This Inventory is limited to twenty-four parishes, and therefore the following discussion is
based on a small number of churches. A forthcoming volume, devoted entirely to ecclesiastical
monuments in Northamptonshire, will, however, allow a review of these buildings in a wider
No excavation has been carried out in the churches of the area and thus this Preface takes the
form of a chronological analysis of the standing remains, most of which date from the Middle
Ages. Particular attention is paid to the development of the plans and cross-sections of the
churches; Fig. 9 has been included to illustrate the former on a comparative basis, and to chart
something of the rise and fall of building activity throughout the Middle Ages. The diagram
also shows the extent of the survival of building from one period to another, and demonstrates
the range of plans used during the medieval period. Furniture and fittings are considered
selectively and only those which provide evidence for the development and change in use of the
churches in which they are found are discussed in this Preface. The remainder are described in
the Inventory and listed in the Index.
All twenty-four parishes have parish churches with the exception of Fineshade, where there is
no church, and Ashton which is a chapelry of Oundle. The parish churches of Blatherwycke
and Wakerley are Redundant. There are five Non-Conformist chapels in use and two more in
ruins, all of which date from before 1850. There are also six chapels of later date. A room at the
rear of 2 Bridge Street, King's Cliffe (6) was formerly used as a Roman Catholic chapel.
During the Middle Ages there were considerably more ecclesiastical institutions and the
remains of three have been identified. At Harringworth (2) there are the remains of a small
chapel, and at Cotterstock and Fotheringhay parts of collegiate buildings survive. Those listed
below are known from documentary record and earthwork remains but do not survive as
buildings above ground level.
The Augustinian Priory of St. Mary at Fineshade was founded by Richard Engayne, who
died in 1208, and was dissolved in 1536 (Knowles and Hadcock, 140). No trace now remains of
the Priory but it probably lay near the site of the house which was demolished in 1956
(Fineshade (1)) (RCHM, Northants. I, Fineshade (3)).
The parish of St. Mary Magdalene at Blatherwycke was united with the parish of Holy
Trinity in 1448 (LAO, Reg. 18 Bp. Alnwick f.20, Blatherwycke). The reasons for the
amalgamation were given as the scarcity of land for cultivation and the poverty of the
parishioners. Services were to be celebrated on the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene in that
church, but parishioners were absolved from the obligation to repair it, except for the enclosure
of the churchyard. When the church fell into ruins the materials were to be used for the upkeep
of the churchyard wall or for the repair of Holy Trinity Church. The church of St. Mary
Magdalene was probably sited at the W. end of the present village where burials have been
found (RCHM, Northants. I, Blatherwycke (3)).
Fig. 8 Maps showing the medieval parishes and the distribution of churches surviving within the
There was a parish church at Hale dedicated to St. Nicholas. The village was abandoned at
the time of the Black Death (LAO, Reg. Burghersh f. 529; RCHM, Northants. I, Apethorpe
(4)). The site of the church is unknown but earthwork remains of the village were noted in 1947
near Cheeseman's Farm in the S. part of what is now Apethorpe parish; all traces have now
Two hospitals are known to have existed, at Armston in the parish of Polebrook and at Perio
in the parish of Southwick. It is probable that the Hospital of St. John the Baptist at Armston
was the chapel founded by Ralph de Trublevill and Alice his wife in 1232. It was dissolved in
1540 (RCHM, Northants. I, Polebrook (5); Knowles and Hadcock, 313; VCH, Northants. III,
105). The Hospital of St. John and St. Martin at Perio was founded in 1282. It was granted to
Cotterstock College in 1338, and had stopped functioning as a hospital by 1535 when it was
styled a free chapel. There are some earthwork remains of the settlement, but the site of the
hospital is unknown (RCHM, Northants. I, Southwick (13); Knowles and Hadcock, 330).
A number of chapels is also recorded. The Chapel of St. Anne and Our Lady was in the
churchyard at Bulwick. This was a perpetual chantry with two priests, founded by Geoffrey
Cappe in 1357 for the king, Henry Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt and Sir William la Zouche
of Harringworth. It appears that this chantry, originally within the church, was established in a
separate building in the churchyard by 1373 (LAO, Reg. Gynwell 9, Bulwick Chantry f.226;
Reg. Buckingham vol. 10 f. 192v, 16 June 1373). A Chapel of Ease is recorded at Elmington in
1189 (VCH, Northants. III, 99), but its location is unknown (RCHM, Northants. I, Ashton (5)).
A chapel dedicated to St. Leonard is said to have been founded at Armston in the 13th century
but it may well have been a part of the hospital. There were also a number of domestic chapels
associated with the larger houses in the area; they are discussed under Secular Buildings.
Evidence For Church Distribution and Location (Fig. 8)
The remains of pre-Conquest churches within the survey area are slight. Building work survives
at Nassington, which was a royal vill at the time of Canute (VCH, Northants. II, 587). The
church was of some size and elaboration and probably dates from the early 11th century. No
other early fabric can be identified but both King's Cliffe and Warmington appear to have plans
of Anglo-Saxon form. The earliest identifiable work at King's Cliffe is of the 12th century, but
the cruciform plan around a central tower with projecting angles is of the pre-Conquest form
defined as a 'regular crossing' by H. M. Taylor who gives parallels at Norton (County
Durham) and Stow (Lincolnshire), both dating from the late 10th and early 11th centuries. The
long narrow outline of the nave at Warmington is very similar to that of Nassington, and a
fragment of the triangular rear arch of a small window survives in the W. wall of the N. aisle.
The survey area lies between Stamford and Oundle, and the churches at King's Cliffe,
Nassington and Warmington form a group approximately mid-way between the two. There
was a monastic church at Oundle in the early 8th century when Wilfrid died there (B. Colgrave
and R. A. B. Mynors, eds., Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Oxford Medieval
Texts (1969), 528), and Stamford was well established in the 9th century (RCHM, Stamford) and
is likely to have been a centre of ecclesiastical activity. King's Cliffe and Nassington lie within a
late Saxon royal estate which can be identified from the Domesday Book (Fig. 4), and the
cruciform plan of King's Cliffe church has been associated with later pre-Conquest minster
churches (C. A. Ralegh Radford, 'Pre-Conquest Minster Churches', Arch. J., CXXX (1973),
131 ff.). Both these churches were large, as was Warmington, and all three appear to be of late
Saxon date. Priests are recorded in Domesday Book at both King's Cliffe and Nassington, and
also at Duddington, Fotheringhay and Wakerley.
A more detailed picture may be gained of the post-Conquest distribution (Fig. 8). Churches
at Blatherwycke, Collyweston, Cotterstock, Laxton, Tansor and Woodnewton display work of
the late 11th and early 12th century. Early in the 12th century Henry I endowed the prebend of
Nassington with the churches of Southwick, Tansor, Woodnewton and Nassington, with its
chapels of Apethorpe and Yarwell (LRS, 27, (1931), 30–1), all from within the area of the late
Saxon royal estate. By the end of the century all the churches within the survey area, except
for Lutton and Hemington, are known to have existed either from documentary sources or by
physical survival, and by the mid 13th century the complete pattern can be seen. This has
remained unchanged to the present day, but is now threatened by the redundancy of churches
and by the reduction in the number of clergy.
Only Nassington church has work that can certainly be assigned to the Anglo-Saxon period;
this consists of a W. tower or porch which predates a large, probably aisleless, nave. The tower
or porch was of at least three storeys, a room at the first floor had a double-splayed window
looking down into the nave, and the room above had a doorway which must have given access
to a gallery or upper floor at the W. end of the nave. The inner wall surface consists of rubble
and nothing remains to suggest the function of these rooms. The position of the upper door
indicates that the nave was very tall (Plate 2) and to judge from the size of the surviving W.
wall it is probable that the nave was of the same length as the present compartment; much of
the N. and S. walls may therefore survive from the Saxon period. A late 10th or early 11th-century date for this work has been suggested by H. M. Taylor (Taylor I, 455). There are also
indications of late Saxon churches at both King's Cliffe and Warmington (see Church
Distribution). Because of the late date of both these buildings they are considered under the
category of Saxo-Norman remains.
This work is distinguished by a mixture of simple late Saxon and primitive Norman features
and is therefore difficult to date with any precision. Work can be identified at Blatherwycke,
Collyweston, Cotterstock, King's Cliffe, Laxton, Tansor and Woodnewton, and belongs to the
11th and early 12th centuries. It is tabulated in column (1) of Fig. 9 with the slightly earlier
Anglo-Saxon fabric. At Laxton the evidence is confined to the S. doorway which has primitive
volute capitals. Herringbone masonry enables a nave width to be defined at Cotterstock and
three sides of a W. tower at Tansor. At Blatherwycke much of the E. wall of the W. tower
(Fig. 32) and the S. wall of the nave survives. The single-order tower arch is built of very large
voussoirs and the impost has a pseudo-classical moulding, which approximates to a cyma.
Centrally, above the tower arch, is a double-splayed window with radiating voussoirs which
must have given a view E. from a first-floor compartment. Higher up again is an opening, now
in the belfry, which incorporates the reused jambs of a small early Norman doorway with
volute capitals (Plate 5). The head of the opening and the surrounding wall are all of post-medieval date. This was probably an external door, wider than at present, which was moved up
when the tower was rebuilt, perhaps in the 17th century. The S. doorway is also of early
Norman character (Plate 14) and has similar volute capitals. The walls where exposed are built
of rubble composed of fairly large blocks and it is probable that all this work is of the late 11th
Fig. 9 Table showing comparative development of church plans
At Collyweston there are no datable architectural features, but a very unusual fabric of large
irregular blocks with levelling courses defines the outline of the nave and chancel (Figs. 42, 43).
One jamb of a window survives in the chancel wall, and the nave and chancel plinths are
preserved in part. Distinctive though this work is there is little to indicate its date, but it will be
seen that the plan forms of the naves of Blatherwycke and Collyweston are the same and that
they match those of other naves, some of which are more clearly of Norman date. This group
will be discussed below.
