A gloriously sunny Saturday in late April 2010 and a visit to the delightful church of St Swithin at Old Weston.
This was one of those frustrating experiences when one could see the church spire from a couple of miles away, but lost sight of it completely when actually in the village itself! Had to ask directions in the end, and it turned out that the person that I asked was one of the church warderns who had just been cleaning the church in readiness for the following days service. She asked me if I would like to see inside, and gave me the key. If only it was always this easy!
St Swithin is situated at the far western end of the village. In days long gone plague decimated the village and houses were pulled down and burned. The village was re-built on a "clean" site away from the church, leaving it isolated. The area around the church appears to have had a torrid history. Houses were re-built again close to the church but a huge fire in 1701 destroyed the houses surrounding the church.
Today, St Swithin stands isolated in a peaceful and picturesque backroad. The church wall to the east side is a mass of plants and with the late season daffodils still in bloom this was a glorious setting.
There was a church mentioned here in the Domesday Survey of 1086, although the earliest part of the present structure dates from the late 13th century. The church was largely re-built in the 14th century, and much restoration was completed here in the late 19th century.
Four bells hang in the tower. The oldest is Elizabethan, dating from the 16th century, and was made by a Leicester foundry. Two bells are dated 1612, with both being made by Tobias Norris I, of the Stamford bellfoundry. It is thought that the fourth bell might also be from the Stamford bellfoundry, but this is unconfirmed.
There are a few delightfully crudely carved heads to be seen here, and gargoyles surround the tower, but these are of not particularly high quality to be honest.
Inside there are two coffin lids, one at each side of the chancel, each dating from around 1300. Someone has carved the dates 1637 and 1638 in to these.
Medieval wall paintings can be seen on the south wall. There are three fragments here, and they are fascinating. One of these shows a bishop being enthroned by two others. Another shows part of a wheel of fortune with the third showing a representation of the beheading of John The Baptist. On the east windows of the south aisle there is painting of St Margaret standing under a canopy and standing on a dragon. Nearby St Katherine is pictured with wheel. All these paintings were uncovered in 1895, when it was found that all the walls were covered with paintings, in some places, three deep. Sadly, the top two layers could not be saved on only the bottom layer of paintings remain.
The church grounds here are very well maintained, and it is interesting to see a very small section given over to four war graves, Royal Canadian Air Force military personnel who were killed in action in 1942. Whilst I was looking around the church grounds a very large and very friendly black dog came bounding over with a stick and an impromptu gave of fetch was started, with the dog managing to catch the stick in mid air. Impressive!
The dog's owner came over and we had a chat. I mentioned to him that my next stop was to be Leighton Bromswold. He mentioned that the church at Leighton was a lot bigger...well, yes that may be so, but I enjoyed my stay at Old Weston much more. Visited nine churches that day, and St Swithin at Old Weston was my favourite. This is partly why I set this site up. The chance to visit some places that I would never otherwise have ever visited. A beautiful little village, and a lovely church. Well wirth a visit if you are in the area.