Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Friday, 20 March 2015

St Wulfram

Today is the feast of St Wulfram who died in 703. He was Archbishop of Sens, and according to legend at least, a missionary to the Frisians. There is an online account of his life and cult at Wulfram_of_Sens

There are two old English churches dedicated to him, at Ovingdean in Sussex and at Grantham in Lincolnshire. As is explained in the article linked to above one of the saint's arms appears to have been given by King William the Conqueror to Abbot Ingulph of Croyland, and then, following a fire at the abbey was preserved at Grantham. It appears to have been venerated there until the reformation in the sixteenth century.

There is an account of the building and its development at St Wulfram's Church, Grantham

The church of Grantham was given to Salisbury Cathedral and supported from the revenue it yielded two prebends, those of Grantham Australis and Grantham Borealis.

The article linked to about the church speculates that there was Salisbury influence in the spire. This is possible, indeed quite probable, but Lincolnshire is very much spire country, so maybe too much should not be made of the Salisbury link.

Saint Wulfram's church

The Church of St Wulfram, Grantham

Image: genuki.org.uk/copyright Ron Cole 

It is certainly true that in a county of spectacular spires Grantham is one of the finest - whether it is the finest in the country, as Simon Jenkins asserts, is perhaps open to discussion, but it is serious contender.
The rest of the church is fine, but as it lacks a clerestory the overall impression is of a somewhat sombre and long interior, despite the large fourteenth and fifteenth century windows visible in the photograph. A church very well worth visiting in a county full of wonderful but surprisingly still little known medieval churches.


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