Buried remains of medieval church and churchyard at Dembleby House Farm
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1020195
Date first listed: 20-Jul-2001
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: North Kesteven (District Authority)
Parish: Aunsby and Dembleby
National Grid Reference: TF 03823 37807
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
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.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
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
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.
Legacy System number: 22772
Legacy System: RSM
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.
End of official listing