The early work at Woodnewton consists of an arch in the N. wall of the S. transept and the
remnant of the triangular rear arch of a blocked window in the S. aisle. A church with at least a
chancel, transverse chapel, nave and S. aisle is indicated. The semicircular arch to the transept
(Plate 3) is like that at Blatherwycke and has capitals and bases with similar pseudo-classical
mouldings, and may date from the later 11th century. The latest work in this group is the
central tower of King's Cliffe. Although no fabric of the tower can be assigned to the Saxon
period the irregular plan at ground and first-floor levels, and the protruding corners are both
characteristic of Saxon work (Figs. 115, 116). The lower part of the tower is now obscured by
plaster except for the surviving external projecting corner at the S.E. which is built with
uniform rectangular quoins of hard shelly limestone. The upper part of the tower has a double-chamfered string course which forms the front edge of the sill of four openings of similar
width, each central in its side. The openings on the E., N. and S. are all of similar design and
are clearly windows, but that on the W. is different. It is of a single order and has two wider
semicircular openings separated by two shafts supporting a through-stone abacus. It is suggested
that this opening may have housed bells. Below the E. window is a small contemporary
window which gave a view E. into the chancel from an upper room. Both the internal and
external faces of the tower are built of coursed, rough blockwork, and probably date from the
early 12th century.
The available evidence gives a very fragmentary view of Saxo-Norman building in the area,
but it is clear that there are some common elements of style and form. Perhaps the most
consistent is that the towers at Nassington, Blatherwycke and King's Cliffe all had upper
compartments from which an interior view of the church could be obtained, presumably to
allow the main altar to be seen. This tradition seems to carry on into the 12th century as
demonstrated at Tansor and perhaps Cotterstock. The earliest buildings in this group, King's
Cliffe, and Nassington, have plans which are unmistakably pre-Conquest. Other buildings
where evidence of plan form still exists, at Blatherwycke, Collyweston and Woodnewton,
appear to have a plan type which persists until the late 12th century and this may be the clearest
indication that they belong to the post-Conquest period (Fig. 10).
Fabric included under this heading is confined to that with clearly recognizable Norman
characteristics. It is tabulated in column (2) of Fig. 9, and consists of work at Blatherwycke,
Cotterstock, Duddington, Easton-on-the-Hill, Glapthorn, Nassington, Tansor and Wakerley,
and has a date range from c. 1125 to c. 1190. The stylistic evidence consists of a number of well
known forms ranging from cushion capitals and chevron ornament at Wakerley to scalloped
capitals and billet ornament at Tansor. The full range is described in the Inventory. The
outstanding work of this period is at Wakerley where the size of the building, the arrangement
of the E. wall of the nave (Fig. 195) and the quality of the carved decoration throughout are
remarkable (Plates 10, 11). The carving of the main capitals of the chancel arch has been
compared by Professor Zarnecki with the work at Castor and a similar date of 1125 to 1130
suggested. The more abstract carving of the smaller capitals may be compared with the work at
St. Peter's, Northampton.
Fig. 10 Norman naves of double-square proportion. Group 1 demonstrable. Group 2 inferred.
Dimensions in metres.
The outlines of three naves at this period can be traced at Duddington, Glapthorn and
Tansor. The first two of these and the earlier naves at Collyweston and Blatherwycke, though
different in size, are all of the same proportion in plan which conforms to a double-square (Fig.
10, Group 1). The long dimension runs from the E. side of the chancel arch to the internal face
of the W. wall of the nave and the short dimension is the internal width. As the double-square
does not conform precisely with either the external or the internal measurements of the nave it
is suggested that it was not merely an aid to setting out, but that it was a device for working
out the interior space of the nave including that under the chancel arch. The double-square also
clearly defines a division between nave and chancel on the E. side of the chancel arch. In this
form of building the chancel arch is always within the E. wall of the nave and the chancel has
only three structural walls. This line between nave and chancel, coincident in both structure and
planning, may shed some light on the exact division of responsibility for maintenance of the
church at this early date, later known to have been divided between parish and rector. Only at
Collyweston is there an identifiable contemporary chancel but this is only a fragment and thus
the dimensional relationship between nave and chancel is not recoverable. However, it is clear
that this chancel was short, and narrower than the nave, and also that the outer faces of the side
walls of the chancel were in line with the inner faces of the side walls of the nave. One further
factor is an entrance on the S. towards the W. end found in the naves at Collyweston,
Blatherwycke, Duddington and Easton-on-the-Hill.
Among this combined group of Saxo-Norman and Norman churches it is possible, therefore,
to recognize the following characteristics of plan form:
A. A double-square system of proportion for the nave.
B. An entrance position towards the W. end of the S. side of the nave.
C. A relationship between the side walls of the nave and the chancel. (The inner faces of the
walls of the nave line through with the outer faces of the walls of the chancel.)
D Short chancels.
(This factor is common to most churches of the period.)
Applying these characteristics to buildings without extensive identifiable work of the period it is
possible to add three, or perhaps four, more churches to the group (Fig. 10, Group 2).
Wakerley church has a double-square nave (A) and the nave and chancel wall relationship (C).
Although the W. end of the nave was entirely rebuilt in the 14th century, the abnormally thick
W. wall probably incorporates part of the Norman W. wall. There is now no trace of a
Norman doorway in the nave because of re-building. This same combination of factors, nave
proportion (A) and nave and chancel wall relationship (C), also applies at Woodnewton and
provides a simple explanation for the plan and suggests the position of an early chancel arch.
The single factor of the nave and chancel wall relationship (C) suggests that the W. ends of the
N. and S. walls of the chancel at Easton-on-the-Hill are of Norman origin and perhaps
contemporary with the S. wall of the nave. The door position in the S. aisle may suggest that
this Norman nave was of double-square proportion, but the Norman W. wall has been lost.
There is one other church, at Yarwell, which on the basis of nave and chancel wall relationship
(C) and the short length of the chancel (D) may belong to this group, but it appears to have no
fabric earlier than the 13th century.
To summarise, seven churches with identifiable work of the late 11th and 12th centuries
exhibit one or more of the characteristics listed above (Fig. 10).
Fig. 11 Naves possibly of Norman origin
It may be possible to add three more churches, Harringworth, Lutton and Polebrook, to the
list of those with Norman origins although like Yarwell, they appear to have no fabric earlier
than the late 12th or early 13th century and to have a plan form typical of the Gothic period
(Fig. 11). The position of entrance doors in the aisles at a point more or less central along the
length of the nave, suggests that these churches once had a Norman double-square nave with an
entrance at the W. end of the side wall (B). This observation is supported by the fact that when
no earlier influence on planning existed, as at Apethorpe and Fotheringhay, which were entirely
rebuilt in the 15th century, the main entrances were again placed at the W. end of the nave.
It is not possible to determine precisely what were the basic plan forms of these churches
because of later alteration, but it is clear that by the mid 12th century most were more
complicated than the simple two-cell form defined by Sir Alfred Clapham as the 'two-apartment
type' (English Romanesque Architecture after the Conquest (1934), p. 104). Indeed Woodnewton
appears to have had at least an aisle and transeptal chapel as early as the late 11th century.
Clapham also makes a distinction between this type of Norman plan and the pre-Conquest
plans of similar type which have naves of narrower proportion, as at Nassington, and perhaps
Warmington. He further states that the simple nave and chancel type comprise the vast majority
of early Norman churches, an observation confirmed in the area under study where most of
these churches had naves with a double-square proportion (A).
A notable exception to this plan type occurs at Tansor, which was rebuilt, except for the W.
tower, in the mid 12th century. The nave and chancel walls were built in line, the nave with
arcades of four bays, and the chancel with semicircular-headed windows or blind arcading at a
high level (Plate 12). The division between nave and chancel is now obscured by rebuilding, but
is probably marked by a change in floor level. It is likely that there was no chancel arch and that
the nave and chancel were roofed at the same level. A similar plan type occurs at St. Peter's,
Northampton, at St. Mary in Castro, Leicester, and at All Saints, Laughton-en-le-Morthen,
Yorkshire. The W. tower was converted to house a large first-floor gallery or pew with a wide
semicircular-headed opening looking down the nave to the main altar, and an ample stair in a
rectangular turret was constructed to serve it (Fig. 188). This uncommon plan and the upper
compartment which dominated the W. end of the church suggest that this rebuilding was
initiated by a person of some importance, possibly Hascuil de St. James who held five and a
third hides in Tansor in the mid 12th century (VCH, Northants, I, 362–3). The other churches of
this type are close to Norman castles which might indicate that they too were associated with
people of importance. This unified plan form, which is more reminiscent of a choir and
sanctuary of a conventual church than the nave and chancel of a parish church, may have been
devised to combine the functions of private chapel and parish church.
There is a large variation in size within the group of naves which conform to a double-square
proportion, the smallest being at Glapthorn (length 8.2 m., width 4.1 m.) and the largest at
Wakerley (length 14.8 m., width 7.4 m.). A further impression of 12th-century naves can be
gained from surviving features which illustrate their shape in cross section. The 12th-century
eaves course of the S. wall of the nave at Wakerley is preserved indicating a wall height of 6.5
m., and the line of a matching roof with a pitch of about forty-five degrees is outlined by a
weathering on the E. face of the later tower. The line of the 12th-century nave roof is also
preserved at Tansor on the E. face of the tower. This also indicates a pitch of about forty-five
degrees and suggests an eaves height for the nave similar to that at Wakerley (Figs. 188, 195).
The nave width at Tansor is, however, only 4.2 m., scarcely more than half that at Wakerley.
There are indications of 12th-century aisle widths at Duddington (1.9 m.) and Tansor (2.0 m.)
but both have been rebuilt.
Very little exterior detail of 12th-century work survives. The tower at Cotterstock appears to
have been unbuttressed and of rather squat proportions. The sole surviving stair, at Tansor, is
built on a rough concrete spiral barrel vault and has discontinuous stone treads with a central
newel. The stair is generous with a tread-width of 650 mm., and it rises to the first-floor room.
All churches of this period appear to have been built with rubble walls of local limestone, the
size of blocks used being perhaps a little larger than in later work. Quoins, dressings, and
decorative work are in better quality limestone, some of which is the hard shelly type associated
with the quarries at Barnack. The only exception is at Collyweston where the earliest walls are
quite distinct. They are built of very large roughly shaped blocks of limestone with a fair face,
interspersed with narrow wedge-shaped levelling courses (Fig. 42).
No fittings or furniture survive from this period except perhaps for a plain piscina at Tansor
which has been reset. Evidence for secondary altars survives at Wakerley, where they were
against the E. wall of the aisleless nave flanking the chancel arch (Fig. 195). The only other
evidence for use is plan form which suggests that the congregation were never far from the
chancel arch and, assuming a short chancel, they must therefore have been aware of the detail of
Fig. 12 Thirteenth-century naves of three-square proportion. Dimensions in metres
The period of rebuilding which began in the late 12th century left hardly a church untouched.
