All Saint’s, Cadney-Cum-Howsham

All Saint’s, Cadney

cadney trudy pic


Some notes written in 1960 by Canon Peter Binnall, then Subdean of Lincoln Cathedral

The church is probably built on a Bronze Age burial mound surrounded by a deep ditch, of which the remains are incorporated in the present roadway to the north and west of the church. Remains of human burials have been found in the churchyards which were evidently of pre-Christian origin as they were accompanied by sea shells of the variety known as Spindle Shells or Buskies, which do not occur nearer to here than New Clee, 18 miles away. These shells may have been used for currency. There was almost certainly a church here in Anglo- Saxon times, which was probably built of wood. The only trace of it which survived was a thin black line of wood ash found beneath the floor of the present church in the restoration of 1912. The derivation of the name Cadney is uncertain it has often been stated that it means ‘Chad’s Island’ and implies the establishment of Christianity here by the great Northumbrian saint in the 7th century. The earliest recorded form of the word (in the Doomsday book) is CATENAI although by the time of the Lincoln survey in 1115- 18, it was spelt with a D. The existing church consists of a western tower, Nave, South aisle and Chancel, but the North aisle was taken down in 1780 after having been in a dilapidated state for many years.cadney 2 trudy pic

The earliest part of the present building is the Nave, which is late Norman work of about the middle of the 12th century. With which the font is probably contemporary.

The cylindrical pillars, with their fluted capitals, are typical of work of this period and can be matched in a number of Lincolnshire churches, but the very deep plinths of these pillars are remarkable and from the roughness of their construction it may be assumed that they were originally beneath the floor level, which must have been that much higher. If, in fact, the church was built upon an artificial mound the sinkage is natural. The original Norman building probably had a western door and no tower. Some slight remains of the small pillars which may have flanked this door were found fifty years ago.

In the early part of the 13th century, the church was remodelled arid a western towel was built. This was the great era of Early English architecture, the beginning of Gothic era. At this time, in addition to building a tower, the masons extended the south aisle (and doubtless the vanished north one) one bay westward and build a new Chancel. The next considerable activity consisted in the rebuilding and probably widening of the south aisle (and again, perhaps its north counterpart) and the insertion of new windows in the prevalent Decorated style. This took place in the middle of the 14th century at about the time of the Black Death.

Whether or not Cadney suffered severely in that plague, we do not know. A new Vicar was instituted in September 1349. When the pestilence was at its height and it was certainly severe in this district, almost half the incumbents in the 38 parishes of the Deanery of Yarborough died in 1349-50.

  At this time, also, a pisciria was made in the Lady Chapel at the east end of the south aisle and the very interesting image bracket was cut in the easternmost of the Norman pillars. Traces of blue colour, on which a reddish-brown had been superimposed, were found at the back of this niche. This russet colour was a favourite one for the representation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the 14th century glass and it is likely that the niche originally contained a figure of her, hence why we call this the Lady Chapel today.

At this time, or a little later, a new east window was made. The mullions and tracery of the existing window are a copy of those originally there. The original glass would have been stained glass, as would all the windows, but unfortunately, none remains.

In the 15th century the tower was slightly heightened and a parapet and pinnacles added. The porch was built at about the same time but interestingly the cross-shaped arrow slits in its walls are older and must have come from some fortified building. So the church remained through the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1602 it was reported to be well repaired and kept decently but in the 18th century the building fell into decay and in 1780 the north aisle was demolished and, according to tradition, two bells were sold to North Kelsey and hence the saying,

“Cadney, Cadney, foolish people, sold their bells to mend their steeple”

The remaining bell was recast in the smaller mould in 1851.The bell still exists, and its original housing, although it is not hung. Also in 1780 the roof levels were altered. The pitch line of the old roof can be seen on the east face of the tower.

When we come to examine the inside of the building in detail, there are several things of considerable interest chief of which is the oak screen, or rather pair of screens, separating the easternmost bay of the south aisle These are contemporary with the rood screen, of which only the base remains, the top having been cut off to form a frame for the creed and the ten commandments behind the altar in 1844. The date of this wood work is the second half of the 15th century The Lady Chapel may have been made in connection with a chantry but there is no record of any such foundation in this church, It has been suggested that part, at least, of the screen came from the Gilbertine priory of Newstead in Ancholme and this may well have been the case. If so, the western screen probably had this origin as it was obviously not made for its present position.

The North screen of a different design incorporates carvings of weights or plummets and may possibly have been erected by John Plummer, who became incumbent in 1456. This living was vacant again in 1481 and this is exactly the period of similar work elsewhere. Originally there was a carved inscription on the sill of this screen but it has not been recorded. A few letters were readable some years ago and these seemed to incorporate the name Hugh.

The western screen has some very curious and interesting carvings of cocks, the significance of which cannot be determined. There was some association between Newstead Priory and Peterborough Abbey, but the birds on the screen differ considerably from the conventional representation of the cock of St. Peter, a resemblance of the carving on these screens to that in the spring. Chantry in Lavenham church, Suffolk, has been remarked, but the date of the latter is 1525 and I should put Cadney screen at nearly 50 years earlier.

The date of the wall painting is 1724 in which year alone, Francis Epworth and William Ashton, whose names appear on the east wall of the nave, behind the end of the screen, were Churchwardens.

On the south jamb of the tower arch is part of an inscription from the psalms which is the sole survivor of the texts with which the walls would be liberally be sprinkled in the second half of the 17th century, when a regular article of enquiry by archdeacons was “Is your church duly sentenced?” Some slight traces of other wall paintings were found by Mr Peacock in 1912 but these have disappeared.

In 1912-13, under the vigorous and enlightened leadership of the vicar, Edward Adrian Woodruffe-Peacock, the church was thoroughly and conservatively restored, the architect being Sir Charles Nicholson, at a cost of over £1,000. Mr Peacock wrote an account of the building in the form of an appeal and many of the facts here quoted are taken from that publication, which is now extremely scarce.

Comments about the Green Man

On the Eastern Norman Pillar, just behind the Chancel Screen is cut a figure, or ‘foliate mask’, sometimes called a little green man, which it is believed dates from the 13th century, which was the golden age of the leaf mask in Medieval Europe.

The leaf mask at Cadney may be purely decorative, as a much loved motif – sanctioned by long use in Christian ornamentation, or it may have represented the Green Man of the May Day. The leaf mask is found all over Europe one of the earliest being on the basin of a fountain from the cloisters of the old abbey at St Dents dated about 1200 AD.

The use of the leaf mask was widespread in Roman art, and used as an ornament for tombs and buildings. There is an example dating from the 4th – 5th centuries AD on the tomb of St Ambre in the church of St. Hilaire le Grand in Poitiers, France.

The little green man at Cadney is in very good condition, but, alas, there is no real indication as to why it was placed there as one looks at him, and at other carvings in the church, one can’t help wondering what stories they could tell!

Information regarding the life of the Church from 1912 – the present day, can be found on the Heritage Church Trails information board inside our church.

cadney inside