In the reign of Henry III the Church was probably a plain cruciform Norman one, and from this was built the inspiring church of today. Built largely of local limestone in the Early English style, the rebuilding was started about 1220.
The Norman church was lengthened at both ends to make the present nave, whilst at about the same time the tower and chancel were started. These were later joined to the nave by some rather uneven arches. Around 1300 the South arcade was begun, and after completion of this arcade and roof, the nave walls were cut and the present arches and pillars built in. The North arcade was next, and at some time during or after this stage both the nave roof and the chancel roof were raised to make clerestories (clear stories), bringing the time to about 1450.
To view details of the wall paintings, please click here. Walking through the South Porch, one's eye is caught by the unique wall paintings. Painted in the 15th century the four paintings cover the whole of the north wall of the nave. At the west end is the beautiful Lady Pride, surrounded by the other six deadly sins of anger, envy, sloth, gluttony, lechery and avarice. Death pierces the lady with his lance and below a sinner is falling into the jaws of the great leviathan, from whose mouth are issuing the flames of hell. Next St Christopher, carrying the Child Jesus high on his shoulder across the estuary. The Three Kings near the chancel arch are out for sport with hawk on wrist, rabbits playing and food set around. According to medieval legend they meet their own skeletons, much as Scrooge found his own gravestone.
Looking east, over the chancel arch is the red background colour of the Rood. The white spaces show where the crucifix and the two figures at the foot of the cross (the Virgin Mary and St John) were fixed. The six angels are holding the instruments of torture and crucifixion, the scourge, the cross, the spear and the sponge on a reed.
At the west end on either side of the 24 hour clock are two angelic supporters and the Latin text "Pray for the souls of John and Sarah Catlyn" two early benefactors of the church whose grandson became Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas under Elizabeth I.
The painting of St George over the North Door and of St Katherine on the rest of the north wall have completely disappeared. The four main paintings have had a chequered history. Completed in about 1420, they were covered with a coat of lime putty perhaps a hundred years after this date. During the restoration, re-pewing and reflooring by Sir Gilbert Scott in 1874 they were discovered and cleaned. In 1904 the paintings were retouched and the skeletons given bodies. At this time Rutherford made a set of measured drawings, now in the Victoria and Albert museum. They were described as frescoes by Rutherford, but this is not the case. Following fading and storm damage the paintings were restored by Mrs. Eve Baker in 1963, but sadly, they are fading again.
The nave roof of c1450 is particularly fine, whilst a small piece of a Norman arch is to be seen in the south wall of the nave. The brass chandelier in the nave was given by William Brooks in 1762 and repaired by Ben Allen in 1926 for 1/6d (7½p). There is a set of brasses near the alter to John Tawyer 1470, his wife and four daughters, and an unknown lady with four sons. The Randes coat of arms is also there, azure on a bend argent, three mascle gules.
The Stained Glass
The fine East window is by Kempe 1907 and on the South clerestory of the chancel a 15th century window to St Elizabeth. There are three modern windows by Francis Skeat. In the south arcade the one given by the Black family in 1954 showing St Crispin the patron saint of shoemakers with this awls and shoes. In the north arcade the artist has shown the Feeding of the 5,000 and an invitation to the Eucharist. This was given by Miss Christine Brown, daughter of Canon Arthur Brown, B.A., Vicar of Raunds 1923-1957. The third window in a modern style was given by Miss Kathleen Pierce and shows Christ appearing to St Peter after the resurrection, with print of the nails in his hands. At the west end of the south wall is the Sunday School window of 1908 executed by R Soffling for the cost of the materials, (£42). There are also some very old pieces of glass in the south window. The organ must be given special mention, a fine three manual Conacher of 1893 given by John King Smith, a prominent boot manufacturer. The organ has been out of use for most of 2006, whilst it has been completely dismantled for service and repair. The organ re-dedicated by the Rt. Rev. Ian Cundy, Bishop of Peterborough in September 2006. This was followed by an inaugural concert by the international recitalist Jane Parker-Smith in October 2006. Also in the chancel are a stone seat for the priest (sedilla), an aumbrey or recess and two 13th century piscinas, or small sinks. The alter rail is a good example of Jacobean turning, with the bullusters "set close together to keep out the dogs", whilst the low wooden screen between nave and chancel is 13th century work. The present south vestry was originally a chapel with its own piscine, and the wooden screen between this chapel and the chancel was once part of the screen below the Rood, dividing the nave from the chancel.
There are many individual items in the church. The ram's head font, C1300 near the south door, the two fire hooks in the tower for pulling the thatch from burning buildings, and the oak pulpit of 1877 in memory of the Rev. Porter, the joiner being carried out by Messrs Smith and Son in conjunction with a woodcarver from Messrs Samuel White of Bedford.
Finally, the excellent peal of eight bells, the first and second by Taylor of Loughborough 1898, fourth by Henry Penn of Peterborough, 1723, third, fifth and sixth by Thomas Eayre of Kettering 1732, seventh by Warner 1878 and the tenor by Taylor 1898. The seventh and Tenor are recastings of bells by Eayre 1732.
Moving to the outside, the west side of the tower and the spire is quite remarkable. The west doorway is so heavily moulded that it almost forms a porch, whilst above it the other three stages of the tower, each with its arches, give a perfect front. The broachings (that is the stone triangles which take the corners of the tower into the spire) are slightly longer than is usual, giving an excellent balance. The lucarnes or little open dormer windows into the spire are well proportioned and the whole 186 feet of tower and spire is most impressive. Almost at the top of the tower, in the corners above the arches are five figures playing musical instruments, on the south side a Death's head playing a small harp, and on the north a player. Also on the north side of the tower is an inserted monument, possibly a royal one.
Continuing along the south side, the porch is worthy of note, with it's priest's room over the entrance, a Saxon stone in the top corner, and an entrance from inside the south aisle with its Norman carvings. The windows and vestry doorway of the south arcade c1270 are good examples of Early English work. The stonework of the impressive East Window is a much quoted example of the same period. The North aisle with it's fine windows and stonework of a slightly later period is probably the least appreciated part of the churches architecture. Whilst still outside we should mention the churchyard cross c1400 with a broken shaft bearing the signs of the four apostles, Matthew a man, Mark a lion, Luke an ox, and John an eagle, all with wings.
A large 13th Century Tithe barn, seven bays in length, was demolished around 1860. This was due to general decay, particularly to the feet of the crutch roof spars, which came down almost to the ground. Looking at early engravings, we assume it was situated from the present south gate to the eastern end of the graveyard and south across Berrister Place, the stone from the barn was used to build four houses on the corner of Park Road and Berrister Place, and also farm buildings at Grange Farm.
Text based on information prepared by Jock Stock, Pictures by F Waye
Meet our PCC Members
Below are the photos of our PCC members and the roles that they play within the Church. Please feel free to ask them any questions, as they are always happy to help.
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Julie Barke - Safeguarding Officer/PCC Member
|Danny Evans - PCC Member
|Andrea Haseldine - Churchwarden
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|Richard Haseldine - Treasurer
|Tracy Haseldine - PCC Member
|Judy Heuser - PCC Secretary/Deanery Synod Rep
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|Val Mian - PCC Member
|Ginny Pledger - Reader/Child & Family Worker/PCC Member
|Pat Stuart - PCC Member
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|Mike Turner - Churchwarden
|Nuala - Deputy Churchwarden