Nearly all were expanded, and new plans and cross sections were developed. Chancels were
made longer and in some cases wider, naves lengthened, and aisles were an almost universal
feature exhibiting great variation in width. Tall rectangular towers were built and crowned with
broach spires. So fundamental and extensive was this programme of expansion that the naves
and chancels of many churches reached a plan size which was never subsequently increased.
This work is tabulated in Fig. 9, column 3. The early part of this period is also remarkable for
the widespread retention of the semicircular arch, for doors, archways and arcades. It was often
used in combination with pronounced Early English detail and mouldings.
The naves of these churches had small clearstoreys or none at all (Fig. 172) and were lit
mainly from low aisles. In exceptional circumstances there was a W. window, as at Duddington
and Polebrook where there were no western towers, but even so naves must have been dark in
contrast to chancels which had high walls and were directly lit.
The great innovation of the later 13th century in this area was the building of a fully
developed clearstorey at Warmington, which, in combination with a wooden quadripartite vault
and flat-pitched aisle roofs, transformed the volume of the body of the church and dramatically
increased the level of lighting from the side and above (Fig. 202). The external appearance was
also completely altered. Other churches in the area, however, have modest clearstoreys which
mostly date from later in the medieval period.
The architectural development of Warmington church which took place throughout the 13th
century is outstanding. The reason for this is not altogether clear, but the advowson was held,
probably from the beginning, by Peterborough Abbey. Warmington was an outstandingly rich
living; when churches in this area were assessed under the Taxatio Ecclesiastica of Pope
Nicholas IV in c. 1291, the average valuation of a parish was £11.8s. 5d. whereas Warmington
was assessed at £36.13s.4d. (M. J. Franklin, Northamptonshire Past and Present VI, No. 4, p. 197).
Enlargement of Churches
Enough evidence of earlier work remains at Collyweston, Duddington and Glapthorn to
demonstrate in detail some of the ways in which Norman churches with double-square naves
were enlarged. The simplest example is at Collyweston where the nave remained intact and
only the chancel was extended. At Glapthorn the nave was extended to double its internal
length, and the chancel was rebuilt, presumably wider and longer than the one it replaced.
There were also N. and S. aisles and a N. chapel at this time. Duddington presents a more
complex picture but the evidence is remarkably complete. The double-square nave was extended
W. to give a plan with a proportion of three squares including the chancel arch. This was
achieved by the addition of one square bay and probably displaced a W. tower, which was
resited in the angle between the S. aisle and the chancel because of falling ground at the W. The
earlier entrance position on the S. side of the nave appears to have been retained although the
nave was by this time aisled on both sides. The chancel was rebuilt presumably wider and a
great deal longer than its predecessor.
The remaining ten 13th-century naves which survive wholly or in part were examined in the
light of these examples. It was found that three of them, Bulwick, Harringworth and
Polebrook, have plans of a proportion of three squares including the chancel arch (Fig. 12). Of
the remainder, Easton-on-the-Hill, Lutton and Yarwell are of between two and three squares
including the chancel arch. King's Cliffe is of three squares internally. In this analysis the
churches at Woodnewton, Cotterstock and Warmington were excluded as having earlier origins
although they have 13th-century arcades.
The general trend was therefore for longer naves, and one third of the twelve conform to a
proportion of three squares including the chancel arch. There is no evidence to suggest that any
naves were widened at this period or inded at any other time.
The plan of Polebrook church is so similar to that of Duddington that it is suggested they
developed in the same way. The differing abnormal positions of the towers appear to have been
caused by steeply sloping ground at the W. end of the church. All these 13th-century naves had
arcades and N. and S. aisles. At both Easton-on-the-Hill and Wakerley it can be clearly seen
that arcades were cut through existing external walls when aisles were added, as earlier nave
windows are cut by the arcade arches (Figs. 67, 195). It appears from the incidence of piscinae
that aisles were built to house chapels and there is some evidence to suggest that these were
screened from the nave.
No nave or aisle roofs of the 13th century survive but the outline of a number can be traced
from weatherings and scars, as could those of earlier periods. At Warmington there is the
weathering for the roof associated with the nave of c. 1200 on the E. face of the tower which
indicates that there was no clearstorey and that the roof had a pitch of about forty-five degrees.
Weatherings also indicate that the late 12th-century aisles at Polebrook had roofs pitched at
about fifty-five degrees and presumably the nave roof followed the same angle (Fig. 172). The
outline of the early 13th-century nave roof at King's Cliffe has a pitch of fifty degrees. These
steep-pitched roofs would not have been difficult to cover satisfactorily; stone slate and thatch
were available locally. However, aisles of the early 13th century were not always as narrow as
those at Polebrook (2.3m.). The S. aisle at Tansor is wide (4.5m.), and there is no direct
evidence to show how it was roofed. All aisles now have flat single-pitch roofs which must
have gradually become the norm in the late Middle Ages as clearstoreys were built and aisle
walls raised in height. These low pitched roofs must have been covered with lead which has
always been expensive. It is therefore reasonable to assume that before the introduction of
clearstoreys these wide aisles had steep gabled roofs or perhaps transverse gables over the
windows (cf. RCHM City of Oxford, monument (32)).
There is evidence for a double-pitched roof in the S. chapel at Easton-on-the-Hill and the N.
chapel at Glapthorn; both are 3.7m. wide and of 13th-century date. Each now has a low-pitched
roof uniform with the adjacent aisle, and at Glapthorn there is no structural division between
the chapel and the aisle. The chapel at Easton-on-the-Hill has the remains of an internal blind
arch at its E. end which indicates that this wall was steeply gabled (Plate 34). At Glapthorn the
top of the E. window is somewhat higher than the contemporary eaves of the chancel and
therefore a former gabled roof is indicated. Because of the position of these examples they may
have been given special architectural treatment, but nevertheless they do provide evidence for
the use of steep double-pitched roofs in the 13th century.
The plan form of eleven chancels in use during the 13th century can be determined. Five of
these are of the same width as their Norman predecessors: Collyweston, Easton-on-the-Hill,
Tansor, Woodnewton and Yarwell. It is clear that all of these except Yarwell have been
extended to the E. The remaining six at Bulwick, Duddington, Glapthorn, Lutton, Polebrook
and Warmington have no identifiable fabric earlier than the 13th century. The relationship
between nave and chancel walls is not constant, but generally they were found to be more or
less in line. These six chancels built in the 13th century are all therefore wider in relation to the
width of their naves than were the chancels of the Norman period.
All eleven chancels have a plan of a proportion which lies between two and a half internal
squares at Woodnewton and one and a half squares at Yarwell. A double-square internal
proportion would seem to be average as at Collyweston, Glapthorn, and Polebrook. All these
chancels, with the exception of Yarwell, demonstrate a new plan proportion. There is evidence
for compartments on the N. side of the chancel at both Polebrook and Tansor, but only the
doorway now remains at Polebrook. These compartments were presumably vestries. Chancel
roofs appear to have been steep-pitched throughout the 13th century and evidence to support
this survives in many places for example, Polebrook, Glapthorn and Warmington. Five chancel
arches survive from this period; the earliest, of the late 12th century, at Polebrook is the
narrowest in proportion to the nave. Glapthorn and Yarwell, of the early 13th century, and
Harringworth of later in the same century are wider but still have substantial responds. The
chancel arch at Warmington is exceptional as it has no responds, spans the whole width of the
nave, and is supported on wall shafts; this anticipates developments in the 14th century.
Throughout all these alterations in plan the division between the nave and chancel remained
static, that is to say, chancels expanded to the E. and naves to the W.
Apart from chancel, nave and aisles which are common to nearly all churches during this
period, several other compartments form further extensions to this developed 13th-century plan.
The chapels off the chancels of Easton-on-the-Hill and Glapthorn have already been mentioned,
and similar chapels lie N. and S. of the chancel at Yarwell which has arcaded side walls. They
formed extensions to the N. and S. aisles which were demolished in 1782 (Fig. 220). Wakerley
church was provided with a short aisle or chapel at the E. end of the S. wall of the nave.
Furthermore, a number of churches have transepts. At King's Cliffe they lay N. and S. of the
central tower and at Woodnewton N. and S. of the early chancel (marked 'central area' on
plan). In both cases the general arrangement is Norman or earlier, but the compartments
remained in use during the 13th century. It appears that transepts existed in the 13th century at
Bulwick N. and S. of the E. end of the nave but these were removed in the late 14th or early
15th century. At Polebrook a N. transept was built during the 13th century to replace one of
the late 12th century. This compartment is almost as big as the nave and still retains
contemporary wall benches (Plate 16). The function of these compartments will be discussed
Towers and broach spires were built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries at Duddington,
Harringworth, Warmington, Polebrook and Laxton, and the upper part of the central tower at
King's Cliffe was remodelled and a broach spire added. The towers at Polebrook and Laxton
were unbuttressed; those at Duddington and Harringworth have pilaster buttresses. Warmington
was remodelled in the mid 13th century when a belfry, broach spire and angle buttresses were
added; belfries were also built at Tansor and Cotterstock. The towers are built of rough
blockwork or rubble with alternating quoins and at Harringworth these are accentuated by the
use of ironstone. The belfry, spire and buttresses at Warmington are of ashlar. All spires are
octagonal and built of single thickness ashlar; they rise from the top of the tower, the corners of
which are bridged by squinch arches internally and weathered externally by plain broaches. At
Warmington and Polebrook a series of rough corbels remains inside the lower part of the spire
and were presumably used to support interior scaffolding which stiffened the structure during
construction. The apex of each spire is built up solid and finished with a boss. There is
considerable variation in height, most spires having three tiers of lucarnes, but the smallest only
two. Spires weather the tops of the towers and all, except Harringworth which suffered later
modification, have a corbel course at this junction. At Laxton and Duddington these are
continuous but at King's Cliffe, Polebrook and Warmington, where the central sections of the
belfry walls are recessed, the corbel courses are interrupted at the corners. Unlike Romanesque
towers, none of these appears to have been occupied. Vices at Harringworth and Warmington
are narrow and lead up to a first-floor ringing chamber and then on to the belfry.
Traces of a late 12th-century belfry survive at Glapthorn (Fig. 96). The W. wall of the nave is
abnormally thick and central in it, above the estimated level of the contemporary roof, was a
semicircular-headed opening looking W. Above the nave behind this wall was a timber turret
supported on cantilevers. This belfry remained in use for some time because the single
round-headed opening was replaced by a pair of small pointed openings set slightly lower in the
wall (Plate 5) and both the tower and clearstorey are of post-medieval date.
