Summer 2017m and a return visit to one of my favourite villages in Rutland. This is a glorious place to visit, with large duck pond in the centre, beautiful old stone cottages, and the church of St of St Peter to be found down a narrow lane, wisteria covered cottages lining the lane. A beautiful setting.
There was a church mentioned here at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086, with Barrowden at that time being an important royal manor. The oldest parts of the present church date back to around 1210. Later in the 13th century, the north and south aisles were added, with the south porch and doorway being moved to their present position at that time.
In the mid 14th century, the church of St Peter was in a poor state of repair and money was donated to help repair it. It was at this time that the west tower was built, with the font and clerestory also dating from this time. In the 15th century much work was undertaken on rebuilding the east and south walls of the chancel. The broach spire dates from the 16th century. The building was restored in the 1840's and more work was undertaken in the 1890's.
North's Victorian study of the church bells of Rutland informs us that there were five bells hanging, and a priests bell. Two of the bells were cast by Alexander Rigby, who took over the Stamford Bellfoundry after the death of Tobias Norris III, These are dated 1704 and 1706. This latter bell was cast just two years before his death, and the subsequent closure of the Stamford bellfoundry.
Two of the bells North recorded as being cast by Francis Watts of Leicester in the very late 16th century. One of these has the lovely inscription "Cvm, cvm and preay 1595" whilst another says "God save the queene 1595". The final bell is an alphabet bell cast by Newcombe of Leicester.The priests bell was cast by Edward Arnild whose foundry was to be found in Hangman's Lane, Leciester! Today, according to the National Church Bell database, there are six bells hanging at St Peter with one of these being cast in 1990 and three of the ancient bells being recast in 1915.
As is mostly the case in Rutland, the friendliest and welcome of counties, the church was open. A lantern hangs in the south porch, dating from the 18th century. On the north wall of the north aisle there is a striking monument to one Rowland Durant who died in 1588, who was MP for Stamford in 1554.
The font dates from the 14th century and is octagonal in design, with the font resting on four legs which are also octagonal. The pulpit is modern, and replaces a 16th century pulpit which was moved to Harringworth in Northants in 1875.
In the south aisle is a very striking depiction of Christ crucified, Christ wears a golden nimbus with golden streaks of fire radiating out from His body. Carved heads along the nave include a hunched up figure playing a flute and a very sorrowful looking man with a pointy chin! Followers of church graffiti might be interested in the outline of a shoe, complete with hob nails punched in.
There is just one small roundel of stained glass here, all the rest of the glass here is clear. As a result, it was bright and welcoming inside. There was a beautiful light quality at that time. The afternoon was just starting to turn in to early evening and we were approaching that time when the light is golden and wonderful. I had visited the church here several times before and this was by far the best conditions for shooting that I had had here.
The church grounds are large and well maintained. Off to the south is a wide expanse of gorgeous Rutland countryside. There are some interesting headstones to be seen here, including a deaths head. A human skull, with crossed bones underneath reminds the onlooker that Man is mortal and will die. An important lesson at a time where life expectancy was low.
As with all of the church grounds in Rutland, the vast majority of the headstones are very weathered. One did stand out though. A tree, fully grown, is depicted on one stone. The inscription has long since gone but the symbolism here to my mind reads that the deceased had lived a full and long life. The book of life is depicted opposite the tree and I daresay that, with a life lived to an old age, there would be much to go in to the book.
It is always good to be back here. The church of St Peter is well worth a look if you are around. Lots of open churches in the area as well if you wanted to make an afternoon of it!