SOUTHWICK.   CHURCH : ST MARY.

I have made several visits to the church of  St Mary at Southwick over the years. Those who know me will know of my great love for East Northants and its picturesque villages and unspoiled countryside. I got lost here once on the way to Harringworth and spent the best part of half a mile with a red kite flying beside my cycle and while I was here in the summer of 2013, another kite was circling the spire of the church. Am never happier than when out with the camera and have many happy memories of the area around here.

    Lots of history here. The church stands proudly by the side of the main road and the churchyard occupies ground that was used by the Romans to extract ironstone. As a result, the ground here is susceptible to subsidence, and the church tower is heavily buttressed as a result.

    The oldest part of this church, the chancel arch, dates to around 1230.  The 14th century tower and spire were built by Sir John Knyvet, who was Lord Chancellor to King Edward III. Shields bearing the coat of arms of Sir John and his wife, Eleanor Basset of Weldon, are carved in to the tower in several places.

    Inside the church, the chancel has a fine monument dedicated to George Lynn of Southwick Hall, who passed away in 1758. This fine monument was the last work of French sculptor Louis Roubiliac, and it was commissioned for the princely sum of £500! The monument depicts Ann Bellamy, who also commissioned the work, looking up at the profile of her deceased husband.  The Lynn family took over the Southwick estate in the mid 15th Century. They re-built most of the church in the mid 18th Century.

    In the Nave there is a fine carved lectern in the shape of an eagle. This also serves as the Parish War Memorial. The church organ was donated in the early 1950's. It was restored in 1982 for the grand sun of £3,000! Some nice Victorian stained glass windows can be seen in the nave, depicting scenes from the life of Christ.

   Two bells hang here. North, in his mid Victorian study of Northamptonshire church bells, just describes this bell as being blank. The National Church Bell Database attributes this to Peterborough founder Henry Penn in 1710, with a question mark at the side of it. This looks to be correct though as Michael Lee, in his study of Henry Penn backs up that he cast this bell and attributes as well the inscription 'Henry Penn Made Me 1710'. The second bell is of real age, being cast by Newcombe of Leicester around 1550.

   Outside, high up on the tower, there is a series of gargoyles, all of which have seen better days. One of these in particular is worth noting, with its grossly elongated ears. These carvings are sometimes a representation of the well known local figures of the day, but I think that we can safely say that this is not the case here.

  The church grounds are well maintained and there are a few nicely carved stones to be seen. Nothing of great interest though. The grounds here are quite superb in the Spring when the bulbs are out. It was very nice, when coming back from a day out with the camera, to see that the church was lit up. The photograph below right shows the lights just starting to take effect as the daylight fades.

    The church here is normally open to the public during daylight hours and anyone in the vicinity might care to also visit Fotheringhay and Nassington churches, both of which are within a few miles of Southwick and are open daily to visitors.

 

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