The Rigsby family built the first Norman church sometime prior to 1086. It is believed to have been the first church of Alford and Rigsby, most probably Saxon, sequestrated by William the Conqueror and as with much of the area, given to Bishop Odo of Bayeux (his half brother). The Norman church, a chalk walled and thatched roof structure, built by Herbert, was converted to a Chapelry by Robert de Welle in 1195. Later it was given to the Gilbertine Priory of St Catherine by Gilbert of Rigsby in whose hands it remained for 300 years. The inner portions of the doorway and the arch between the Nave and Vestry are remnants of the original Norman building. The Registrar dates from 1686.
The present building, designed by James Fowler of Louth was erected in 1863 at a cost of £685. All the labourers in the parish contributed a week's wages. The inner portions of the doorway, parts of the West front and the arch from the nave to the vestry are remnants of the original Norman building. The small tower contains one bell but this is too fragile to be rung
The stained glass catherine wheel window in the West front was given by Lady Mary Nisbet-Hamilton. Those in the Chancel are in memory of Mrs. Mary Higgins, wife of John Higgins of Alford who died in Jan 1862 They represent: The Good Shepherd - The Ascension - The True Vine. The stained glass window in the Apse is in memory of Annie who died in August 1863, aged 16, the youngest daughter of the late Dr. Robert Uvedale West of Alford and his wife Mary The Sword and Helmet were discovered in a tomb (unidentified) in the Churchyard ( White’s Directory 1872) but are not now considered to be of Roman origin as thought then, more probably date from the 15th century. The octagonal font dates from 1350-1500. The parish population in 1872 was 96 souls, in 1922 was 72, and by 2000 had reduced to 16.
Amongst the non-residents of the parish buried in the Rigsby Churchyard, are the various Vicars of Alford : William Willoughby (1792), John Henry Jowitt (1882) William Henry Higgns (1910), and of Saleby : Felix Laurent (1878); the Higgin’s and Botham family vaults, Sir Walter Lancelot Travers, Knight G.I.E., O.B.E.( 1937), and Mrs Euphemia Oldrid, (1865), wife of the Rev 1 H Oldrid and sister to the eminent Victorian architect, Sir Gilbert Scott.
St James is ideal for private candle lit weddings. On average there are 2 or 3 weddings per decade, so a very select group should you decide to get married in Rigsby.Mr & Mrs Burgin, December 2014
With thanks to Gil and Rob for letting us share these images of their big day at Rigsby
As of August 2022 the church is now open to visitors as the steeple has been rebuilt after being in a state of danger. Some limited services have resumed
With kind permission of Jim Laws:
More photos of the church are available on Geograph.org