Gainsborough Church History



  • According to the 1086 Domesday Book, Gainsborough was without a church.
  • The first church was built here by the Knights Templar in 1209. In 1540, there was an old "chapel of stone" where many Danes were buried, and a dilapidated "chapel of wood" near the Trent.
  • That church was taken down between 1736 and 1748, except for the tower and rebuilt in a more modern style. The tower dates from the 14th century. The new church was dedicated to "All Saints". In 1864, the church was remodelled and restored. The church seats almost 1,200. There was a "mission church" of St. Michael and All Angels on Ropery road which was a chapel of ease for All Saints. Renee Redshaw of Melbourne, Australia, tells us:
"The church reflects the wealth of the town as a port for trans-shipping goods from barges to sea-going vessels on the Trent. The former church was rebuilt 1736-44 apart from the tower. Architecture was by Francis Smith of Warwick - the model for All Saints was James Gibbs St.Martins-in-the-Field (London) - although it does not share the the famous tower of the London St. Martins and the portico but has similar elevations and giant pilasters which Gibbs surrounds to the windows.

The interior is spectacular rather than lovable. There is a mighty parade of Corinthian columns going towards the apse where they turn into pilasters flanking a Venetian east window. The orders rise the height of the church and in contrast to St.Martins, support a continuous straight entablature. The church retains it's box pews and chandeliers, and galleries that were lowered in the 19th century to give them a steeper rake. The pulpit, wholly out of character with the rest of the interior, is by Pearson.

Gainsborough church is as blighted as any by Victorian glass. The elderly Bodley visited it in 1903, and declared all the windows 'atrocious'. He duly designed his own, equally atrocious for a side chapel. The author thinks the glass "should go"!

We all deplore the thieving of church property, but Gainsborough of Victorian times, according to reports, told constantly of thefts of prayer books and money, and of "unspeakable degradations in the churchyard" committed by gypsies, marauding dogs and children. Five pounds (a huge sum) was offered to any who could apprehend the vandals. The churchyard was unkempt and 'resembled a jungle'. However, today the church rises from a pristine lawn.
  • Here are two photographs of All Saints Church (Ron Cole retains the copyright):



  • In September of 1841, construction started on a new church in the Southolme district of the town, on Trinity Street. That church was dedicated to the Holy Trinity and was consecrated on 29 June 1843 and completed in 1844. It seats about 750. The ecclesiastical parish of Holy Trinity was formed from the civil parish of All Saints on 10 July 1844.
  • The Diocese of Lincoln declared Holy Trinity church redundant in December, 1973. It was converted for cultural and community use in 1978.
  • Saint John's the Divine's ecclesiastical parish was formed on 29 Dec. 1882. The new church opened on 6 May 1882, but wasn't fully completed until 1902. Built of red brick with Ancaster stone dressings, it seats about 800.
  • St. John's was declared redundant in 2002 and in 2004 was sold and the building used for offices, a studio, a gallery and a cafe.
  • Here is a photo of St. John the Divine church, taken by (and copyright of) Wendy Parkinson: