A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1937.
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The parish of Brixworth covers an area of 3,148 acres, and rises to a little over 400 ft. above the ordnance datum. The soil is mainly Northamptonshire sandstone, with ironstone and a little clay; the subsoil is ironstone. Iron ore is quarried extensively in the parish and there is a brick and tile works situated on the southern border. The chief crops produced are wheat and barley, and much of the land is given to pasture. There are several natural springs in the parish. The village is situated on the main road from Northampton to Market Harborough, and about a mile to the west is a station for the Northampton and Market Harborough branch of the L.M.S. railway which passes through the parish. Brixworth is the head of a rural district and in 1931 had a population of 1,173.
Brixworth Hall (fn. 1) stands almost in the centre of the village in extensive grounds, and is a fair-sized building of three stories above a lofty ground floor, probably erected towards the end of the 18th century, but incorporating parts of an older house. The main, or south, front has a centrally placed doorway with semicircular head beneath an entablature, three squareheaded windows on each side, and seven windows in the upper stories; there is a projection at each end, set well back. The building is constructed of yellow sandstone with dressings of white Weldon stone, (fn. 2) and finishes with a cornice and plain parapet, hiding the leaded roof. The portions of the building at the back have high-pitched roofs, and on the west side there remains a two-light mullioned window, now blocked. (fn. 3) On the north-west are hunting-stables and outbuildings, and to the north-east, overlooking the lawn, an orangery. (fn. 4) The Hall, at present unoccupied, was for some time the headquarters of the Pytchley Hunt Club, and the kennels of the Hunt are still in the village. It is the property of W. T. Vere Wood, esq., who lives at The Manor House, which stands on the east side of the village (fn. 5) and is a modernized 17th-century two-story gabled building with low mullioned windows.
The plan of the village is unusual, the older houses being grouped round, and largely to the south of, the roughly circular enclosure formed by the Hall and its grounds, and the church lying on the extreme northern edge of the village. (fn. 6)
The cross stands in the middle of the north part of the village, south of the church, on a calvary of four octagonal steps. The stump only of the original shaft remains, about 2 ft. high, set in a rectangular socket, on each face of which are angular incised lines, and on the north side the date 1727, in commemoration of the accession of George II. (fn. 7)
At the time of the Domesday Survey the king possessed 9½ hides in BRIXWORTH, which had in Edward the Confessor's time been ancient demesne, and worth £30. There were two mills rendering 33s. 4d.; a wood pertaining to the manor which used to render 100s. yearly was then in the king's forest. (fn. 8) The land did not remain crown demesne for long, for at the time of the Northamptonshire survey (12th cent.) Simon son of Simon held 8½ hides in Brixworth of the fee of Curcy and Alfred held one hide and one virgate of the fee of Salisbury. (fn. 9) In the carta of William de Curcy made in 1166 Simon son of Peter (of Brixworth) (fn. 10) is noted as holding 8½ fees, and his son, the above-named Simon, 4 fees in the right of his wife who is described as the daughter of Roger de Fresnoy. (fn. 11) William de Curcy's heir William (fn. 12) came of age in 1186, but died without heirs and the overlordship of Brixworth passed to Margaret, daughter and coheir of Warin fitz Gerold by Alice, sister and coheir of William de Curcy. She married Baldwin de Rivers, heir of William Earl of Devon, and on his death in 1216 was compelled to marry Faukes de Breauté who held 10½ carucates in Brixworth in 1220. (fn. 13) In 1235–6 and 1242–3 Lady Margaret de Rivers held 2½ fees in Brixworth. (fn. 14) She died in 1252 and the land passed to her grandson Baldwin de Rivers, Earl of Devon, Lord of the Isle of Wight. On his death in 1262 the 3 fees he held in Brixworth were assigned to his widow Margaret in dower. Her title was disputed by Isabel, Countess of Aumâle and Devon, sister and heir of Baldwin, but a decision was given in Margaret's favour in 1266. (fn. 15) She died in 1292, her lands passing to Isabel, who died the next year, Robert de l'Isle, one of the heirs of Isabel, held the overlordship of the manor as part of the honor of Aumâle, in 1315. (fn. 16) The