Touching Place

ST HELEN, BRANT BROUGHTON

 

Most travellers don't see Lincolnshire, but pass through it on the way to somewhere else. It is a big, empty county, full of awesome churches, whether in the eastern marshes or rising above the western plain. Brant Broughton is one of the finest. There is a splendid unity to the Decorated Gothic tower with Perpendicular Gothic spire, all 198 feet of it, which dominates the flat countryside. Come closer and admire the profusion of carving, especially ballflower and fleuron on the porches.

When Frederick Sutton came here as rector in 1873, he found a splendid church in a poor state, and immediately summoned his friend George Frederick Bodley to build a new chancel on the old foundations, in keeping with the rest of the building. Step inside and admire the 15th c. camber beam nave roof, recoloured by Bodley, like the aisle roofs.

Although the East window of 1876 is by Bodley's favourite firm, Burlison and Grylls, the talented rector did not just stand on the touchlines and cheer, but actually made most of the remaining stained glass in a kiln at the rectory. He also designed the wrought iron chandeliers in the nave, forged in the village, like the gates to the chancel. This chancel shows Victorian taste at its best, with screen and choir stalls of 1890; Bodley planned the reredos to take a late 15th c. German painting of the Ascension by the Master of Liesborn, which Canon Sutton gave to the church. Some people say that the Victorians always spoiled churches. Just take them to see Brant Broughton.

Reflect upon Psalm 127: 'Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it; except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.'

Pray that clergy may have the vision to use all their God-given talents.

Map ref. SK 910540

Simon Cotton

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