An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 5, Archaeology and Churches in Northampton. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1985.
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Collingtree is a small sub-rectangular parish of 278 hectares bounded on the N. by Wootton Brook, on the W. by Milton Malsor and on the S. and E. by Courteenhall. The parish is fairly flat, running from a height of 101 m. above OD at its S.W. end down a gentle slope to 70 m. above OD at its N. end where it joins Wootton Brook. Most of the parish is situated on sand and gravel with some alluvium at its N. end on the sides of Wootton Brook and some Boulder Clay at its S. end. It has always been closely linked to Milton Malsor (VCH Northamptonshire IV, 271–3), the two parishes presumably having been formed out of a single larger estate. Only that part of the parish which lies to the N. of the M1 motorway is within the development area and only this portion, 120 hectares in area, is included in this Inventory. For the remainder of the parish, see RCHM Northamptonshire IV, 102, Milton Malsor.
Prehistoric and Roman
Worked flints have been discovered at five locations within the parish (c. SP 756557; NDC P237. c. SP 753551; NDC P238. c. SP 755551; NDC P239. c. SP 750561; also one (?) Belgic potsherd and one Iron Age or early to middle Saxon potsherd; NDC P243. c. SP 749561; NDC P244). Roman coins have been discovered at two locations within the parish (SP 75185567; AE4 Urbs Roma felix; NDC R226. SP 75045582; AE4 Fel temp reparatio; Northamptonshire Archaeol 15 (1980), 107; NDC R227).
Medieval and Later
Two sherds of early to middle Saxon pottery have been discovered during field-walking at c. SP 749561 (NDC AS30) and an Iron Age or early to middle Saxon potsherd was found during field-walking at c. SP 750561 (NDC AS29).
The building appears to have originated with an un-aisled Romanesque nave of two squares; its S.E. corner is still visible externally in the angle between the chancel and S. aisle. The present position of the S. doorway may mark the original door alignment. The Romanesque S. doorway of the chancel appears to be in situ thus establishing the line of the S. wall of the chancel as 12th-century. The N. wall of the chancel lies in the same relationship to the nave, so it is likely that the N. wall is also of 12th-century origin. At the same time, two-bay aisles were added to the nave. The lack of N.-S. alignment between the position of the arcade piers suggests the existence of a pre-existing arcade on one side or the other. In the early 13th century the nave and aisles were lengthened one bay to the W. The chancel had achieved its present length and the aisles their present width by 1400. The tower appears to date from the 15th century, although it may incorporate an earlier structure in its lower parts. The clearstorey may be late-medieval in origin although the present, post-medieval, windows cut the wall plate. The present roof is lower than the late medieval roof, a fragment of which survives behind the E. gable. The N. aisle was removed in 1808 (Faculty, NRO 74P/37). The whole church was extensively restored in 1871–4 (Builders' account, NRO 74P/38), and the N. vestry and organ chamber added in 1891. (VCH Northamptonshire IV, 240–2)
Collingtree and Milton Malsor were closely connected tenurially in 1086 (DB f. 227b). The priest recorded as being on Geoffrey Alsein's holding could have served a church in either vill, though Milton was clearly the caput of the estate. When the episcopal records begin it is clear that Collingtree and Milton were united and held in moiety under lay patronage (e.g. Rot Gross, 203).
In the N. wall are an archway and a doorway, both 19th-century openings into the 19th-century N. vestry/organ chamber. To the E. is a blocked doorway, chamfered, with a two-centred head, which opened into a former vestry. At the E. end of the wall is a window of three cinquefoil-headed lights and below it, a straight-headed aumbry. The four-centred E. window has five cinquefoil-headed lights. The E. wall has been extensively rebuilt. At the E. end of the S. wall is a three-light window with intersecting tracery of the 19th century. Formerly the window was straight-headed with three trefoil-headed lights (Clarke). Below the window are three ogee-headed sedilia with pierced cusps. The worn head bosses appear medieval but the pinnacles are 19th-century. The S. doorway, now blocked, has an unmoulded round head and simple impost mouldings in the soffit. Inset in the external face of the wall to the E. of the doorway is an arched tomb recess; the arch is much distorted. The window to the W. of the S. door is of two lights with tracery of a quatrefoil. There is a straight-headed low side window below. Between the window and the S. jamb of the chancel arch is a small recess, possibly a squint (VCH Northamptonshire IV, 241). The chancel roof is. 19th century. The crease visible on the E. face of the chancel arch gable indicates that the chancel roof was formerly of a steeper pitch and had lower eaves. The height of the wall was raised in the 19th century when the parapets were added.