honor was transferred to the Crown by Robert de l'Isle in 1368, and subsequently granted to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, in 1373, Brixworth thus becoming a part of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Simon son of Simon, who held 4 fees of the honor of Curcy in 1166, was succeeded by his son Simon, who joined the barons against King John in 1215. In November of that year his lands in Brixworth were committed to Roland Bloet, (fn. 17) but were later given to his wife, Beatrice of Brixworth. (fn. 18) She also had a grant of an aid to be levied from those of Simon's knights and free tenants who had aided the rebels, to acquit him of the fine made for his redemption. (fn. 19) In 1235–6 and 1242–3 Simon son of Simon, probably the son of the rebel, held 2½ fees in Brixworth. (fn. 20) In 1253 he had a grant of a weekly market to be held at Brixworth on Tuesdays, and a yearly fair there from 4 to 6 June. (fn. 21) He is described as lord of Brixworth in 1262–3, his wife's name being given as Maud de Ralee. (fn. 22) Simon supported the barons in their struggle against the Crown, and was captured at the battle of Northampton, his manor being committed to Henry de Boruhull on 21 April 1264. (fn. 23) He received a safe conduct to go to court in August, 1265, and was finally pardoned in 1267. (fn. 24) In 1276 Simon son of Simon had view of frankpledge, free warren, free fishery, and other liberties in Brixworth. (fn. 25) He died early in 1280, apparently without male issue, as he was succeeded by his nephew, John de Verdun, kt., (fn. 26) who in 1284 was holding 2½ fees in Brixworth. (fn. 27) He died in 1295, (fn. 28) and his son Thomas, by his wife Eleanor daughter of Sir Thomas de Furnivall, being a minor, the custody of Brixworth was granted to John de Ferrers. (fn. 29) Thomas proved his age in 1297, showing that he was born at Whiston by Handsworth, Yorks, (fn. 30) and received seisin of his lands. In February 1301 he received a licence to erect a gallows in his manor of Brixworth on proving that those used by his ancestor, Simon le Voyde, had fallen down through decay. (fn. 31) In 1306 his lands were ordered to be seized because he had withdrawn from the king's service without licence, before the end of the war in Scotland. (fn. 32) He died in 1315 holding the manor of Robert de l'lsle, as of the honor of Aumâle, for two knights' fees. There was a windmill and a water-mill there at this time, and two rents were due from the manor: one of 40s. to the Prior of St. Andrews, Northampton, and the other of 20s. to William de Seymour of Harrington, for his life. (fn. 33) The former rent was still being paid in 1535. (fn. 34) Thomas de Verdun was succeeded by his son John, then aged 16 or 17, who was returned as lord of the manor in 1316, (fn. 35) and defended his right to view of frankpledge, free warren, market, fair, and other liberties in Brixworth in 1329. (fn. 36) He also claimed exemption from suit at the hundred and county courts.
Sir John de Verdun appears to have died some time after 1370, being succeeded by his son Edmund, whose daughter and heir Margaret married first Sir William Bradshaw, and secondly Sir John Pilkington. (fn. 37) She survived her second husband and died in 1436 holding the manor of Brixworth of the duchy of Lancaster. She was succeeded by her grand-daughter Elizabeth, wife of Sir Richard Harrington, of Westerley, Lancs., and daughter of Sir William Bradshaw, her son by her first marriage. (fn. 38) By 1461 their son Sir William Harrington and Elizabeth his wife were in possession of the manor, (fn. 39) and they in turn were succeeded some time before 1492 by their son Sir James Harrington. (fn. 40) Sir James died on 26 June 1497 leaving the manor to his wife Isabel during her lifetime, (fn. 41) with remainder equally among their daughters: Anne wife of Sir William Stanley, Isabel wife of John Tresham, Joan wife of Edmund Ashton, Catherine wife of William Myrfield, Agnes wife of Thomas Ashton, Elizabeth wife of John Lumley, Clemence wife of Henry Norrys, Alice wife of Ralph Standish, Margaret wife of Thomas Pilkington, and Eleanor Leicester. Isabel Harrington of Wolfage and Brixworth received a general pardon in 1509. (fn. 42) This appears to be the first reference to WOLFAGE Manor, which was probably a part of Brixworth Manor. Isabel died on 20 June 1518, (fn. 43) and the manor was divided. Of her daughters each of the following seems to have had possession of a fifth share of the manor within a few years of her mother's death: Alice Standish, (the heir of) Elizabeth Lumley, Eleanor Leicester, Agnes Ashton, and Joan Ashton.
