LAXTON.   CHURCH : ALL SAINTS.

I stayed for a few nights at Laxton, near to Corby, over Easter 2009. Sadly, the weather was not great and three of the four days were pretty much washed out. Easter Monday was much better and I managed to get quite a lot done as I slowly headed towards home.

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Despite the sunshine on that final day I still left unhappy with my photographs of the exterior at Laxton, so promised myself a return visit one day. This happened in the late Spring of 2010, as I popped in after photographing the church and viaduct at nearby Harringworth.

     Laxton is a village of about 150 people in a delightful part of Northamptonshire. For the cyclist this is a bit too hilly if anything but this is a genuinely lovely area. Bulwick and Blatherwycke can be found just the other side of the A43, and off to the west is Harringworth and its three quarters of a mile long viaduct.

    The church of All Saints, also known as All Hallows until the 16th century, dates from the 12th and 13th century, with the west tower dating from the late 13th century. This church underwent massive restoration in the 1860's, with Lord Carbery from nearby Laxton Hall being responsible for the restoration work. At this time the chancel was rebuilt, and a north aisle was added, which was made to the designs of Lord Carbery himself.

    According to a little internet research Lord Carbery was an amateur carver and I believe that he was responsible for the carving to be found on the outer chancel wall, pictured second from the bottom on the left of this page.

   It was at the time of the mid Victorian restoration that the cast iron gargoyles that we can see today were added. These were cast in the shape of ferocious looking dragons. Certainly unusual and I can't really recall seeing anything like them on any church that I have visited.

    These days, just a single bell hangs in the three stage unbuttressed west tower. This was cast by Mears of London in 1822. Back in 1700 there were three bells hanging but I have no information as to who these earlier bells were made by, or what happened to them.

    This church is usually kept locked, but I was invited to the Easter Sunday worship here by the Rector, who was told that I was staying in the village, and I was very pleased to attend.  There is much in the way of Victorian restoration inside All Saints. The Pulpit dates from the 1860's and was carved by Lord Carbery himself. As mentioned earlier, Lord Carbery was an amateur carver, and there are several blank corbel blocks inside All Saints. It is thought that he might have been intending to carve these himself. The font also dates from this time, as does the north arcade.

   It is not all Victorian inside though. The south arcade dates from the late 12th century, and some of the carvings on the capitals, by their style, are thought to date from the same century.

    The church was pleasingly full that Easter Sunday, and a very friendly bunch they were as well. There was no working organ here, and the Rector accompanied a couple of the hymns on his fiddle. Someone had spent a lot of time and effort decorating the church with flowers as it was Easter Day. This was a lot different from my own worship at an Evangelical church in Peterborough but I was made to feel very welcome, and enjoyed my time here very much.

   A nice little touch could be seen in the nave. A shield was proudly displayed which showed that Laxton village had won the latest inter village vegetable growing competition. From memory, I believe that this shield was taken from neighbouring Bulwick....and they were not going to give it back without a struggle!

    Church grounds are spacious and well kept. Some very nicely carved gravestones could be seen, and there are several 17th century table tombs to the west of the church. One of these, partially sunken in to the grounds, and gradually being smothered by ivy, can be seen to be for a member of the Baxter family and is dated 1675.

    Back in to the saddle and headed off towards Blatherwycke and flatter ground! A nice church this in a very pleasant area. Worth a look if you are in the vicinity.

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