Mid summer 2013 and a visit to the church of St Peter at Clopton, Northants. Clopton is right in the South West extremity of the catchment area of this site. Whilst doing some research on this church after my visit I saw Clopton described as being "...a tiny village the other side of Thrapston, in the middle of nowhere". A short and succinct description!
This was a return trip to Cloptpn, having previously visited on a beautiful Saturday in 2010. As I neared the church back then my first thoughts when seeing this church was that there had been very extensive Victorian restoration here. It turns out though that the whole structure is Victorian, being put up in the early 1860's. This was built in the style of the late 13th century, and was consecrated in July 1863. The church was built on, or very close to, the site of a previous, much older church.
Apparantly, this previous church had its tower struck by lightning at the end of the 18th century and it was literally allowed to fall down, and in to disrepair, to save the expense of repair.
Most of the fixtures and fittings within are Victorian, but there are a few other older objects worthy of mention. The font is ancient, and is of a plain octagonal design, with a modern base.
The highlights here for me, were hidden away against the north wall. Two carved human figures, Sir Edward Dudley and his wife Elizabeth, which dates from 1632. These figures were originally part of a larger monument which sadly has not survived.
At the side of the figures is what appears to be a beautiful carved coffin. When I first saw this, my impression was that the carving was so crisp that it must have been a relatively modern piece of work. However, in my internet research, it is suggested that this dates back as far as the 12th century and is so well preserved as it was kept under the tower in the old church for many, many years. Animal designs cover the top, along with the image of a human face, with the edge bordered with a Norman "dogtooth" design. In my opinion, which is worth nothing, this item would be one of my most favourite pieces seen on my travels compiling this website.
There is one bell in the tower, with that being made in 1800 by Thomas Mears of London. It is said that the present day tower could have borne the weight of a ring of eight bells, and that it was hoped at one point that another seven could have been added. That appears a little optimistic now as sadly the congregation here is very low.
There were four bells in the old tower, and it is thought that three of the bells were sold at the time of the collapse. North's Victorian book on the church bells of Northamptonshire casts doubt on the local thought that three bells were sold to Leighton Bromswold. According to North, the inscription on one of the bells was "Ihoes, Zorke fecit me in honorem sci Petri" which I think translates as Ihoes Zorke made me in honour of St Peter. Ihoes Zorke, is thought to be also known as Johannes De Yorke who was a Leicester bell founder. His bells are exceptionally rare and exceptionally old. At the time of Norths Victorian church bell study there was only one other bell by him in the whole of Northamptonshire. His foundry was active in the latter years of the 14th century.
The church grounds are well kept. Nothing much of interest here, and it seemed that there was nothing here that was pre Victorian. If the church grounds today, stood in the same place as when the previous church stood, then there must have been some pretty extensive clearance of the grounds at some point possibly when the new church was being built.
The church here is set is quite beautiful surroundings, with a stream running by the side of it. I got talking to a man who was working in a neighbouring garden and got to talking about our mutual love of cycling. As we were talking a Kestrel flew by. A day out of the rat race, a day free from the stress of work. This was a beautiful place to be on a beautiful sunny day. As the quote reads earlier, Clopton might well be "...a tiny village the other side of Thrapston in the middle of nowhere" but it was a joy to be here for a short time.
An enjoyable time spent here, and then it was back on the saddle and off to neighbouring Luddington In The Brook, where my only company was to be a few hundred sheep! The church of St Peter at Clopton is normally to be found open for visitors and it well worth a look should you be in the area.