the Domesday Book shows that there was a church at
‘Haltun’ between the years 1080 and 1086
Taking its name from the Hollowgate or ‘hollow way’ which cuts through the ridge of green sandstone, the village of Halton Holegate sits on slightly rising ground on the edge of the Fens, 1½ miles from the market town of Spilsby in Lincolnshire.
There has been a village here since before Norman times, as the Domesday Book shows that there was a church at ‘Haltun’ between the years 1080 and 1086, during which time the survey was made.
John de Halton, Bishop of Carlisle 1292-1324 is understood to have come from the area, and certainly the de Halton family were Patrons of the Living here in the 13th century.
The present church, Perpendicular in style, stands on the site of an earlier place of worship and was built in the late 1300s. Its imposing position means that the lofty tower and clerestoried windows can be seen from some distance.
In the 19th century the church was considerably rebuilt, following tremendous storm damage in 1846. Opportunities were taken to restore not only the roof but to instigate other improvements at the same time, under the direction of Rector Thomas Hardwicke Rawnsley. Twenty years later his son, Drummond Rawnsley, carried out further restoration including rebuilding the tower, and putting windows in the north side of the chancel, which greatly improved not only the light but also the beauty of this place.
Image showing the church prior to the 1800s renovations, before the organ loft and the vestry were added to the southeast corner of the chancel.
1894 saw further restoration when Rev Thomas W. Sale commissioned the rebuilding of the Chantry chapel, which is now the vestry, and the organ loft chamber.
Prior to the 19th century restorations, the chancel would have presented a more sombre welcome than today. Following the fire which destroyed the chancel and chantry chapel, suggested to have been in the 1700s, the chancel was rebuilt with only one window to the Eastern aspect.
Records indicate that ‘the chancel could not be restored to its original length, but the poor deal roof was enriched with mouldings and carved bosses, decorated in colour and gold by Messrs Powell Bros Lincoln’.
Built in the 1860s a wooden bridge, known as ‘parson’s bridge’, spanned the road connecting the church to the Rectory. The Rector was able to cross the bridge, through what was at that time the Rectory vegetable garden, and on into the church. Its condition became such that in the 1950s the bridge was demolished.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson was a frequent visitor to the Rectory, visible across from the church to the North, during the time he lived at Somersby, and one of the rooms is referred to as ‘Tennyson’s Room’.
Until 1970 the parish of Halton Holegate had been in the care of a Rector or parish priest. The parish is now part of the Bolingbroke Deanery group of churches and presided over by the Rural Dean and a team of clergy and lay ministers.
Claude Nattes. Halton Holegate Parish Church.
In 1789 Claude Nattes, topographical draughtsman and watercolour artist, was commissioned by Sir Joseph Banks, naturalist, and patron of science, to record the buildings of Lincolnshire.
This drawing depicts the church in 1790.
The chancel roof appears to be in a poor condition, and possibly even thatched? The windows on the chancel have already been bricked up at this time. There is a short wooden gate at the entrance to the porch. There are no crenellations to the top of the tower at this time. It could be ‘artistic licence’, but it is doubtful that Nattes would omit such architectural detail.
The works in the 1800s tell us that: “Part of the tower was taken down and rebuilt with enlarged buttresses from designs by Mr. Street. Old tower was higher than the present one”.
This may explain the addition of the crenellations at this later date.
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