December 2013, and a return trip to All Saints church at Paston. This was my first time here for four years. I had promised myself a return trip so that the church could be photographed with my Nikon and I chose an early December day which started off cloudy but developed in to the most glorious winter afternoon that you could wish for. Spent the first part of the morning here before heading back to Peterborough and then going back out to Yaxley. The church was open at Yaxley as they had their Christmas gala on and by the time that I reached there the lighting was just exquisite!
According to a reference book of Northamptonshire villages that was produced in 1841, Paston consisted of "Four detatched farmhouses, and a scattering of cottages". How times have changed! Paston as a small village, along with several others in the area, have been swallowed up by the rapid growth of Peterborough. All Saints was once called the "church in the fields" but these days the population of Paston numbers more than 8,000.
This was a church that I had never seen inside but at the start of December I attended an evening prayer service there and the interior shots on this page are from that visit.
The Revd Sweeting, in his mid Victorian study of the churches in and around Peterborough described the spire of All Saints as being of "very great beauty". The earliest part of the present structure dates back some 800 years. The nave dates from the 14th century and the chancel from the 15th century. The tower dates from the early 14th century and has, as Sweeting noted, a beautiful broache spire, which looked very striking surrounded by trees and highlighted with the winter sunshine. A sundial over the south porch is dated 1756.
Three bells hang here. The first was cast by Tobias Norris I of the Stamford bellfoundry. It is dated 1607, making it one of Norris' earliest bells. There is also a bell from Watts of Leicester which dates back to 1601. The other bell is undated but was cast by Joseph Eayre of St Neots and is liable to have been cast around 1760 or thereabouts. Old stone coffin lids are built in to the walls of the bellfry, to help strengthen the walls.
Moving inside, the font here is very ancient and is thought to pre-date the earliest parts of the present structure, probably being used in an earlier church on this site. The chancel is simple and elegant, with some very finely carved wooden figures at the east end of the chancel behind the alter. A saxon grave is re-set in to the floor in front of the choir stall.
Two carved stone figures at the west end of the nave catch the eye. These are thought to represent a monk and a nun with both wearing what appear to be a cowl drawn closely around their heads.
The church grounds here contain some very interesting headstones, some of which are of very high quality. One stone in particular, to the east of the south porch, is particularly rich in symbolism. A triumphal angel blowing trumpet can be seen at the top of the grave, with four heads to the right of the angel. This is unusual as heads are normally to be found in three's, this representing the trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Here though there is an extra head, and this seems to be awkwardly placed, see photograph at bottom left of this page. The foot of this gravestone depicts several images of the mortality of man. A human skull, crossed bones and a winged hourglass are all present, and are there to say to the onlooker that man is mortal and will die. This was depicted in pictures as most people were illiterate This stone looks to date from the 18th century. Close to the south porch there is a stone dating from the nineteenth century, when more people could read and write. This has text rather than images and it reads "Be ye also ready". The same message, but just put over in a way which had moved with the times.
Enjoy my time here. Worth a look if you are in the area but be aware church is kept locked unless there is a service on.