There are a number of porches which date from the 13th century, and no earlier examples
now exist. All have wide entrance arches and most have steep-pitched roofs and interior
benches. Both the N. and S. porches at Warmington are vaulted in stone. All have been
extensively rebuilt and repaired.
This analysis shows clearly how small Norman two-compartment churches were expanded to
give larger churches of quite different plan. This enlarged form is the main characteristic of
these early Gothic churches. It will be seen that the introduction of the pointed arch was
somewhat hesitant, and in many cases later than the new plan form. Cross sectional
development, that is to say the introduction of clearstoreys and the raising of aisle walls, is a
modification mainly of the late Middle Ages.
Early 13th-century Architectural Development
During the early part of the 13th century semicircular arches remained in use in a number of
churches over openings of wide span, as well as over doorways. Indeed, it can be seen that five
of the twelve naves with the new 'Gothic' proportions discussed above were built with arcades
with semicircular arches; these are at Bulwick, Duddington, Easton-on-the-Hill, Glapthorn and
Polebrook. In all instances these arches have been recognized as late examples of their type
because they occur with Early English decoration or mouldings, ranging from capitals with
water-leaf at Duddington to stiff-leaf at Polebrook. These late round-headed arches are also
marked by a change in the proportion of arcade openings, culminating in those in the S. aisle at
Polebrook, which are exceptionally tall and slender, and in marked contrast to the lower
semicircular arched N. arcade of perhaps thirty years earlier (Plate 17).
It is also clear that pointed arches were in use from the beginning of the 13th century.
Harringworth tower arch, of c. 1200, is pointed and the capitals are decorated with leaf forms,
plain on the N. and full water-leaf on the S. (Plate 13). Warmington provides an interesting
example of early arcades of two-centred construction, perhaps of 1200 or a little earlier (Plate
30). The homogeneous nature of the arches of two rectangular orders worked with pointed rolls
suggest that both arcades were built at the same time; also, the openings are tall and the
columns thin. In contrast to this uniformity, piers are octagonal on the N. but circular on the
S., and the capitals have a wide variety of decoration ranging from scallops, normally associated
with Norman work, to up-to-date water-leaf decoration. The Early English character is evident
in both the abacus mouldings and the water-holding bases, throughout both arcades.
Thirteenth-century entrance doorways with semicircular heads were built at Duddington,
Easton-on-the-Hill, Nassington, Polebrook and Woodnewton. The doorway at Duddington is
now in a 14th-century aisle wall and the head has been reconstructed as a narrower two-centred
arch (Fig. 59). It is interesting to note that two other semicircular arches have also been made
pointed; these are the entrance arch of the N. porch at Polebrook which was very slightly
altered (Plate 25), and the chancel arch at Wakerley which was more extensively rebuilt (Fig.
195). There is no indication when these changes were made, but the work at Wakerley was a
considerable undertaking, executed with great care, perhaps suggesting a medieval date.
The doorways at Duddington, Easton-on-the-Hill, Nassington and Woodnewton have
pronounced Early English mouldings and decoration (Figs. 59, 68; Plates 15, 34), while the
main doorway at Polebrook is more restrained, as are the priests' doors at Polebrook and
Woodnewton (Plate 14). The vestry door at Polebrook is of transitional type and should perhaps
be considered with this group as it has a plain chamfered two-centred arch under a semicircular
Arches of the 13th century with semicircular heads occur at Easton-on-the-Hill, between the
chancel and the mid 13th-century S. chapel, and in the N. porch at Polebrook (Plate 25), which
has multi-roll moulding, stiff-leaf capitals and dog-tooth decoration. It would appear that the
latest occurrence of round-headed arches in the area is at Polebrook, both on the evidence of this
porch, and the proportion and decoration of the S. arcade. All these semicircular arches are of
wide span and perhaps the form was retained because of a conservative attitude to construction
although the masons were clearly conversant with new Early English work as demonstrated by
their use of up-to-date decoration and mouldings, and by the occurrence in the area of
contemporary examples of pointed arches with similar decoration. There seems to have been no
hesitation in adopting the new pointed head for windows but these openings were narrow and
can have presented little or no structural problem. Semicircular heads were only used in the low
level windows of the towers at Duddington and Polebrook. There are also transitional windows
with twin pointed lights within a semicircular surround at Duddington in the belfry stage of the
tower and in the N. vestry at Tansor. All other windows of the laste 12th and early 13th century
are of lancet type with pointed heads, even when the rear arch is still semicircular as at the E.
end of the S. aisle at Polebrook.
The high proportion of late 12th and early 13th-century work which survives in this area has
provided much information on the transition from Romanesque to Gothic. It has been possible
to demonstrate the evolution to an expanded plan type, and to examine the architectural context
in which this expansion took place. The reasons for this widespread rebuilding of churches
during the 13th century are not immediately apparent. Further historical studies, beyond the
scope of this survey, may provide an explanation.
The broader aspects of structure have been examined and it is now necessary to review the
more detailed evidence relating to the use of these buildings during the 13th century. Evidence
consists primarily of the detail of the fabric, and features which are built into it. The most
complete example of an early 13th-century chancel is at Polebrook. The piscina in the S. wall
indicates the position of the main altar. There is a priest's door in the S. wall towards the W.
end and at the W. are a pair of low-side windows, one on each side of the chancel. They are
rebated to take external shutters in the lower part and presumably indicate the positions of
reading desks or seats for the clergy. Piscinae at Polebrook, Tansor, and Woodnewton are
double and at Glapthorn there are two separate piscinae in adjacent window sills presumably
affording the same facility for separate washing of communion vessels and the priests' hands as
was customary during the 13th century (F. Bond, The Chancel of English Churches (1916),
p. 146). Vestries were not universal in the 13th century, and in this area only one, at Tansor,
remains and another, at Polebrook, is indicated by a doorway. The vestry at Tansor is
constructed within an earlier compartment and has screen walls (Plate 12). All other surviving
13th-century compartments off chancels were chapels, that is to say at Easton-on-the-Hill,
Glapthorn, Woodnewton and Yarwell, and all except the last have piscinae; that at Glapthorn is
in the form of a pillar (Plate 41). The tower at Duddington has openings into both the chancel
and the S. aisle and was fitted out as a chapel.
At Polebrook there is also evidence indicating how other compartments were used. The S.
aisle had an altar at its E. end in the 13th century, marked by the double piscina, now in the
14th-century chapel, S. of its former position. The N. transept was clearly intended as a large
chapel. It had an altar against the E. wall under a window, and the N. and W. walls were
furnished with a splendid set of canopied seats in the form of wall arcades set above stone
benches. No record is known of this chapel but its arrangement suggests a collegiate foundation
(Plate 16). There are also piscinae in the aisle at Tansor, Wakerley and Warmington, which
indicate the existence of chapels. There are indications at both Tansor and Warmington that
each had two chapels in the S. aisle, the western probably having a freestanding reredos or
screen behind the altar. How these chapels were enclosed is not clear but at Warmington the
plinth block of the second column of the S. arcade is shaped perhaps to accommodate the corner
of a screen running just S. of the arcade piers.
It would appear that the enlarged plan of the 13th century provided greater space for the
clergy and put the main altar further away from the nave, which in most cases was also
extended. Other compartments appear to have been occupied by secondary altars and chapels.
This arrangement is in contrast to the two-cell. Norman plan which had no ancillary space so
that secondary altars had to be accommodated within the nave on each side of the chancel arch
as at Wakerley.
No Romanesque fonts survive except perhaps for a rest bowl at Blatherwycke, but 13th-century examples remain at Duddington, King's Cliffe, Polebrook, Wakerley and Woodnewton
(Plates 38, 39). They are all sited near the principal entrance of the church and, except for that at
Wakerley, in aisles. This position may be contrasted with that of most of the later medieval
fonts which are on the centre line of the nave towards the W. end, as at Collyweston,
Cotterstock, Easton-on-the-Hill, Fotheringhay and Warmington. The consistent siting of early
and late fonts suggests that they are in situ and may indicate some major change in the practice
of baptism in the later Middle Ages. The font at Lutton, of early 14th-century date, provides
certain evidence for position, as it forms part of the composition of the S. arcade and is
contemporary with it (Plate 39). It is adjacent to the S. door of the church, which is the
principal entrance, and thus lends support to the idea that most early fonts may be in situ.
With the possible exception of some bench ends at Polebrook, no wooden furniture survives
from this period, but a number of stone benches can be associated with 13th-century fabric.
Glapthorn and Warmington churches have plain wall benches in the chancel and Yarwell has
rather narrow benches in the N. and S. chapels off the chancel. The N. arcade of the nave at
Glapthorn has exaggerated pier plinths which may have been built as seats, and the N. aisle at
Tansor has a wall bench along its N. and W. walls. There are similar benches in the N. and S.
aisles at Cotterstock; those in the S. aisle are presumably 14th-century but perhaps reflect an
earlier arrangement. All stone benches stop short of the E. end of the aisle in which they occur,
presumably to allow space for an altar. The arcaded seats in the N. transept at Polebrook have
already been mentioned, and a parallel can be made with those in the S. porch at Warmington.
Later 13th-century Architectural Development
The mixture of architectural styles which occurred at the end of the 12th century and at the
beginning of the 13th century have been discussed up to about 1230 when the use of the
semicircular arch appears to have died out. A style was emerging during this period which
seems to have persisted well into the second half of the century. The detail of this work is in the
main unexceptional, and follows the normal course of Early English architecture. None of the
work can be closely dated and the conventional stylistic development covering the period has
been accepted. However, there is some evidence to suggest that as the style developed, early
and late forms were used simultaneously. Examples can be found in the N. aisle at Nassington,
the S. aisle at Warmington and the S. wall of the chancel at Glapthorn (Plates 21, 24, 30). It is
always difficult to be certain that features have not been reworked or replaced but in the
examples given the fabric of the wall looks undisturbed and at Nassington wall-painting
survives on the rear arches of many of the windows.
Warmington church was transformed in the 13th century. A new chancel was built, the
clearstorey constructed and the N. and S. aisles rebuilt wider and higher (Fig. 202). The W.
tower was also heightened and a broach spire built. The work when looked at in the context of
the development of the plan and section of the building has the appearance of a unified scheme.
However, the upper parts of the tower, the spire and the S. aisle are in developed Early English
style which cannot be much later than c. 1250, while the clearstorey, the N. aisle and the
chancel have windows consisting of two main pointed lights with a quatrefoil in the head,
typical of the early Decorated style. No independent evidence exists to indicate the date of this
work, but if the suggestion that it forms part of a unified campaign is accepted then it should
not be very different in date from the developed Early English work.
