Buried remains of medieval church and churchyard at Dembleby House Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Buried remains of medieval church and churchyard at Dembleby House Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Kesteven (District Authority)
Aunsby and Dembleby
National Grid Reference:
TF 03823 37807

Reasons for Designation

A parish church is a building, usually of roughly rectangular outline and containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for Christian worship by a secular community, whose members gather in it on Sundays and on the occasion of religious festivals. Children are initiated into the Christian religion at the church's font and the dead are buried in its churchyard. Parish churches were designed for congregational worship and are generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provides accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main domain of the priest and contains the principal altar. Either or both parts are sometimes provided with aisles, giving additional accommodation or spaces for additional altars. Most parish churches also possess towers, generally at the west end, but central towers at the crossing of nave and chancel are not uncommon and some churches have a free-standing or irregularly sited tower. Many parish churches also possess transepts at the crossing of chancel and nave, and south or north porches are also common. The main periods of parish church foundation were in the 10th to 11th and 19th centuries. Most medieval churches were rebuilt and modified on a number of occasions and hence the visible fabric of the church will be of several different dates, with in some cases little fabric of the first church being still easily visible. Parish churches are found throughout England. Their distribution reflects the density of population at the time they were founded. In regions of dispersed settlement parishes were often large and churches less numerous. The densest clusters of parish churches were found in thriving medieval towns. A survey of 1625 reported the existence of nearly 9000 parish churches in England. New churches built in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries increased numbers to around 18,000 of which 17,000 remain in ecclesiastical use. Parish churches have always been major features of the landscape and a major focus of life for their parishioners. They provide important insights into medieval and later population levels or economic cycles, religious activity, artistic endeavour and technical achievement. A significant number of surviving examples are identified to be nationally important.

The buried remains of the medieval church of St Lucia at Dembleby House Farm survive well in the form of low earthworks. Although the upper parts of the church were dismantled in the late 19th century, the lower parts of the walls, the floors and foundations are likely to survive relatively undisturbed. These structural features will preserve evidence for the layout of the medieval church, and for the form and date of construction of the first church on the site. Burials in both the church and churchyard represent a unique record of the population of the parish in the medieval, post-medieval and early modern periods, and will preserve important evidence for early religious activity on the site. As the remains of an ecclesiastical building no longer in use, the medieval church at Dembleby represents a rare opportunity to protect vital evidence for a monument type which was central to the medieval and later landscape.


The monument includes the buried remains of the medieval church of St Lucia, situated approximately 400m north west of the present church of St Lucia at Dembleby which was built to replace it in 1867. The earliest identified parts of the medieval church, recorded when it was dismantled in 1867, date from the Norman period; amongst them was the chancel arch, which was removed and re-erected in the later church. The monument includes the buried remains of the medieval church and the churchyard in which it lies, but does not include those parts of the church which were rebuilt into the later church and now lie outside the scheduled area. The village of Dembleby was recorded in the Domesday Book in the late 11th century. The date of origin of the medieval church is unknown; although the earliest identified architectural features are of Norman date, part of the fabric and foundations of the church may be earlier. The churchyard is situated on the west side of the farmyard at Dembleby House Farm, where it lies on the gentle north-facing slope of a shallow east-west valley. Now standing between 1m and 2m above the present level of the farmyard, the churchyard has remained largely unaltered since it became disused in the late 19th century. Measuring up to 50m north-south and 32m east-west, its former trapezoidal plan has been slightly truncated along the north western boundary where it has been cut into by the modern farmyard. The remains of the churchyard boundary take the form of an earth-covered stone wall, clearly visible on the east side where it adjoins the farmyard, and on the west side where it is represented by a low bank partly overlain by a later outbuilding. In the northern part of the churchyard is a low earth-covered mound, up to 0.3m in height, extending over 13m north-south and up to 15m east-west. This mound represents the earth-covered remains of the medieval church following its demolition in 1867. A documentary source of 1822 describes the church as 17in (5.4m) in width and 44ft 6in (13.6m) long. Illustrations from the 19th century reveal that the nave of the church was only slightly wider than the chancel; although the south doorway was pointed, and probably medieval in date, the nave had a number of later, post-medieval, features, including a low-pitched roof with a wooden bell-cote at the west end, and windows of square-headed form in the south, west and north walls. The roof of the chancel, in contrast, was steeply pitched, and the east window was of Decorated, 14th century, form, with reticulated tracery. The walls were constructed of coursed limestone; while the quoins of the nave were obscured by supporting buttresses, the south eastern quoin of the chancel is shown to have been constructed from dressed stone blocks. The post-medieval alterations to the fabric of the nave suggest a period of relative prosperity in the late 16th century or 17th century. In 1602 the church is reported as being in good repair; in 1616 there were 60 communicants. During the 17th and early 18th centuries the manor was held by the Pell family, who erected a number of family tombs in the church. A documentary reference of 1556 refers to two broken altar stones which had been reused in the paving of the floor. These and other features below floor level, including medieval and post-medieval burials, are likely to survive undisturbed. The medieval church fell into disuse in the 1860s, and by 1867 was reported as being in bad repair. At the same time the churchyard was described as full, although further burials took place until the 1880s. Although the surviving gravestones date principally from the 19th century, the churchyard will preserve a burial population dating back to the medieval period. The timber shed and building materials which abut the south east corner of the churchyard, all gravestones and the post and wire fencing are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included. The outbuilding which overlies the base of the churchyard wall is excluded from the scheduling, although the wall beneath it is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

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