Local Church history

In November 1882, the Vicar of St. Mary-of-Wigford, Canon Edger Wharton, with the churchwardens Messrs. Cuthbert Wilks and John Parkinson Bygolt launched a public appeal to build a new church for the growing population of over 2,000 in the West End of Lincoln.

St Faith’s was a recreation of the medieval parish, with similar boundaries, detached once again from St Mary-le-Wigford, combined since the 13th century. The first church of the new parish was to be an ‘iron structure’, which would hold just 200 worshipers.

The Charles Street West site was located and purchased in 1883 for £318-5s, a second-hand iron church was sourced from Hornsey Road, North London and bought for £125 from Rev. D. E. Holland. A Mr Naish was employed to convey the church to Lincoln and erect it on the site for £90 and in 1884 a substantial boundary wall was built at a cost of £33-8s.

Two-thirds of the money was required before the building was complete, but the building of the church began in debt – debt which took quite some time to repay. Parish Magazine issues make a stern comment that the speed of construction is outstripping that of donation, and that efforts must be improved.

The Rector of Potterhanworth, Rev. Canon W.S. White promised to give £100 upon the raising of the remaining £700. Several other people made substantial contributions including the Bishop of Lincoln £200; Canon Wharton £100; Mr Coningsly C. Sibthorpe £10-10s; Rev. E. Curtis £10; Mr J ohn Foster and his son £10 each; Mr John Dawber £10; the Dean of Lincoln £10 and many others.

The construction of the permanent church began on May 1st, 1894. With the foundation stone laid by Lord Bishop of Lincoln, Dr Edward King, on Saturday, June 9th, 1894. Long lines of flags ran down Charles Street West, marking the event with discernible celebration.

The concluding Sunday service held June 23rd, 1895 in a crowded iron church; full for the evening service and the last Holy Communion, 7 am June 24th. Followed by the new St. Faith’s Church’s inaugural Sunday services on August 11th, 1895. Its consecration by the Bishop of Lincoln, Edward King, on Tuesday the 8th October 1895.

The Dedication Festival took place between the 6th October and 13th October 1895 and the Bishop of Lincoln attended the Sunday Evening Service. A Red Frontal for the altar and vases given by the St. Faith’s Mother’s Meeting and two members of the congregation gave the beautiful decorated alter for the South Chapel (now known as the Lady Chapel) anonymously.

It was very hard to raise the total cost of the new church, £5231-11-4d, and the Bishop of Lincoln had contributed £500 on the 11th Anniversary of his Consecration.

In June 1885 the Bishop of Lincoln held a short Dedication Service on the site, one of Bishop Edward King’s first public acts after his enthronement. He was to become a great friend and benefactor of St. Faith’s.

On St. Faith’s Day 1885 the Mission Church was formally opened by the Bishop of Lincoln with the altar raised above the floor of the church by steps. The Bishop gave an altar cross and a layman a pair of 5 branched vesper lights. An old silk white chasuble, long used in West Torrington Church was converted into an altar frontal. Materials which were formerly wings to an altar in the South aisle of Southwell Cathedral became a green frontal, along with two old wooden painted stands from Southwell requisitioned for gospel lights.

A brass processional cross, also believed to be from West Torrington Church, was gratefully accepted, and Mr C.B. Sibthorpe made a gift of £10 for alter vessels. Other gifts kindly given included, altar linen and alms bags, a small bell from a farmyard and a parishioner and stonemason supplied St Faith’s with a font.

In February 1887 a Mission was conducted by Rev. A.F.W. Ingham (subsequently Bishop of Stepney) at St. Faith’s. No words can describe the resulting blessings. In the same year, a more suitable bell was procured from Rev. W. Kendall, the Vicar of St. Thomas, Stafford weighing nine hundredweight and costing £8.

At this time the huge debt of £1,450 still hung over the building, but by the final evening the Vicar was able to announce the whole of the debt had been removed. The church debt was finally paid by the Dedication Festival of 1897. Canon Wharton and his wife gave £1050; the Misses Bucknill £180 each and Mr Foster £500.

October 1898 the Lincolnshire Echo reported the ‘Dedication of a new reredos’. The reredos, designed by Mr Hodgson Fowler, of Durham, the architect of the church, were dedicated by the Lord Bishop on Wednesday evening, October 5th, the article states “The main ideas of this beautiful addition to the church is that the great feature to at once strike the eye should be Our Risen Lord, rising in glory from the tomb, in the foreground being the sleeping soldiers.”

The description mentions wonderful relief carving, exquisite painted figures representing the angels and is pronounced “thoroughly devotional”.

On Sunday 5th of October 1902 saw the ‘Dedication of a new window’, “The handsome church of St. Faith’s, Lincoln has been further beautified by the insertion of a stain glass window at the east end.”

Excerpts and information taken from ‘A Short History of St. Faith’s Church, Lincoln’ by John Dixon B.A. (Open) and The Lincolnshire Echo from the British Library archives.

Church building:

St. Faith’s Church was designed by C. Hodgson Fowler of Durham (1840-1910) in the Neo-Perpendicular style and built between 1894 and 1895. Fowler was also the architect for the All Saints’ Church on Monks Road, in 1904, which has a very similar style to that of St. Faith’s.

The church is built of red brick, with a corbelled-out bell-cote with pyramid roof, on a buttress at the west end of the north aisle, and west front presents three gables to Charles Street West.

The design of St. Faith’s contains features unique to a structure of this time – which include, the sadly lost, scheme of stencilled decorations to the walls and ceiling in the chancel, as indicated on archived drawings and in other examples remaining in the West End. The choir benches and the chancel screen, both still intact, are features uncommon in churches of this size and design by Fowler.

A study of Fowler’s work has addressed questions of the doctrinal stance of his buildings (Wickstead 2001), and the layout, architectural details and fittings of St Faith’s will represent the state of doctrinal thinking at the turn of the century.

A vestry was built in 1931 to a design by the local architect William Gregory Watkins (1889-1959) working on behalf of William Watkins & Son.

Excerpts and information taken from ‘Lincoln’s West End: A History’ by Andrew Walker