The source of this work is also difficult to determine without documentary evidence. It may
be that it was the product of the main stream of early Decorated architecture dependent on
work at Lincoln or even Westminster, but it is also possible that it may have been derived at
least in part from more local Early English sources. Certainly all the elements to support this
view have been found within the Inventory area: single lancet windows, their use in pairs, the
introduction of a shaped opening between the heads of the lights, first perhaps oval and then
circular, can all be seen at Tansor and in the S. wall of the chancel at Glapthorn (Plates 18, 24).
It is then only necessary to look at the N. chapel window, also at Glapthorn, to see the process
complete except for cusping within the roundel, which can be found at Duddington in the E.
window of the N. aisle (Plate 27) or in the belfry at Cotterstock.
Whatever the origin of the decorated work at Warmington, it would be logical to suggest that
it is a very early occurrence. It is also clear that the building broke with 13th-century form and
may have set a standard for the later development of the churches of the area.
There was no major advance in plan form during the 14th century but the cross section of the
body of a number of churches was altered, following the example set at Warmington. Work
generally consisted of the widening of aisles, the rebuilding of arcades and chancel arches, and
the construction of clearstoreys. Building activity was less than in the previous century, giving
the impression of consolidation after advance. There were, however, three works of
considerable scale, and possibly a fourth of which only part now remains. Early churches at
Blatherwycke and Wakerley, which had survived the changes of the 13th century more or less
intact, were much altered. Cotterstock church was remodelled as a result of the benefaction of
John Gifford, and it may well be that a rebuilding was undertaken at Southwick by John
Knyvet, but only the tower and spire remain. The work of the 14th century has been tabulated
in column 4 of Fig. 9. The development of plan form was limited. A large chancel was built at
Blatherwycke and transepts were removed at Bulwick. The very large choir that was
constructed at Cotterstock cannot be considered in the strict context of parish church
development as it was built for a college of priests. The only widespread change was the
enlargement of chancel arches at Blatherwycke, Bulwick, Collyweston, Cotterstock,
Duddington, Easton-on-the-Hill, Lutton and Nassington. The desire for a wide chancel arch
was so strong that at Easton-on-the-Hill, which has a narrow chancel, the responds were set
back within the line of the chancel walls. This unsatisfactory solution was avoided at
Blatherwycke and Lutton where the chancel arches are carried on corbels. No chancel screen
survives from this period but the arches at Collyweston and Bulwick have shallow grooves in
the soffit presumably to accommodate timber tympana set above screens. This suggests that the
increased opening between nave and chancel was made to house larger and perhaps more
elaborate screens and tympana, and not to provide a better connection between nave and
A chapel was built at Easton-on-the-Hill, opening off the chancel, and another was built at
Polebrook, off the S. aisle. These additions probably did not increase the number of altars in
either church, but they perhaps show that larger chapels were desired. More importantly they
demonstrate the way in which fully developed churches with chancel, nave and aisles could be
extended with the minimum of disruption to the existing fabric, by breaking away from a
strictly E. and W. arrangement of compartments.
The major building activity of the period was the reorganization of the main body of the
churches at Bulwick, Cotterstock, Duddington and Harringworth. In all cases the plan of the
nave remained unchanged, but the walls were raised to form a clearstorey which was covered
with a low-pitched roof. This type of roof was suitable for the high, less stable, walls of the
clearstorey and also allowed the level of the apex of the roof to remain more or less unchanged.
Aisles were widened, except for that on the N. at Duddington, and covered with low-pitched
lean-to roofs which allowed for the maximum height of aisle wall and an unobstructed
clearstorey. The interior of the churches, formerly dominated by steep-pitched roofs and lit by
narrow windows in low walled aisles, became lofty spaces, well lit from above and from
spacious aisles with larger windows. This change also had its effect externally as low aisle walls
with perhaps a narrow clearstorey dominated by large areas of roof gave way to elevations of
wall and window. All four churches demonstrate how this new form was used to create
elevations of some architectural quality and it is not surprising that the S. sides, those with the
principal entrances, were singled out for special treatment. Both Bulwick and Harringworth
have S. aisles with fine ashlar walling and large traceried windows. Duddington has a unified
elevation with similar windows at both aisle and clearstorey level.
In contrast to the almost total rebuilding of aisles in these four churches, nave arcades
received less drastic treatment. Those at Cotterstock and Duddington of the 12th and 13th
centuries have survived but at Bulwick round-headed arches were made pointed (Fig. 35), and
only at Harringworth were they entirely replaced. Aisles were also rebuilt at Easton-on-the-Hill,
Glapthorn, Lutton and Nassington and all have lean-to roofs.
There are three towers with spires, all stylistically similar, at Bulwick, Southwick and
Wakerley. Each tower has a parapet which masks the base of a slender octagonal spire with two
tiers of lucarnes. The earliest of the group is at Southwick where the tower and spire have the
arms of Knyvet and a variation of the arms of Basset, indicating that it was built for John
Knyvet (d. 1381) after his marriage to Eleanor Basset, an heiress, and presumably after the death
of his father Richard in 1352. Inside the tower are four head corbels which were placed there to
carry a vault which was never constructed. These corbels are very similar to those in the
undercroft of the S. block at Southwick Hall and it is suggested that this work is probably
contemporary with the church tower and was also built by John Knyvet. At Bulwick and
Wakerley towers and spires are of a type similar to that at Southwick, but they are larger and
may be considered as a pair. Shared details include belfry openings, similar buttresses at the
upper level, decorative bands of quatrefoils below crenellated parapets and spires with ribs on
the angles, although the spire at Wakerley is highly decorated with crockets. These towers were
probably built in the 14th century or perhaps early in the 15th century, but they, and other
closely connected fabric, have been included with 14th-century work in column 4, Fig. 9,
because of the stylistic affinity with Southwick.
There is one other example of firmly dated work in the 14th century, the choir of the college
founded by John Gifford at Cotterstock in 1338. Before this time the parish church had been a
modest structure consisting of a chancel, nave without clearstorey, narrow aisles and a W.
tower. The college consisted of a Provost and twelve clerks, and to accommodate this
considerable community the chancel was rebuilt on a large scale, and residential buildings were
constructed N. of the church. The church W. of the chancel arch was retained by the parish,
and the nave remained unaltered in plan, but a clearstorey was added and the aisles were rebuilt
perhaps a little wider. Nothing survives of the residential buildings except part of the W. wall
of a narrow building adjoining the chancel but Church Farm (Cotterstock (15)) occupies at least
a part of the site. The college was generously endowed by John Gifford and as a part of those
arrangements the Rectory of Cotterstock was made over to the Provost and clerks in January
1340. Much of the medieval arrangement of the chancel survives despite a very extensive
restoration by G. E. Street in 1876. There are two 14th-century doorways in the N. wall: that
on the E. opens into the vestry of 1876 which was built on the footings of the building which
linked the church to the residential quarters; the other on the W. gives access to the chancel
from the outside. The present chancel floor is all of 1876 but on the evidence of the thresholds
of these doorways, the levels appear to respect the original arrangement of three zones in the
manner of a conventual choir. The sanctuary was at the highest level and was divided from the
choir by a lower area defining the presbytery. There is also some evidence for the arrangements
at the W. end of the chancel. Two doorways survive at the N.W. corner; the lower one gave
access to a stair which stood in the N. aisle, and the upper at the top of the stairs led onto a
gallery within the chancel, of which no trace survives. This arrangement suggests a pulpitum
rather than a rood screen, and may have consisted of a verandah-like structure. There is little
evidence to show how the W. part of the church was used, but the. S. aisle was only slightly
smaller than the nave. It was furnished with a squint when the choir was built and had an altar
at its E. end. This may have been the main parochial altar as there is no trace of it having been
in the restricted nave.
Ashlar was used much more widely in the 14th century than century hitherto and is of variable
quality. The best work is in the chancel at Cotterstock and at Harringworth at the E. end of the
S. aisle, where the fine-jointed limestone blockwork is banded with courses of ironstone. The S.
aisle at Nassington provides an example of poor quality work where the ashlar has in some
areas deteriorated into coursed rubble. Coursed rubble was used for clearstoreys and for other
works, for example the aisles at Cotterstock and the S. aisle at Lutton. Towers and spires are, as
would be expected, of ashlar. Both rubble and ashlar are of local Oolitic Limestone.
A number of 14th-century fittings survive, the majority of which are built into the fabric of
the churches. Piscinae are of two types, single and combined with a sedilia. The former are
found in most chapels in aisles which were rebuilt at this time, but the latter occur at Bulwick,
Cotterstock and Harringworth. Stone benches were built in the aisles at Cotterstock, and a
number of timber bench ends with scroll tops of late 13th or more probably 14th-century date
survive reused in the S. chapel at Polebrook. These benches perhaps indicate that seating in the
body of the churches was coming into use as preaching became more common during this
Building activity during this period continued in much the same way as it had in the previous
century with the rebuilding of towers and chancels and the construction of a number of clear-storeys. With the exception of the collegiate church at Fotheringhay, there was no marked
increase in the size of churches, or alteration from the plan form which had been reached in the
13th century. Four works, at Apethorpe, Collyweston, Fotheringhay and King's Cliffe,
dominate the building activity of the period. The first three are known to have been instigated
by powerful patrons and this may also have been the case at King's Cliffe. Fig. 9, column 5
shows the extent of 15th-century work in the area. The church at Apethorpe is exceptional in
that it owes very little to the structure it replaced except perhaps for the position of the chancel
arch, which may have been inherited from the previous church, as at Fotheringhay. Most of the
15th-century building survives and gives a clear impression of modest parish church architecture
at this time. The plan and section make no departure from the form evolved in many churches
during the Middle Ages except that side entrances are towards the W. end of the nave, reverting
to the position common in Norman churches.
The churches at Collyweston, Easton-on-the-Hill, Lutton. King's Cliffe, Nassington and
Woodnewton have clearstoreys of the 15th century, and the first three also have towers of this
date. Easton-on-the-Hill also has a 15th-century clearstorey over the chancel. The clearstorey at
Woodnewton and that of the 14th century at Tansor do not respect the earlier divisions between
nave and chancel. Both naves were extended eastwards at the expense of the W. parts of the
chancels, a most unusual occurrence, and the E. walls of the clearstoreys were carried on new
thin arches; at Tansor the arch is of timber and at Woodnewton of stone. Before these
rearrangements it appears that there was no chancel arch at Tansor but at Woodnewton the arch
was of masonry and stood at the point where clearstorey and lower wall set in on the S. side of
the church. There is no indication as to how these new arrangements affected ritual or the
division of ownership between nave and chancel.
