Building » Our Lady of Lincoln and St Guthlac (Chapel of Ease) – Deeping St James

Our Lady of Lincoln and St Guthlac (Chapel of Ease) – Deeping St James

Hereward Way, Deeping St James, Lincolnshire

An  interesting  design  of  the  1960s,  somewhat  compromised  by  the filling  in  of  the  porch.  The  medieval  font,  statue  of  the  Virgin  and crucifix are of considerable interest. Wilson’s later church at Oakham is a copy of his design for Deeping St James.

The revival of Roman Catholicism in The Deepings was due to the antiquary Edmund Waterton (1830-87), who purchased Deeping Manor in 1879. Like his father, the naturalist Charles Waterton, Edmund was a devout Catholic and had been educated at Stonyhurst College. Soon after his arrival in Deeping St James Waterton converted a  stable  for  use  as  a  Catholic  church,  which  remained  in  use  until  1968.  The Waterton’s left Deeping in 1891 and the Manor (also know as Deeping Waterton Hall) was given to the Xaverian Brothers. The Manor was demolished in the 1960s. The Deepings are only a short distance from Peterborough and in the 1960s new housing estates were built at Deeping St James, providing the opportunity of a site for a new church. This forms part of a new Neighbourhood Centre, including shops and paved area,  all  designed  by  Thomas  E.  Wilson.  It  was  designed  to  seat  200  at  an approximate cost of £24,000.

The altar faces roughly west but for the purposes of this description all references to compass points will assume an eastward facing altar. The church is built using laminated  timber  beams  for  the  main  mono-pitched  roof,  supported  on  steel stanchions and faced externally in brick. The main body of the church is a rectangle with a continuous clerestory on the south side (actually north, so that there is always a uniform light) at the highest point of the roof. A lower flat-roofed element covers meeting rooms and the porch. The latter has been filled in to create an internal porch. Whilst the reason for this is entirely understandable it has harmed the architectural integrity of the building. This front elevation was originally quite striking with its balance of elemental forms; the brick west wall of the church, battered at each end and  with  the  slope  of  the  mono-pitched  roof,  the  brickwork  pierced  only  by  six window slits arranged in rising and diminishing length. To the right the flat roof of the covered porch projected slightly and linked to the open steel belfry which still provides a significant marker. Whilst much of this remains, the dynamic impact is lost. The north wall is pierced by slit windows and a full bay of glazing in a hardwood frame to light the sanctuary.

The interior is restrained and simple, the roof structure a dominant visual element. The altar is not placed centrally against the east wall, a slightly unsettling arrangement. Original pews, altar and ambo, and round-headed niche for the tabernacle in the east wall. Altar rails have been removed and the sanctuary floor appears to have been raised but otherwise the church is little altered since 1968.

Edmund Waterton was a great collector of religious artefacts and three exceptional and precious objects remain in the church. The first is the stone font which appears to be early 14th  century but is possibly a concoction of pieces from different sources. Deep octagonal bowl with trefoiled ogee arcading. In the spandrels heads and beasts. The font basin is, unusually, divided into two compartments. The bowl sits on eight stubby  colonnettes.  On  the  east  wall  a  wooden  crucifix  of  which  the  Corpus  is believed to have come from Belgium and to date from the first half of the 14th century and, to the left of the sanctuary, a wooden sculpture of the Virgin Mary, believed to date from around 1500 and to have come from the old cathedral at Boulogne.

Heritage Details

Architect: Thomas E. Wilson

Original Date: 1968

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed