North & South Somercotes
St. Peter’s Church
When the Queen of the Marsh was being built somewhere between 1200 and 1300, in the Early English period, South Somercotes was probably generally written as Summercotes, as it was in the Domesday Book.

The tower and spire of the Church are from the Decorated Period (1300-1350), and the rest of the building was added somewhere between the 14th and 15th centuries. The building materials are an unusual combination of limestone, sandstone and green sand. There was a celestory, which must have given wonderful light to the nave, but this was removed in 1893. I have seen a photograph of the Church as it was, but can't remember who owned it. I'd love to have another look.

The font, with its symbols of the Passion, is 15th century, and the colours of its contemporary spire-shaped cover are echoed in the chancel screen.

So much for the big, spacious and peaceful building (which has been in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust since 1988). In 1585 there was a union of the main church of St.Peter's, South Somercotes with it's "perpetual Vicarage" of St. Mary's, North Somercotes. From the mid 17th century until the 20th century the names of the two churches were mixed up, because the Reverend Charles Wolley was presented with both livings on the same day in 1681. Canon Longley of Conisholme discovered the error in 1940, although there are still misunderstandings arising from it.

The register dates from 1558, and is full of well-known local names - Drewery, Wells, Greenwood, Tuxworth, Riggall, Benton, as well as the hundreds of unknown people who stayed, or moved around the country according to the availability of work. What the register cannot tell us is what can possibly have happened in the early 15th century to prompt the hanging of St. Peter's greatest treasure - the bells. Two of them (called Gabriel and Peter) are dated 1423 and the smallest (Mary) is probably 14th century. These bells are nationally important and internationally significant, and famously bear "The Somercotes pattern". They are decorated with gorgeous lettering surrounded by beasts, saints, vegetation and even the head of a Bishop. Henry VI was born in 1421 and became King in 1422; it may be a clue, and it may not.

So far as we know, no-one has investigated the reason why these bells hang in a Church in a tiny village sitting on the Lincolnshire Marsh, but they do, and I, for one, am rather pleased and proud that they do.

Contributed by Twink Addison.