The N. aisle was removed in 1808 but the piers and responds of the three-bay arcade are still visible in the blocking wall. There is a late 19th-century single-light window in the blocking of each arch, replacing similar but larger windows of 1808. The arcade arches are double-chamfered. The W. respond has a polygonal half-shaft with a simple moulded capital, of the 14th or 15th century. The W. pier has a round shaft and moulded capital, the E. pier a round shaft but square capital. The E. respond is square and has a simple impost moulding. Above the respond is the blocked, straight-headed opening of the former rood loft doorway. The chancel arch is of two hollow-chamfered orders, the outer continuous, the inner carried on polygonal half-shafts with crudely moulded capitals. The S. arcade is the same as the N. However, above the arcade are three straight-headed two-light clearstorey windows of the 17th century. The W. wall is pierced by a tall tower arch, the three orders of which die into the wall. The tie-beam roof of the nave is perhaps 18th-century.
There is a continuous moulding running above the S. face of the S. arcade. A similar moulding, now cut away, formerly existed above the external face of the N. arcade. The straight-headed E. window has two cusped lights with pierced spandrels. The head of the E. wall is battlemented. The two windows in the S. wall are similar in detailing to the E. window but of three lights. Their moulded mullions and cusping are 19th-century insertions. Underneath the window is a piscina, the head of which is a miniature shouldered arch. The S. doorway has a two-centred head and is continuously moulded with addorsed ogees. Over it are visible the voussoirs of an earlier doorway. There is a trefoil-headed niche above. The W. window is similar to the E. The W. wall is battlemented. The font is of 'table' type but has a round bowl. Grotesque heads are sculpted at the junction of the bowl and the legs. The aisle roof is 19th-century.
The outer S. doorway is of two orders with continuous hollow chamfers. There is a small niche above. In the side walls are two light 19th-century windows. There is a section of 17th-century panelling ex situ against the E. wall.
The tower rises in three stages with diagonal buttresses and modest set-backs. There is a deep plinth moulding. A blocked four-centred W. doorway is moulded with three rolls and hollows and has crude foliage carving in the spandrels. The W. window is of two lights with panel tracery. Halfway up the central stage is a break in the fabric. The belfry openings are of two lights with tracery of a quatrefoil. The tower stair on the S. side appears to be added; it is carried on shallow, awkward corbels.
b(2) Saxon Settlement (centred on SP 75645575), E. of Collingtree village, on fluvial sand and gravel, at 80 m. above OD. A scatter of 13 definitely and seven possibly early to middle Saxon potsherds was discovered during field-walking in 1980. Eighty per cent of the sherds came from an area of approximately 0.75 hectares in the N.W. corner of the field (centred on SP 75645575) though the settlement seems likely to continue into the field to the W. and possibly that to the N. (CBA Group 9 Newsletter 12 (1982), 40; NDC AS28). Possible ditches are reported in the same field from an aerial photograph taken in 1979 (Northamptonshire Archaeol 15 (1980), 177; NDC A73).
(3) Cultivation Remain. The common fields of Collingtree were enclosed, together with those of Milton Malsor, by an Act of Parliament of 1779 (NRO, Enclosure Map 1780). The S. part of the medieval parish of Collingtree is now part of Milton Malsor parish (see RCHM Northamptonshire IV, Milton Malsor (8)).
Ridge-and-furrow of these common fields exists on the ground or can be traced on air photographs in a number of places in the area now within Northampton. Some survives in Collingtree Park (SP 755558), and elsewhere there are regular interlocked furlongs, many of reverse-S form (e.g. SP 747555). At the latter location there is considerable variety in the width of ridges which range from 5 m. to 9 m. across. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1920, 5024–7; 1994, 2177–80, 3172–4)