St Peter, Kirton-in-Holland, Lincolnshire

Download as PDF

Feature Sets (2)


A large fenland church which was originally not only larger, but also cruciform in plan with a crossing tower as can be seen in pre-1800 drawings. In 1804-5, the church took on its present form which consists of a six-bay 13thc. nave with side aisles, a 14thc./15thc. clerestory and chancel, and the W tower with flanking N and S bays embracing it. This early 19thc. restoration was done under the direction of William Hayward; at the end of the same century, 1897-1900, C. H. Fowler directed another restoration that focused on the chancel. Surviving from the Romanesque church are the original W doorway of the nave (now within the early 19thc. W tower) and the arch of the S doorway.


Given the name of the village, 'Kirton,' it has been suggested that there may have been an important church here as early as the Scandinavian invasions of the 9thc. and 10thc. (Sawyer, 63). Kirton-in-Holland is listed as 'Cherchetune' hundred in the Domesday Survey which records the existence of a church here in 1086 in the possession of Count Alan.


Exterior Features


S doorway

Pointed arch, three orders. The detached shafts with shaft-rings and bell capitals are probably of the early 13thc. Based on the junction of the central voussoirs in the 12thc. arch, it appears to have been re-set.

In the arch:

First order: angle roll with bobbins flanked by dogtooth in hollow on soffit and face.

Second order: angle roll flanked by upward directional chevron on soffit and face.

Third order: coffered, point-to-point chevron with a variety of foliate motifs in the triangular spaces on soffit and face.

Label: hollow chamfer below with two parallel, incised lines on face; same as W doorway label. Human head label stops and another human head sculpture inset at the top of the label; all are later medieval additions to the arch.

W doorway

Pointed arch, four orders. Now located inside the W tower, this is the original W doorway into the nave.

First order, S capitals:
h. incl. necking 0.165 m
max. diam. 0.21 m
First order, N capitals:
h. incl. necking 0.165 m
max. diam. 0.21 m
First order:

Chamfered jamb.

Fourth order:

Roll in hollow which is continuous into the arch.

In the arch:

First order: deep hollow on angle followed by smaller hollow on face.

Second order: point-to-point chevron; in the upper triangular fields of the S half of this order there are fluted, trefoil leaves.

Third order: one row of lateral chevron on soffit clasping a plain face roll.

Fourth order: continuous - roll in hollow.

Label: hollow chamfer below with two parallel, incised lines on face.

Second order:

Detached nook shafts; bases not visible as the shafts continue below floor level for approx. 0.36 m and are surrounded by stone fragments and dirt. Shafts carry bell capitals with a hollow on upper portion and a quirk on the abacus. Continuous imposts with hollow chamfer and quirk on face.

Third order:

As second order.


Above the original W doorway runs a plain chamfered string course which may have extended across the width of the 12thc. façade. Pevsner characterizes the entire W doorway as 'Norman' and the S doorway as having 'Early English' shafts with a reused 'late Norman' arch. However, with the exception of the ring shafts on the S doorway, the capitals and imposts of both the W and S doorways are nearly identical. Also, the central joins in the apex of both arches are slightly misaligned suggesting that both arches have been re-set. In light of this, the 12thc. arches of both doorways may have been re-set when the jambs of both doorways were renewed during the early 13thc. rebuilding of the nave. There is a tradition that the first stone church here was constructed under the patronage of the Bishop Alexander of Lincoln (1123-48). The decorative motifs of the first and third order arches of the S doorway here provide a link with the sculptural program of the W portals at Lincoln Cathedral which have been associated with Bishop Alexander. The use of bobbins on a roll in the first order and the coffered, point-to-point chevron of the third order have parallels in the second and fourth orders of the W front, S doorway at Lincoln Cathedral. Also the use of dogtooth in a hollow chamfer on the first order here can be found the third order of the W front, N doorway at Lincoln Cathedral (though not attached to bobbins).


  • Domesday Book, 12, 71.

  • Kirton-in-Holland, Lincolnshire: The Changing Face of a Fenland Village, compiled by the Kirton Book Group, Kirton, 1990.

  • G. Zarnecki and P. Kidson, eds. Archive 1: Cathedral and Monastic Buildings in the British Isles; Part 1: Lincoln: Romanesque West Front. London, 1976, 1/1/54, 1/1/87.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Lincolnshire, London, 1990, 420-1.

  • P. Sawyer, Anglo-Saxon Lincolnshire, Vol. III, History of Lincolnshire, Lincoln, 1998, 63.

General view.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
TF 305 385 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Lincolnshire
now: Lincolnshire
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: Lincoln
now: St Peter and St Paul
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Thomas E. Russo