I first paid a visit to the redundant church of All Saints at Aldwincle on a gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon in 2010. Conditions for taking photographs were ideal, with hardly a cloud in the sky. Sadly though, the tower of All Saints had scaffolding surrounding it and it was looking far from its best. I promised myself a return visit when the scaffolding was down and this happened in the late Summer of 2013, a gorgeous day with plenty of sun.
Aldwincle is a relatively small village not far from Thrapston, out towards the western edge of the catchment area of this site. In the mid 1990's the population was around 320. However, this village has two medieval churches, with the church of St Peter at the other end of the village. It was seen to be a drain on village resources to maintain the two churches and All Saints, which had been virtually disused for 100 years, was declared redundant in 1976. These days All Saints is looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust.
This is a lovely area of East Northamptonshire and an area where, for the most part, churches are open and welcoming. Having just visited St Peter and found that open, I was pleased to see the "Church Open" sign out.
The poet John Dryden was born here, at the Old Rectory opposite the church in 1631. He was one of 14 children born to Erasmus Dryden and Mary Pickering! John Dryden's mothers father was Henry Pickering, who was the Rector here for 40 years. Pickering died in 1637 and his gravestone, now very worn, has been brought inside the church to protect it. The inscription on this stone reads as follows..."Here lyeth the body of Henry Pykering Rector of this parish for the space of 40 years who departed this life September 1637 aged 75. Just dealing meekness charitye being such at Heavens command he practized very much for which Heavens comfort failed not when he cryed. He lived to a full age, yet bewailed he died".
The church here is mainly 13th century in date, with the tower dating from the 15th century. The tower is very striking and dominates the landscape for miles around. There are four pinnacles, one on each corner of the tower, and at one point each of these would have had a weathervane on them, as they still are at nearby Lowick.
There are some very fine quality gargoyles and grotesques here. Was particularly taken by what can only be described as a surprised owl!
Just a single bell remains here, this being cast by John Taylor of Loughborough in 1905. When North was compiling his Victorian study of Northamptonshire church bells there were five bells hanging here. All of these were sadly melted down in 1903 to help make a new ring for neighbouring St Peter. The new bell by Taylor was hung a couple of years later.
The eldest of the bells that previously hung at All Saints was made at the Stamford Bellfoundry, being cast by Thomas Norris in 1637. Two bells were dated 1720, and I am not sure who the founder was on these two. A further bell was cast in 1724 by Thomas Eayre of Kettering. The final bell was just dated 1830, with no founders name. All sadly gone now!
The south side of this church is a curious affair, which is not going to win any architecture awards! Lots of building done here at various times, with none in the same style as the others, the last being in 1950 when the south porch had to be rebuilt after it was damaged by a falling tree.