Christmas market in the Minster

Stow Minster
Stow Minster
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A Christmas Market will be held in the historic minster church of St Mary’s, Stow from 12.30pm to 3.30pm on Saturday, November 30.

The market, which has become a popular feature of village life leading up to Christmas, has free admission.

There will be a vast array of different stalls to tempt the visitor and to offer something a bit different for a Christmas gift.

Stalls include jewellery, handmade cards, hampers, art, aromatherapy products and wooden gifts, not to mention the ever-popular bric-a-brac and homemade cake stalls.

In addition, refreshments, including mulled wine, will be available and you can also try your luck at the raffle.

Many visitors ask how it is that such a large church is to be found in such a small village.

Though Stow may have been rather larger than it is now, it was always a rural place, yet it was also the centre of a large block of estates, belonging to the Saxon bishops of Dorchester on Thames.

So, it was here that Bishop Aelfnoth, in about 975, built a church to serve, it seems, as head Minster (or mother church) for the Lincolnshire part of his large diocese.

It was a sort of cathedral, because part of the bishop’s household of priests, which later became the cathedral chapter, lived at Stow and administered this part of the diocese.

The memory of this period gave rise to the tradition that Stow was the Mother Church of Lincoln Cathedral. 

It is also possible a Saxon church stood hereabouts even before Aelfnoth’s building.

According to legend, St Etheldreda (c.630-679) rested at a place called ‘Stow’ while travelling from Northumberland to her eventual refuge at Ely.

Her ash staff, planted in the ground, is said to have miraculously burst into leaf to provide her with shelter, thereafter the church of ‘St Etheldreda’s Stow’ (later renamed Stow St Mary) was built to commemorate the event.

This legend is illustrated in a Victorian stained glass window high up the north wall of the chancel, to the left of the altar.

The new village sign, which was unveiled in October, also depicts the staff.