Sunday, 12 June 2016

St Martin, Stamford I

St Martin is the parish church of that part of Stamford that lies south of the river Welland, known as Stamford Baron.  It is the largest church in the town and the most homogeneous being entirely Perp in style and constructed in fine ashlar masonry.  As with the overwhelming majority of buildings in this most unique of English towns the stone used is oolitic limestone. The spectacular Burghley House lies on the eastern edge of the parish and St Martin's is thus also the dynastic church of the Cecil family.  The old north chancel chapel, which was extended in 1865 and forms the only addition to the original structure, forms the family pew and burial place.  It contains two nationally important monuments: the tomb of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley and elder statesman of Elizabethan England, and the Roman Baroque tomb of the 5th Earl of Exeter and his wife.
I didn't realize until taking the photos Friday how monumental the west end of the church actually is - more so now than when built thanks to a road widening in 1803 which removed the western churchyard.  The mason who designed the church must have been well aware of how prominent in the streetscape and townscape of Stamford it would be and designed something robust and confident. The tower is a particularly strong design - note the local touch of the paired belfry windows set in a larger arch and way the central mullion hits the apex of the arch. The towers of All Saints and St John, both in Stamford, have the same motif, as do the towers of Market Deeping, Great Ponton and Folkingham.  There are a pair of fine iron gates to the churchyard and a two storey, vaulted porch to greet you.

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