The Exterior

Photograph of the parish church of st vincent, caythorpe

The original Church is cruciform in the Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular styles, principally Early Decorated, and consists of a South Porch, a double Nave, Transepts and Chancel, with a Central Tower and Spire.

West Front
As you enter the main gate, note the fine decorated West Front built of alternating bands of Ancaster limestone and ironstone, topped by a soaring tower and steeple, which contrasts sharply with the Victorian neo-Gothic Aisle added to the North side in 1860.  Walking up the path, you will notice the small West Door, long since closed, there being no indication of its existence on the inside. Above the door, on the ogee arch were four carved heads of which three survive. The left-hand face is grotesque with a tongue protruding from the open mouth. It is probably a "Green Man" carving. The leaf-clad face of the "Green Man" is quite commonly found on churches throughout Western Europe though its origin in pagan times is obscure. Studies of folklore suggest that he represented mythical birth and regeneration. Like so many pagan symbols it was incorporated into Christian worship, in this case indicating the Resurrection. In the spandrels between the arch and the square stone moulding above it is, on the left, a dragon with a snarling mouth and on the right a much weathered shield.

The windows of the west front of the church are in the Decorated style, circa 1290-1350. The middle and right hand windows have three lancets with trefoil tracery each supporting a little rosette.  The left-hand window has been transferred from the original north wall when the 19th century North Aisle was constructed. It bears a striking resemblance to those on the south wall with four lancets of which the middle two support a large rosette and the outer ones, smaller rosettes.  At the base of the middle pinnacle, beneath a canopy, you can see a relief carving of the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.   Now return to the path to view of the south side of the Church.

The Tower and Steeple is massive and is built in the Decorated style, rising to a height of 156 feet. The tower is topped with an open-work parapet (extensively restored in the 1960's), pierced flying buttresses and pinnacles. From this, rises the octagonal crocketted spire with 6 tiers of small quatrefoil lucarnes (openings). The steeple is capped by the weathervane, 'Peter'. Looking at the steeple you will notice that the entasis or incurving becomes more acute towards the top causing a noticeable bulge. In 1859 the steeple was struck by lightning and the top 25 feet were extensively damaged. In rebuilding, the Victorian architect Gilbert Scott shortened the height by about 12 feet. The illustration taken from the Illustrated London News shows the extent of the damage

Photographs taken on 2 April 1908 show steeplejacks examining the Spire and presumably the weathercock, "Peter", who was brought down for repair and regilding. In 1937 the Spire was again struck by lightning, and though the weathercock and lightning conductor were badly damaged, the Spire remained intact. 'Copper' Rimmington, whose family had lived in the village for many years, carried out the repairs.  "Peter's" most recent descent for regilding, was in 1984 when the school children came to see him replaced but not before all of them had jumped over him so they could say, in the future, that they had 'jumped over the weathercock on the spire! " Some years ago the padding above the ringing chamber was removed (and later replaced), revealing a grid of massive oak beams, each about 1 foot in diameter supporting the spire.

The Clock
Colonel George Hussey-Packe presented the Clock, made c.1841 by E J Dent, Strand, London and mentioned in Whites Directory in 1842.  The great wheel rotates once in three hours with a 3:1 pair of bevel wheels behind.  It has a pin wheel escapement and compensated one second pendulum.  A pair of hammers strike the hours on one bell.  It was repaired and painted in 1977 to commemorate the Queen's Silver Jubilee, and restored in August 1989 by Robin Fowler (Period Clocks) of Grimsby.

The South Side
Now look at the south wall of the Nave and South Transept. Here are three windows of great beauty and interest. Pevsner (1) describes these as "a pattern book of late Geometrical Tracery, circa 1290-1350." The window in the South Transept on the right is in Early English style. It has four lancets of equal height supporting three quatrefoil rosettes. The stonework beneath suggests that it may have been longer. The middle window is Perpendicular in style with four lancets, the middle two being longer and all four have vertical mullions above forming a good example of this style. The left-hand is Decorated in style also having four lancet lights supporting three rosettes above. The central larger rosette has trefoil tracery, the smaller rosettes having curvilinear tracery. Jenkins (2) comments on the rarity of this type of tracery adding, "though heavily restored, they show the 13th Century masons enlarging the windows and piercing their heads with a variety of subsidiary carvings."  These two windows are separated by a buttress near the top of which, under a canopy, is a bas relief carving of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, a companion to the Coronation carving on the West side.

Beneath the middle window are two ancient windows, long since filled in. On the south wall of the Chancel is the Priest's Doorway into the Chancel. This is the only remaining fragment of the original Chancel which was rebuilt in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

The Cross
Close by the South Porch, is what was probably the old 'Butter Cross', and would have stood in the market place. Only the top step and part of the shaft are original, the remainder having been restored, and its new head bearing sculptures of St Hugh of Lincoln (attended by a swan), St Vincent, the Madonna and Child and the Crucifixion. On the bottom step is an inscription that reads "In Memory of Many who died without name, rest here in God's most Holy Keeping, this Cross is Restored".

The Porch
The porch has an Early English arch supported by octagonal pillars. To the right of the door are the remnants of 3 'Scratch' or 'Mass' Dials. They are sundials used in Mediaeval times (1100-1600 AD) to mark the times of church services. Time was based on hours after sunrise and the priest would insert a peg into the appropriate hole in the outer circle. Their distribution in England varies widely, being found most commonly in Gloucestershire, Kent, Somerset and Lincolnshire.  It is an essentially English device with but few examples elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

Inside the Porch are two stone benches on which can be seen diagrams of  'feet' etched in a series of holes. The origin of these marks is unknown.

The handsome 17th Century chandelier was found abandoned in the tower some years ago and hung here.  Above the door as you enter the Church is a much weathered figure of our Lord.