Heckington, St Andrews Church
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
The superb Decorated Gothic church of St Andrew in Heckington, Lincolnshire was built in the early 14th century. The builder of the nave was probably Henry de Beaumont, Earl of Buchan. The man responsible for the chancel was Richard de Potesgrave, who served as a chaplain to both Edward II and Edward III, and as the rector of Heckington in 1309. De Potesgrave served as the rector of Heckington until his death in 1345.
The tower is topped by an octagon, itself surmounted by a slender spire. The tower boasts over 35 beautifully carved statues. More fancifully carved figures peer from the south front and the interior and exterior of the south porch. Each grotesque carving is unique and together they make up one of the finest collection of medieval carvings on any English church.
Pause as you enter the south porch to examine the ornately carved frieze over the arch. Here you can see the coats of arms of three monarchs, including those of both Edward II and Edward III.
A Decorated Gothic font stands at the west end, but the best interior feature is at the opposite, east end. On the north side of the chancel is a beautifully carved Easter Sepulchre, arguably one of the finest in England. The sepulchre is composed of a central recess flanked by niches depicting the three Marys and angels.
Beneath the canopy of the Sepulchre are figures of sleeping Roman soldiers, almost hidden by a profusion of carved foliage. The soldiers are depicted in typical 14th-century armour. A figure of Christ rises above the central recess, and above that are strange beats and monsters, as well as a mermaid figure. The detail of the carving is quite simply stunning.
Opposite the sepulchre is an equally compelling sedilia, adorned with intriguing carvings. One of the most interesting depicts a couple arguing; she grips his beard, while he has a firm grip on her tongue. A priest tries, with an apparent lack of success, to mediate between them.
Unusually, the inside of the top of each seat is richly carved. Typically only the face of the sedilia, looking towards the centre of the chancel, would be carved, but here the carving adorns the face that cannot easily be seen from outside.
Also in the chancel is the recessed tomb of Richard de Potesgrave, builder of the chancel. He was also responsible for building the Chantry Chapel of St Nicholas (now the south transept). His effigy has been badly damaged, especially the face, of which little remains. The grave beneath the effigy was opened in 1800 and a chalice was discovered in the opening. The chalice was placed in the casket that now stands above the tomb.
The combination of the sepulchre, sedilia, and contemporary piscina has been reckoned to be the finest such Decorated grouping in existence.
We've visited St Andrew's several times and each time come away amazed at the superb medieval architecture and carving - both inside and out. The Easter Sepulchre and the sedilia, in particular, are simply stunning and reason enough on their own to make a special trip to see.
About Heckington, St Andrews
Address: Church Street, Heckington, Lincolnshire, England, NG34 9RJ
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: In the centre of the village
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Heckington Mill - 0.5 miles (Historic Building)
Helpringham, St Andrew's Church - 2.1 miles (Historic Church)
South Kyme Tower - 3.8 miles (Historic Building)
South Kyme, St Mary & All Angels Church - 3.9 miles (Historic Church)
Cogglesford Watermill - 4.4 miles (Historic Building)
Anwick Drake Stones - 4.4 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Sleaford Museum - 4.7 miles (Museum)
National Centre for Craft and Design - 4.7 miles (Museum)
Nearest Accommodation to Heckington, St Andrews: