A beautiful Sunday afternoon in the summer of 2014, and a return visit to the church of All Saints at Hamerton. This is a small and very attractive village, a couple of miles from the Giddings. Hamerton would be most famous for its wildlife park, situated close by.
An attractive church, set in lovely surroundings. This is a slightly frustrating church to photograph as it is very difficult to get a clear shot of the exterior as there are so many trees about. That said though, this is a lovely setting. One of my most favourite places in the catchment area of this site is outside the church at Steeple Gidding, looking south over the lovely Huntingdonshure countryside. With the zoom on full there is a nice view of the tower of All Saints Hamerton, surrounded by trees and with the late afternoon mist starting to form. Idyllic.
No church was mentioned here at the time of the Domesday Survey of 1086, but mention was made of a church fifty years later. Some of the present structure dates from the late 13th century, but it seems that much of the present building was rebuilt early in the 14th century. Much work has been done here over the years. More reconstruction was undertaken here in the 15th century. Whilst restoration was underway in the mid 1850's. At the end of the nineteenth century, the chancel was underpinned and restored. The heavily buttressed tower dates from the late 15th century, and has a castellated top.
There are four bells in the tower, one is from a London founder C&G Mears, and is dated 1854; The second is from T: Eayre of Kettering. This one is inscribed with the makers name and the date of 1728 and the latin inscription "Gloria Patri Filio et Spiritui Sancto". There are also the symbols of two crowns in between the script. The third is from Thomas Norris, of the Stamford bellfoundry and is inscribed "Non Verba Sed Voce Resonabo Domine Lavdem Thomas Norris cast me 1628 W. Bvrnbi S. Fitchiohn Ch: Wa" This is a quite early bell from Thomas Norris, cast just a couple of years after the death of his father Tobias. The fourth is from prolific Peterborough founder Henry Penn and is inscribed "Henry Penn made me 1706 William Smith churchwarden".
The church here is normally kept locked and a very helpful man, working in his garden, saw David and myself looking around and asked us if we would like to see inside. Yes please! Moving inside and the eye is immediately drawn towards two old and very large monuments on the south wall. One of these was to Sir John Bedell, Knyght, who was, according to the script, 'abvot the age of three skore and seventene' He died in April 1613.
The orther monument dates from 1587, and is to Mawde Bedell, wife of John. The script here goes on to say that Mawde was the mother of ten children, five sons and five daughters.
The church is large for a small village and is decorated with grotesque heads and some beatifully carved angels in the chancel. There is also a fire extinguisher still hanging on the wall that is probably only a little younger than some of the monuments!
Going back to the stone heads, one of these has tongue stuck out in medieval gesture of insult whilst another smiles happily, and is missing some teeth.
There are some very high quality gargoyles and grotesque here, particularly on the south wall. One in particular caught my eye. This has mouth wide open, four ferocious looking fangs, and the stonemason in question has put in a nice finishing touch by adding stubble above his top lip! Just to the side of this grotesque is a small slab inscribed "I.B 1707"
Church grounds are well kept and there is a delightful view looking north, over to the village itself, and its charming thatched cottages. Sheep were grazing in a field to the north of the church, a lovely sight as the sun was starting to go down.
Close to the wall on the south side of the church grounds there is a row of late seventeenth century graves. Very badly weathered these, but the date of 1693 is still legible on one of them.
A human skull and hourglass is still just legible on a very worn stone close to the porch, the message still as pertinant today as it was 300 odd years ago when it was carved, man is mortal and will die. The sands of time has run out for this individual, and the same will happen to us all. Therefore, live a good life as we do not know when our time will come.
A delightful church and it was really good to be able to se einside it. It is always good when people connected with a church see people looking around and come out to offer a key. People in general are interested in what we are doing and a pleased to help and appreciative that people are taking an interest in their church. Daylight was fading fast as we set out towards neighbouring Steeple Gidding.