History of the building

Source: The Church of St John the Evangelist, Corby, Lincolnshire, by E Clive Rouse (1941)

The structure

Form and materials

Corby Glen Church consists of chancel with north chapel, clerestoried nave of four bays with north and south aisles, west tower, and south porch with chamber over.

The walls are built mainly of limestone rubble quarried locally, with dressings and occasional facing of Ancaster stone. The nave arcades and south porch are of Ancaster stone; and some of the weatherings are of Clipsham stone. In the south aisle exceptionally large blocks are used. The roofs of chancel, nave and tower are covered with lead; those of the aisles with slate.

Features of special interest

The building is a large and important one, but lacks the fine detail and fittings found in many structures of this area. It shows an interesting development of its plan from the 12th century onwards. The nave and clerestory are lofty and well-proportioned, and the south porch with its upper chamber is good work.

The outstanding feature of the building is the extensive set of mural paintings discovered in 1939–40. There is a good series of masons’ marks.


12th century

There was a church on the site in the 12th century, probably consisting of an aisleless nave and chancel, the nave about the same dimensions as at present, the chancel shorter.

The jambs and imposts of the chancel arch are of 12th-century date, reset and widened when the existing pointed chancel arch of two chamfered orders was inserted, probably in the late 13th or early 14th century. Straight joints in the south-east, north-west and south-west corners of the nave show the extent of the 12th-century work.

High up under the roof in the west corner of the south aisle are remains of the original Norman external table.

13th century

Little evidence remains of work in the 13th century. As stated above, the Norman chancel arch was probably replaced towards the end of the 13th or very early in the succeeding century. The window in the gable above the chancel arch, the jambs of which were discovered in the recent repairs [in 1939–40], was also probably of this period. The font is of late 12th- or early 13th-century date, restored. 

14th century

Early in the 14th century the north aisle was certainly built and the Altar there dedicated to the Virgin before 1319 (see the will of Dame Margery de Crioll [Kyriel] referred to later). The north door and the two windows, one with geometrical tracery and the other with plain intersecting tracery as at Grantham and Great Gonerby, are good examples of the period.

The south aisle was also probably built at this time, as there is evidence of an early doorway with the outline of another porch with no upper story and a steep-pitched roof. Moreover, the piscina in this aisle is of early 14th-century date, but may not be in situ.

The base of the tower, judging by the stonework and the ogee head of the stairway door, also probably comes within this period.

15th century and later

The succeeding century saw great changes. At the opening of the century the whole of the nave arcades were rebuilt, the steep-pitched roof removed (its line is marked by two cracks above the chancel arch) and the clerestory added. The two arch and all the windows in the south aisle were inserted at the same time, and the south porch was rebuilt and a parvise and stairway added.

A little later and with slightly different detail the north aisle was extended eastwards and the north wall of the chancel pierced to form a chapel, the north wall of the aisle being heightened to take the new and flatter-pitched roof (the join can be seen externally).

The upper part of the tower with battlements and panelled cornice was remodelled. Later still, the tracery of the east window of the chancel was inserted in the older arch.


The church underwent considerable restoration in 1860, when the south wall of the chancel was practically rebuilt and modern piscina and sedilia inserted. Later in the century the roofs were renewed with poor detail and material.

In 1926 the tower was restored, and in 1934–5 the nave roof was releaded and other work done. The interior was redecorated in 1939–40, resulting in the discovery of the mural paintings and other features.


Related websites

© Friends of Corby Glen Church 2024