Irnham Church

Church of St Andrew, Irnham
Church of St Andrew, Irnham

Irnham is still set out as our medieval ancestors would have understood. St. Andrew’s church dominates the top of a small tree-lined hill; to its south side is the medieval Irnham Hall (restored following a fire in Victorian times) and, beyond, two of the original three fishponds that would once have been reserved for the squire, the priest and villagers. Clustered around the base of the church’s hill are cottages and a few larger homes.

A service is held at St Andrew’s every Sunday morning, starting at 11 am. Our worship may be summarised as traditional, middle-ground and dignified. Our praise veers toward the muscular, being neither Evangelical nor Anglo-Catholic. We use the 1662 Book of Common Prayer for Matins and Common Worship for Holy Communion.

Church activities

The congregation contributes to the Grantham Food Bank.

St Andrew’s is a popular venue for musical events and is visited by ‘Music in Quiet Places’ and, on several occasions, by the Lay Clerks of Southwell Minster’s cathedral choir.

Every Tuesday evening, the band of bellringers practise and bells are rung for the third Sunday (Holy Communion) and for weddings and other special services.

The building

A place of worship has been on the same site in this Parish for approximately one thousand years. Fragments of Roman artifacts are found on the next hillock over to the east from the church and it has been suggested that some form of Roman temple lies beneath St. Andrew’s. The present building dates from the late Norman period, with the tower arch being from circa 1190. Alterations and additions continued until the late Tudor era and – around the early to middle years of the seventeenth century – the south aisle was removed. The stained glass is Victorian and early twentieth century (save one small seventeenth century panel of St. Andrew in the tower). The outer door at the north porch, by Ptolemy Dean (Surveyor of the Fabric at Westminster Abbey) was installed in 2006.

In early medieval times, the squire of Irnham, Sir Geoffrey Luttrell (1276–1345), commissioned an illuminated Psalter as a devotional book for use in St. Andrew’s and also as a visual record of his life and that of the ordinary folk on his estates. Now known as The Luttrell Psalter, it is one of the greatest manuscripts in the British Library (St. Andrew’s has a fine modern facsimile, displayed in the north aisle). Sir Geoffrey also commissioned the church’s rare Easter Sepulchre – placed at the east end of the chantry chapel circa 1860 – which Pevsner describes as the great surprise … most ornate and inventive.

Above the tower arch is a fine Royal Arms of King George I, which may contain a hidden message of support for the Stuart cause. Partnering it, is a Victorian Hatchment for William Harvey Woodhouse.

The churchyard is particularly admired in the spring, when snowdrops, violets and primroses make this tranquil place notably beautiful and restful.