A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1937.
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Pihteslea (xi cent.); Pycseleg, Pyghtesley (xiii cent.); Pistisle, Pytesley (xiv cent.); Piseley (xvii cent.).
Pytchley is on the road from Higham Ferrers to Kettering; and the village is situated where a branch of the road from Wellingborough, which traverses the parish on its eastern side, crosses the former in the north. It is about 3 miles south-west of Kettering, and 2 ½ miles distant from Isham Station on the L.M.S. Railway. The surface of the parish is undulating and well wooded, especially in the north, its height varying from about 200 to 400 ft.: it is watered by various streams flowing into the River Nene, the Ise brook dividing it from Isham on the east.
At the eastern end of the straggling village is the church of All Saints. Excavations carried on during restorations in 1845 disclosed a cemetery of primitive man under the church and churchyard, rough stone coffins, or kistvaens, and skeletons lying with faces to the east and feet to the south. (fn. 1) A little to the north of the church is the vicarage. (fn. 2)
At the other end of the village is the Manor House, now occupied by Colonel C. H. Heycock, a principal landowner in Pytchley. It is said to have been built by the Washbournes, (fn. 3) and is probably the manor-house referred to by Lewis in 1849 as very dilapidated. Bridges wrote that the old manor-house of the Staffords, lately pulled down in his day by Mr. Washbourne, had adjoined the churchyard; (fn. 4) and that an old manorhouse, apparently that of the Engaynes, had stood in the cow-pasture south of the church, where wells, ponds, moats, and other survivals marked its position. Pytchley Hall, of famous hunting memory, built by Sir Euseby Isham in Queen Elizabeth's reign, also stood to the south of the church; but of this beautiful old H-shaped building of native ironstone no trace remains, and it is said that a road passes over its site. (fn. 5) Before its demolition in 1829 a picture of the fine old mansion had been included in Baker's History of Northamptonshire. According to Bridges Sir Euseby's house was designed by the same architect as Holdenby House. The fine gateway was purchased by Lord Overstone and removed in 1843 to Overstone Park, where it can still be seen, and the porch has been rebuilt at Glendon Hall, near Rothwell. The story of the old house after the Pytchley Hunt came into existence in the middle of the 18th century, and it was turned into a club-house, has been told by Mr. H. O. Nethercote. (fn. 6) The kennels are now at Brixworth. To the west of the Manor House is Pytchley House. Pytchley Grange lies by itself at the extreme south of the parish; other outlying properties are Pytchley Lodge, Spencer's Lodge, and Cox's Lodge.
At the centre of the village is the school (public elementary), originally founded as a grammar school. Near by is one of the two Methodist chapels. A Working Men's Institute and Reading Room was established in 1887.
The parish has an area of 2,866 acres. Its soil is rich arable ground and its subsoil clay. The chief crops grown are wheat, barley, beans, and roots. Lacemaking was formerly carried on, and shoemaking. There are quarries of building-stone in the north. The population in 1931 was 531.
Two properties in PYTCHLEY of 5 hides and 1 virgate and 1½ hides respectively were entered in Domesday Survey as held of the Abbey of Peterborough by Azo, with a note that the manor belonged to the monks' farm (i.e. was allotted for their sustenance), and that there was a demesne building. The two formed a manor which had fallen in value since Azo received it from £8 to 100s. (fn. 7) In the Northampton Survey it was returned that the Abbot of Peterborough had 5½ hides in Pytchley, but that in the Rolls of Winchester (Domesday Survey) 6 hides and 3 small virgates had been held of him. (fn. 8) The deficit of 1¼ hides is accounted for by an increase of the same amount in the manor of the Engaynes (q.v.). (fn. 9) In the reign of Richard I Pytchley, with its church and mill, was confirmed to the abbey by Pope Eugenius. (fn. 10) Similar confirmations were made in 1227 by Henry III (fn. 11) and in 1332 by Edward III. (fn. 12) The abbey's property (then held by Ralph Basset) was assessed in 1284 at 5½ hides. (fn. 13) This manor continued to be held of the abbey until the Dissolution, and the lordship and fee farm were in February 1544 granted to William, Lord Parr of Horton, in tail male. (fn. 14)