On 27 October 1539 Alice Standish demised her share of the manor to Anthony Laton and his wife, her daughter Agnes, for an annual rent to be applied to the payment of her husband's debts and those of her son Alexander. On her death in January 1542 the debts were still unpaid, but her share of the manor passed to her grandson Ralph Standish, son of Alexander, who was then eleven years old. (fn. 44) By 1604 Alexander Standish, the heir of Ralph, had obtained possession of two shares which seem to have comprised Wolfage Manor. (fn. 45) The second share may have come into the family from Sir Edward Montagu to whom Joan Ashton, then remarried to Robert Burdon, had conveyed her share in 1540. (fn. 46) Ralph Standish had succeeded his father by 1617 (fn. 47) and from him the land passed to Edward Standish, who sold the manor of Brixworth alias Wolfage to Simon Finch in 1671. (fn. 48) The Finch family retained these two-fifths for fifty years.
Sir Ralph Leicester, the heir of Eleanor, was seised of one-fifth of the manor of Brixworth at the time of his death in February 1572. He was succeeded by his son William, who was at that time 34 years old. (fn. 49) By 1594 his heir George Leicester was in possession of the manor, (fn. 50) but the next year he sold it to Thomas Garway, (fn. 51) by whom it was resold to Michael Wright in 1611. (fn. 52) On his death in January 1638, at the age of 52, (fn. 53) Michael Wright was succeeded by his son John, who was born in 1611. By his first wife Susanna, who died in 1648, (fn. 54) John Wright had a son Michael who probably succeeded him on his death in September 1680. (fn. 55) By 1720 his descendant Edward Wright had possession of the manor. (fn. 56)
Elizabeth Lumley, the fifth daughter, predeceased her mother, and her son John had conveyed his rights to his son Henry by the time of Isabel Harrington's death. (fn. 57) Henry Lumley was born about 1500 and by 1532 had conveyed his fifth share to William Saunders of Welford. (fn. 58) The latter, dying in February 1541, left his manor of Brixworth to his wife Dorothy for her lifetime, with remainder successively to his sons Francis, Thomas, George, Saul, and Clement. (fn. 59) In February 1542 Dorothy was granted an annuity of £10 from the manor during the minority of Clement, the eldest son and heir of William Saunders, together with his wardship and marriage. (fn. 60) On her death the manor passed to Francis, the second son, who was in possession of it in 1567. (fn. 61) By his second wife, Eleanor Challoner, Francis Saunders had two sons, Edward, born in 1556, and William. On the marriage of Edward to Millicent daughter of John Temple in 1583 Francis settled the manor of Brixworth on him. Francis died in June 1585. (fn. 62) Edward Saunders died in September 1630, (fn. 63) leaving a son Edward who had been born in 1588. On the death of this Edward the manor passed to his son Edward, (fn. 64) and from him to Francis Saunders, after whose death, early in the 18th century, it was sold to Sir Justinian Isham, bart., of Lamport. It seems probable that the fifth share of the manor which was inherited by James Ashton, the heir of Agnes wife of Thomas Ashton, came into the possession of Francis Saunders about 1560 or 1570, and was held by the Saunders family jointly with the share purchased from Henry Lumley. (fn. 65)
About 1720 John Bridges writes of the manor: 'Two-fifths of the lordship, comprizing the manor of Wolphage, are now in the hands of Mr. Finch of Hertfordshire: two-fifths in Sir Justinian Isham, bart. by purchase from the family of Saunders; and the other fifth, in course of descent from Michael Wright, in Edward Wright of Oakham, Esq. The three manors are held jointly and the court kept at the cross; the profits of the court-leet, court baron, amercements, and stallage for the fair being proportionally divided. Waifs and strays belong to him whose third-borow seizes them.' (fn. 66)
The manor has never since been reunited. The descendants of Sir Justinian Isham now hold the share he purchased, but the other two changed hands several times in the 18th century. In 1753 John Hollis was in possession of one-fifth of the manor, (fn. 67) in 1775 Matthew Combe, (fn. 68) and in 1786 Nicolls Raynsford. (fn. 69) John Elderton owned two-fifths in 1773. (fn. 70) In 1854 the three shares were held by Sir Charles Isham, bart., William Wood, and Mrs. Locock, (fn. 71) and by 1890 Lord Wantage had possession of the lands of the Locock family in the parish. (fn. 72) By 1920 there were only two lords of the manor, Mr. W. T. Vere Wayte Wood and Sir Vere Isham, bart., the present holders.
