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st mary's covenham

St Mary'sCovenham:
Forming part of the Group Parish of Fotherby, Covenham is a twin village known as Covenham St Mary's and Covenham St Bartholomew's although, a visitor can be forgiven for thinking that there is only one, yet they were two separate parishes for centuries. Currently however, Covenham St Bartholomew and Covenham St Mary form part of the Fotherby Group Parish. –

Historians will tell you that Covenham is first referred to in a Yorkshire charter of 855 and derives its name from the Old English "ham" and "cofa", meaning a settlement in a recess of a hill or valley. It is again mentioned in the Domesday survey of 1086.
The northern end is Covenham St Bartholomew, notable for the thatched restaurant, the Mill House.

North-east lies Covenham reservoir, opened by Princess Alexandra, but built amid great controversy in the late 1960's on hundreds of acres of fertile farmland, to supply water to the growing conurbation of Grimsby.

At the southern end is Covenham St Mary.

There are two churches in Covenham - St. Mary's and St. Bartholomew's although, St. Bartholomew is no longer used and is closed.

Why Are There Two Churches?
The reason is not clear. Probably St Bartholomew's was the church of a small priory, where the monks and their servants would say the daily services. St. Mary's was the Church for the people of the parish. In the Domesday Book it is recorded that there was already a church in the parish and Esbern is described as the priest. This church was most probably St. Mary's and the older of the two.

The priory was established in 1082 by William de Karilepo, the Norman Bishop of Durham, as a cell to the Abbey of St. Karilephus, a monastery in Northern France. In 1303 the priory was sold to Kirkstead Abbey, Lincolnshire. Covenham Priory probably never had more than one or two monks looking after the lands here of the mother house. The Priory disappeared at the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536. The two parishes of St. Bartholomew's and St. Mary's remained separate until 1904, on the death of John England Rudd who had been Rector of St. Mary's for nearly 56 years. He is buried in the Churchyard.

St Mary's Church
The church is made of chalk and ironstone and consists of a west tower with battlements; an unaisled nave and an unaisled chancel. The chancel was licensed, though not finished, in 1359 and contains alterations and repairs dating to the 15th, late 18th and 19th centuries. Most of the windows are in the perpendicular style (1350-1530). There are two windows of particular interest: the first one is the three-light east window which is in the decorated period with vertical divisions and in the head is a rich tracery typical of this period and dates to the 14th century, the other is the low side window on the south side which in the Middle Ages could perhaps have been used as a "squint" for lepers.

A scratch dial (a type of sun-dial) can be found on a stone on the eastern wall.

On the north wall there is a cusped and subscusped recess, ogee topped, which may have once housed a tomb or, may have been something to do with an Easter Sepulchre, In this recess, for a number of years a brass of 1415 ofSir John SkypwythSir John Skypwyth was kept having been removed from St Bartholomew's Church when it was made redundant. However, this has now been returned to St Bartholomew's Church at the behest of the St Bartholomew's Church Trust (set up to restore St Bartholomew) although, the trust had a full-sized replica made and this is on loan to St Mary's and this is now housed on this north wall recess.

Contained within the wall of the north nave is a blocked doorway of 15th century date. Prior to the work of the southern entrance to the church, there stood a late 18th century brick porch with raised coped gables and kneelers. This had a round arched outer opening with keyblock, containing a wooden Gothic railed gate. Demolition of this porch revealed the inner doorway, dated to the 14th century.

Both the Chancel and Nave are barrel-roofed inside. At the top of the walls in the Nave are stone brackets on which rest the main roof beams. Several of these are carved with corbels some of which are decorated with grotesque figures. The bell openings of the tower are said to be 14th century.

  Grotesque   Grotesque  

The font is also Perpendicular in style and has an unusual pattern. The rim of the bowl is Fontdotted with flowers and around the sides are shields with instruments of our Lord's Passion Such as crosses, nails, hammers and scourges.


St Mary's Church underwent major restoration in the 1890's at a cost of £800 with the help of Canon Smythe, at that time, vicar of Elkington. However, in 1986 a request was received from villagers, with a donation of approximately £2,000 towards the cost, for a new porch housing toilet facilities. Unfortunately, it took some 12 years before all plans and permissions were obtained and work could begin on the new porch which was completed in 1998.