Let’s start by saying that Simon Jenkins gives this church four stars: that is, he sees it as one of England’s top one hundred churches. It doesn’t have any single unique treasure. It has no Anglo-Saxon or Norman work to make it exceptionally ancient. Brant Broughton rather is a near-perfect example of the beauty of Gothic architecture at its absolute best. It is coherent and beautiful. The interior was restored by the Victorian architect, G.F.Bodley, who demonstrated why restoration need not be synonymous with desecration.
Brant Broughton (pron “Broo-ton) is such a small, out-of-the-way place. At the 2001 Census, the population along with the tiny village of Stragglethorpe was 631! The tower and spire are 198 feet high: that’s about four inches for every head of the population! None of the literature I have has anything to say about why the church is so large and rich. The Church Guide (which does scant justice to its subject) says that Brant Broughton means “burnt fortified manor” in Anglo-Saxon, thus indicating that an early settlement was built and then destroyed here. It also says that a church and priest were recorded here in Domesday Book in 1086. Nothing remains of this or any predecessor church, although some masonry fragments were found during the restoration.
The earliest part of the church is the west windows of the aisles which are about 1290. Most of the rest is late Decorated or early Perpendicular - late c14. There are porches on both north and south sides probably from around the same period that are nearly identical and exceptionally fine. The clerestory is late perpendicular. The nave ceiling is a delight. It too was restored but retaining as much original timber as possible and using the original colours
The chancel is totally “new”; built in 1874 to replace the original that was demolished in 1812. It blends in with the rest of the church remarkably well. The ceilings are very beautiful.
What brought me to Brant Broughton was my hunt for the Demon Carver. Pevsner had pointed the way and I had already investigated friezes all over Rutland and part of Lincolnshire. The frieze at Brant Broughton took my breath away with its state of preservation and eclectic mix of themes. It is also the most widespread of friezes that I have seen. It remains an intriguing question whether this frieze is of the same “school” as the others. Perhaps it has more in common with nearby Sleaford which also has a riot of