Simon son of Simon gave to the Abbey of Delapré the service of the heirs of Simon son of Hugh the Miller of Brixworth and the rent which they paid for 'Kyngsmulne'. (fn. 73) A reference to 'Kingsmilne' also occurs in a 13th-century deed, (fn. 74) and this may be the site of the water-mill attached to the Saunders manor in 1670. (fn. 75)
The church of ALL SAINTS stands on high ground (fn. 76) on the north side of the village, and in its present state consists of a clerestoried nave of four bays, 60 ft. (fn. 77) by 30 ft., originally aisled; a quire, or presbytery, of two bays, 30 ft. square, with a south chapel, 34 ft. by 13 ft. 6 in.; an apse, 19 ft. 3 in. by 17 ft. 11 in., polygonal externally but internally semicircular, surrounded below the ground-level by a sunken ambulatory, 7 ft. 6 in. wide; and a western tower, 12 ft. 4 in. by 14 ft. 9 in., (fn. 78) to which is attached on the west side a large stair-turret of semicircular form. The quire, or presbytery, is interposed between the nave (of which it is a prolongation) and apse, and the tower is surmounted by a stone spire, 147 ft. high. (fn. 79)
Its early date and the many important architectural problems connected with the church have made it one of the most frequently noticed buildings in the kingdom, and it has not unjustly been described as forming on the whole 'the most instructive monument in the early history of our national architecture'. (fn. 80) The church was restored and greatly altered in 1864–6, a square-ended chancel, which measured internally 27 ft. 6 in. by 19 ft. 2 in. and was apparently of 15th-century date, being then removed, (fn. 81) and the apse rebuilt in its present form; the south chapel was at the same time shortened by a bay at its west end, and a south porch near the west end of the nave was taken down. (fn. 82) The roof of the nave, the south chapel, and the tower, spire, and stair-turret were repaired in 1900–5. All the roofs are modern.
Briefly stated the building is a large basilican church of the 7th century, with modifications in later Saxon and medieval times. The main fabric is now generally accepted as all that remains of the church of a monastic settlement established at Brixworth, c. 680, by the monks of Peterborough, which was no doubt at the same time a parish church. (fn. 83) The buildings of the monastery were probably destroyed by the Danes during the invasion of 870 and the church dismantled, but the masonry of a great part of the present fabric may confidently be ascribed to a date earlier than the Danish conquest. Its reconstruction as a parish church in Saxon times probably took place c. 960–70 under the revival in the reign of King Edgar, at which period the apse appears to have been reconstructed and the side aisles removed. (fn. 84) There may have been a second repair shortly before or after the Norman Conquest. (fn. 85)
The nave, presbytery, and the lower part of the tower are substantially of the earliest period (c. 680), but the church was originally entered through a western porch, which had an upper chamber with gabled roof. Upon this porch, which was flanked on each side by a small chamber, (fn. 86) the tower was afterwards raised.