After being held in demesne by the abbey, Pytchley had for tenants members of the great judicial families of Ridel and Basset. Geoffrey Ridel, the justiciar, came to Abbot John in 1117 with other proved men to ask that the manor of Pytchley might be granted to him for life, and the abbot granted it to him for the farm of £4. (fn. 15) After the death of the justiciar in the wreck of the White Ship in 1120, its next tenants were the descendants of his daughter and heiress Maud, who married Richard, son of Ralph Basset, (fn. 16) her son Geoffrey taking the name of his mother and her son Ralph that of his father. Geoffrey Ridel's son Richard, however, assumed the name of Basset, and in 1201 and 1203 appears in a suit instituted against him by Abbot William in connexion with 6 carucates of land in Pytchley which he claimed to hold of the church of Peterborough and which that church claimed to hold in demesne. (fn. 17) Richard Basset was holding at his death a messuage in Pytchley and 6 virgates of land and paid for the said manor 10 marks yearly. (fn. 18) His son and heir Ralph made an agreement in 1218 with Abbot Robert, recognizing that Pytchley was the right of the church of Peterborough, and the abbot confirmed this land to Ralph and his heirs, to hold at fee farm, saving the advowson of the church, for 10 marks. (fn. 19) In 1218 Ralph Basset made a grant to John de Chanceux and his wife Margaret of land and of the mill in Pytchley, (fn. 20) the mending of the mill-pond being in 1240 the subject of another agreement between him and the abbey; (fn. 21) and in May 1237 Ralph was engaged in a suit against the Prior of Launds, John de Chanceux, and Ralph Taylehaste concerning customs and services which he demanded of them for his free tenement in Weldon and Pytchley. (fn. 22) This Ralph, who was seated at Weldon, was succeeded by his son, another Ralph, who had livery of his father's lands in 1257–8, (fn. 23) and whose son Richard Basset claimed view of frankpledge in Pytchley in 1275, (fn. 24) and died in 1276, seised of this manor. (fn. 25) His son Ralph in 1284 was holding 5½ hides in Pytchley of the Abbot of Peterborough. (fn. 26) In 1284 Ralph Basset of Weldon received a quit claim from Hugh Ridel, lord of Wittering, for any right the said Hugh might have in the manors of Weldon, Weston, and Pytchley by descent from Richard Basset and Geoffrey Ridel his son and heir, or from Hugh Ridel and Richard his son and heir. (fn. 27) Pytchley then followed the descent of Weldon (q.v.) (fn. 28) until 1408, when, on the death of Richard Basset, the property was divided between his cousins, Weldon passing to John Knyvet and Pytchley to Sir Thomas Aylesbury, who died in 1418 seised of a manor of Pytchley, composed of the manor of Pytchley called Engaynes (q.v.) and of this manor, then called BASSETS and later on known as STAFFORDS. (fn. 29) Bassets, held by him of the abbey of Peterborough, had been granted by him in 1416–17 to Sir Thomas Chaworth, the husband of his daughter Isabel, (fn. 30) but was assigned for life to his widow Katharine. (fn. 31) Katharine, who had inherited the Engayne manor as the daughter of Lawrence de Pabenham, died on 17 July 1436, leaving as her heir her son Laurence Cheyne, aged 40. (fn. 32) In 1459 Sir Thomas Chaworth died seised of a moiety of this manor, held by him of the Abbot of Peterborough for life, after the death of his wife Isabel, as of the inheritance of William Chaworth, her son and heir. (fn. 33)
The other moiety of the manor appears to have remained in the hands of Sir Thomas Aylesbury's other daughter and co-heir Eleanor, who married Humphrey Stafford. The attainder and execution of Humphrey Stafford was followed by the grant on 6 October 1487 of the manor of Bassets to Sir John Guldeford. (fn. 34) This manor, apparently including the Chaworth moiety, subsequently passed to Robert Isham, of whose manor of Staffords his brother Giles held property in Pytchley in 1559, (fn. 35) and descended with the manor of Engaynes.
