A labour of love

Peter and Paula Starling with the Walesby History Book and the church in the background
Peter and Paula Starling with the Walesby History Book and the church in the background

Mapping of a church graveyard has turned into 
a three-year labour of love 
for one Walesby village resident.

Peter Starling has lived in Walesby for 17 years and when he looked for a history of the village, he found there wasn’t one. Peter decided to put that right and next month sees the publication of his debut book - Walesby A Lincolnshire Village History. It will be officially launched on June 6, the same day as the Centenary Service for St Mary’s Church.

“The book began as just a history of St Mary’s to mark its centenary,” said Peter, “but the church history is so entrenched with that of the village, the book grew into much more.”

Walesby has two churches - All Saints on the hill, known as the Ramblers’ Church, and St Mary’s. Until the Medieval period, Walesby village was centred around the hill top church, but by the 1500s was on the lower ground, where today’s village can be found.

For the next 300 years, villagers trekked up the hill for services, but when the Rev Perceval Laurence was appointed Rector in 1879 he had different ideas.

He was not enamoured with All Saints, which he considered dilapidated and awkwardly situated. Within two years of his arrival he put a up a temporary corrugated iron church at the foothill of the other church, which was used until the opening of St Mary’s in 1914.

While the Rev Perceval campaigned for the new church he never got to preach there; ironically he died on the day work started on the building – June 6 1913.

Construction took just over a year and the first service of dedication and consecration took place in August 1914 led by the Bishop of Lincoln, who commented on the ‘peculiar experiment’ of having central nave pillars.

Originally, the church tower was topped by a wooden spire, but this was removed in 1928 after becoming unsafe following a hurricane.

The full history of the church is in Peter’s book, which tells the story of Walesby from its origins in the Stone Age to life in the 20th Century.

“It has been a very enjoyable project to work on, although it has been very time consuming and I am delighted with the finished product” added Peter, whose wife Paula, churchwarden at St Mary’s, drew the maps and other artwork for the book.

“It wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity and kindness of people in the village in providing pictures and anecdotes.”

n Copies of the book cost £15 and are available from Peter on 01673 838620.