In other churches alterations of a less complex nature were carried out. Chancels were rebuilt
at Harringworth, Nassington and Wakerley, and it is probable that each follows the outline of
its predecessor. The short chancel at Wakerley, although of the 15th century, may follow a
Norman outline, the positions of the N. and S. walls of which are clearly defined by 12th-century details.
These new churches were given flat-pitched roofs, as was the refurbished chancel at
Warmington where the new roof cut across the 13th-century chancel arch. This awkward
junction must have been masked by a tympanum. An alteration frequently made during the
15th century was the replacement of windows, particularly the E. windows of chancels, as at
Collyweston, Easton-on-the-Hill, Tansor, Warmington, Woodnewton and Yarwell. At
Glapthorn church the aisles were almost entirely refenestrated.
The churches at Collyweston and King's Cliffe were considerably rebuilt during the 15th
century. At King's Cliffe the work can be divided into two phases: the first, early in the
century, consisted of the rebuilding of the nave, aisles, and S. transept, and the second, later in
the century, of the chancel, and N. transept. The church was therefore totally rebuilt with the
exception of the central tower, but without any great change in plan. As at the churches of
Apethorpe and Fotheringhay, N. and S. entrances are at the W. end of the aisles; nothing now
remains to show the earlier arrangements, but it is clear that the plan of the nave was not
enlarged when rebuilt. Regular design was achieved by the uniform spacing of the clearstorey
and aisle windows and by identical treatment of the N. and S. sides of the body of the church.
The other church which was considerably rebuilt in the 15th century was at Collyweston.
This was probably carried out under the patronage of Lady Margaret Beaufort who acquired the
manor in 1487, and a date of c. 1490 is suggested for the work. Compared with the scale of the
buildings carried out in her name at Cambridge and elsewhere the work at Collyweston is
modest. The plan of the nave and chancel remained unchanged, but a large chapel was built on
the S. of the chancel, presumably for the personal use of Lady Margaret. Access was from the
chancel and a view of the main altar was gained by a large squint in the form of a two-light
window. In addition to the rebuilding of the body of the church a W. tower was constructed.
New windows in the S. wall of the nave are of unusual design; they are large, rectangular, and
of three lights, with very shallow cusping. A similar window in the N. transept at King's Cliffe
might suggest that this transept and the chancel are also of c. 1490.
Apethorpe church was entirely rebuilt in the late 15th century, much in the style of the work
at Collyweston; the nave arcades are particularly alike (Figs. 20, 43). The rebuilding may have
been influenced by Sir Guy Wolston who built Apethorpe Hall soon after he acquired the manor
in c. 1480. The plan makes no innovation except perhaps for the positions of the nave
doorways. The elevations of this church exhibit a sense of design similar to the work of the first
phase at King's Cliffe; the symmetrical section of the nave and aisles with its low-pitched roofs,
the high walls and the uniformity of architectural detail all reinforce this impression of deliberate
The parochial nave of the church at Fotheringhay is exceptional (Plate 46). Commissioned by
Richard third Duke of York to complement the collegiate choir which was the conception of
Edward second Duke of York, this nave is a work of almost Royal status and thus has little
connection with the locality. The large scale and carefully considered detail of the architecture
clearly separates Fotheringhay church from the humbler parish churches of the area. The whole
church was built between 1415 and 1441 and it is known that the nave was started soon after
1434. According to the contract much of the detail was derived from the choir and therefore the
design of the nave must be to some extent considered a product of twenty years earlier.
There are four towers of the 15th century, at Collyweston, Easton-on-the-Hill, Fotheringhay
and Lutton. The designs are broadly similar, having clasping buttresses, crenellated parapets and
no spires. This last characteristic distinguishes them clearly from the towers of the 13th and 14th
century all of which were built with spires. However, the tower at Fotheringhay was built with
an octagonal lantern and the very much earlier tower at Nassington was crowned with a spire
on an octagonal base of the 15th century. The towers of the churches at Collyweston and
Easton-on-the-Hill are very similar and both have particularly large crocketed octagonal finials
at each corner. A comparison may be made between these towers and those at the churches of
St. John and St. Martin in Stamford (RCHM, Stamford (30), (31)). The Stamford towers appear
to be the earlier and may therefore be a source of design.
There was little change in building materials during the 15th century; both rubble and ashlar
were used, all of which came from local sources. However, the proportion of work executed in
ashlar appears to be higher than before and the stone usually chosen was fine-grained which
allowed for accurate cutting and precise jointing.
Surviving medieval roofs are all of 15th-century date. Nave roofs at Apethorpe, King's Cliffe
and Lutton are low-pitched and of similar form, with cambered principal rafters, wall posts and
brackets alternating with plain cambered intermediate principals, supporting ridge and side
purlins which carry the common rafters. The nave roof at Fotheringhay is similar but has no
intermediate principal rafters. Contemporary aisle roofs survive at Apethorpe and Fotheringhay;
both have braced principal rafters which support purlins and common rafters which span the
width of the aisle as a lean-to roof. At Fotheringhay there is a set of short rafters which span
from the arcade wall to a 'ridge' purlin, so imitating a symmetrical roof when viewed from
below. The uniform picture which is given by these nave and aisle roofs may be contrasted
with the two 15th-century chancel roofs which survive at Easton-on-the-Hill and Polebrook;
both are of steeper pitch and of individual design.
It is clear that the plan form of churches did not alter greatly during this time and it also
appears that the position and number of altars remained much as they had been in the 14th
century. A large group of fittings survive from this period, providing information on some
aspects of internal arrangement. Earlier chancels do not appear to have been refurnished in the
15th century. The new chancels at Harringworth, Nassington and Wakerley show no
innovation in arrangement. The floor levels at Nassington are similar to those of the choir at
Cotterstock which suggest a division into sanctuary, presbytery and choir. Several stalls of high
quality which came from the collegiate choir at Fotheringhay survive at Tansor and Hemington
(Plates 54, 55). Evidence for the presence of former chancel screens and rood lofts is plentiful.
Rood stairs survive at Bulwick. Duddington, Easton-on-the-Hill, Harringworth and
Warmington and brackets for a rood beam also remain at Apethorpe, flanking the chancel arch
on the W. side. Rood screens survive at Harringworth and Warmington and some fragments of
a screen form part of the 17th-century nave seating at Easton-on-the-Hill. The screen at
Harringworth suffered little damage and still has its loft (Plate 33). No chapel screens or
furniture survive, but there is some nave furniture including a pulpit of exceptional quality at
Fotheringhay and late medieval seating in a number of churches. Some bench ends were reused
at King's Cliffe after their removal from the nave at Fotheringhay in 1817. A few 15th-century
fonts survive, most of which are sited on the centre line of the nave towards its W. end. This
position is in contrast with the siting of earlier fonts, and occurs at Collyweston, Cotterstock,
Easton-on-the-Hill and Fotheringhay.
Decoration of Wall Surfaces of Medieval Churches
The interior wall surfaces of most churches in the area are plastered but those at Cotterstock,
Southwick and Woodnewton have been stripped to show stonework, as have the chancel walls
at Tansor. This work was carried out in the 19th century or later and is particularly unfortunate
at Cotterstock and Woodnewton where the rubble walls have been pointed with raised joints
and at Southwick where all traces of the 18th-century interior have been removed including
plaster ceilings. Laxton church was rebuilt in 1867 and the interior wall surface of coursed
squared rubble was left unplastered.
The walls of the remaining eighteen churches are plastered internally and have generally been
whitewashed but fragments of wall painting can be seen in a small number of churches. The
earliest example may be at Tansor where there is foliated scroll-work of 12th-century style on
the soffit of the semicircular arches of the nave arcade, but this work has been repainted in
modern times. Painting of the 13th century is visible in three churches. At Easton-on-the-Hill
there is a small area of architectural painting showing blockwork decorated with flowers and an
outer order of chequer-work voussoirs framing part of an arch of the nave arcade (Fig. 67). At
Polebrook, in the N. transept, there are traces of two nimbed figures each occupying an arch of
the blind arcade. A short length of foliated frieze survives in the N. aisle at Glapthorn.
Fourteenth and fifteenth-century painting can be seen at Glapthorn and Nassington, both of
which have areas of 14th-century architectural painting showing blockwork with flowers and
traces of Doom paintings of the 15th-century on the E. walls of the naves. Nassington also has
in the N. aisle a number of nimbed figures, a Wheel of Fortune and a scene of St. Michael
weighing souls, all of the 14th century, and a scene showing St. Martin of Tours, of 15th-century date, in the nave. At Glapthorn there is a large figure of St. Christopher, also of the
15th century, in the N. aisle opposite the S. door. No painted plasterwork survives from the
post-reformation period. There is, however, a watercolour painting showing a 'shadow' of the
tomb of Elizabeth I which was formerly on a wall in Cotterstock church (K. A. Esdaile, St.
Martin in the Fields New and Old (1944), 58).
Exterior wall surfaces of churches vary from fine ashlar to the coarsest rubble and are now
bare except for small areas at King's Cliffe and Fotheringhay. The clearstorey at King's Cliffe is
built of rubble with freestone dressings and an area of plaster survives on the exterior of the N.
wall. It surrounds a window and is feathered out so that only a uniform freestone surround
remains visible. The quoins of an adjacent window are very irregular and flush with the wall
surface and it is suggested that they were always intended to be covered with plaster. There is
no other direct evidence for this treatment of rubble walling but throughout the Middle Ages
windows within this type of masonry have very irregular quoins which were presumably meant
to be hidden. No finish can be seen on the plaster at King's Cliffe but at Fotheringhay the fine
ashlar of the W. tower appears to have been covered with a thick layer of limewash. These two
fragments suggest that the exterior of churches during the Middle Ages were more uniform
than they now appear and that sometimes at least they were whitened with limewash.
After the Reformation the form of most churches in the area remained unchanged but because
of the thorough restorations undertaken during the 19th and early 20th centuries little survives
to show how interiors were adapted to meet the demands of new liturgy or architectural
fashion. Work carried out in the 16th and 17th centuries was broadly in Gothic style, and
although some detail shows classical influence, the style can be described as 'Gothic Survival'.
Changes in plan form occurred only at Apethorpe, Woodnewton and Hemington. Elsewhere
building work was limited to repair or replacement on the old lines. The shells of two churches
rebuilt in the 18th century in the classical style, survive at Southwick and Yarwell, but most of
the classical detail has been subsequently removed. Only the chapel at Ashton, built in a
mixture of Gothic and Classical styles, remains unaltered. During the 19th and 20th centuries
there was little new building and ancient structures were treated with respect, although interiors
were generally refitted in the Gothic taste.
