FOTHERINGHAY. CHURCH: ST MARY & ALL SAINTS

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Fotheringhay has one of the most historic churches in the catchment area of this site. The church of St Mary and All Saints was built in the 15th Century, close to Fotheringhay castle, which had been built as early as 1100. Today, the church of St Mary and All Angels is an impressive building. Built at the side of the river Nene, in picturesque countryside, the church dominates the area for miles around. The view coming in from Nassington, down a tree lined avenue is a particular favourite of mine, particularly on a gloriously sunny early Spring Saturday morning, with the sun just about managing to burn off the early morning mist.

  However, in past times, it would have been even more impressive, as at one time the size of the church would have been twice what it is today. In 1411 Edward of York founded a college in the church. This was closed in 1548, with the fixtures and fittings being scattered amongst various churches in the county. The outline of a blocked doorway and windows on the East wall of the church indicates where the college was joined to the rest of the church.
  Richard III was born at Fotheringhay, and Mary Queen of Scots was help prisoner at Fotheringhay castle from 1586 until her execution the following year.
  Close to the church is the area where Fotheringhay Castle stood. Nothing remains now except the Motte and Bailey on the banks of the Nene. Steps are built in to the side of this and it is possible to get on top of the mound, the reward being a great view of miles of beautiful East Northamptonshire countryside.
  The church is kept open and welcoming. Several monuments inside for members of the House of York, including a stained glass window detailing the coat of arms. A carved stone lion is mounted in to a wall of the north porch. This used to be part of a pair of lions that belonged to Fotheringhay castle. The lion features elsewhere in the church as well. A lion is on the finely carved pulpit that was given to the church by Edward IV. On the west wall is a small fragment of a medieval wall painting, the top half of a skeleton, looks up the nave towards the chancel, keeping an eye on the congregation.
To the north of the nave can be seen a funeral bier, a wooden cart used for transporting coffins during a funeral procession. This one is dated 1897 and was made to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Queen Victoria's reign.
Also of interest is two sections of lead guttering dating from the 17th century, which have been saved and mounted on the north wall of the nave. One of these is dated 1646, with the other having the inscription C.W I.P. The CW stands for Church wardern with IP being his initials.
  On the north exterior wall, a row of beautifully carved gargoyles proudly sit. A booklet that was available in the church indicates that these gargoyles were carvings of actual people of the time. Amongst the people depicted are architecht William Horwood (and his dog, with both pictured at the top right of this page), the master stonemason of the day, the Duke of York and his wife Cecily, Duchess of York, both of whom were interred at the church. Interestingly, Horwood, who was local to Fotheringhay, was paid £300 for building the nave, with a threat of imprisonment should he be late in delivering the finished product!
  The bells here are a mixed bunch. Six in total with two of these courtesy of the Whitechapel bellfoundry and dated 1989. One is Victorian being cast by Mears in 1860. The other three are all aged, the oldest being cast by Newcombe of Leicester in 1595. The other two are both from the Norris family, who operated from their premesis in Stamford. Tobias Norris I cast one of these in 1614, with Thomas Norris providing the other 20 years later.
  Church grounds are well kept. There are no datable gravestones earlier that mid 18th Century due to them being badly weathered. Others look older, but are too worn to date. I suspect that one or two might be late 17th Century but there is some guesswork there. One stone appears to have the deaths head, a skull symbolising Man's Mortality, but this was very badly worn, another shows an hour glass and book of life. Nothing of praticular interest here though. Interesting to see that in several places on the exterior walls of the church, initials have been carved in by visitors, suggesting that vandalism and grafitti is not a purely modern day occurrence.
  The octagonal lantern spiretower of St Mary and All Saints dominates the landscape.. It is even visible from high ground on the back roads in to Warmington a few miles away. Even from distance, the tower, with its Flying Buttresses, is unmistakable. A few miles away, at Lowick, near to Thrapston in Northamptonshire, the church there is identical in design, albeit a little smaller.
Fotheringhay is a lovely place to visit, and I imaging that the announcement of the discovery of the body of Richard III in 2013 will bring an increased interest to this area. Those interested in history will certainly find a visit here of interest, so will lovers of the English countryside. The church here is nestled against the river Nene and is a lovely sight. Red kites are commonplace here now and there can't be many better places to bring a picnic to and relax. A jewel in a beautiful county!
 
 
 
 

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fotheringhay exterior from south
Fotheringhay lion
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fotheringhay head
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fotheringhay bier

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