The walls of the nave are of rubble stonework, with which is mingled a large number of thin bricks, evidently re-used from the ruins of Romano-British buildings near the site, (fn. 87) employed chiefly in the arches, and here and there in the walls, more especially at the angles. The nave opened into the aisles through an arcade of four semicircular arches in each of the side walls, separated by rectangular piers, or masses of wall, each about 8 ft. in length, (fn. 88) and with rectangular responds at the ends. The imposts of the arches rise slightly in height from west to east, (fn. 89) and each arch is of two rings, or rows of voussoirs, in the same plane with each other and with the wall surface of the piers. These rings are very largely composed of Roman bricks (fn. 90) set edgeways, separated by flat courses of bricks concentric with the curve of the arch, and with a second circumscribing course in place of a hood-mould, but thin slabs of local oolite have also been freely used in a manner which suggests a reconstruction of the arches after the period of ruin, in which new stonework was used when the supply of bricks failed. (fn. 91) The imposts are formed of three courses of oversailing bricks, with a total projection of about 4 in. The manner in which the arches are turned possibly indicates that the principle of the radiating joint was not understood by the builder, (fn. 92) but the bad setting of the springers may have been intentional. (fn. 93) Above the arches (fn. 94) the wall on each side is reduced in thickness, being set back both inside and out, and there is an internal set-off at a somewhat higher level in the west wall. The clerestory has three original round-headed windows on each side of a type uncommon in this country, (fn. 95) placed over the piers and cut nearly straight (fn. 96) through the wall: their arches are again largely built of brick. (fn. 97)
When the aisles were removed the nave arches were filled in and a doorway and windows inserted, but, with the exception of that in which the south doorway is built, the old fillings (with later gothic windows) were taken out at the time of the restoration, and new masonry inserted, containing wide round-headed windows. (fn. 98)
The doorway dates from c. 1180 and has a semicircular arch of two moulded orders, the inner continuous and the outer on jamb-shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The doorway being too wide for the space in which it is set, the wall on the west side has been cut into to admit it; (fn. 99) until 1864 it was covered by a later porch, set at an oblique angle in line with the principal entrance to the churchyard on the south side.
Excavations on both sides of the building during the restoration disclosed the foundations of the aisle walls, showing the aisles to have been 9 ft. wide internally with a square chamber at the west end of each, flanking the porch, and probably one at the east end on the north side. From more recent excavations it appears that transverse walls originally extended across the north aisle from each of the piers, (fn. 100) but no such features have been found on the south side.
The nave is now divided from the presbytery by a wide and very flat arch of two chamfered orders dying into the wall, which appears to be of late-14thcentury date, but originally, as was proved by excavation in 1841, (fn. 101) there was here a screen or arcade of three arches, the middle one wider than the others, which were supported on two intermediate piers and by the piers, or responds, which still exist as projections from the north and south walls. (fn. 102)
The north wall of the presbytery has two large pointed three-light windows. That to the east was entirely reconstructed in 1863, but the western window is of the early 14th century, (fn. 103) and its sill cuts into the brick arch of an original round-headed doorway, now blocked, which led either into the open or to a sacristy or similar building. (fn. 104) Whether there was also a chamber in the corresponding position on the south side cannot be known, the presbytery being here covered by the medieval chapel and the lower part of its wall pierced by two pointed arches. Of these the easternmost is the narrower, and is of three chamfered orders and hood-mould towards the presbytery, but of two orders only to the chapel, the inner order springing from keelshaped responds with moulded capitals and bases: it belongs to the earlier part of the 13 th century, when the chapel seems first to have been built or reconstructed, (fn. 105) but in its completed and enlarged form the chapel dates from c. 1290, when the westernmost arch, which is lower and wider (fn. 106) than the other and has octagonal responds, was constructed, and the outer walls rebuilt. The east window of the chapel is of three lights with plain intersecting tracery and the others are of two lights with forked mullions. Above the arches the old wall remains, with the blocked arch and upper portion of a large round-headed window, which was splayed internally. (fn. 107) Over the westernmost pointed arch is a contemporary single-light clerestory window with trefoiled head. The chapel, as already stated, formerly extended farther westward, and its existing west wall is modern. In the south wall is a small doorway, with plain four-centered arch, inserted in the 15th century, the west jamb of which cuts into a pointed piscina recess.
