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.  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-19th century, but nevertheless  retains a character redolent of a  time when the Roman 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  £1045  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 £1160.

Originally  the  house/chapel  was  L-shaped  on  plan.  It  was  extended  (in  1850, according to the list entry, or 1865, according to Bailey, p31) 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 a new 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 40 and 50 (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-19th  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, p33) show a barrel vaulted ceiling, but the present ceiling is flat below the collars.

The list entry describes the seating as 19th century, but there are three types of pew, of early Georgian, late Georgian and late 19th century character; Bailey suggests (p88) that the earliest pews 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 (p31-2) suggests somewhat 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 17th 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.

Heritage Details


Original Date: 1973

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: II