An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 6, Architectural Monuments in North Northamptonshire. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1984.
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ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE ANCIENT AND HISTORICAL MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS OF ENGLAND
Report to the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty
We, the undersigned Commissioners, appointed to make an Inventory of the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions connected with or illustrative of the contemporary culture, civilisation and conditions of life of the people of England from the earliest times to the year 1714, and such further Monuments and Constructions subsequent to that year as may seem in our discretion to be worthy of mention therein, and to specify those which seem most worthy of preservation, do humbly submit to Your Majesty the following Report being the fortieth Report on the work of the Commission since its first appointment.
2. With regret we have to record the retirement from the Commission upon expiry of term of office of Professor John Kenneth Sinclair St Joseph, Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Fellow of the British Academy, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and Professor Sheppard Sunderland Frere, Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Fellow of the British Academy, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.
3. We have to thank your Majesty for the appointment to the Commission of Professor Antony Charles Thomas, Doctor of Letters, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, under Your Majesty's Royal Sign Warrant dated 30 March 1983.
4. We have pleasure in reporting the completion of our recording of architectural monuments in the northern part of the County of Northampton, an area comprising twenty-four parishes containing 688 monuments.
5. Following our usual practice we have prepared an illustrated Inventory of these monuments, which will be issued as a non-Parliamentary publication entitled An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northampton Volume VI Architectural Monuments in North Northamptonshire. As in recent Inventories, the Commissioners have adopted the terminal date of 1850 for the monuments included in the Inventory.
6. The methods adopted in previous Inventories of describing monuments have been broadly followed, but the lengths of the descriptions have been curtailed where possible. The full records of the buildings from which the published accounts have been prepared are available in the National Monuments Record. An assessment of the architecture, both ecclesiastical and secular, has been attempted in a more comprehensive way than hitherto, with less emphasis on sectional headings; this is printed as a preface.
7. Early buildings in that part of the county which has been surveyed have generally not been subject to injudicious alterations during recent years. Churches for the most part are well preserved and maintained, in some instances at considerable cost to the community; their good structural condition is partly due to the care and attention they received before the First World War, and as a result extensive restoration has generally not been necessary. The stripping of much internal plaster and subsequent coarse repointing of masonry was perhaps the most unfortunate of the work that took place at this time. These buildings will require structural conservation in the future and we hope that this work will be carried out in such a way that the existing fabric is respected and the archaeological significance of new evidence recognized. Larger houses have tended to be more vulnerable to alteration or demolition than the smaller. The largest, Apethorpe Hall, has not been afforded the protection expected for a building in public hands; two country houses of considerable architectural merit, destroyed since the last war, are briefly described in the Inventory. Smaller houses, by providing economically-sized dwellings, are well maintained, but 'improvements' in the way of small alterations, such as the replacement of original windows, offer a constant threat to the original appearance of these houses.
8. Our special thanks are due to incumbents and churchwardens who have allowed our staff access to the churches in their care. We are particularly indebted to Mr. P. I. King, the Northamptonshire County Archivist, and to the staff of the County Record Office for their help; also to Mr. G. H. Boyle of Bisbrook Hall for providing access to documents relating to Laxton Hall, and to Mr. R. W. M. Clauston for supplying information on bells.
(1) Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin and All Saints: outstanding example of 15th-century architecture, associated with the Yorkist dynasty; 15th-century painted pulpit, 16th-century tombs of the Dukes of York.
(1) Parish Church of St. John the Baptist: large church of 13th-century origin, considerably rebuilt in the 14th and 15th centuries; one arcade of 17th-century Gothic design, and early 18th-century mausoleum with decorative ironwork.
(1) Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin: large aisled church of the 12th century with complicated development into the 13th and 14th centuries; archaeologically significant remains in the west tower. Stalls from Fotheringhay church.
(2) Apethorpe Hall and associated buildings: of late 15th-century origin with extensive additions and remodelling of the 16th to 18th century, all of high architectural importance; elaborate ceilings and fireplaces.
The following list includes smaller houses which, although not necessarily outstanding, are good examples of their type or contain parts of earlier structures of some quality, and as such are recommended for preservation:
Most villages in the area surveyed have streets where a high proportion of pre-1850 buildings has been preserved. These buildings are of varying dates, categories, historical interest and visual appeal and apart from any individual merit, their value rests in the completeness of the picture they collectively present. We believe therefore that any alterations proposed should be very carefully considered.
11. In compiling the foregoing recommendations our criteria have been architectural or archaeological importance, not only locally but nationally, and the degree of loss to the nation that would result from destruction, bearing in mind the extent to which the monuments are illustrative of the contemporary culture, civilisation and conditions of life of the people of England, as required by Your Majesty's Warrant. We have not taken into account any attendant circumstances, such as the cost of maintenance, usefulness for present-day purpose, or problems of preservation.
12. We desire to express our acknowledgement of the good work accomplished by our executive staff in the preparation of this Inventory, especially Mr. S. D. T. Spittle (editorial); Mrs. S. E. Ault (editorial and investigation); Mr. R. F. Taylor and Mr. D. A. H. Richmond (investigation); Dr. B. E. A. Jones (documentary research); Mr. P. N. Hammond, Mr. B. Thomason and Mr. A. Donald (draughtsmanship); Mr. R. Parsons and Mr. R. Braybrook (photography).
13. We wish to acknowledge particularly the valuable assistance rendered to us over many years by our Investigator and Editor, Mr. S. D. T. Spittle, who has latterly been responsible for the management of our Cambridge office and for the production of volumes on Cambridgeshire, Stamford and Northamptonshire and who has recently retired.
15. The next volumes to be prepared from our Cambridge office will include broad surveys of architecture over the rest of Northamptonshire. In them an attempt will be made to deal separately with specific subjects, namely country houses and churches, to which the present volume has directed attention.