The tall semicircular chancel arch, or arch of triumph, in the middle of the east wall of the presbytery, is probably in great part original, (fn. 108) being similar in construction to those of the nave arcades, but with only one course (the outer) of flatways bricks. On either side of it, high in the wall, is a blocked round-headed window, resembling those in the clerestory, and under these and partly below the present level of the floor are two narrow blocked doorways, with round heads, through each of which passed a flight of steps (fn. 109) giving access to the sunken ambulatory of the apse. In the southern portion of the wall above the doorway and below the window is a pointed recess, the back wall of which retains some of its plaster, with traces of colour. Between this and the chancel arch is the north jamb of an earlier recess, probably of the 13 th century. (fn. 110)
The present apse, the floor of which is three steps above that of the presbytery, with the exception of the north-west part, is modern. In 1841 excavations within its area disclosed the inner face of the foundations of the original apse and its plan was determined. (fn. 111) In the restoration of 1864–6 the present polygonal apse was built on the lines suggested by the old masonry that remained. It is semicircular within but consists externally of seven sides of a dodecagon (fn. 112) elongated from east to west, the angles of which are covered by pilaster buttresses (fn. 113) whose outer faces follow the plan of the contiguous bays, while their heads in the original apse were united by a continuous surface arcade, the springing of which can be traced at the north-west corner. (fn. 114) One original round-headed window (fn. 115) has survived in the north-west bay, together with one buttress and part of another. There is reason to believe (fn. 116) that the apse was rebuilt, probably in the 10th century, upon the site or foundations of an original 7th-century apse, the plan of which (polygonal without and circular within) it preserved, (fn. 117) and that the sunken ambulatory which encircles its east end and is now open to the sky formed part of the earlier building. The wall forming the outer circumference of the ambulatory, with the two wide recesses which it contains, has been rebuilt, but the inner wall is old, except for a portion beneath the east end of the apse, and retains much of its original plaster. An off-set of bricks, of which some courses remain on the north side, supported the springing of a barrel-vault, and this is reproduced in the modern work. Upon this semicircular base the polygonal apse was built. No bricks occur in the masonry above the substructure, but a species of tufa, which is not found in the nave or presbytery, is freely used, and as this occurs also in the middle part of the tower it has been inferred that these two works are contemporary. (fn. 118) Evidence that the polygonal apse was a rebuilding is also afforded by the fact that its northern wall encroaches on the east wall of the presbytery in such a way that the window in that wall only just escapes being blocked. (fn. 119)
The position of the windows in the east wall of the presbytery indicates that the ambulatory (fn. 120) was originally external to an apse the upper part of which was semicircular both within and without. (fn. 121) The ambulatory was covered by a barrel vault which, as already stated, sprang from an offset or string-course of bricks at a height of about 6 ft. 6 in. above the floor, and was probably protected by a lean-to roof, the eaves of which must have been close to the ground. No traces of a crypt below the apse, such as the ambulatory would lead one to expect, can be found. The soil beneath the apse is said to be undisturbed and mainly solid ironstone rock. When the upper part of the inner face of the old ambulatory wall was uncovered at the restoration it bore no traces of plaster, (fn. 122) while the plaster on the outer face is original and conceals no openings to any inner chamber. There was an opening in the east part of the wall, which has now been rebuilt, but it is believed that this was made for a burial at a much later date. (fn. 123) The use of the ambulatory must to some extent remain conjectural. The two doorways from the presbytery, however, imply that it was intended for visitors to a shrine, who would enter in the usual way by one door and leave by the other, and the recesses (fn. 124) on the north-east and south-east sides of the passage may have contained tombs or relics.
