2016 sees the West Lindsey Churches Festival (held every May) celebrate its 20th year, in which time it has grown to become one of the largest open churches festivals in Europe. The 2016 festival has also achieved a record number of churches involved, with 94 taking part this year. The festival celebrated these two milestones at its annual conference on Wednesday March 9, where over 100 people gathered at Hemswell Court, all of them involved in caring for these historic buildings and making the festival a success.
Among the speakers were chair of the Festival Committee, Paul Howitt Cowan, Linda Patrick (festival brochure producer/editor), Angela Montague of Push Creativity (PR, social media and festival website), and Chris Robey, MD of Systematic Print (sponsors and printers of the brochure).
Giving an excellent talk entitled ”What mean These Stones?’ was the Ven. Mark Steadman, Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey.
The keynote speaker was Dr Jonathan Foyle, award-winning BBC broadcaster, author of two well-received monographs on cathedrals – Canterbury and Lincoln – and Visiting Professor in Conservation at the University of Lincoln. Dr Foyle entertained and informed the audience with a talk about the architecture of Lincoln Cathedral and the symbolism of the red and white rose.
Festival chair Paul Howitt-Cowan commented on the festival’s success: “Last year visitor numbers had increased by 1,536 to 7229, and volunteer numbers were up from 456 to 639 – 183 more. With a record 94 churches taking part this year, we hope these figures will go up again and I encourage everyone to get involved: these buildings really are little gems of heritage, scattered across Lincolnshire.”
A celebration cake was cut to mark the occasion, made by festival committee member Jo Thompson, who represents Brocklesby Church and Mausoleum. “This is the biggest cake I’ve made in my life, and decorating it was quite a challenge! I’ve created a map of West Lindsey with the icing, as well as the festival logo, and there are 94 silver balls represented all the churches and 20 candles for our 20th year.”
West Lindsey’s annual Open Churched Festival is free-entry and invites visitors to enjoy the rich heritage that each church offers alongside a host of activities including lunches, organ music, bell ringing, crafts, book sales, art displays and themed exhibitions. This year the festival takes place on 7-8th May – (churches to the East of the district) and 14-15th May (churches to the West). Full details can be found on the website www.churchesfestival.info