The manor of ENGAYNES, DENGAYNES, or GEYNES, though originally so much smaller in size, has an interest of its own that Bassets cannot rival, by reason of its connexion with the hunt that has made Pytchley famous the world over. This connexion has already been dealt with in two previous volumes, an account of the Engaynes, and of the Pytchley and Laxton tenure, or wolf-hound serjeanty, (fn. 36) being given in the articles on the 'Domesday Survey' (fn. 37) and on 'Sport', while in the latter article there is also given the history of the hunt which in later days had its head-quarters there. (fn. 38)
The first tenant recorded is the Saxon Alwin the huntsman, who held 2 hides in Pytchley under Edward the Confessor. He had been succeeded by William Engayne, who held 2 hides in Pytchley of the king. When the Northampton Survey was taken, 3 hides 1 virgate were held by Richard Engayne, (fn. 39) the Peterborough manor being diminished by an equivalent amount, and that it was from the Peterborough manor it was taken is clear from the fact that Engaynes was held eventually partly of the king by great serjeanty, and partly of the abbey of Peterborough. In 1210–12 Richard Engayne was holding Pytchley and Laxton by service of hunting the wolf. (fn. 40) This was the portion of the Engayne manor which was held of the king in chief; the other portion of it was confirmed to the abbey of Peterborough in 1227 (fn. 41) and 1332, (fn. 42) as the fee of one knight in Pytchley, Thorpe, and Hargrave. Vital Engayne, brother of Richard, died in 1249, when he was returned as holding lands in Laxton and Pytchley by serjeanty of hunting the wolf at the king's command in 3½ counties. He was succeeded by his son Henry, (fn. 43) who at his death in 1271 held his lands in Laxton of the king in chief by the said serjeanty, and his lands in Pytchley, worth £10, by similar service. (fn. 44) John Engayne succeeded his brother Henry at Pytchley, where he claimed view of frankpledge, &c, in 1275, (fn. 45) and was returned as holding 20 librates of land in chief by the above serjeanty in 1284. (fn. 46) In the same year Millicent de Monhaut complained that he and others had entered her park at Harringworth, cut her trees, stretched nets and caught a tame cat (catum domesticum). John replied that his serjeanty entitled him to chase vermin in the parks both of the king and of other persons, and that he had only cut hazels and rods with which to stretch the nets. He admitted taking a cat, but did not comment on its alleged tameness. (fn. 47) John died in 1296 seised of Pytchley, consisting of a chief messuage, 120 acres of arable land, 3 acres of meadow, a water-mill, (fn. 48) and £10 yearly rents of bondmen, held of the king by serjeanty of hunting the wolf, the fox, and the badger; and 33s. yearly rents of villeins, held of the Abbot of Peterborough by service of 1/12 of a knight's fee. (fn. 49) His son John Engayne settled lands on his wife Ellen, and died in 1322, holding Pytchley by grand serjeanty of finding coursing dogs for destroying wolves, foxes, cats, and other vermin, as well within parks as without, in the counties of Northampton, Rutland, Oxford, Essex, Huntingdon, and Buckingham, with 33s. 6d. and 1 lb. of pepper rent held of Peterborough by knight service. (fn. 50) Ellen died in 1339, (fn. 51) when her third of the manor was delivered to John, the son of her husband's brother Nicholas. (fn. 52) This Sir John Dengayne of Dillington (Hunts.) died in February 1358, seized of 14 virgates in Pytchley held of the king as parcel of the serjeanty of Laxton, with 10 virgates there held by free tenants of the Abbot of Peterborough for one-fourth of a knight's fee, and rendering for each virgate 2s. 4d. for ward of Rockingham Castle; Sir John, it was said, had received nothing therefrom except two attendances yearly from each tenant at his court at Pytchley, the profits of which were worth nothing. (fn. 53) When his son Sir Thomas died s.p. in 1367 the lands passed to his three sisters and co-heirs: Joyce, the wife of John de Goldington; Elizabeth wife of Sir Lawrence de Pabenham; and Mary wife of William de Bernak. (fn. 54) In 1368 John de Goldington and his wife Joyce transferred their third to William Bernak and his wife Mary. (fn. 55) In 1377 a conveyance of Laxton, Pytchley, and other manors was made to John de Goldington and his wife Joyce by the other two sisters and their husbands, (fn. 56) and a second conveyance finally left this manor of Pytchley, then held in dower by Katharine, widow of Sir Thomas Engayne, the property of Elizabeth and Lawrence de Pabenham. (fn. 57) Elizabeth predeceased her husband, and at his death in 1399 their heir was their daughter Katharine, aged 27. (fn. 58) Katharine