St. John the Baptist Church, Wakerley
Wakerley Church is dedicated to St.John the Baptist . Situated on the south side of the village towards Wakerley woods and Fineshade, the church is open every day to welcome villagers, visitors and tourists.
The church is not in regular use and is managed by the Churches Conservation Trust. The churchyard is maintained by the PCC with help from villagers.
SERVICES are held twice a year for the Patronal festival in June and a Harvest Festival in September.
Whatever your faith background or tradition, you’re very welcome to visit the church or attend the occasional services. In 2017, the planned services are:
The Patronal Service Sunday 18th June at 3 pm
The Harvest Service Sunday 10th September at 3 pm
If you have any questions about Wakerley church, the Churchwardens are your first contact point: Kay Bagshaw 01572 748 797; Martin Beattie 01780 721659.
The tower and spire of Wakerley church stand above the tiny village and form a distinct feature of the Welland valley, clearly visible from far across the river.
Wakerley has a very long history, lying as it does just off the prehistoric Jurassic Way from the north-east towards Somerset. The name is probably derived from the Anglo-Saxon, meaning willow copse.
Domesday Book (1086) records a priest at Wakerley. Though it does not explicitly record a church, it is unlikely that there was not a place for the priest to say Mass. There is no trace of such a building remaining but the chancel arch and the masonry of the nave walls are clear indications of early 12th century work. The tower, spire, chapels and porch were added in the 14th and 15th centuries when the chancel was rebuilt. There are magnificent carvings on the arch capitals of knights on horse back and monsters.
J.B.Corby of Stamford restored the church in 1875 and designed many of the interior furnishings. The building from the outside looks today much as it did in the 15th century. In contrast a complete church of the Norman period can be seen nearby just over the river at Tixover.
The population of the village of Wakerley has not exceeded 100 in recent years and the village is only half a mile from Barrowden, which has a larger population and a sizeable mediaeval church. By 1970 Wakerley church had become unsafe and could no longer be used for worship. Urgent repairs were carried out and service were resumed but the cost of upkeep was too much for the local congregation and in 1972 the church was declared redundant and is now the responsibility of the Churches Conservation Trust.
With the long association between this church and the Burghley family, it was hoped that it might be taken over by the Marquis of Exeter. However, it came into the care of the redundant churches fund in October 1974. Substantial repairs to roofs and walls have since been carried out under the supervision of Messrs Bond and Read of Grantham.
The churchyard contains a good 18th century tomb-chest. On the East there is a lychgate as a 1914-1918 War Memorial.