ELTON. CHURCH : ALL SAINTS

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ELTON SAXON GRAVES 1

Elton is a picturesque village, which is to be found some seven miles to the west of Peterborough. The village is quiet and peaceful, despite the close proximity of the busy A605 The village boasts an Elizabethan Stateley home, Elton Hall, two public houses, two village greens, a few shops, a chapel and All Saints church.

  I first visited All Saints church back in September 2006, on what was to be the first days proper shooting for this site. Have visited a few times since then, with Elton being just a couple of miles away from my home village, but decided to re-shoot the church as a whole just before Christmas 2013. For most of the previous 12 months prior to that the church had been covered in scaffolding whilst some work to the roof was undertaken.
  There was mention of a church at Elton in the Domesday Survey of 1086.Just a couple of fragments of the earliest building remain. Inside, the Chancel arch dates from 1270. The nave and north aisle date from around 1300
  The three stage tower is built in the Perpundicular style and dates from 1500. This was built with stones taken from the nearby quarry at Ketton. Other parts of the building date from the same period.
  Inside, the church is spacious, bright and welcoming and the chancel is dominated by the great Te Deum east window of 1893 dedicated to the 4th Earl of Carysfot. There are 52 main figures depicted and many lesser ones, with the figures having halos. The figures are gathered below a depiction of Christ, with hand raised in benediction, with angels plaging musical instruments just below Christ. A truly stunning piece of work. I am affraid that any photograph of this on here would be reduced in size and would not do the original justice.
In general here, the stained glass is as good as any church in the area. One window, featuring three scenes from the life of Christ, is particularly striking. The left hand panel shows Jesus being baptised by John The Baptist, with the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a Dove. The middle panel shows Christ crucified with the right hand panel showing Christ risen, wounds visible with sleeping soldiers below. Two different windows show an Angel pointing up to heaven with the wording 'He Is Risen' written below.
The Communion Table is constructed from wood, the carved legs of which were once part of a 15th century church roof believed to have originated in Peterborough. The pulpit was erected by the hymn writer Frederick William Faber who was Rector of Elton in the 1840's.
At the west of the nave there are a few fragments os carved stone, with one of these being a carved Saxon coffin lid. Close by is a fragment of grave to one Thomas Lea who passed away in 1687. Was interested to see lots of 18th century graffiti carved in to walls inside the church. This is not unusual and normally takes the form of initials and date. However, one piece of crude etching seems to depict a house with flames coming up from it.
Five bells hang here and I suspect that this was originally a ring of five bells cast locally by Thomas Norris of the Stamford bellfoundry in 1631. The first bell of the ring is inscribed "Thomas Norris cast me 1631" with an inscription below to say that it was recast by G Mears & Co London 1864. The third bell is identical apart from that it lists "Wm Pix Th Barkar CH WA 1631" Bells 2 and 5 are attributed to Norris and have remained uncast since, with bell number 5 having the latin inscription "Iesvs Spede Me Onmia Fiant Ad Gloriam Dei". Bell number 4 was re-cast by J Eayre in 1746 and then again by Taylor of Loughborough in 1896 but I haven't seen anything which suggests that it was originally cast by Norris at the same time as the others. As with many bells from the Stamford bellfoundry, the letter "S" in Norris' name are reversed.
A nicely carved sundials adorns the tower, declaring "The Hour Is Come". Sadly, no date that I can see on this. Also on the tower a monstrous grotesque with tiny human face is probably responsible for sleepless nights for generations of Elton children. Close by an altogether happier looking gargoyle looks cheerfully out to the west. High up on the tower, the gargoyles there have seen better days, but so have we all. Just to the north of the church grounds, on a footpath which leads to Fotheringhay, I was interested to see a scallop shell with cross painted on it, attached to a fence. This is a sign of a Christian traveller going through on pilgrimage at one point.
The church grounds are interesting. Some very finely carved gravestones are to be seen, with one particularly fine deaths head stone to the north of the church, a beautifully sculptured human skull reminding the passer by that man is mortal. Some evidence of subsidance over the years with stones leaning at various gravity defying angles.
Major items of interest in the church grounds though are two Saxon graves, thought to date from 970 AD. There are lots of bits and pieces of Saxon stonework to be seen within the catchment area of this site, but this is the only instance that I have seen of actual Saxon graves still standing outside. Probably not in situ but lovely to see these.
It is good to see the church open again, after a few years when it was closed to visitors. This is an encouraging sign. This church is too beautiful inside to be locked away. There is a real sense of peace here, which at times can be a precious thing. Well worth looking at if you are in the area.

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ELTON GROTESQUE

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