married first Sir William Cheyne of Fen Ditton (Cambs.), (fn. 59) and secondly Sir Thomas Aylesbury, in whose hands the two Pytchley manors are consequently found at his death in September 1418. (fn. 60) The manor of Engaynes then consisted of three parcels, one being held by the hunting serjeanty, another of the Abbot of Peterborough, and the remainder of John Knyvet as of his manor of Weldon. (fn. 61) On the death of Katharine Aylesbury, in 1436, her son Lawrence Cheyne inherited the manor, (fn. 62) and in 1449 settled it on himself and his wife Elizabeth, with remainder to their son John. (fn. 63) Sir Thomas Cheyney, son of the last-named Sir John, in 1503 granted the manor of Pytchley to Ralph Lane and Katharine his wife, kinswoman of the said Sir Thomas Cheyney, for life, with remainder for life to John Dockwra, son of the said Katherine. (fn. 64) In 1511, when a marriage was proposed between Elizabeth, the daughter and heir of this Sir Thomas Cheyney (of Irtlingborough), and Thomas Vaux, son and heir apparent of Sir Nicholas Vaux, the reversion of the manor was settled in tail on Elizabeth. (fn. 65) Sir Thomas Cheyney died seised of the manor on 13 January 1514, his daughter being then 9 years old. Her subsequent marriage with Sir Thomas Vaux conveyed Pytchley to the Vaux of Harrowden (q.v.), who did not long hold it however. Sir Thomas Vaux, Lord Harrowden, with William Vaux his son and heir, sold the manor of Pytchley called Geynes in 1555 to Gregory Isham, citizen and merchant of London. (fn. 66)
The descent of the Ishams of Pytchley has already been dealt with in the genealogical volume for Northamptonshire. (fn. 67) Henry de Isham of Northampton, to whom a debt of £200 was owing in 1325, (fn. 68) may have been identical with the Henry de Isham who in 1309 (fn. 69) was bailiff of Richard son of Roger son of Henry in the case of a free tenement in Pytchley claimed by Richard against his brothers Roger and John and his sisters Beatrice, Emma, and Joan. (fn. 70) It seems probable that he was the Henry de Isham the lands of whose widow Agnes at Pytchley were in 1349 the scene of a conflict between the bailiff of the sheriff and Henry Dengayne and others. (fn. 71) Henry's great-grandson Robert settled lands in Pytchley on his son William Isham, (fn. 72) who was succeeded by his son Thomas. Thomas Isham married Ellen, daughter of Richard Vere and granddaughter of John Green of Drayton, and was the father of that Euseby Isham of Pytchley who, with his wife Anne, daughter of Giles Pulton of Desborough, (fn. 73) brought up on his farm at Ringstead the family of twenty children of whom Gregory, the purchaser of Engaynes, was no unworthy member. How Gregory, the third of the brothers, had been sent up to London by his father to be apprenticed, and there accumulated the fortune which enabled him to return to his own county and purchase Engaynes and the Earl of Rutland's manors in Braunston before his death in 1558; and how Giles, the eldest, associated with Gregory in the fine of 1555 conveying Engaynes to him, had been sent to London to study the law, and returning on the death of Euseby to succeed him at Pytchley, was also in the commission of the peace, and died in 1559, is recorded in the family archives preserved by the descendants of their brother John at Lamport (q.v.); which tell, too, how Robert, the second of the brothers, was chaplain to Queen Mary, at whose death he resigned his stall at Peter- borough, and died in 1564 parson of Pytchley, his heirs being the three daughters of his brother Giles. Giles, who was M.P. for Peterborough in 1553–4 and 1557– 8, was buried at Pytchley. He was returned as seised of a manor in Pytchley called ISHAMS (fn. 74) held of Robert Isham, clerk, as of his manor of Staffords, which latter manor also passed next into the hands of their brother Gregory's son Euseby Isham of Braunston. Euseby early in 1580 was dealing by fine with a third of the manors of Geynes and Ishams in Pytchley; (fn. 75) and in 1587 by recovery with the manors of Pytchley and Bassets; (fn. 76) and in 1606 he was, in conjunction with his son and heir John, dealing with the manors of Pytchley and Braunston (fn. 77) as Sir Euseby Isham, having been knighted by King James on 11 May 1603. He built the famous old house at Pytchley whose mullioned windows and pinnacled gables were the background of many a hunt picture, and inclosed 140 acres at Pytchley. (fn. 78) He died at Pytchley on 11 June 1626, being survived less than six months by his son John, on whom he, with his wife Ann, had settled his manors of Staffords and Engaynes in tail male on 8 May 1603. (fn. 79) John Isham, who had already in 1623 levied a fine of the manor of Pytchley with Thomas Isham, (fn. 