Two building works of the 16th century were completed before the Reformation: the tower
at Hemington was probably finished early in the century and the tower vault at Fotheringhay
was added in 1529. Both are in the late Gothic style and show no Renaissance influence. Later in
the century, following the commission of 1573, the choir at Fotheringhay was demolished and
the E. end of the nave modified to form an external wall; the main altar was then presumably
placed against this E. wall, flanked by the two new tombs in classical style commemorating
members of the House of York who had been buried in the choir (Plate 52). Monuments to the
Stafford family remain in Blatherwycke church (Plates 63, 64). The earlier of 1548 has brasses of
Sir Humphrey Stafford and his wife, and although reset it is clear that it was always intended to
be a wall monument. The design is Gothic in derivation but classical in detail. The later
monument of 1595 to John Stafford and his wife shows no trace of Gothic design, as it consists
of two rectangular panels with frames within a classical architectural surround. The classical
style was adopted in the 16th century for important works of sculpture but its use in
architecture was very limited until the late 17th century. Evidence for the arrangement of
churches at this time is rare but at Warmington a screened enclosure at the E. end of the N.
aisle was probably a 16th-century pew, indicating a new use for the space formerly occupied by
a pre-Reformation chapel. Also in the 16th century the nave of the same church was furnished
with open benches with book rails, a number of which survive.
A number of church survey books of the 17th century are preserved, and it is clear from these
that most churches were in need of repair. Much of the resulting work is no doubt difficult to
detect but several identifiable structures with precise dates remain. At Apethorpe, the Mildmay
chapel was built in 1621 and the W. tower in 1633, and at Hemington the body of the church
was rebuilt as a single compartment in 1666. There are also a number of dated roofs.
The Mildmay chapel followed the late 15th-century architecture of the rest of the church
except for its walling which is built of banded masonry. The walls are decorated internally with
relief-patterns of simple classical character, but the arches which unite the chapel with the rest of
the church have a Gothic outline (Fig. 19). Glass with Old and New Testament scenes is dated
1621. The monument of Sir Anthony and Lady Grace Mildmay, in the centre of the chapel, is
entirely Baroque, contrasting with the Perpendicular exterior of the chapel. The large
monument is exceptional for its magnificent baldachino and the quality of the supporting
figures; the effigies, however, are more old-fashioned. The maker is unknown but parallels can
be found in the works of Maximillian Colt. The tower and spire, also at Apethorpe, are in the
Gothic tradition but the tower is unbuttressed and the W. window has a semicircular head and
similar belfry openings have rectangular outer frames.
The church at Hemington was rebuilt in 1666 as a simple auditory nave, at the instigation of
Lord Montagu. It is the only church in the area which was rebuilt to meet the liturgical
requirements of the 17th century. The nave walls, the roof and the S. door survive from 1666,
the rest being swept away when a Gothic chancel was added in 1872. However, a drawing by
George Clarke of 1846 shows the nave with large rectangular mullion-and-transom windows
(Plate 73). At Woodnewton the size of the church was reduced in the 17th century when the N.
aisle and N. transept were removed; the tower was also demolished but was rebuilt. The work
was carried out in debased Gothic style, except for the windows in the new N. wall of the nave
which are domestic in character. Also in the 17th century three small towers without spires or
buttresses were built at Blatherwycke, Glapthorn and Yarwell, all in the Gothic tradition; that at
Blatherwycke is certainly a replacement. Two large spires were also rebuilt. That at Nassington
is dated 1640 and appears to be true to the 15th-century original, and that at Harringworth was
reconstructed in c. 1682, but apparently less faithfully; the corbel course at the bottom of the
spire has a continuously moulded ovolo section. Also at Harringworth the N. wall of the nave
was considerably rebuilt and only the arcade arches appear to be medieval. The columns were
replaced and have capitals, the moulding of which may be compared with those of the Mildmay
chapel at Apethorpe (Figs. 20, 101). The N. wall of the chancel at Wakerley was also replaced
but without windows.
A number of roofs were replaced during the 17th century. Most appear to follow the outlines
of their medieval predecessors, but at King's Cliffe the low-pitched 15th-century chancel roof
was replaced by one of steeper pitch. The masonry of the E. gable is dated 1648. The rebuilt
church at Hemington and the nave at Polebrook also have steep-pitched roofs; that at Polebrook
is dated 1634 and has carved decoration. The structure of these roofs is unexceptional. King and
queen post trusses were used and at Hemington principal rafters have double collars, the lower
being decorated with openwork pendants. No other decoration of structure survives from this
period except that medieval capitals at Nassington and Cotterstock have been embellished with
crude fleurs-de-lis carved in outline, a form of decoration which also occurs on the stem of the
medieval font at Nassington.
Fig. 13 Apethorpe Church Copy of seating plan of 1735
Architectural work carried out on churches in the 17th century was very conservative in
character. It always respected earlier work and made little departure from the Gothic style. In
some instances accurate replacement of medieval detail was attempted. As in the previous
century little survives to show how the interiors of medieval churches were reorganized but at
Collyweston, Easton-on-the-Hill, Polebrook and Warmington evidence exists to show that
chapels were no longer in use. Box pews, one of which is dated 1631, survive in the nave at
Easton-on-the-Hill and incorporate fragments of medieval woodwork.
Chancel furniture of the 17th century remains in a number of churches. Ten communion
tables survive, that at Yarwell being dated 1608. There are also altar rails at Duddington and
Glapthorn; both now span their chancels, but the rails at Duddington originally surrounded the
communion table, at least on three sides. Surviving nave furniture, apart from the pews at
Easton-on-the-Hill, mainly consisted of reused fragments of pulpits in modern settings. The
pulpit at Polebrook is equipped with an hour glass and stand which may be 17th-century. The
font at Warmington, which is dated 1662, stands at the W. end of the nave on the N. side.
A number of monuments of 17th-century date are found in the churches of the area. Whereas
the Mildmay monument at Apethorpe stands alone as a work of national significance, the
remainder are less exceptional and in the main fall into two distinct groups. The smaller and
earlier consists of wall monuments with sculpted kneeling figures. Two of these, both worked
in alabaster, are similar in detail and date: Bulwick, monument (6), to Henry Fowkes (d. 1612)
and his wife Jane; and Lutton, monument (2), to Adlard Apreece (d. 1608). Another example of
this type of monument, and the latest in the area, is also at Lutton (monument (1)); it was
installed in 1633 and commemorates three generations of the Apreece family. The second group
consists of rectangular tablets in Classical architectural surrounds. The earliest, dated 1623, is a
memorial to three generations of the Thorpe family of masons; all were called Thomas and the
youngest was the father of John Thorpe the architect (King's Cliffe, monument (6)). This form
of monument persisted well into the 19th century. A fine example of unusual design is the
monument to John Leigh (d. 1627) at Apethorpe. The architectural surround has an inverted
broken pediment on which rests a reclining figure. As in the previous century it can be seen that
monuments were in the height of fashion while the architecture of this area was very
The 18th century was a period of limited building activity and the structures of the churches
remained unaltered except for the rebuilding of the medieval church of Southwick and the
reconstruction of Yarwell church; both were replanned with aisleless naves. Also early in the
century a new chapel and school room were built at Ashton to replace the chapel which had
been lost by 1548.
Fig. 14 Yarwell Church Copy of seating plan of 1782
Fig. 15 Harringworth Church Copy of 18th-century seating plan (unexecuted)
Ashton chapel and school were built in 1706, the design making little concession to the fact
that there was a school room and master's lodging at the E. end of the building. The exterior is
treated as a single composition in the Gothic style but the full-height windows have semicircular
heads and uncusped semicircular-headed lights. The W. front incorporates fragments of c. 1300
which may have come from the earlier chapel, but the elevation has classical details. The
interior of the chapel is planned as a simple rectangle with a barrel-vaulted ceiling. It has a
classical reredos at the E. and the 18th-century communion table and a number of benches
survive. Although this building is not a parish church it is of interest as being the best preserved
example of ecclesiastical architecture of this period and perhaps a very early example of Gothic
The church at Southwick was rebuilt except for the tower perhaps by George Lynn, the
chancel being designed to include a large monument commemorating his death in 1758. The
church was drawn by George Clarke in 1846 and his sketch shows that it was a simple classical
building of some merit, of which only the walls and roofs now remain (Plate 73). The
monument is of high quality and although unsigned is attributed to Roubiliac (Gunnis, 331). It
shows a marked resemblance to the monument of John Duke of Montagu (d. 1752), at Warkton
Church (Northants.) which Roubiliac signed. In fact the whole chancel at Southwick may well
have been influenced by the rebuilding of the chancel at Warkton, which is on a much larger
scale and has four large semicircular-headed niches, two on each side. The western pair are
occupied by tombs commemorating members of the Montagu family by Roubiliac.
The nave at Yarwell church was rebuilt without aisles in 1782. The work is economical in
that it made use of the medieval arcade walls, the arches of which were blocked. A Classical
appearance was given to the N. and S. elevations by the doorways which have semicircular
heads, architraves with alternating voussoirs and raised key stones. The roofs here and at
Southwick are steep-pitched and have principal trusses with king posts on flat tie beams which
were presumably intended to carry ceilings.
Fig. 16 Harringworth Church Copy of undated drawing of interior, perhaps early 19th-century
There is little physical evidence for the internal arrangement of churches during the 18th
century. However, dated seating plans survive for the churches of Apethorpe (1735) (Fig. 13)
and Yarwell (1782) (Fig. 14) and there is also an undated plan at Harringworth church (Fig. 15).
It is probable that the seating arrangement shown with a three decker pulpit, central in the nave,
in front of the chancel arch was not carried out; an undated drawing perhaps of the early 19th
century remains in the church and shows a different arrangement which must have been in
existence during the 18th century (Fig. 16). Yarwell and Apethorpe are similar in layout. The
pulpit and reading desk are N. and S. of the chancel arch and there is a central aisle flanked by
enclosed pews and seats. In both churches the font is contained within a pew and there are
separate enclosed pews at the W. end of the chancel.
The Apethorpe plan is detailed and most pews and seats are labelled giving a clear idea of the
way in which the church was used. The chancel was well screened from the nave by the pulpit
and reading desk which were the focal points for the congregation who except for children
occupied box pews or enclosed benches. The W. end of the nave was dominated by a large
gallery with a generous stair which must have been occupied by the lord of the manor. Thomas
6th Earl of Westmorland, who was responsible for all of this work. Small separate box pews at
the W. end of the chancel were provided for communicants and the communion table was
surrounded on three sides by rails. Parts of the pulpit of 1736 survive. The W. window of the
chancel depicting the Last Supper is of 1732, and the reredos is also of early 18th-century date.
