Uncover fascinating stories at West Lindsey Churches Festival

The Georgian-style interior of All Saints in Gainsborough with the Walker organ
The Georgian-style interior of All Saints in Gainsborough with the Walker organ

This year sees the May West Lindsey Churches Festival celebrate its 20th anniversary, during which time it has grown to become one of the largest open churches festivals in Europe.

The 2016 festival has also involved a record number of churches this year, with 94 taking part this year.

This free-entry event invites visitors to enjoy the rich heritage that each church offers alongside a host of activities.

This year the festival takes place on May 7 and 8 (churches to the east of the district( and May 14 and 15 (churches to the west).

Linda Patrick, festival organiser Linda Patrick, said: “Many of the churches are still the focal point of our villages and will provide you with an insight into the history and life of their parishes.

“Others offer a vibrant collection of stained glass, architecture, carvings and artefacts.

“And some of our smaller churches open their doors simply to provide you with an oasis of peace and spirituality.”

“New for 2016 is our stories unlocked’ theme, and there’s local intrigue and mystery aplenty as we uncover some hidden stories that our churches have kept so secret over many years.”

More than 30 churches have dug into the archives and put forward a huge variety of stories including Gautby’s intriguing Vyer family, with a story that includes kidnapping, ransom and murder, Snelland’s vicar Thomas Retford and his involvement in the Lincolnshire Uprising, Scotton’s convict William Jacklin who was transported to Australia and became a founder of the first Presbyterian church in the town of Ebenezer, Kettlethorpe’s association with Katherine Swynford, the third wife of John of Gaunt, well known from Anya Seton’s famous novel Katherine, Thoresway and the mystery of the Pagan drowning pool and Scothern and the hidden treasure of the Abbot of Barlings Abbey.

These stories will be appearing on the festival website at www.churchesfestival.info in the run up to the event, and available to read in the churches when people visit.

Paul Howitt-Cowan, the festival chairman, added: “Last year visitor numbers had increased by 1,536 to 7,229, and volunteer numbers were up from 456 to 639 – 183 more.

“With a record 94 churches taking part this year, we hope these figures will go up again and I encourage everyone to get involved.

“These buildings really are little gems of heritage, scattered across Lincolnshire.”

Full details of the festival can be found on the website, where you an also download the brochure and browse an interactive map of all 94 church locations.

The festival is also active on Twitter @ChurchesFest and facebook.com/WestLindseyChurches.

Visitors are asked to upload their photos to the hashtag #ChurchestFest16 so they can be shared by the festival.

Brochures are also in libraries and tourist information centers in Lincolnshire, and can be posted out on request, by sending name and address details to churchesfestival.info@gmail.com