KINGS CLIFFE CHURCH : ALL SAINTS & ST JAMES

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Spring 2015, and a gloriously sunny Saturday. A new cycle and the chance to re-visit a few churches in my favourite part of East Northants. I had started out at Elton in Cambrisgeshire before crossing the border in to Northants, taking in

Nassington, Woodnewton and Apethorpe before arriving at All Saints, which is situated in the centre of the village. There are some beautiful old stone cottages here and this really is a very pleasant place to spend some time. The population here was just over 1,000 at the time of the 2001 census and every time that I have visited here I have been taken with the friendly feel of the place.
    Kings Cliffe's most famous son was born in the village in 1686. William Law was an important theologian whose major work "A Serious Call To A Devout And Holy Life" is still read today. He retired back to the village of his birth in 1740 and is buried in the churchyard.
   The church is a cruciform structure with both north and south porches. There was a huge fire in Kings Cliffe somewhere between the years 1450 and 1480, and there is a theory that the village may have been rebuilt after this fire to the north of the church. If that was the case then the north porch may have been added at that time.
  The oldest part of this church is the tower which, according to the history leaflet available in the church, dates from the first part of the 12th Century. The spire was added in the 13th Century, with the rest of the church mainly dating from the 15th Century. It is thought that there may have been an older Saxon church on this site.
  The north porch appears to have been rebuilt in the 17th century, a plaque over the porch, now badly daded, reads 1663, with the initials LT : TR, who may have been the churchwardens at the time.
  A look at the south porch shows that there is an indentation to the right hand side of the porch where a brass figure kneeling in prayer was once affixed to the wall. 'WR' carved their initials in to the south porch in 1701, showing that vandalism was a problem in the early 18th century, as it is today.
  The bells are a mixed lot, from various founders at various times. Six bells hang today. The first was cast by Taylor's of Loughborough in 1929. The second is dated 1714, and comes from the famous Peterborough founder Henry Penn. The third bell was cast locally, at the Stamford bellfoundry, with Tobias Norris I the founder.
  The fourth bell is courtesy of Thomas Mears of London, being dated 1832. The fifth is the oldest, being dated 1592, and is attributed to a foundry in Leicester, and having the names William Heywood and Henrie Thorpe inscribed in to it. The sixth bell is another relatively modern one, coming from Mears and Stainbank in 1917.
 The nave was rebuilt in the 13th century. The pulpit is dated 1818 and was made out of 15th century woodwork from Fotheringhay church. And talking of Fotheringhay, there are some fragments of medieval stained glass to be found here, and these are also thought to have come from Fotheringhay. One of these fragments depicts a cherub with golden hair and a hint of golden wings, playing a mandolin. Elsewhere, the entrance to a castle is shown, portcullis up waiting for visitors possibly?
  More modren stained glass is to be found throughout the church with scenes of Christ carrying his cross prior to crucifiction and on the cross post crucifiction, with Mary Magdalene mourning at the foot of the cross. The central panel of a large window in the chancel shows Christ in majesty. There is a brass plaque to one Samuel Wyman who died in 1700. It reads ..."Know reader that in dust I lie, that you are now, so once was I, and as I am so you must be. Therefore prepare to follow me" Well, that's doubtless cheered everyone up!
  Gargoyles can be seen on both the north and south walls, and I was quite taken by a gargoyle hiding in the shadows on the north wall, nostrils flared and blowing pipes. One of the other gargoyles resembles a horse, with muzzle on, and a hint of fearsome looking teeth! Another is a female figure wearing a crown. Reminded me of the north wall at Fotheringhay.
    The church grounds are well kept, and there are some very finely carved gravstones to be found here. One stone in the north west of the church grounds really caught my eye. Three beautifully carved Georgian cherubs sit atop some ornate, but faded, script. In gravestone symbolism three of anything is liable to symbolise the Holy Trinty of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Sadly, this beautiful piece of work is cracked along its entire width. Elsewhere, in the shadows, a cherubs face peers out from beneath the ivy.
  There are some 17th century graves on the south side of the church grounds. One double grave consists of two small heart shaped stones joined together with the initial SB & RB on them. Both have 1686 as the year of death. With mortality being as high as it was in those days possibly this was two people taken within a very short space of time by disease.

 
 

 
 
 
 

It is always a delight to visit here. The church is to be found open and the locals friendly and welcoming. This is an area where quite a few churches are to be found open, with the church of St Leonard at Apethorpe just a mile or two away with its fabulous Mildmay Monument.Back in the saddle and started the long but enjoyable ride back towards Peterborough. The church here at Kings Cliffe is an absolute must if you are in the area.

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