Monday, August 31, 2015

Langton by Spilsby, Lincolnshire

Out of time but not out of place

Among the box pews of the perfect Georgian interior of the church at Langton by Spilsby in my previous post is a object that has existed for much longer than the church itself. It’s the font, which must have been recycled from a medieval church, presumably on the same site, when the current building was put up in the early-18th century. This sometimes happened with fonts. As vessels of the sacrament of baptism they acquire a holiness of their own, which, combined with their aura of antiquity (generations have been Christened in that font), and sometimes their sheer beauty and craftsmanship, gives them a good chance of survival.

This one is a ‘pattern book’ font on which each face illustrates a design of window tracery, and it is similar to a font in Warwickshire that I’ve posted about before. It’s late medieval and bears tracery designs that are mostly in what we now call the Decorated Gothic style of the 14th century. But there’s one face with a design of the Perpendicular style that spread across England in the late-14th and 15th centuries, indicating that the font must be late-14th century at least. My photograph shows a couple of particularly crisp Decorated tracery designs. Although out of place chronologically, the font sits beautifully among Langton’s box pews and under its curvaceous, dome-like cover, presumably a contribution of the woodworkers who fitted out the church in the Georgian period.


Stephen Barker said...

At Welham church in Leicestershire, the plain octagonal font was restored to the church in the Nineteenth Century after it was found as being used as a basin for the village pump.

bazza said...

I love the notion of continuity that this suggests. So many churches were built on the site of, possibly several, former churches and even pre-Christian pagan places of worship before that!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Eileen Wright said...

Oddly enough, I just recently read about a towering mediaeval font cover that was discarded during an 1858 restoration at Shaugh Prior in Devon. It was left in a cattle barn for many years until found, restored and reinstated in the 11th century church there. It makes me wonder how many treasures have been lost in this way, especially as the farmer's wife apparently suggested several times that the 'rotten old thing' should be burnt!
This one at Langton by Spilsby is lovely. I really like it's no-nonsense design and agree that it sits very well in the later church. :)