80) his brother, the executor of his will, had married in 1604 Anne daughter of Sir William Fitzwilliam of Milton, who survived her husband at his death on 11 December 1626. (fn. 81) The heir of John was his daughter Ann, aged 21, the wife of William Lane of Glendon, but the manor being settled in tail male passed to her uncle Thomas Isham, who in 1632 sold to Francis Downes, Roger Downes, of Wortley, Lancashire, and Francis Downes his two manors of Pytchley. (fn. 82) On 21 August 1639 Francis Downes settled his recently purchased manors on his wife Alice and his son Francis, and died on 31 July 1640, his son Francis being then aged 13. (fn. 83) Roger Downes suffered a recovery of the manor in 1672, with two water-mills, &c., (fn. 84) but in 1690 the manor of Pytchley, with one water-mill, one windmill, &c., was being dealt with by William Washbourne, (fn. 85) to whom it had probably passed from the Downes. William Washbourne died in 1702 and was buried at Pytchley, (fn. 86) where he was succeeded by his son William, who was dealing with the manor, one water-mill, &c., in 1712 (fn. 87) and 1720. (fn. 88) A manor of Pytchley, presumably this manor, was next held by the Knightleys with Fawsley (q.v.) in 1764 (fn. 89) and 1802, (fn. 90) by Lucy Knightley, esq., and Charles Knightley respectively. Before 1819 it had again changed hands, and in that year was held by George Wharton Marriott and Selina Anne his wife, who conveyed it to John Swarbrock Gregory. (fn. 91) This was possibly a preliminary of its transfer to George Payne (of Sulby), who was dealing with it in 1825. (fn. 92) The old hall built by Euseby Isham was pulled down in 1829 by George Payne, who afterwards sold the manor and estate to Mr. Jones Loyd. (fn. 93) Mr. Loyd was succeeded in the manor by his son Samuel, who was created Baron Overstone in 1854 and died in 1883, when his property descended to his only surviving daughter Harriet and her husband Robert James Loyd Lindsay, created Lord Wantage of Lockinge in 1885.
Another 3 virgates in Pytchley which Edwin had held freely in the time of King Edward was entered in the Domesday Survey as held by Fulcher (Malesoures) of the Count of Mortain. (fn. 94) This appears in the Northampton Survey as ½ hide in Pytchley held by William FitzGery of the fee of Mortain. (fn. 95) This may possibly be the property from which William Trussel early in the reign of Henry III confirmed a grant of 2 marks rent in Pytchley to the chaplains celebrating in the chapel of the Blessed Mary at Marston for the souls of Richard Trussel his father and Maud his wife made by Lady Isabel Trussel his mother, (fn. 96) and may be represented by the 4 virgates in Pytchley which William Trussel was holding in 1284, but of whom he held them no mention was made. (fn. 97)
A 'manor' in Pytchley was referred to as held by John Clysby and his wife Eleanor in 1385, when houses and closes there were broken into by evil-doers. (fn. 98)
The church of ALL SAINTS consists of chancel, 39 ft. by 19 ft. 4 in.; clerestoried nave, 53 ft. by 20 ft.; north and south aisles, south porch, and west tower, 12 ft. by 11 ft. 6 in., all these measurements being internal. The width of the south aisle is 12 ft., but the north aisle is 20 ft. wide and has a recess or shallow transept in the north wall, 13 ft. by 7 ft. 6 in. deep, now used as a vestry.
No part of the existing fabric is older than the latter half of the 12th century. To this period the two western arches and western pier of the north aisle belong, indicating a Norman church with at least one aisle, the extent of which can only be conjectured. In the 13th century the church was almost entirely rebuilt, the nave being extended eastward, a south aisle added, and a new chancel erected. The south nave arcade dates from c. 1230–40, but the eastern portion of the north arcade is some fifty years later (c. 1280), the work having apparently been completed on the north side only after the chancel was finished. In the 14th century the chancel was rebuilt on its present lines, and new windows inserted in the south aisle; the north aisle may have been widened about the same time. The tower dates from about 1200, but was heightened about 1427; (fn. 99) the porch is of the 15th century.
The restoration of 1843 included the rebuilding of the chancel arch and the east wall of the north aisle; the chancel was restored in 1861, and the north aisle reroofed in 1903. (fn. 100) When the east wall of the aisle was rebuilt it was found that the 15th-century window (since restored) had replaced two others, one of 14thcentury date, and one still earlier consisting of two lancets. Part of a 13th-century piscina, (fn. 101) then found, is now built into the wall at its north end.