In 1772 instructions were given for the church to be whitewashed, presumably not for the first
time (LAO, Apethorpe (C111/40/1) Church Wardens Accounts). The seating plan coupled with
these surviving details gives a clear picture of the interior of the church in the mid 18th century.
The drawing at Harringworth shows the chancel divided from the nave by the medieval rood
screen which still exists, but it had additional panels of 17th-century character, now removed.
Altar rails and a classical reredos with a broken pediment containing a book are shown in the
chancel. The seats in the nave are low box pews of uniform design which are arranged around a
pulpit standing against the N. arcade in the centre. To the E. of this pulpit in the N. aisle is the
burial vault of the lords of the manor, the Tryon family. It takes the form of a raised platform
with stairs at its W. end and is enclosed by railings. This must have been the family pew
standing in a prominent position and may be compared with the gallery at Apethorpe.
These three documents provide considerable information about the way in which churches
were arranged in the 18th century; in each, the chancel was treated as a separate compartment
and the focus in the body of the church was provided by the pulpit and reading desk. Seating
consisted of closed pews or benches and it appears that aisles were included in the
congregational area. The documents also indicate how complete were the alterations carried out
during the 19th century, as practically none of the former interior arrangements survives. The
only exceptions are the monuments which remain in some quantity. Apart from that
commemorating George Lynn of Southwick Hall, which has very high quality figure sculpture,
they are all wall monuments or floor slabs. Wall monuments generally follow the fashion set in
the previous century and are rectangular plaques within an architectural framework. Among
these are two monuments of similar style, both to sailors (Plate 70). The first, at Polebrook, is
to Captain John Orme (d. 1764) and has an apron with naval trophies (monument 1). The
second is at Cotterstock (monument 2) to John Simcoe, late Commander of H.M.S. Pembroke
(d. 1759). The apron is carved with a scene showing a man of war below the heights of
Abraham, and the cornice carries more naval trophies, including a cannon and shot. Both
monuments are unsigned but may be attributed to Edward Bingham of Peterborough on
stylistic grounds. Floor slabs are also numerous, and outstanding among them are a series in
highly polished black marble. A group in the chancel at Southwick commemorate members of
the Lynn family and date from 1737 to 1791. A similar slab is set on a tomb chest in Yarwell
church to Humphrey Bellamy (d. 1715). A number of plainer floor slabs are made of polished
freestone with incised inscriptions and decoration which are inlaid with pitch. A series dating
from 1783 to 1829 commemorate members of the Evans and Freke families in Laxton church.
The Gothic fabric of churches was generally respected during the 19th century but classical
features were systematically destroyed and many were replaced in the revived Gothic style. The
churches of Hemington, Southwick and Yarwell provide evidence of this and it can be seen
from pre-restoration drawings (Plate 73) that the 19th-century work in Gothic style corresponds
with that which was previously in classical form. Hemington church had been rebuilt in 1666
when it consisted of an 'auditory' nave and tower. In 1873 it was found necessary to add a
chancel in 'Decorated' style and to replace the mullion-and-transom windows to accord with the
new work. A Gothic porch was added on the S. side of the nave and masks the 17th-century S.
doorway; the nave roof of similar date was also spared, presumably because it was of traditional
design. Southwick church had been rebuilt in the 18th century with a nave and chancel, a plan
form which was found acceptable in the 19th century but in 1864 all classical work was
removed including ceilings and plaster. The S. door and all the windows were replaced in
'Decorated' style. Yarwell church had also been remodelled in the late 18th century but much
Gothic work was retained. In consequence in 1892 the fabric of the building was not altered,
except that the piers of the 13th-century nave arcades were exposed.
All the churches of the area were to some degree restored during the 19th century. It is
fortunate that the greater part of this work was carried out during the second half of the century
when the early enthusiasm of the Gothic Revival had given way to a more informed and
sensitive attitude to the restoration of ecclesiastical buildings. Plans remained unchanged except
for some minor alterations and the addition of porches, vestries and organ-chambers. Much of
the structure of the churches was thoroughly repaired and in some instances replaced, but
mostly with restraint. This can perhaps best be seen in the restoration of Warmington church by
Sir G. G. Scott and Benjamin Ferry who were responsible for the nave and chancel respectively.
The church was surveyed in great detail by William Caveler in 1847. The work was published
as a monograph in 1850 and thus it can be demonstrated that the restoration of 1876 was faithful
to the existing building. The only major alteration was the replacement of the low chancel roof
of the 15th century by one following the steeper pitch of the earlier 13th-century roof which
respects the outline of the chancel arch. Three other churches were also very carefully restored
by local architects. Edward Browning of Stamford was responsible for work at King's Cliffe in
1862 and J. C. Traylen, also of Stamford, worked at Nassington in 1885 and Glapthorn in 1895.
There are a number of instances where churches fared less well. The chancel of Duddington
church was almost entirely rebuilt by Brian Browning of Stamford in c. 1844. The work is in
very rigid 'first pointed' style which was fashionable at that date. The roof in contrast is an
elaborate structure decorated with ballflower. Blatherwycke church was partly reconstructed;
early material was reused in the chancel but the N. aisle and chapel were entirely rebuilt. The
tower of Wakerley church was restored by J. B. Corby of Stamford in 1876 and no attempt was
made to harmonise the old and new work which is very crude. Unsympathetic work was not
confined to local architects. Ewan Christian was responsible for work at Tansor church in 1887
and during this restoration he refaced much of the N. wall of the N. aisle and built new porches
in the Early English style. The work, although correct in detail, is very harsh and even now
does not blend with the earlier fabric.
The only medieval church which was almost entirely reconstructed was at Laxton. The work
was superintended by William Charles Evans Freke in 1867/8 before he succeeded to the title of
8th Baron Carbery. Only the tower and spire and some architectural details were retained but
George Clark's drawing of 1846 shows that care was taken to follow the outline of the medieval
building except for the addition of a N. aisle. A memorial to Lord Carbery in the church states
that, 'He designed the stonework of the windows, rebuilt the chancel, and added the N. aisle,
and he himself carved the pulpit and the exterior gable cross and bull's head above the chancel'.
The work suggests that Lord Carbery was an amateur who knew something of Gothic
architecture and was also an accomplished stone carver. It is perhaps unusual for the lord of the
manor to take such a personal interest in the rebuilding of a parish church but it is clear from
monograms on the label stops of a window at Blatherwycke that the O'Brien family was
closely associated with the church in 1854. Wood carving executed by the Rev. J. H. Holdich
on the pews of Bulwick church in 1879 provide a further example of an amateur at work on a
church restoration (Diary of the Rev. J. H. Holdich, rector of Bulwick).
In contrast to the restraint with which the fabric of Gothic churches was generally treated, the
interiors of all churches were reorganized to meet the liturgical needs of the religious revival
which took place during the 19th century. The same general arrangement, much of which
survives to the present day, was adopted in all instances. The main altar was placed against the
E. wall of the chancel sometimes backed by a reredos, and raised above the level of the chancel
floor by one, two or three steps. Communion rails spanned the chancel in front of the altar and
defined a sanctuary. West of this were stalls for a choir, and between the choir and the chancel
arch were a pair of reading desks for the clergy, one on each side of the chancel. Just W. of the
chancel arch was a pulpit on either the N. or the S. and a number of lecterns survive which
were presumably placed opposite the pulpits. The congregational area occupied the whole
church W. of the chancel arch except for the occasional side altar in an aisle. All the churches,
except for Easton-on-the-Hill where earlier pews survive, were furnished with uniform seating,
mostly of the open bench type; a good example of this, of 1857, can be seen in Collyweston
church which has a complete set of 19th-century furniture. Apethorpe and Fotheringhay have
sets of uniform closed pews, presumably in the tradition of box-pews; those at Fotheringhay
date from 1817 and are particularly fine. To make way for these uniform seating arrangements
all galleries and private pews which had been common up to this time were removed. The
majority of chancel arches were cleared to give the best possible view of the altar from the nave,
but at Harringworth, Polebrook and Warmington medieval screens were retained and new
screens were installed at Blatherwycke, Cotterstock and Glapthorn. Thus in a few instances the
traditional division between nave and chancel was maintained although a view of the altar from
the nave was still possible in most of these churches. The interior walls of most of the churches
were whitewashed but a number of wall paintings were discovered during restoration, some of
which have been preserved (see Decoration of Wall Surfaces of Medieval Churches). The walls
of the churches at Cotterstock, Southwick and Woodnewton were stripped of plaster and
Laxton church was rebuilt with exposed stone work on the interior surfaces of the walls. This
work was no doubt carried out in the pursuit of 'truthfulness' but does nothing to enhance the
interiors of the churches.
Large sums of money, derived from a wide range of sources, were spent on all the churches
of the area during the 19th century. It was provided by principal landowners, patrons of livings,
lay and ecclesiastical rectors, the parish and from outside sources which had money to
contribute to church buildings, such as the Incorporated Church Building Society. The
restoration of Warmington church in 1876 provides an interesting illustration. The whole church
was restored at the same time by a single contractor but under the control of two architects and
the work was financed from two separate sources. The restoration of the chancel was designed
by Benjamin Ferry and paid for by the Rev. Fredrick Hopkins, impropriator and owner of the
rectory farm, at a cost of £1200 (Peterborough Advertiser, 21 Oct. 1876). Work on the church W.
of the chancel was in the hands of Sir G. G. Scott and cost £5000, £1000 of which was provided
by the Earl of Carysfort, lord of the manor (Warmington Vestry Minutes, 6 Oct. 1876), and the
remainder by other subscribers and the parish. Even at this date the traditional responsibilities of
maintenance were adhered to, the chancel being paid for by the holder of the major tithes and
the nave by the parish. In 1884 the Earl of Carysfoot paid £500 for the restoration of the chancel
of Nassington church of which he was lay-rector. The restoration of the remainder of the
church cost £1000 and this was raised by the parish. The sum of £6000 which was spent on
Warmington church was exceptional but it demonstrates the will of society to raise money for
church restoration in the 19th century.
Today the churches of the area are generally well maintained by the careful use of diminished
resources, but their preservation in the future will require major work similar in scale to that
carried out in the 19th century. When this is undertaken further evidence will be uncovered to
add to the understanding of these buildings.