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Church Features

The church of St Andrew's at Stewton is a small building of Greenstone rubble, limestone ashlar and red brick. Parts of the church are late Saxon and early Norman in origin. It is in a lonely setting, two miles east of Louth. It consists of a chancel, nave, vestry, west porch and a bellcot containing one bell.

On the 7th August 1846 the Archdeacon of Lincoln Henry Bonney visited St Andrew’s as part of an inspection of all the churches in his area. Bonney described Stewton as he saw it then;

“as having a perpendicular window in the nave, a brick bell niche on the west gable with a cracked bell, the brick floors, the damp chancel and the use of brick in recent repairs to the walls.”

He commented on the “good Norman chancel arch, a principle feature of the church”. He made no reference to the Saxon fragments that had survived or a stone cylindrical font, going straight down to the floor. He noted the west window had a wooden frame. He also mentioned that the new rectory was nearly complete.

In August 1866 James Fowler of Louth, the well-known church architect, produced drawings for a total rebuild of the ancient church. If that was so the ancient Saxon and Norman features would disappear. He proposed that the Norman chancel arch would be taken down and resited on the north side of the chancel to form a vestry. The new chancel arch and all the windows would be in his favorite Gothic style of Early English. He intended to keep the overall dimensions of the church. Fortunately for us his plans were never acted upon.

However, work was necessary but did not occur until 1895 when the then Rector, Robert ThomasDeakin, engaged the Louth architect, Reginald Henry Fowler (James Fowler’s son), to supervise the much needed work on the chancel. 

The damp, which had been noted by Bonney, was still there. Work got underway to prevent rain from getting in by the construction of a new roof, guttering, drainage and restored stone work.

A new east window was built in the neo-Norman style, consisting of three lights. If it was not for the rounded, Norman heads, they would have been in the Early English style of pointed heads. Above the windows is a piece of Norman moulding which has been inserted at the time of rebuilding.

Inside he replaced the old brick floor with tiles and plastered and colour washed the walls. It was proposed that the stone altar, not mentioned on Bonney’s report, be refixed with new stone columns replacing the “roughhewn” stones on which it had been standing.

The origin of the stone is somewhat shrouded in mystery. When the Chancellor, Walter G. Phillimore, noted the mention of a stone altar in the Petition for a Faculty he wrote to the rector enquiring:“I want to know more about the stone altar...when and what circumstances was it put in originally”

The Rector wrote back that his predecessor, the Rev’d Thomas Bowen had placed it there. The faculty was granted.

In 1550 the Council of Edward VI ordered Bishops to have all stone altars removed and replaced with a Communion Table. This would have been done and the altar removed, perhaps being placed in the church yard.