A congregation of 110 parishioners and friends filled the tiny church of St Lucia in Dembleby to capacity, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its consecration in 1868.
Special guest, Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, Bishop of Lincoln, presided at the Eucharist on Sunday January 21, assisted by Rev Nick Munday, Rector of the parish of South Lafford, of which Dembleby is one of its 11 churches.
Rev Munday said it was a marvellous event: “Most of Dembleby’s residents were there. Changes in farming practice have led to a dramatic decline in the population of our villages, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from our almost overflowing church.”
Completed in 1867 for a total cost of £1,200, the church replaced the original 12th century building which had fallen into disrepair and was too small to accommodate the farming community of the time. Sleaford architect Charles Kirk was commissioned, and his design was based on the Norman Chapel at Steetley in Derbyshire. Locally quarried stone was used in the construction and it is thought that features of the original church were reused, notably the vestry arch and the 12th century stone pillar piscina now used as a font.
In a ceremony similar to that undertaken by Bishop John Jackson 150 years earlier, the choir led a procession of the Bishop, Rector and churchwardens David Bramford and David Cromie carrying new wands of office.
During the service the altar frontal was dedicated. Afterwards the congregation retired to a marquee in Church Farm for a champagne and buffet reception where the Bishop cut a commemoration cake and presented David Bramford with a Bible and Book of Common Prayer to recognise his 38 years’ service as churchwarden.