Looking back on 900th birthday celebrations for church

Members of the congregation walk from Crowland Abbey to Freiston Church as part of the anniversary events
Members of the congregation walk from Crowland Abbey to Freiston Church as part of the anniversary events

A local church has rounded off a busy year of events to celebrate 900 years since the founding of its priory.

Freiston Church and its supporters held a series of walks, talks and services in 2014 to commemorate the landmark, the latest being a Christmas Tree Festival and Fayre.

Louise Pearson said: “When in 1114, 5000 knights, abbotts, monks and people gathered at Crowland to watch the Norman baron Alan de Croun give an endowment for a great Priory and church at Freiston, the village was a small place in the middle of a swampy marsh.

“Nine hundred years on and you’ll find a wonderful festive atmosphere and a warm welcome awaiting you in the magnificent Norman St James’ church.”

In March, events included a trip to Crowland Abbey and a celebration service with a talk by the Archdeacon of Boston.

In April, organisers had a Pilgrimage from Crowland to Freiston, while another walk took place in the town centre and a service took place at Freiston Shore.

In May, residents got the chance to live like a monk for the day. June included a celebration of marriage at the church including photography displays, bridal wares and stories.

In July, the church held its Freiston St James Festival with a service and a picnic and party on the playing field.

Other events have included history displays and items from church archives on display including church registers and bike rides to Crowland and back.

A brief story of a priory founding

*Although it is believed a building already existed, the Freiston priory was founded following a ceremony in 1114.

*The chronicles report that up to 5000 people attended the event hosted by Abbott Joffrid.

*A range of important people including Norman barons gave bequests to Crowland Abbey in the form of a large symbolic brick laying ceremony.

*Endowments were also placed on the bricks and these were laid into the Abbey walls.

*The Norman Baron Alan de Croun and his family endowed to the funds and lands in order for the abbey.

*He also gave as part of the endowment the patronages to the parishes and the then existing churches of Freiston, Butterwick, Fishtoft and Burton Pedwardine.

*Prior to the dissolution, it is believed to have been one of the fourth richest priories in the country.

*After, large parts of the Priory were removed, including a second tower, the monks choir and transepts.

*The great font cover dates to the late 15th century and is one of only a handful which have survived in the UK. Originally it was almost completely gilded, and legend has it that it was carved by an apprentice who was murdered in a fit of jealousy by his master.

*The church has undergone several works with the tower completed in the 1600s and a Victorian refurbishment in the 1870s.