4 Spires Benefice - The Anglican Churches of Raunds, Hargrave, Ringstead & Stanwick

Tel: 01933 461509


The Church of St Laurence

The church of St Laurence, Stanwick was built c. 1225 on the site of an earlier church of which virtually nothing remains.  Throughout the Middle Ages Stanwick was under the authority of the Abbots of Peterborough.  Among the duties of the Abbot was to appoint the Rectors of Stanwick, when the position fell vacant.  Since the Reformation, the Lord Chancellor has appointed the Rectors on behalf of the Sovereign.

The Rectors of Stanwick

There is one memorial brass of this early period.  Its inscription reads "Hic jacet magist Thoms' de Wynceby, qudm' Rector istis Ecclie', cuis aie' ppciet Ds. Amen." (Here lies Master Thomas de Winceby, sometime Rector of this Church,  Whose soul may God propitiate. Amen)

Thomas de Wincey become Rector in 1343 but was accused of being an interloper, neither appointed by the Abbot, nor by the Crown but "provided by the Pope".  He defended himself successfully however, and returned to Stanwick, and remained as Rector until his death twelve years later.

Dr William Dolben become Rector in 1623.  He was much loved by his parishioners, and when he was ill, the people of Stanwick ploughed and sowed the Glebe Land without charge, so that he and his family should not suffer.

His son John, whose baptism is recorded in the Church register, fought for King Charles during the Civil War, both at the siege of York (where he was wounded in the shoulder by a musket ball) and at Marston Moor.  He recovered from his injury, and joined the garrison at Oxford, where he remained until its surrender at the end of the Civil War.  During this time he received a Fellowship, which he was deprived of by the Parliamentarians.  During the Commonwealth he lived quietly in Oxford, where he and his friends secretly held illegal Church of England services.  Following the Restoration he rose within the church, finally reaching the position of Archbishop of York in 1682.  He died in 1686 and his tomb can be seen in York Minster.  He gave to Stanwick Church a pulpit with this inscription "Exo Dono Reverendi Patris in Deo Johan.  Dolpen Epis Roffen. MDCLXXVIII. I.F. FECIT." (The gift of the Reverend Father in God John Dolben Bishop of Rochester, 1678.  I.F. made it)  The pulpit was in use for about 200 years, but was destroyed during the restoration in the 19th Century.

Henry Willis was appointed Rector after the death of William Dolben in 1631.  He retired in 1685 and died the following year, and thus was the longest serving Rector of Stanwick.  In his time the North wall of the church was built, or rebuilt in 1664.

In 1745 a muster of 200 men, made up of two companies of 100 each marched from Stanwick to fight against Bonnie Prince Charlie.  The tragedy of this muster was not the number killed at Carlisle, but the greater number who died when smallpox was rife among the troops.  A cloud was over the village for a number of years to come.

In the mid-eighteenth century Denison Cumberland was Rector of Stanwick (1731-1757) he then became Vicar of Fulham and soon Prebendary of St Paul's Cathedral.  In 1763 he became Bishop of Clonfert in Ireland.  He died in 1775 and was buried at Kilmore, where his wife was also buried later the same year.

His son, Richard Cumberland became a famous dramatist, although unknown today.  After a quarrel with Sheridan, he was savagely caricatured as Sir Fretful Plagiary in The Critic.  He was secretary to the Board of Trade, with which he quarrelled when his expenses were not met after a mission to Spain.  In 1806 he published his Memoirs, the first part of which deals with his boyhood in Stanwick.  His grave may still be seen in Poet's Corner. "Richd. Cumberland obit May 7th.  Anno Domini 1811, Aetatis Suae 79".  Beside him lie Handal, Charles Dickins and Rudyard Kipling.

The Interior

At the entrance to the South Porch can be seen a scratch dial by which, in medieval times people told the time when the sun shone.  A parishioner has made and given a sun dial recently which is above the old scratch dial.

One of the first things to see in the Church is the richly carved fourteenth century font, where children and adults of Stanwick have been baptized for over 700 years.

In the tower are two fire hooks, which were formerly used in fire fighting to pull burning thatch from the roofs of houses.  The memorial brass to Thomas de Winceby can be seen on the floor beside the lectern.

The Choir Screen is  modern, (1922).  In the middle ages there was a Rood Loft above where the screen is now, and the entrance to it can be seen high above the pulpit.

In the Lady Chapel there is a fine Jacobean alter table, and a parish chest dating to 1701.

The Exterior

The war memorial consists of a Flanders Cross which marked the grave of a Stanwick man killed in 1916 (Sgt R. H. Ward) and which his family brought home and gave to the Church.

In the Churchyard there is the oldest of our dated grave stories.  It marks the grave of Elizabeth Ruxby, the wife of William Ruxby, she died in January 1690.

The weather cock on the steeple was given to the Church by George Henson, then landlord of the Duke of Wellington in the 1880's.  He died in 1897 and is buried in the Churchyard.  The weather cock is 157 feet above the ground.

On the South West corner of the tower there is a bench mark, which marks 178 feet above sea level.

For further details of The Friends of Stanwick Church please click here http://www.friends-of-stanwick-church.co.uk

Meet our PCC Members

Below are the photos of our PCC members and the roles that they play within the Church.  Please feel free to ask them any questions as they are always happy to hel

Lisa Adair - PCC Member  Sam Chambers - Churchwarden/PCC Member Nicki Phillips - Evangelist/PCC Member


Richard Phillips - PCC Member Jill Chambers -  PCC Member  


  Andrea Mulqueen - PCC Secretary  




Taken from "Stanwick Notes" by Rev. John Eagle

Photographs by F Waye  




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