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|2070: St Peter-at-Gowts
with St Andrew's, Lincoln, England
Photo: Richard Croft
Peter-at-Gowts with St Andrew's, Lincoln, England.
Church of England, Diocese
This lovely little church is cursed with a rather unflattering
name. "Gowts" are confluences of sewage drains which
then flow, or "go out", to a nearby river. It is very
difficult to get a good look at the building, as it's on a very
busy road. If I had stepped back to look at it, I would have
been strawberry jam. But the church seems to be very old, judging
from a sepulchral arch bearing the name of a benefactor who
died in 1347, and from baptismal records dating from 1540. We
do know that the building was restored and enlarged in 1853.
There is an impressive Norman tower, probably from the original
structure, bearing a carving of St Peter holding the keys. Inside
there are some beautiful painted panels in the roof. Victorian
I would think. I noticed a votive candle stand and a couple
of statues of Mary.
From their website: "Our aim is to be available for people
whether in the occasional offices...or...in need...coupled with
a desire to make worship both dignified and fun." It is
an inner city church, and as such the congregation come from
many other places than parish.
The Romans built a retirement home of sorts for army veterans
here and called it Lindum Colonia. The name was later Anglicized
to Lincoln. A thriving center of commerce, Lincoln became one
of the wealthiest towns in England during medieval times. The
cloth and wool trade flourished here, and even Robin Hood was
said to have favoured outfits of "Lincoln green."
But post-medieval times saw Lincoln's fortunes decline, to pick
up again during the Industrial Revolution. Today's Lincoln is
popular with tourists seeking out the city's numerous historic
buildings. St Peters-at-Gowts is on a very long street, surrounded
by smaller shops. I think Lincoln City Football Club is nearby.
Also what seems like rows and rows of terraced houses with front
doors straight onto the street.
The Revd Jeremy Cullimore presided, and the Revd Julie Hart
preached. Mary Rose served, read the gospel, led the intercessions
and administered the chalice.
The date & time:
12 September 2010, 9.30am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
Comfortably full – around 35 in the congregation.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
From the minute I stepped in from the road, everyone was very
welcoming. Some people asked where I was from.
Was your pew comfortable?
It seemed OK. I like hard pews – good for the soul! I sat near
the front so I could watch the action.
How would you describe the pre-service
Quietish. Sadly, not a child in sight. Just quiet friendly talk.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Hello and welcome."
What books did the congregation use during the
The New English Hymnal (rather old-fashioned, I thought)
and New Hymns of Worship. And a service booklet, which
was clear and in good size print.
What musical instruments were played?
Did anything distract
The priest seemed a little flustered as there appeared to be
something wrong with the floorboards in the choir vestry. I
suspect they may be rotting. Also, the woman behind me sang
the alto part to the hymns and I tended to follow her rather
than sing the melody. During the Apostles Creed, the priest
asked a choir member to go fetch the marriage registry, but
then he forgot to read out the banns. Finally, I found the queue
for communion puzzling, as there was no one to guide a stranger.
At length I pieced out that the right side went up first, then
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
A tiny bit "up candle" – payers for Mary, gong, but sadly
no smells. Most of the service was sung. And forgive me if I'm
getting this wrong, but I believe I heard the priest addressed
as Reverend Father!
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how
good was the preacher?
9 This was Mrs Hart's first time in this church. She
didn't read her sermon. It was simple, informative, just beautiful.
It contained historical, biblical and modern examples. Her manner
was serene, and she had a wonderful smile. It brought a tear
to my eye. Thank you, Mrs Hart! You have a new groupie!
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
Her text was Luke 15:1-10 (the parable of the ninety and nine).
Lost and found. She described a young adopted man's emotions
when he became a father for the first time. The newborn child
was the first person with some of his genes whom he had ever
touched. Lost, then found.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
The sermon and some of the sung responses. And the priest smiled
as he ministered communion.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Two things. First, at the exchange of peace, I turned to greet
the woman behind me. "I don't do that!" she snapped.
"This isn't a cattle market!" (But the same woman
was friendly later over coffee.) And second, why did Mary Rose
have to serve, read, intercede, and minister the chalice all
by herself? Surely there must be some others who would be interested
in becoming an acolyte, lector or eucharistic minister. Mrs
Rose performed her duties well, but I kept wondering what else
they were going to make her do.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
People invited me straight to coffee. I did say hello to the
priests, but they had to go to their next service, so they were
unable to come to coffee. This is a shame, as they miss out
on a valuable part of their ministry.
How would you describe the after-service
A well known commercial brand of coffee, served in cup and saucer.
There were also biscuits on offer. Chairs were pulled up for
conversation, and even the cattle market lady made some pleasantries.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 This is my style of church, and I also appreciated
the fact that social opportunities are available. I would have
liked to have seen at least one child, though.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
The welcome and the spiritualness did, but the cattle market
lady's remark at the peace was simply horrid!
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The serene nature of Mrs Hart and her sermon, and how Mrs Rose
had to "do it all."
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