All Saints Church
All Saints, Elsham
All Saints Church Elsham dates back to the 13th century and was restored in 1873/4 by William Scott Champion. The beautiful medieval doorway is a remarkable feature for such a small parish church. The west wall of the tower contains an opening above the Norman arch into the nave described as Saxon. The north wall is also Norman, while the blocked-in doorway in the north chancel wall is thought to be Transitional (c.1175-1200). The buttresses of the tower have large projections, and each side of the door there is a tablet with figures in bold relief, five on each side. Pevsner’s “Buildings of England” suggests that these may come from a late 13th century French tympanum or be an English imitation of such.
There is a gallery over the vestry in the north transept, probably added by the restoration in 1873, that was originally for use by the residents of Elsham Hall – it enjoys the benefit of a corner fireplace that would have given the family much welcome heat during the winter. The various families who owned Elsham Hall, notably the Thompsons, Corbetts and Astleys, all had strong links with the church. A brass plaque to the right of the vestry door commemorates these families, who owned Elsham estate from the 17th to the 19th centuries. It lists several members of the families from 1702 to 1868, and then concludes with the words “whose bodies were interred beneath this Vault at the restoration of the church A.D. 1873. This plaque was erected by Leut Col and Mrs Astley of Elsham Hall”. The Astleys and Corbetts are also buried in the north-east of the churchyard.
There were originally three bells in the tower. In 1924 they were recast, and three additional bills were added, in memory of the young men of the village who gave their lives in the First World War. They are considered to be some of the best in the county, and are therefore popular with bell ringers. The bells are still regularly heard around the village.
The church organ was built by a Mr Wordsworth of Leeds in 1915, and he commented that it was one of the finest he had made for a small parish church. The headmaster of the adjacent school, William Edwin Beeston, took on the task of playing the organ for 60 years. He was succeeded by his daughter Dolly, and then by his other daughter, Annie Etty.
The church is open on Wednesdays during the summer as part of the North Lincolnshire Heritage and Church Trail (https://www.visitnorthlincolnshire.com/item/heritage-church-trails), when visitors are welcome to come in and view our wonderful church, and to take the opportunity to sit in silent prayer if they so wish.
The churchyard is a tranquil, quiet place to reflect at all times of year, but is particularly beautiful in spring with a vast array of flowering bulbs, including daffodils, snowdrops, crocuses, spring anemones, forget-me-nots, bluebells, chionodoxas and scillas.
Acknowledgment: the main source of this brief history of All Saints Church is the booklet ‘Elsham Church & Parish, A Brief History with selected walks’ written by Nevison Boast, who lived in Elsham and was a church warden and parish councillor in Elsham in the period 1970-1990.
The following link contains some good photographs of the church:
All Saints Elsham is an Inclusive Church:
We believe in inclusive church – a church which celebrates and affirms every person and does not discriminate.
We will continue to challenge the church where it continues to discriminate against people on grounds of disability, economic power, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, learning disability, mental health, neurodiversity, or sexuality.
We believe in a Church which welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.
Please see our News/Events page for details of church services and contact details for the church.