All Hallows Church, Hargrave

The village of Hargrave is mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086, and is to be found in many old documents under various spellings.  Haregrave, Hardgrave, Hardgraf, Hardegrave, Haregraue and Haregraua as well as its current form, Hardgrave.  From 'Magna Brittanica' (Henry III 1216 - 1272) Hargrave was a dependent of the "Manor of Rawns" and belonged to Edmund Crouchback, Duke of Lancaster, a younger son of the King.  Prior to this, there is evidence of settlement dating back to the Roman Occupation.  (55BC - 450AD).  In 1893 a man ploughing in Middle Lound struck rock, and found it to be a large stone coffin of the Roman period.  In it was the skeleton of a man, facing east.  The owner of the land (Mr Rawson-Ackroyd) and the Rector Rev. Sibley Baker transferred it to the Church, where it is now outside the North Door.  A resident of Hargrave, who died in 1932 remembered two similar coffins being found in Shelton but they were not disturbed.

The Church in Hargrave was dedicated to All Hallows, but is also known locally as All Saints.  The present Church is of the late transition period from about 1160 to 1207, so the date is about 1190 - 1200.  There was an earlier Church on the site but no traces of it are left, though it is thought that the South Porch may have belonged to it.  During the restoration, evidence was found to suggest that there was once a wooden Church on the site and there were remains of stone coffins found under the Church near the porch, some containing skeletons.  The general character is Early English, with additions, or repairs carried out in the Decorated period (14th Century) and in the Perpendicular period (15th Century).  However, despite this, by 1858 the Church was in a very dangerous condition.

The Rev. Robert Sibley Baker was responsible for the restoration of the Church, which he set about raising funds for immediately after he had organised the building of the school, which is now the Parish Hall.  The school was built for the village in 1855 and opened in 1858.  It was closed in 1955.

The work of restoring the Church began in February 1868 and the Church re-opened for worship on 21st October 1870.  Mr Baker found it very hard to raise the money to pay for the work on the Church and was in very straightened circumstances when he died.  He was a very talented woodcarver and used his skill by selling his carvings to help pay off the debt on the Church.  He kept a large golden eagle in the Rectory which was used as a model for the eagle lecterns he carved.  The large lectern in Peterborough Cathedral was carved by him, and also the ones in the chapel of New College Oxford, and Haileybury College.  One of his finest carvings was a clock case in the hall at Burghley Park which was carved from the wood of a lime tree planted there by Queen Elizabeth I in 1568.  The eagle escaped one day, and was shot by 'an ignorant rustic' (his words!) whose excuse was that he thought it was the evil one.

The Interior

The East Window was put in when the Church was restored in 1869.  It is a stained glass window depicting the Ascension, and is dedicated "In memory of a beloved Mother, Harriet Elizabeth Baker died Jan 12 1883 aged 87".  The other stained glass window in the Church is a small lancet at the East end of the South Aisle.  It represents, the Good Shepherd, and is dedicated "To the Glory of God and in memory of Joseph T Mayhew who died Feb 28 1879 aged 28".  The columns and arches inside the Church come from the Early English piers, some round, some octagonal, with plain bell shaped capitals of various outlines.  Two columns at each side towards the East are octagonal, and the third towards the West is round.  The responds at the East are more elaborate being composed of three half rounds.  The capitals of the Chancel Arch are of an Early English moulding.

The font, which stands in the Nave against the pillar to the left on entering the North door is an octagonal basin, with heads on two faces, standing on a high stone, with the edges bevelled and grooved.  It is rude and ungainly but of the same date as the Church.  The Font cover is Medieval, though only the lid and the centre pillar and capital remain.  The iron work was probably put there at the restoration to strengthen the pillar.  The Rev. Baker put the font down to a Roman alter made to do duty for a Saxon font pedestal.  It is a large rough pillar of Weldon stone.  When the bowl was removed some years ago there was seen a hollow stained red as if by blood or fire or both!!

The Chancel Screen is a perpendicular rood screen with the marks of the loft in the Chancel Arch.  This screen is of the same date as the pews.  It is square framed with five muntins at each side, two of which are stouter than the others.  There is some simple open carving under the beam and Rev. Baker added a line of ornamental carving along the top.  He also restored the red and green colouring and decorated the panels with fleur de lys.  Along the beam facing East is the inscription "Gather my saints together unto Me those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice", and facing West is carved the crown, rope, ladder and spear and the inscription "the memorial of Thine abundant kindness shall be showed and men shall sing of thy righteousness".  There are also some other carvings.  After the Church was restored through the efforts of Rev. Baker and re-opened in 1870 some of the parishioners sent him a letter on Christmas Eve (of all days!) complaining that the screen had been re-erected.  (It must have been there for the previous 400 years at least!).  In it they said:

