Harringworth. CHURCH : ST JOHN THE BAPTIST

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I had first visited Harringworth over Easter 2009, on a four day mini tour of the area. Apart from Easter Monday, which was gloriously sunny, the rest of the time spent there was in poor lighting, fog and drizzle. My visit to Harringworth on the Saturday morning was damp and miserable, and I promised myself a re-visit at some point. The re-visit came on a sunny morning at the end of May 2010.
   Those who know me will know of my love of nature. I cycle to many of these churches when other forms of transport are available as I love being out in the country, with the sun on my back. Whilst I was out a Red Kite followed me for about half a mile, flying quite low. Gorgeous, and part of the joy of being out.
  Things got better! On reaching Harringworth a peacock was walking slowly across the main road, in front of the 14th century village cross, oblivious to the traffic that was going by. He condescended to have his photograph taken a few times, jumped on to a wall and gave me a look of disdain before jumping down in to a garden. Peacocks do disdain wonderfully!
  With due respect to the delightful village of Harringworth, this village is mostly famed for its viaduct. This was built between 1877 and 1879, and more than 20 million bricks were used in its construction, all of which were made on site. It is 1,275 yards long (or 1.66 km in new money) and has 82 arches, each having a 40 foot span. Spectacular. A few trains still go across it. With my fear of heights I will not be on one of them!
  To the north west of Harringworth is the neighbouring village of Seaton. A steep hill connects the two villages, and the high ground provides an idea opportunity to get some long distance shots of viaduct and church together.
  The earliest parts of the church here date from the late 12th century, with other parts dating from the 13th and 14th centuries. The church was restored in 1891. The heavily buttressed three stage west tower dates from the late 12th century, with the broache spire on top dating from the 14th century. Some very badly weathered gargoyles surround the spire, with at least one sticking out it's tongue in medieval gesture of insult.
  According to North's Victorian study of church bells in Northamptonshire there were five bells hanging, plus an ancient hand bell. Three of the bells were made by Thomas Mears and Son of London in 1805. One was made by Eayres of Kettering in 1755. The other bell is dated 1603 with Latin inscription but no makers name. North attributes this bell to Tobias Norris I of the Stamford bellfoundry. This would have been one of the very eariest bells made by Tobias, possibly made whilst he was still in his teens.
  A quick check on the National Church Bell Database suggests that this bell was re-cast by Mears and Stainbank in 1913, with another bell being added by them in the same year, with six bells hanging at this time.
  The real history here is in the small handbell though. The inscription indicates that the bell was a gift from Philip, Bishop of Lincoln. This would have been Philip de Repingdon, who was Bishop of Lincoln from 1405 - 1420. The National Church Bell Database attributes this hand bell as being cast by Johannes De Colsale, a founder from Leicester or Nottingham, and dated at circa 1410.
  This church is kept open and welcoming. Inside, and my eye was caught by a few fragments of medieval stained glass, which were lovely to see. The north aisle is elevated and is the Tyron family vault. The Tyron family were major landowners in the area for many years, and their vault houses some fabulously carved pieces of work.
  The pulpit here dates from 1605 and originally came from Barrowden in Leicestershire. The font is square and is supported by five shafts. It has trefoil designs carved in to the sides. Close by three ancient looking pieces of carved stonework sit in a corner at the west end of the church.
  The church grounds are well maintained and some of the trees were in bloom on this late Spring morning. It looked, smelled and sounded lovely. I always like to hear the gentle droning of the bees as they go about their work. Not sure about the raucous braying of a seemingly annoyed donkey coming from nearby though!
  There are some very beautifully carved gravestones to be found here. Most of these are to be found leaning up against the wall on the south side of the church grounds. In their day, some of these would have been work of the very highest quality. An open stone coffin sits in an isolated corner of the churchyard. This coffin is simply huge, and was perhaps made for a double burial. Close by an angel kneels in prayer.
  As mentioned earlier, gargoyles surround the spire and these have, to be truthful, seen better days. When I was taking photographs of the spire a lady came out of the church and asked me if I was taking pictures of the greenery! True enough, most of the gargoyles had greenery growing out of them
  I spent an enjoyable time here before heading up the hill to Seaton to take some long range shots from high ground. Then headed back towards Laxton, then on to Blatherwycke as I started to head towards home.
  This is a lovely part of the UK. In truth, it is one of my most favourite areas within the whole catchment area of this site. Highly reccomended for a visit if you are in the area....but if you are on cycle, just be aware that it is a tad on the hilly side!
 
 

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