The chancel is faced with ashlar and has rectangular corner buttresses and a moulded string at sill level inside and out. The roof is modern and covered with grey slates, and is higher than the low-pitched roof of the nave; on the south side an original corbel table with small heads within a hollow moulding carries the gutter. The east window is of five trefoiled lights with geometrical tracery in the head, and in the south wall are two three-light windows and one of two lights near the west end, all with Decorated tracery, moulded jambs, and labels; there are two windows of similar type in the north wall. The mullions and tracery in all the windows are modern. The piscina and sedilia form a single composition of four trefoiled ogee arches below the easternmost window, within a square hood-mould formed by the lifting of the string; the seats are stepped. At the restoration a flat slab was substituted for the bowl of the piscina, but otherwise the work is substantially original. The priest's doorway has continuous moulded jambs and head, and below the westernmost window is a rectangular low-side opening, now blocked, widely splayed within. (fn. 102) There was formerly a sacristy on the north side of the chancel, the blocked doorway to which remains. The chancel arch as rebuilt is of two chamfered orders, the inner on half-round responds with carved capitals and bases. The chancel screen was destroyed in 1843; the present screen was erected in 1916. The rood-loft was entered from the north end by a still-existing doorway, the sill of which is level with the spring of the chancel arch. In the chancel the walls are plastered, but elsewhere the internal wall surfaces have been stripped.
The nave is of four bays and has a modern roof, but the position of the principals of the ancient roof before the erection of the clerestory early in the 15th century may be seen on the north side. The two 12th-century semicircular western arches of the north arcade are of two square orders with hood-mould, springing from a half-round respond and cylindrical pier, each with sculptured capital and square abacus. The pier was taken down and rebuilt in 1843, but only its base is new. The capital has a well-developed leaf pattern issuing from the mouths of human heads at two of the angles. The west arch retains considerable traces of colour decoration on the inner order. The second arch is supported on its east side by one of the late-13thcentury piers, which consist of four half-round shafts with moulded bases and carry pointed arches of two chamfered orders; (fn. 103) the east respond is a half-octagon. The westernmost pier and the respond have moulded capitals, but that of the other pier is carved with naturalistic oak leaves and acorns in an upright position. The piers of the earlier south arcade consist also of four half-rounds, but the capitals of the two westernmost and those of the responds, which follow the same section, are carved with stiff-leaf foliage; the easternmost pier has a moulded capital.
The 13th-century south doorway has a pointed arch of two orders, the inner with continuous chamfer and the outer moulded, on nook-shafts with foliated capitals and moulded bases; the oak door is ancient with shaped iron hinges. West of the doorway is a contemporary window of two lancet lights, and at the east end of the aisle a two-light window with forked mullion. The three-light ogee-headed windows in the south wall east of the porch are 14th-century insertions. The west windows of both aisles have modern Perpendicular tracery.
The tower is of rubble and of four stages, the three lower constituting the original structure. The windows of the former bell-chamber in the third stage are now blocked, and exhibit no architectural detail, but consist of three round-headed lights on each side. The west doorway is a 15th-century insertion, but above it is a two-light window with forked mullion; a single clasping ashlar buttress at the south-west angle seems to be a comparatively modern addition. The lower stage north and south is blank, but in the second is a single lancet without label; the later top story has a battlemented parapet with angle pinnacles and gargoyles in the middle of each face. The double bell-chamber windows are of two trefoiled lights with quatrefoil in the head and transom at mid-height, and the tower arch is of two chamfered orders with hood-mould. There is no vice. Since 1840 the tower has been strengthened by iron clamps, two to each of the three lower stages.
The clerestory is pierced on the south side by five four-centred windows of two cinquefoiled lights and has a plain parapet; the four modern windows on the north side are small quatrefoils. The pointed north doorway is of two chamfered orders on moulded imposts, and the transeptal vestry has a broad flat gable to the north. It is open to the aisle by an arch of two chamfered orders springing from keel-shaped responds of 13th-century date with moulded capitals and bases, and its walling also appears to be ancient, but it probably represents a later rebuilding with old materials.
The font has a circular basin of unusual form and has been called Norman. It was dug up in the churchyard and restored to the church in 1838, being placed on a modern pedestal.
There is a good Jacobean oak pulpit, and other fittings of the same period include two chairs in the chancel (one with long panelled back and claw feet), a solid panelled screen filling the vestry arch, and a churchwardens' pew. A former oak communion table (1704) is now at the west end of the church; there is also a dug-out oak chest in the south aisle.
