Early August 2011 and a trip tp the charming village of Kings Ripton, which is one of the further flug southerly churches within the catchment area of this site. A friend and myself were both out with the camera that afternoon and we had just left Abbots Ripton, a mile or so away. Both villages, in my opinion, were exquisite with the respective churches being surrounded by beautiful thatched cottages.
If someone was to ask me why I travel around photographing churches in tiny villages, then I could point them to Kings Ripton and Abbot's Ripton and say to them .. "Look, I am taking half a day out of the rat race. Work forgotten for a little while. I am in a beautiful place, enjoying the sun on my back, enjoying the peace and quiet, and photographing historic and beautiful things. This is why I do what I do!"
I was here to photograph the church but I will start off this report on my visit by drawing your attention to the photograph at the bottom right of this page. Just on the outskirts of King's Ripton we noticed three trees and stopped to take a look. This was seriously like something out of Lord Of The Rings, or a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. I could see a face in the tree....my friend could see a face in the tree. Scarey stuff!!
It was harvest time at Kings Ripton with the fields surrounding the village a hive of activity as the farmers tried to get as much of the harvest in before the promised storms, scheduled for later in the week, hit!
The church of St Peter sits proudly, on slightly raised ground, in a central location. A church here was not specifically mentioned at the time of the Domesday Survay in 1086 but there was almost certainly a church here, being one of two mentioned as being in the manor of Hartford. That original structure would have been a very basic affair, in all probability being just a nave and chancel, and nothing remains of that structure.
The earliest part of the present structure is the south wall of the nave, which dates back to the 13th century. The north and east walls of the chancel date from the late 13th century. In the 14th century a north aisle was added, the nave wals were raised and the clerastory added. Early in the 15th century the south wall of the chancel was rebuilt, with the west tower being added a little later. The south porch was built in the 16th century.
The tower is four stage and castelated. It is perpundicular and heavily butressed. There are large lancet windows on each of the four sides of the tower, which are most striking. Two bells hang here and each were cast by William Culverden who was a bellfounder who worked from London between the years 1513 and 1523. Bells from this founder are very scarce. Three bells used to hang here and there is a story going way back in history that a body was once found in King's Ripton and they refused to bury the deceased. Instead they carried the body away from the village and deposited it over a hedge and in to neighbouring Hartford's land!!!! Hartford duly buried the unfortunate man and then claimed the forfeit of a bell from King's Ripton for doing so! Culverden was a master founderat the Whitechapel Bellfoundry, which is still in operation today.
A gargoyle sits centrally on each side of the tower, just over the top of the lancet windows, at least one of which has been be-headed at some point back in history.
The chancel is built with red brick and has a very pronounced slant. Was interested to see small pieces of red brick at various places in the tower as well. A few holes being plugged over the years with whatever was to hand.
The two large windows on the south side date from the 15th century, but have been restored. There is nothing terribly remarkable in the church grounds, but I have to say that the boundry wall on the south side of the church grounds is the most beautiful thatched cottage, see photograph second from the bottom on the right.
Looks as if there has been a substantial graveyard clearance at some point. Some of the stones that remain lean over at gravity defying angles.
As with most of the churches in this area, St Peter was locked to visitors.
Back on the road and off the short distance to neighbouring Wistow in search of the church and the pub! A delightful place to visit if you are in the area.