The picturesque village of South Carlton is situated on the edge of the limestone cliff to north of Lincoln, just at the point where it dips down to meet the valley of the Trent. The church of St John The Baptist looks a bit disappointing from the outside, for as you walk up the path you are faced with a rather pedestrian looking Victorian building. The church was thoroughly restored by SS Teulon in 1859-60. However, this somewhat unimpressive exterior belies an interior of considerable interest. Inside is a Norman chancel arch and two reconstructed thirteenth century arcades. Since the sixteenth century South Carlton has been the home of the Monson's, Baron's Monson of Burton. In fact they still live here in a beautiful early eighteenth century house to the east of the church. Everywhere you turn in St John's are reminders of this prominent county family. An impressive set of family hatchments decorate the nave walls and the sixteenth century rood screen is adorned with their coat of arms.
A sign in the nave pointing east directs you to 'the monument'. As you enter the chancel, passing a set of medieval stalls, you are little prepared for the impressive sight that is soon going to appear before you. Protected by spikey railings, the north chapel is entirely filled with large canopied monument reaching to the roof. This is the monument of Sir John and Lady Joan Monson who died in 1593 and 1624 respectively and was erected in 1625 by their son Sir Thomas, 1st Baronet. It was carved by the court sculptor Nicholas Stone, who was paid £200 for it. Stone was at the height of his artistic powers and the work is accomplished. It needs considerable restoration.
Beyond the monument to the north is the vast, but inaccessible Monson mausoleum, built in 1898 by William Watkins. Inside there are further family monuments including one to William Monson, 6th Baron, who was a noted nineteenth century antiquarian.
Access: There is ample parking on the roadside close to the church. The church is kept open during daylight hours.
If you want to see some more photos of South Carlton have look in my Flickr folder