Mid December and a return visit to the church of St Mary The Virgin at Marholm. Setting wise, this church is as picturesque asthere is in within the catchment area of this site. The church stands alone, surrounded by trees, with the view of the church grounds uninterrupted due to their being a sunken wall, caleld a Ha Ha. These are unusual but not unique in this area with another one being found at Holy Trinity Orton Longueville a few miles away. I had not been inside this church before so a friend and myself took the opportunity of taking in a morning service due to my own church's service that day being put back to the afternoon. The church here dates from the 12th century, with the tower, which is very low, dated at around 1180AD. The nave dates from the 13th century and the aisles were badly damaged by fire during the 16th century. Up until the 19th century, the nave arcading was blocked up by masonry. The nave was heavily restored in 1868. In the south aisle is a recumbant effigy of a man in armour, hands raised in prayer, with his feet resting on a dog which has a long flowing tail. This is thought to date from the 14th century and is suggested to be John De Wittlebury. This has been restored and now rests on a nineteenth century base. The chancel was restored in 1530 by Sir William Fitzwilliam, sherrif of Northamptonshire, from the nearby Milton Park estate. This was the family church although Milton Park is in Castor parish. It appears as if family members and inside staff were buried at Marholm, with outside staff being buried at Castor. The chancel is large and ornately decorated and was glorious with the sun shining in through the large south windows. There are several memorials to members of the Fitzwilliam family with the memorial to William Fitzwilliam, who died in 1534, being restored in 1674 after it had been damaged by Cromwellian soldiers during the English Civil War. Also on the north wall of the chancel is a large and ornate monument to Willian, 1st Earl Fitzwilliam, which features life sized effegies of William and his wife. This is considered to be one of the finest monuments in the region and was made in 1718 by James Fisher of Camberwell at a cost of £900 A monument to one Edmund Hunter, who died in 1646, pleads for his memorial to be left undamaged by soldiers, it reads 'to the courteous souldiers. Noe crucifixe you see, no frightful band of superstitions here. Pray let me stand'. Also on the south wall of the chancel is a memorial to another Willian Fitzwilliam. This one dates from 1599 and features recumbant effegies of William and his wife, who have been holding hands since 1599. A beautiful piece of work which is coloured. Sadly, I found it almost impossible to get a good photo of it due to its positioning in the chancel. Windows are for the most part clear but include some re-set fragments of medieval stained glass. Just a single bell hangs here, this being cast locally by Tobias Norris III of the Stamford bellfoundry in 1678. Was interested to see some initials carved in to the exterior walls of the church, all dating from the 18th century. This is something that often turns up and dospels the thought that vandalism is a purely modern day occurrence. The graveuard is well maintained and features some very nicely carved gravestones, with as mentioned earlier, some of these being for those who worked inside at the Milton Estate. To the south west corner of the church grounds there is a plot for Fitzwilliam family members with the graves facing the Milton estate rather than the traditional east west alignment. A large number of chest tombs are situated around the south porch and it was nice to see a small winged hourglass on a coffin
symbolising that time flies (and has run out) for the deceased. This is a lovely church which, I am told, has seen visitors come from far afield to look at the monuments in the chancel. I enjoyed my time here and it was also good to see inside a church that I had not been inside before. Service finished and we headed off the short distance to Helpston.