I was three days before Christmas 2013, and I decided to take advantage of some lovely lighting and spent the afternoon at Elton, Nassington and Fotheringhay. It was a gorgeous afternoon and there were vapour trails all over the skies all afternoon as people took flights to spend Christmas with their loved ones. This proved to be the lull betfore the storm (literally) as the UK was to be batter by bad weather shortly after these shots were taken.
It is thought that the area where the church stands today has been a place of worship for 1,000 years. It is thought that there was a large Saxon church here, that probably resembled the one at Barnack.
This is a very small village to have such a grand church. Nassington was once in the Diocese of Lincoln, which stretched from the Humber to the Thames. Nassington was chosen, between the years 1118 and 1121, to be the base of a Prebendary of Lincoln. The prebendary was to exercise authority over the surrounding parishes and a Prebendal house was built close to the church. This was a crucial moment for St Mary and it brought ealth and importace to the church and stimulated its rebuilding and extension. Work on the impressive tower was started within sixty years of this date and over the years further rebuilding took place leading to what is the impressive structure that we see today.
According to the well produced and informative history booklet that was available from the church there was a fire at the church at the turn of the 13th Century. Those found guilty were excommunicated as they had "grievoufly molefted the church of Naffington". This was a very severe punishment in those days
The church had major restoration work done on it in the 1880's. In that time part of a Saxon Cross was uncovered. This is carved on all four sides and is said to have dated from the 10th Century. Amongst other carvings this has on it a representation of the Crucifixion. It has been estimated that, if complete, the cross would have stood some ten feet high.
A clock can be seen inside the church against the North wall. It is dated 1695, and was made in Stamford by John Watts. It was in use on the church tower for 200 years. This was restored in 1982 and is in working order. John Watts, and later his son Robert, were well known clockmakers in the area and another example of Watts senior's work can be seen at St Leonards at Apethorpe. Watts always signed his work IW with the date.
The wall paintings on the North wall and over the chancel arch are in a poor state of repair. They were uncovered in the 1880's by the Revd Barrett with the aid of a pen knife! The wall painting is either St Martin of Tours dividing his cloak or a representation of St George and the Dragon. There is also a painting depicting St Katherine being tied to a wheel by her persecutors. There is a similar painting on the north wall at Castor, and a photograph is included on my page for that church for anyone wishing to take a look. The wall painting over the chancel arch shows Christ, with his hand raised in blessing, surrounded by his disciples. All of the paintings date from the 14th or 15th centuries.
The spire has a date marker of 1640 on it, the date at which it was rebuilt. There are five bells here. The first was cast by John Warner and Sons at the Crescent Foundry at Cripplegate in London in 1874. The second and fourth bells were each cast locally, by different generations of the Norris family at the Stamford bellfoundry. The earlier of the two is the fourth bell which has the inscription "Thomas Norris Made Me 1642". The other Norris bell was from Tobias Norris III and has the name XW Meates and T Thacker, the churchwardens at the timeas well as the inscription "Toby Norris Cast Me 1686".
Bell three was cast in St Neots by Josepy Eayre in the mid 18th century, and has the names L Male and T Handson inscribed, with again being the churchwardens of the day. Bell five is more of a rarity with this bell being cast in Downham, Norfolk by Thomas Osborn. Dated 1801, this bell has the names Edw Handson and Rob Osborn on it.
The tower and spire are very impressive, and dominate the landscape in whichever direction you are entering Nassington from. Lots of grotesques are to be seen on the tower and the spire. Some of these are in pretty poor condition. To my surprise, there is a representation of an ape high up, with large hands and feet, photograph enclosed below. I am assuming that this dates from the re-build of 1640 and begs the question would anyone living locally have seen an ape in those days. Well, perhaps, a circus travelled through Nassington at some point in the mid 17th century, as work was going on at the church who had an ape with them and this was remembered as a statue on the church spire. It is certainly unusual and the only one that I have seen in around 500 churches visited at the time of typing this.
Plenty of gargoyles here as well, on both north and south walls. Pretty good quality as well with one wearing a crown. A curious thing with regards some of the gargoyles here is that certain of them have a second much smaller head coming out of the forehead of the main head. Not seen this before.
A beautiful church, and a reminder to when Nassington was an hugely important place of Christian worship. The church here is normally kept open, as are several in this area. Well worth a look.