of the church there is a list of
the Rectors of Lyndon to the time when Henry VIII carved Peterborough diocese
out of the diocese of Lincoln.
The Church has not always been in good repair. In the
seventeenth century, the Archdeacons' Visitations show that the condition of
the Church left much to be desired. In 1605 there was no decent pulpit, the
church was unpaved "and the rain cometh in most intollerablie", there was no
"pewter stoope pot for the communion", there was a chapel on the south side of
the church which was "very much in decay and annoyeth the chauncell very much
and the repair thereof belongeth to Mr. Hunt", the churchyard fence was in
decay so that hogs "do root up the churchyard".
In 1619 "the stoope pot for the communion was like an
alehouse quart, the register book was not subscribed according to the canons,
the aisle northward was wholly down in the roof". In 1640 the chapel on the
south side of the church had become utterly ruinous and there was no paten. In
1681 the churchwardens were ordered to set up on the walls the Ten
Commandments, the Creed and the Lord's Prayer, and buy a new Erasmus
Paraphrase, a Book of Canons, Bishop Jewell (his Apologia Ecclesia
Anglicanae, published in 1562, had become the standard defence of the
Anglican Settlement), a Book of Homilies, and a Table of Marriages.
In the nineteenth century the church had apparently fallen
into grave disrepair. For this again we have contemporary evidence. In 1893 the
Rector of Lyndon wrote to the Architect responsible for the restoration of the
church in 1865 (T G Jackson of Buckingham Street, Strand, London) and received
a brief account of the work done. The contract had been between Mr Conant and
Messrs Halliday and Cave of Greetham. It was a far reaching programme and the
essential work seems to have been as follows.
A new vestry and organ chamber were added to the north of
the chancel, with an arch into the chancel. Major repairs to the chancel
included the rebuilding of the south-east angle of the chancel where it had
parted from the side walls; a new top to the chancel walls and a new roof; and
a new east window.
Major works were also carried out on the nave. The
north-east angle had to be strengthened where it had been cut away. The
clerestory walls and nave arcade on both sides were taken down and rebuilt,
though the pillar on the south side was not disturbed. The arches were reset,
stone for stone: a few new stones probably had to be used. The clerestory
windows were similarly reset, stone for stone, but where the jambs and heads
were perished and had lost their tracery they were replaced. The roofs of the
nave and the aisles were entirely renewed in oak, and in the case of the nave
reproduced exactly the original roof. It is not clear whether the lead was
completely replaced or simply made good.
Both aisles were given new west windows. The north aisle
was enlarged by rebuilding the wall parallel to the nave but further out and
given two new windows. The architect originally specified that the side windows
of the aisles should have new lintels of oak but it would appear that when it
was decided that the north aisle should be widened the present stone window
arches were built.
New jambs and head were built to the tower doorway (now
only visible from the outside).
Considerable changes were made to the interior. The walls
were replastered (in his report of some 30 years later, the architect T G
Jackson adds "a thing I would not do nowadays!"), new seats were installed in
the nave and the chancel, new tile paving put down throughout, and a new wooden
floor inserted under the seats. A new pulpit was installed, a new lectern made
and a new altar rail put in place. The specification also includes "warming and
chimney", evidence of which can be seen in the organ chamber .
Finally, the windows: T G Jackson writes "New glazing, for
which, if I remember, I used glass of the last century of which builders had a
great deal unfortunately removed from other churches. "
The Dedication -Saint Martin of Tours
Martin was born in AD 315 in what is now Hungary, at a
place called Sabaria. He became a popular saint across western Christendom
-loved for his gentleness of life, his care for the poor, his firmness with the
rich, and his concern for the building up and unity of the church.
He was brought up in Pavia in Italy and followed his
father into the army. As an officer in the Roman army he went to Amiens. It was
on the great Roman road which ran between Lyons and Boulogne that, on a bitter
winter day, he met a naked beggar. He cut his own cloak in two with his sword
and gave half to the beggar. He was later led to recognise that in clothing the
beggar he was clothing Christ. Soon after this he was baptised.
In 339 Martin sought his discharge from the army. "I am",
he said, "Christ's soldier; I am not allowed to fight" He was accused of
cowardice but as he offered to stand unarmed before the enemy he was given his
discharge. He lived in Italy for a time, became a recluse, joined Bishop Hilary
in Poitiers, and then founded the first monastery in Gaul at nearby Liguge.
In 370 he was made Bishop of Tours -not without
opposition. His biographer Sulpicius Severus writes that some people regarded
him as "a contemptible person, unworthy of the episcopate, despicable in
countenance, mean in dress, uncouth in his hair'. Despite all that he was
consecrated bishop and set about visiting his diocese -on foot, on a donkey, or
by boat. Many stories are told of his travels: his meetings with a robber, a
beggar, a rich man, the emperor and the devil. A number, no doubt, are pure
hagiography. But his holiness of life is indisputable.
Soon after being made bishop, he moved out of Tours to a
solitary place, about two miles away on the bend of a river and at the foot of
the high ground, which soon became another monastery, Marmoutier, where he
could live a more meditative life. Throughout his life he showed a genuine
concern for every human being, whether a poor serf or the emperor himself.
Though he set him- self firmly against idolatry and heresy, he was
compassionate towards the ignorant and the heretic.
St. Martin, one of the first of the non-martyr saints,
died near Tours in AD 397. He was held in such honour that the first church to
be built in Canterbury after St. Augustine's mission was dedicated to St.
Martin -and possibly the most famous church in the country is St.