St James' Church, Louth

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St James' Church, Louth
The Church belfry and spire
53°22′00″N 0°00′29″W / 53.3666°N 0.0080°W / 53.3666; -0.0080Coordinates: 53°22′00″N 0°00′29″W / 53.3666°N 0.0080°W / 53.3666; -0.0080
Denomination Church of England
Churchmanship Broad Church
Dedication James, son of Zebedee
Parish Louth, Lincolnshire
Diocese Lincoln
Province Canterbury
Rector Nicholas Brown
Organist/Director of music Lisa Taylor

St. James' Church, Louth is a parish church in the Church of England in Louth, Lincolnshire, England. It is notable for its tall spire.


The church is a medieval building. At 295 feet (90 m) tall, it has the tallest spire of any medieval parish church in England, and is second only to the 19th-century Roman Catholic Church of St. Walburge in Preston, Lancashire.

The chancel and nave were re-built between 1430 and 1440. Work began on the spire in 1501 and it was completed around 1515. The cost was £305-7s-4d (£305.37p), a large amount of money for the time. The spire was restored in 1844 by Lewis Nockalls Cottingham.[1] A further restoration took place between 1861 and 1869 by James Fowler, known as 'Fowler of Louth'.[2]

The church is mainly 15th century and is the third building on the site, replacing 11th- and 13th-century buildings.

Originally the church had five subsidiary chapels and altars and a three-story rood screen.

In October 1536, as a result of Henry VIII's ecclesiastical changes, people gathered in the church to start the Lincolnshire Rising, which was followed by the Pilgrimage of Grace. Neither succeeded and the church was stripped of its riches including the rood screen.

In 1937, it flew the highest flag in Lincolnshire to mark the coronation of George VI.[3] Later that year, renovation work commenced on the spire, under the supervision of the architect, Mr. Goddard, who had previously worked on Lincoln Cathedral.[3]


The dedication of the church is to James, son of Zebedee, who was of significance in the Middle Ages as the focus of a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

List of rectors[edit]


There is a peal of 8 bells. They were recast in 1726 by Daniel Hedderly. In 1798 the great bell was cracked when it was rung to celebrate Nelson's victory in the Battle of the Nile. They were rehung in 1957, and the treble and two were recast.


The original Gray & Davison organ from 1857 was altered by Forster and Andrews in 1868/9. After a rebuild in 1911 by Norman and Beard, it now has 37 stops and three manuals and pedals.


  • Joseph Hill 1768 - 1819 (formerly a pupil at Beverley Minster; about 30 years of age when he was appointed to Louth, presumably his first and only appointment. See also obit.[4])
  • John Hoyland 1819-1827 (previously organist of St. James' Church, Sheffield)
  • William Hoyland 1829 - 1857 (son of John Hoyland)
  • George Dixon 1859 - 1865 (afterwards organist of St. Wulfram's Church, Grantham)
  • George Henry Porter 1866 - 1897
  • Owen Menai Price 1897 -[5][6] 1946
  • Harold Dexter 1946 - 1949[7] (later organist of Southwark Cathedral)
  • Dennis Townhill 1949 - 1956 [8]
  • William Pierce 1956 - 1960 (returned to Australia)
  • Michael Nicholas 1960 - 1964
  • Michael John Smith 1965 - 1966 (later organist of Llandaff Cathedral)
  • Peter Burness 1966 - 1996
  • Frederic Goodwin 1996 - 2009
  • Keith Morgan 2009 - 2011
  • Lisa Taylor 2011
  • Allan Smith 2014 (Master of the Choristers)

Assistant organists[edit]

  • Albert Sharman ca.1905[9]
  • Roger Harrison 1999 - 2011

Visiting and tourism[edit]

St James is nominated a "Cascade Church" within the Lincolnshire Church Tourism Network, an ecumenical scheme which promotes visits to and understanding of Lincolnshire's many churches. Like other Cascade churches it is stewarded on weekdays and there are guides available until 16:00. The western end of the church now has a tea shop, book shop and toilets, as well as information leading to other churches in the East Lindsey area.



  1. ^ Pevsner, Nikolas; The Buildings of England, Lincolnshire[page needed]
  2. ^ English Heritage. "Parish Church of St James  (Grade I) (1063264)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "LOUTH'S SPIRE.". Geraldton Guardian and Express (WA : 1929 - 1947) (WA: National Library of Australia). 28 August 1937. p. 1. Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  4. ^ Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, 12 March 1819
  5. ^ Kelly's Directory of Lincolnshire, 1909, p.430
  6. ^ Kelly's Directory of Lincolnshire, 1919, p.420
  7. ^ Who's Who in Music. Shaw Publishing Co. Ltd. London. First Post-war Edition. 1949/50
  8. ^ "Obituary", The Times. Subscription required
  9. ^ Kelly's Directory of Lincolnshire, 1905, p.535