The west tower, together with the west wall of the nave, remains to be described. The tower is built at right angles to the west wall, set obliquely to the nave, and measures externally 21 ft. 6 in. from north to south. It is of three stages below the later bell-chamber, undivided by strings, each stage communicating by a doorway with the rounded staircase turret on its west face. The lowest stage originally formed the porch of the 7th-century church, from which it is entered by a wide (fn. 125) archway with semicircular head of Roman brick: the porch had a lofty western entrance and an upper chamber with a gabled roof, and was flanked on each side, as already stated, by a small building (fn. 126) with an upper room, the use of which is conjectural. These lateral chambers were entered by lesser doorways in the north and south walls, that on the south side (fn. 127) now forming the outer entrance to the tower, but there was no communication between the upper rooms (fn. 128) and the chamber over the porch, and nothing survives to indicate how they were approached. The porch chamber was entered from the interior of the church by a round-headed doorway, (fn. 129) now blocked, set vertically above the taller ground-floor archway and approached by a wooden stair or landing. The chamber had a window in the west wall and another on the south, the latter placed high in the wall so as to clear the roof of the flanking building. In the 10th-century reconstruction a tower was raised upon this western porch, the line of whose gabled roof is still visible in the original plaster-work in the west wall, and there are other slighter indications of it in the east wall. In the work of heightening the walls of the porch tufa was largely used, (fn. 130) and the tower was erected with a stairway built against its western face to afford easy access to the upper chambers. A low round-headed doorway to the stair, on the ground floor, was made within the opening of the lofty arch of the original entrance, which was now filled in, and to this period also belongs the large triple opening in the west wall of the nave, composed of three narrow arches turned in brick, and divided by large baluster shafts, forming a window in the first floor of the tower. The fact that this triple opening cuts into the head of the arch of the (blocked) upper doorway to the porch chamber is sufficient indication, apart from the character of the work itself, that the opening is of later date than the wall; the baluster shafts have through-stone impost blocks, capitals of a rough trapezoidal shape, rounded centre-blocks swelling in the middle, with neck and base mouldings, and tall bases, the upper parts of which have hollow curves. (fn. 131)
The stair in the western turret is lighted by wide rectangular openings, originally closed by pierced stones, (fn. 133) and is covered by a winding vault, which retains much of its original plaster. (fn. 134) The first floor of the tower is entered from the stair through a roundheaded archway with brick voussoirs, formed from the original west window of the porch chamber. The entrance to the second floor is through a rough opening, but the walling at this height is of the 14th century, when the present bell-chamber stage was erected and the broach spire with angle pinnacles built. The head of the stair and its vault were then destroyed just above the vault's springing, but the turret was retained to its full height, rising some distance above the later masonry. A considerable amount of herring-bone coursing occurs in the turret and in the south wall of the tower, and similar coursing is found on the inside of the east and west walls on the first floor.
The 14th-century bell-chamber windows are of two trefoiled lights with elongated quatrefoil in the head and ogee-shaped hood-mould. The spire rises from a corbel table of notch-heads and has ribbed angles and two tiers of lights in the cardinal faces.
In the south chapel are two moulded wall recesses of c. 1300 with short jamb-shafts, the easternmost of which contains a fine effigy of a knight in chain mail and surcoat, probably representing Sir John de Verdon (d. 1276), (fn. 135) to whom the late-13th-century rebuilding of this part of the church is ascribed. There is a late15th-century painted screen in front of the eastern arch of the chapel arcade.
The font is ancient and consists of a small circular bowl on a tall circular shaft or pedestal, with moulded base. (fn. 136) The wooden pulpit is modern and stands on a stone base.
In the church are some interesting carved stones. One of these, with the figure of an eagle in low relief, is built into the inner west jamb of the south doorway. (fn. 137) A portion of a pre-Conquest cross shaft, found in the vicarage garden close to the church in 1897, is now placed near the pulpit; its ornamental sculpture closely resembles that of the 'fishing stone' at Gosforth, Cumberland. (fn. 138) Another carved stone is built into the east wall of the south chapel.
In the floor of the presbytery are two monumental slabs with inscriptions in Lombardic lettering: one is that of Simon Curteys (d. 1328) the founder of the chantry, while the other is that of Adam de Tauntone, vicar, who died in 1334. (fn. 139) There is also a third slab, very much worn, with indents of a figure, border inscription and shield.
