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The Summer of 2011, and a visit to the church of St Peter at Molesworth. When this site started off is was going to be so easy. Put a circle of a radius of 10 miles from Peterborough and photograph the churches within that area. Then the area
increased to twenty miles, and the circle more resembled a docachedron! Suddenly, Molesworth was a place that I had never envisaged being covered by this site, but I am really pleased that I made the trek here!
Molesworth is a small village, just off the main A15, a few miles from Thrapston. It is probably most well known for the RAF Base which has been operational since 1917. Not much seems to have happened here over the years, but two people were tried for witchcraft here in the 17th century! With John Winnick being hanged at Huntingdon.in the 1640's.
The church of St Peter is glorious! Just a basic chancel, nave, west tower and south porch. No north or south aisles, and a tower so short that it looks to be around the same height as the chancel! There was no mention of a church here at the time of the Domesday Survey of 1086. There are a few preserved stones from the 12th century though, see picture below second down on the right, which indicate a stone building being here at that time. The chancel itself dates from around 1275. The nave was rebuilt towards the end of the 15th century, with the west tower being added early in the 16th century.
There was considerable restoration work here in the years 1884 and 1885, and the south porch was rebuilt in 1890, replacing a basic earlier structure. This porch has a niche which contains an effigy of St Peter, who is holding the keys to the kingdon of Heaven.
Three bells hang here. The first is of no real age, being cast by George Mears in 1861. This has inscribed on it the name of theRector of the day, LF Clarkson and Churchwarden Thomas Pashler. The Pashler family was also represented on a bell dated 1710, which was cast by Henry Penn. This bell bears the name Oliver Pashler who was also churchwarden of his day.
The other bell is the oldest of the three and was made at the Stamford Bellfoundry. This has on it the inscription "Thomas Norris Made Me 1636".
The church here was open and welcoming, and I was very pleased to get inside as I had been told that there were some very fine wall paintings here, thought to have been painted by itinerant Flemish craftsmen. One of these paintings is a St Christopher. This painting features a hermit who is holding a massive lantern. The lantern symbolically shines out the light of the true religion. It is thought that the paintings here were paid for by a man called Forster, who became Lord Mayor Of London in 1454. There was also a depiction of what appeared to be a forest. Some of the best and most interesting wall paintings to be seen within any church in the catchment area of this site. These paintings would have been limewashed over at one point and would possibly have been rediscovered during work in the 1880's.
There are some coloured Victorian glass in the nave windows, and a very nice 20th century stained glass depiction of the Crucifiction in the chancel. Several carvings of angels, wings outstretched, gaze out over the nave Was interested to see a very cracked and battered marble memorial slab on the floor. This is thought to date from the early 14th centuryThe inscription is very indistinct and it has not been easy to establish who this is in memory of. On the floor slab is a worn inscription and over the years different interpretations of the words have been made. it was though, at one point, to relate to Walter de Molesworth’s wife, dating to about 1300. Walter de Molesworth was a sheriff of Beds and Bucks between 1298-1308, and accompanied Edward I to the Holy Land. However, it was later thought that it is instead the wife of William de Molesworth, named perhaps Amicia or Maria. There is also thought to be another memorial of roughly the same age under the pulpit.
With no aisles here, the church is very narrow and I was reminded of a visit to the church at Cowbit, near to Spalding, from a few months earlier.
As was mentioned earlier, this is a small village, and it is set in some beautiful English countryside. The church grounds were very peaceful, despite the close proximity of the busy A14. In fron of the south porch is a box tomb, and in front of that is a stone coffin, thought to date from about 1200. This was found in 1931, in the foundations of the nave, during building work.
A lovely church, and I was really pleased to have visited here. Had a little lunch in the well kept and tree lined church grounds and then headed off towards neighbouring Bythorn.