Building » Osgodby – Our Lady and St Joseph (chapel-of-ease)

Osgodby – Our Lady and St Joseph (chapel-of-ease)

Main Street, Osgodby, Lincolnshire LN8

The oldest surviving church in use in the Diocese of Nottingham. A small and evocative house and chapel built soon after the passing of the Second Catholic Relief Act of 1791, but displaying a continuing and prudent reticence. The building has been altered, notably in the mid-nineteenth century, but nevertheless retains a character redolent of a  time when the Catholic Church was emerging from the shadows.

The chapel is the oldest surviving church in use in the diocese. It was built in 1793, two years after the passing of the second Catholic Relief Act. Mindful of local hostility, its external design is low-key, and the T-shaped building (priest’s house to the south, first floor chapel over kitchen in the north range) could be mistaken for a Georgian farmhouse. Before the building of the chapel, the small and scattered local Catholic population would have attended Mass at Claxby Hall, Kingerby Hall or (from 1782) at Market Rasen. The building of the chapel was instigated by Mary Tunstall (nee Markham), who was widowed in 1790 and was related by marriage to the Constable family of Burton Constable and the Heneage family of Hainton Hall. She gave £1,045 towards the establishment of a mission close to the estates of her extended Lincolnshire family, and in 1792 the site at Osgodby (at that time at the end of the main street of the village) was purchased. Various members of the Young family of Kingerby Hall subscribed a further £1,160.

Originally the house/chapel was L-shaped on plan. It was extended (in 1850, according to the list entry, or 1865, according to Bailey, The Roman Catholic Mission and Chapel at Osgodby Lincolnshire, 2002, p.31) by one bay to the north – a straight joint in the brickwork is clearly visible on the rear, eastern elevation. The chapel interior was turned around at this time, with an alabaster altar replacing the original wooden one and placed behind the triple arched opening built at the north end. At the time of the 1851 census, Mass attendance at Osgodby was between forty and fifty (Bailey, 70), which would have filled the chapel. At about the same time as the northern extension, the southern presbytery range was extended to the east, to form a T-plan. This range is now a separate residence.

In 1861 the chapel, held in trust by the Young family, was transferred to the Diocese of Nottingham, although the family continued to support the mission.

In 1976 the chapel was listed. Used only once a month for Mass, the diocese was considering closure, but the listing ruled out demolition as an option. Instead, in 1982 a charitable trust, the Friends of Osgodby Chapel, was established to restore and maintain the building. Internal redecoration was carried out by students from Lincoln College of Art. The chapel is now a chapel-of-ease, served from Market Rasen.


The building is orientated north-south, and this description follows compass points rather than conventional liturgical orientation.

The building is fully described in the list entry (below), but some amendments and corrections are in order. Since the time of the listing, the altar has been moved back to the mid-nineteenth  century bay at the north end of the building. The two Gothic doorways on either side of the original sanctuary mentioned in the list entry (one to the presbytery and the other to the sacristy and a confessional) were not evident at the time of the writer’s visit, although there are still curtains where they once were. Early photographs (e.g. Bailey, p. 33) show a barrel vaulted ceiling, but the present ceiling is flat below the collars. The list entry describes the seating as nineteenth century, but there are three types of pew, of early Georgian, late Georgian and late nineteenth century character; Bailey suggests (p. 88) that the earliest ones may have come from the chapel at Kingerby Hall. The two stained glass windows on the west wall mentioned in the list entry depict the Crucifixion and St Helena, discoverer of the True Cross. The list entry dates these to 1890 but Bailey (pp. 31-2) suggests more plausibly that they are earlier than that (they are in the painterly manner of William Wailes), and that they were brought here from Market Rasen when that church was largely rebuilt in 1868. Their subject matter would have been appropriate at Market Rasen, which was dedicated to the Holy Rood.

Furnishings of note which are not mentioned in the list entry include:

  • At the south end, in the original sanctuary, a 19th  century triptych copy of Rubens’ Descent from the Cross
  • Below this is a painting of the Last Supper, said to be by Luca Giordano, and possibly from the 1780s chapel at Market Rasen (Bailey, 85)
  • A statue of St Joseph, presented by John Young in 1864
  • Between the two stained glass windows, covered by a curtain, is an Italian chalice veil, said to be of seventeenth century date (Bailey, 87)
  • At the southern end, and no longer in use, is a timber altar, its mensa the original one of 1793. It is of solid mahogany.

List description (chapel and priest’s house)


Roman Catholic Chapel and former priests house; 1793 with alterations and additions of circa 1850. Red brick, pantile roof with stone coped gables and kneelers with brick end and ridge stacks. Originally L shaped plan, with chapel occupying 1st floor of longer wing; extended to T shape in 1850. The façade containing the chapel is 2 storey with dentillated eaves, and of 5 bays. The chapel entrance door is 1/2 glazed and panelled and covered by a small timber porch with a gable topped by a cross. To the left is a plain door with 3 paned overlight and to the right a further 4 panelled door flanked by 2 glazing bar sashes. All ground floor openings have shallow segmental heads. To the 1st floor are 5 semi-circular headed openings that at the left
hand end is a blank, the 3 central windows have 5 panes and the right hand end window has glazing bars. The house front has 3 bays with glazing bar sashes with segmental heads, and a further bay of 1850 with 2 similar windows.

Interior: the staircase up to the 1st floor chapel has fine thin turned balusters which are matched by the gallery balustrade at the rear of the chapel. This has a triple arched opening the central one being fully open the outer 2 balustraded, with a pair of reeded Doric columns supporting a low semi-circular arch flanked by wider taller arches terminating on reeded pilasters. The C19 marble altar table and reredos is surrounded by an altar rail again matching the stairs, flanked by single doors with Gothick traceried panels and rolled architraves. All the windows have panelled
reveals and 2 contain stained glass of 1890 which has been brought from elsewhere. The pews are late C19 and plain and there also C19 statue pillars and statues. The interior of the house is plain but it has stair balusters which match those in the chapel.

Listing NGR: TF0759192598

Heritage Details

Architect: Not known

Original Date: 1793

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II