"We Feel It Our Duty Respectively To State That We Are Strongly Of The Opinion That A Great Mistake Has Been Made By The Architect In Re-Erecting And Decorating The Old Rood Screen.  We Consider It To Be Inconsistent With The Spirit Of Restoration Of The Church, That The Screen Which Is A Much Greater Obstruction (Than The Pews And Reading Desk) Should Remain.  We Consider that The Evil Is Much Increased By The Fact That The Whole Service, Except The Sermon, Is Now Performed In The Chancel Behind The Screen.  The Lower Part Of The Ministers Body Is Concealed By The Closed Paneling Of The Screen And His Face Partially Hidden By The Rood Parts Which Centuries Back Supported A Barbarous Rood Loft, And In Some Parts Of The Church He Is Quite Invisible To The Congregation".

The Bishop, to whom the matter was referred, refused to have the screen removed "which had so long been in the Church" he was surprised at their anxiety to see "the lower parts of the ministers body" as an aid to their worship!

The pulpit is octagonal with six panels carved at the top.  It is known as 'The Poor Mans Pulpit' because it was bought with the weekly subscriptions of farm labourers at the restoration.  The pulpit steps are seperate, made of oak with a wrought iron hand rail painted red and green.  On the outside of the steps, just below a twisted rail, Rev. Baker carved his initials on one panel and the figure of a bee, also his crest and coat of arms.

The North Transept, which was probably a Chantry, which is of the Late Perpendicular period throughout, with one window of three lights.  Just by the pulpit there is a trefoiled niche and a square squint or hagioscope in the South East angle of the transept.  This was to enable those in the chantry to glimpse the priest at the alter and not as some thought, for lepers, as they were not allowed in the Church, or its yard.  The chantry is now used as the children's corner, and was dedicated as such by the then Bishop of Peterborough on Jan 17th 1932.

The Alter is a very fine Cromwellian Table, carved by Rev. Baker, who evidently intended carving figures of the four evangelists at the top of each leg, but only that of St John was finished.  It was not until 1930 that the Rev. Tibbs arranged for the work to be completed.  The brass cross and candlesticks were presented by William Lewis Baker at Easter 1908.  There is an inscription on the Sanctuary steps and on the last step below the alter are the words 'Gloria in Excelsis et in terra pax hominals homae voluntatis.'  On the walls are various tablets in memory of past Rectors and their families.

The South Door of the Nave has jamb shafts, but deserves special attention from the rich and rare character of the Arch mouldings.  These consist of a series of dog tooth and a third, of a kind of interrupted chevron.  This is certainly 12th Century work but a churchwarden in 1700 had his name cut over the left half of the door (Thomas Mitchell) and the date 1764 is cut on the right half.  There was a small porch at this door.

The porch was rebuilt in memory of Rev. W L Baker by his widow and children, and an inscription to this effect is carved around the walls.

The North Door is Early English, it is of old timber, out side it is indented at the head with foliations cut into the surface.  There was an old wall painting over this door of St George and the Dragon, the ground adorned with shields argent bearing a cross gales, all traces of it are now lost.  Now a framed painting of the Royal Arms hangs above the door, dated 1776, by S. Turner.  However, entries in the Churchwardens accounts reveal that this is the date when the Arms were re painted.  The original work being of much greater age.

On the North Clerestory wall facing the South Door is all that remains of a wall painting showing St Christopher carrying the Christ Child.  This is medieval in date, around 1500, however, during the restoration attempts in 1937 a Mr. Lang of Oxford discovered evidence of a still earlier painting beneath.

The Alms box is in front of the pillar by the South Door.  It is a rough pillar of oak and bears the inscription "Thomas Mahew hoc fieri fecit 1597" on the west side, "God Save the Queen" on the north, and "Pray for the good estates of all well doers" on the south.  This was one of the earliest poor man's boxes in England.

The Organ was erected in the Church in 1922.  It was bought secondhand at the cost of £160.0.0. and was dedicated by the Archdeacon of Oakham on Tuesday April 4th 1922.  The bellows had to be renewed in 1930 at the cost of £35.00, and it was electrified in February 1951 at the cost of £50 at the same time electric lighting was put into the Church.

Rev, Shena Bell - Rector John Brotherton - Treasurer Ruth Hall - PCC Member
Karen Jones - PCC Member Helen Parry - Church Warden Liz Sinfield - Church Warden
David Warden - PCC Member Pat Warden - Secretary  

 

 

Based on the text edited by Helen and Peter Parry, From notes by the late Rev. P.G.Tibbs.

Photographs by F Waye

 

 


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