When the chancel screen was destroyed an elaborate tympanum of spars and plaster was pulled down and re-erected above the tower arch. It consists of a large oblong panel dated 1661, with the royal arms in the middle, flanked by the badge of the Prince of Wales and an emblem of roses and thistles. (fn. 104) The lower part of the chancel screen was used to make a reading-desk. (fn. 105)
In the chancel are a number of inserted floor-slabs to members of the Washbourne family, ranging from 1685 to 1782. (fn. 106)
There are five bells, the treble a re-casting in 1913 by Gillett and Johnston of Croydon, the second by Hugh Watts of Leicester 1621, the third, undated, by Robert Newcombe of Leicester, and the fourth and tenor by Hugh Watts 1622. (fn. 107)
The plate consists of a silver cup and cover paten of 1570 and a flagon of 1877. (fn. 108)
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1717–44, marriages 1697–1744, burials 1695–1744; (ii) baptisms and burials 1745–1812, marriages 1745– 60; (iii) marriages 1754–1812.
The church was valued in 1291 at £20, (fn. 109) and in 1535 the profits of the rectory were returned as £30 18s. 4d., and the pension paid to the Abbot of Peterborough as 6s. 8d. (fn. 110) The rectors were presented by the abbey of Peterborough. (fn. 111) In 1547 Edward VI granted the advowson of the rectory and church to the Bishops of Coventry and Lichfield, (fn. 112) who retained it till the close of the 19th century, when it was transferred to the Bishopric of Peterborough. (fn. 113)
The last rector appointed, according to Bridges, was Robert Isham (presented by Dame Mary Parr), after whose death in 1564 incumbents were presented, according to this authority, to the vicarage. (fn. 114) But the Institution Books at the Public Record Office describe Pytchley as a rectory until the Commonwealth, and it is after the Restoration it appears as a vicarage.
A lease for 60 years of the rectory made by the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield on 23 July 1555, during the incumbency of 'one Isham', was the subject of Chancery proceedings instituted by Lewis Montgomerie of Gray's Inn against Edmund Twynhoe. (fn. 115) The residue of this term was in 1582 granted to Francis Nicholls of Hardwick. (fn. 116)
The Parsonage House, with closes belonging to the rectory called the Pound Ground, and Scott Mill Close, with common of pasture and the tithes of the said rectory, which had been leased in 1634 by the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield to William Lane for the lives of William Lane, second son of the said William, and of Katharine and Maud his daughters at a yearly rent of £17 18s. to the bishop and £30 to the vicar thereby reserved, were sold in 1654 by the trustees for selling lands of bishoprics to John Gifford of London, merchant. (fn. 117)
In 1292 John atte Wylewes of Finedon and Ralph Gerrerde of Pytchley received licence to grant a messuage and land in Pytchley to Henry de Nassington, chaplain celebrating in the church of Pytchley, and his successors. (fn. 118) A reference occurs in 1439 to the cottage in Pytchley called the 'Presthous', the garden belonging to it, and the adjoining vacant plot called 'le armerye', enjoyed from time immemorial by the parson of the church. (fn. 119)
Edward Hunt's Charity is described under the parish of Warkton. About £4. 10s. yearly is distributed in money at Christmas.
Church allotments. An allotment of 15 a. 2 r. 19 p. was set out on the inclosure in this parish in lieu of lands formerly appropriated to the repairs of the church. The land is let for about £25, which is applied by the vicar and churchwardens to church expenses.
Miss Rosanna Panther by her will proved 15 January 1908 gave £50 to the churchwardens upon trust to apply the interest in the maintenance and repair of the parish church. The endowment produces £1 16s. 10d. yearly in dividends.
In 1920, 33 acres of land were purchased by the Allotment Association to be used for allotments.
The public elementary school, built in 1770 and enlarged in 1870 and 1890, was endowed under the will of William Aylworth (died 10 August 1661), which devised for its benefit £20 yearly from his manor of Gumley in Leicestershire, and a messuage in Pytchley used partly for the school, partly for master's residence, with garden, orchard, and school close. This property and annuity were secured to the school by deed of 26 January 1826, when it was stated that the original deeds conveying them could not be found. (fn. 120)
A Provident Association, or Benefit Society, was established in 1836 for Pytchley, Isham, and Broughton.