Aldwincle is a very pleasant village of some 300 people, set in lovely East Northamptonshire countryside, not all that far from Thrapston. This village is a curiousity in that it has two parish churches, albeit with one of them, All Saints, now being deconsecrated.
At one point there were two villages here, hence two churches. As the two villages eventually joined up to become one, it was found that there was no need for two churches and the church of All Saints is now looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust after being declared redundant back in 1976.
The first church here was built during the reign of Richard I, who ruled the country from 1157 until 1199. The north aisle was added to the basic original structure in 1190, with the south aisle being added in 1520.
The north aisle was rebuilt in 1290. The porch, spire and clerestory were all added around 1375, with the chancel also being rebuilt at that time.
As with most other churches, St Peter had restoration work undertaken during Victorian times. The chancel was restored in 1860, with more work being done to other parts of the church in the 1870's.
Prior to 1903 there were three bells hanging here. The eldest of these was dated 1585 and had the inscription ANNO DM 1585 inscribed in to it. The founder was unknown. Another of the bells was dated 1724 and came from Thomas Eayre at Kettering. The other bell was re-cast by Taylor of Loughborough in 1843 for the sum of £18! All of the bells were rehung at that time for the princely sum of £6 10 shillings!
There are now five bells hanging here with all being re-cast by Taylor of Loughborough in 1903. Sadly, the ring of five bells that hung at All Saints, including a bell from Thomas Norris of the Stamford bellfoundry dated 1637, were all removed and melted down to help cast the new ring for St Peter.
The church grounds here are immaculately well kept and I was interested to see a fairly large section of a shaft from a churchyard cross standing here. According to the British Listed Buildings website, this is probably medieval. It is not in situ, being found in 1930 abd brought back to church grounds at that time. In fairness, there is nothing of particular note to be found amongst the gravsestones but there is one ancient looking grave, which could date back to the last seventeenth or early eighteenth century, which has obviously fallen at one point and been re-set, sadly 90 degrees anti clockwise off centre!
Looking at the exterior of the building and there are some very unusual carvings on the corbel strings, including what appears to be a man wearing a bishops hat and a figure on horseback.
The church was open, which was good to see. Some delightfully carved grotesque heads to be seen here, and a Green Man, complete with foiliage around his head.
Those looking closely, and I admit that I only found this out by later internet research, will notice that the chancel is off centre. This, according to what I read, was deliberate. 12th century thinking said that the devil would try and spoil anything perfect. Therefore the building was deliberatley made imperfect so as not to attract the devil's attention!
Inside, a Jacobean table, cross and some brass ornaments all came from All Saints when it was deconsecrated. Some of the stained glass here is Victorian but one very striking stained glass window on the south wall is a modern piece, being put up to celebrate the Milennium. In this, St Peter stands in front of the disciples at Pentecost. A lovely piece of work.
The church inside was bright and spacious, and there was a real sense of peace inside. The sun was still blazing down and there was hardly a cloud in the sky all the time that I was out on this gorgeously sunny summer afternoon. It was very warm, with the few sheep scattered around in the field to the west of the church, all seeking shelter from the heat. Warm enough for an ice cream from the well stocked village shop, with the short trek across the village to the redundant church of All Saints next on the agenda.
Aldwinckle is a picturesque village and a lovely place to visit if you are in the area, with the prospect of two open churches to visit making it even more appetising.