St Faith's in Kelstern is in a picturesque location on the edge of the hillside overlooking the Wolds. You approach the church along a grass track which runs past Kelstern hall and between earthworks of the shrunken village.
The church is what you might describe as country Anglo-Catholic and has evidently been much loved in times past, but is now somewhat forlorn, damp and grubby. However, despite the feeling of neglect there is much of interest to see.
The first thing that faces you as you enter through the north door of the nave, is the alabaster monument of Elizabeth South, placed in the blocked south door. Dame Elizabeth, the young wife of Sir Francis South of Kelstern and a daughter of Sir John Meres of Aubourn, died in 1604. Her monument, formerly in the chancel, shows her sat up in a chair with an hourglass in her hand and her foot resting on a skull. Beside her are two putti, one extinguishing a torch on top of a skull and the other with his foot on a shovel as though digging her grave. The latter has his foot on a plinth inscribed 'Non Sine Labore' 'Nothing Without Labour', the former on the plinth inscribed 'in alto requies' 'bestow rest upon them'. The whole thing is a touching memento mori erected by a bereft husband. Sir Francis would suffer loss again for on the north wall is a plainer tablet to his second wife, Dame Anne, who died in 1620.
In the nave of the church are three glorious windows by Sir Ninian Comper, commissioned between 1954 and 1958 by the Sleight family, baronets of Weelsby Hall in Grimsby and of Binbrook Hall in Kelstern parish. One window, with images of St Andrew, St Faith and St George, commemorates Sir George Sleight, first baronet. Another, with a lovely Annunciation scene is in memory of his wife Rebecca Sleight, who as if to connect her with the South monuments is described, somewhat quaintly, as 'Dame' Rebecca. Sir George was a self made man who rose from being a cockle gatherer on Cleethorpes beach, to owning the biggest fishing fleet in the world based in Grimsby. He and Lady Sleight are buried in the churchyard.
What else is there? Well there are remains of medieval stained glass, including a wonderful fourteenth century frontal head of Christ in a tracery light and at the west end of the nave there are a number of medieval benchends. These are rather rustic and fun, with carved with that old rogue Reynard the Fox with a goose in his mouth and another with a scene of a fox chasing a hound.
It's worth having a wander around the churchyard, if nothing else to enjoy the wonderful views.
Access: Parking is in the field at the end of the track. There is no named keyholder and the church is locked, but if you are keen you may like to send me a message for more information on access.
If you want to see some more photos of Kelstern look on the Flickr set.
Posted by Allan Barton at 07:52