The parish church of St Wulfram is a noble building in every aspect, one of the largest medieval churches in the country, seating around 700 people. Simon Jenkins in his book England?s Thousand Best Churches gave it a five-star rating, in part for the tower and spire. ?Here is the finest steeple in England?, he writes. Constructed in the early 1300s, at 282 ft. the spire is one of the highest in the country on a parish church, dominating the views of the town. The church is built of Lincolnshire limestone, probably from around the Ancaster area.
The spacious interior has fine vistas across the broad nave and aisles. Inside and outside is a whole gallery of carved stone heads, most of them medieval, some no doubt portraits of local people of the time, some grotesques, some animals. There is even a hippopotamus head to look out for.
There are plenty for visitors to enjoy and discover. They can go up to the Chained Library and down to the Crypt Chapel. The windows, with wonderfully varied tracery, contain fine Victorian and modern glass.
The newly opened Visitor Centre in the North Porch provides full information and a touch screen to help you make the most of your visit. There is also a helpful audio tour available from the stewards.
Come and see all this for yourself. You will be most welcome at St Wulfram?s.
Who Was St Wulfram?
The church is dedicated to St Wulfram, a 7th century missionary born in about 650 AD near Fontainebleau, south of Paris.
He was the son of a Frankish soldier but instead of following in his father?s footsteps, he took Holy Orders.
He was Archbishop of Sens in 693.
In 700 he became a missionary to the pagan Frisians in what is now northern Germany.
He died in 720 and was canonised after numerous miracles had been attributed to him.
There is a large collegiate church dedicated to him at Abbeville in northern France .
In pre-Reformation times the church contained a shrine of St. Wulfram. The reliquary was probably housed in the Crypt and at times in the upper chamber of the North Porch.
John Louis Petit was born at Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, son of John Hayes Petit. He was educated at Eton, and contributed to the "Etonian". He was elected to a scholarship at Trinity College Cambridge in 1822, graduated BA in 1823 and MA in 1826, and on 21st June 1850 he was admitted "ad eundem" at Oxford. He took holy orders in 1824, but undertook no parochial work.
Petit showed a taste for sketching in early years. His favourite subject was old churches, and a great part of his life was spent in visiting and sketching them. In 1839 he made his first extensive tour of the continent. The results appeared in his "Remarks on Church Architectire" (1841, 2 vols which had illustratuions. It was followed in 1846 by "Remarks on Church Architectural Character" Royal folio format.In the same year Petit published a lecture which he had delivered on 24th Feb 1846 to the Oxford Society for promoting the study of Gothic Architecture, under the title "Remarks on the Principles of Gothic Architecture as applied to ordinary Parish Churches". It was succeeded by "Architectire of Tewksbury Abbey Church". Royal svo 1846. " Architectural notes in the neighbourhood of Cheltenham"and "Remarks on Wimborne Minster", 1847. "Remarks on Southwell Minster". With numerous good illustrations. 1848. "Architectural Notices relating to Churches in Gloucestershire and Susse". 1849. "Architectural Notices of the Curious Church of Gillingham.Norfolk". And an "Account of Sherborne Minster". 1850. In 1852 Petit published an account of Brinkburn Priory".
In 1854 appeared Petit''s principal work. "Architectural Studies in France", imperial SVO. It was beautifully illustrated with fine woodcuts and facsimiles of anastic drawings by the author and his companion, Professor Delamotte. It showed much learningand observation, and threw light upon the formation of Gothic in France, and on the differences between English and French Gothic. A new edition , revised by Edward Bell, FSA, with introduction, notes and index, appeared in 1890. The text remained unaltered but the illustrations were reduced in size, and a few added from Petit''s unused woodcuts. In 1864-65 he travelled in the East and executed some striking drawings. He died in Lichfield on 2 Dec 1868, from a cold caught while sketching and was buried in St Micheal''s Churchyard. Petit was the founder of the British Archealogical Institute at Cambridge in 1844. He was also FSA, an honoury member of the Institute of British Architects, and a governor of Christ''s hospital.
- Pencil and Watercolour