The Church Building
The Church was consecrated by the Bishop of Lincoln on the 17th August 1848. Before 1848, Manthorpe was a small wayside village of stone cottages, strung out along what is now the Low Road, with only a few scattered cottages, higher up the slope.
Until 1806, the road to Belton was by way of Swallow's Mill and round the edge of the Park to the Lion Gate, then down the Main Avenue to Belton House. The land between Manthorpe and Belton was part of the Open Field system, farmed in strips by the villagers of Manthorpe. With the coming of the Enclosure Act, the Enclosure Commission for Great Gonerby and Manthorpe of 1806 allocated most of this land to Lord Brownlow, who agreed in return to make and maintain a new road, including a footpath, between Belton, Manthorpe and Little Gonerby, and also a connecting lane to Great Gonerby.
The building of St John the Evangelist, Manthorpe began in 1847 and was completed, including the spire, in 1848. Some new cottages were also built, mainly the brick cottages along the west side of the Main Road, but some of the older stone cottages were obviously improved by brick additions at about this time. The decade 1841 to 1851 saw the largest increase in the number of new churches than any other decade of the 19th century. There was a similar increase in the number of clergy. Even so the religious census of 1851 showed that only a minority of people attended a place of worship, especially in the urban areas, and of the minority attending only about half attended Church of England services.
It is against this background that the opening of Manthorpe Church took place. Undoubtedly there was in the Lincoln Diocese, under the leadership of Bishop John Kaye, a drive to build new churches and parsonages where changes in population merited them. In 1849 Manthorpe with Londonthorpe was constituted a church district within the parish of Grantham. The census of 1851 shows this ecclesiastical district to have a population of 254.
The costs of construction of the Church at Manthorpe was at the sole expense of the Hon. and Revd. Richard Cust, M.A., Rector of Belton and the brother of the second Earl Brownlow. Earl Brownlow gave an acre of land for the Church, the vicarage and the graveyard, which he enclosed. Together with the Hon. and Revd. Richard Cust he endowed the living and the vicarage. The living was a perpetual curacy united with Londonthorpe and under the patronage of Earl Brownlow.
The spire was built by the eight surviving children of Lady Brownlow and her son-in-law Sir William Middleton. The painted east window was installed by contributions from 54 clergymen in appreciation of the Hon. and Revd. Richard Cust in building the Church.
Today the area served by St John's has a population of about 3500. Manthorpe itself is a village of some 40 houses on the edge of Belton Park (National Trust) and is a conservation area. The town of Grantham has grown out to reach Manthorpe through the building of a large estate of private housing, begun in 1964, the development of which continues today.
The parish is no longer connected to Belton and Londonthorpe but has oversight from the incumbent of St Wulfram's Church Grantham. Parish management is undertaken by the church wardens, local clergy, readers, lay minsters and other volunteers.