There is a brass plate to Edward Saunders (d. 1630), (fn. 140) and in the south chapel a marble mural monument to John Wright (d. 1680). There are numerous 19thcentury memorials.
A 14-th-century stone reliquary, containing the reputed throat-bone of a saint, is set on a plain stone bracket in the north-east angle of the nave, near the pulpit. (fn. 141)
Before the restoration the roof of the nave and presbytery was of plain tie-beam construction and of low pitch covered with lead; the new roof, which is slated, follows the pitch of that erected in the 14th century, the tabling of which remained on the east face of the tower. (fn. 142) The battlemented parapets probably date from the 15th century; at the east end the gable has been rebuilt. The south chapel has a lean-to leaded roof behind a plain parapet.
There is a ring of five bells, the first four cast in 1622, and the tenor by Henry Bagley of Chacomb in 1683. (fn. 143) A new clock was erected in 1897.
The silver plate consists of a cup and cover paten of 1700 inscribed 'Donum Rich. Richardsoni Vicarij Brixorthensis anno 1699'; a paten of 1873 given by Richard Lee Bevan in 1883; and a flagon of 1873. There are also a pewter flagon and four pewter plates. (fn. 144)
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1562–March 1758, marriages 1565–March 1758, burials 1546–May 1759; (ii) baptisms and burials 1760–1812; (iii) marriages 1754–October 1797; (iv) June 1798–1812.
The advowson was held at an early date by Arnold the Falconer, but was given to Salisbury Cathedral, which was confirmed in possession of it by Henry II. (fn. 145) It was attached to the chancellorship of the cathedral as a prebend, (fn. 146) and remained in the gift of the chancellor until 1840, when it passed to the Bishop of Peterborough. (fn. 147) In 1291 the rectory was worthy £21 6s. 8d. and the vicarage £4 13s. 4d.; (fn. 148) by 1535 the rectorial prebend was worth £18 and the vicarage £14 19s. whence 3s. 4d. was paid to the Archdeacon of Northampton for procurations and synodals. (fn. 149) It was endowed with £200 of Queen Anne's Bounty to meet a donation of £200 from Sir Justinian Isham in 1726. (fn. 150) The tithes were commuted for land in 1780.
There was a chantry chapel of St. Mary situated in the churchyard, (fn. 151) founded in 1327 by William Curteys, a London merchant, in fulfilment of the wishes of his father Simon, and endowed with three messuages, 30 acres of land and 100s. of rent. (fn. 152) In 1549 part of the land was granted to William Cecil and Lawrence Eiresbie, (fn. 153) while the next year the chapel, except the bells, was given to Richard Heybourne and William Dalbye. (fn. 154) Three cottages and some land which had belonged to the chantry were given to Thomas Reeve and George Cotton in 1552, to hold of the king as of his manor of East Greenwich. (fn. 155)
In the manor-house of Wolfage there was a chantry founded by Sir James Harrington. (fn. 156)
A piece of land appropriated to the use of the poor now yields about £40 annually. It is not known how this property came to be settled, but at the time of the inclosure of the parish an allotment of 3½ acres was awarded to the vicar, churchwardens, and overseers of the poor in trust. An allotment of 6½ acres was set out on the inclosure in lieu of certain open field lands appropriated to the repair of the parish church. It now produces about £14 yearly.
Thomas Lelam in 1601 devised a rent-charge of 8s. a year for the poor payable out of a house in Brixworth. By deed of 14 September 1665 Thomas Roe conveyed lands to trustees to pay £10 yearly to the schoolmaster in Scaldwell. Subsequent to the inclosure of 1780 the allotment made in lieu of the original land was found to be sufficient for the support of two schoolmasters, and in June 1822 it was decided that the money should be divided between the schoolmasters of the parishes of Brixworth and Scaldwell. The charity now yields about £135 a year, and has been reorganized under a new scheme by the Board of Education. (fn. 157)