Early Summer 2014 and a gloriously sunny Saturday. A friend and myself decided to head over towards Huntingdon, re-shooting the church of St Margaret at Upton in the process. I previously visited this church in August 2008, and was very disappointed with the photographs that I came back with, due to some apalling lighting conditions.
I had had a good day, visiting a few new churches earlier in the day, and also spending a very enjoyable half and hour or so photographing a vintage car rally as it "sped" through neighbouring Spaldwick and Barham.
I get quite a lot of people looking at the villages on this site, who are looking to see where their ancestors came from. Just be careful here as there are two villages called Upton covered by this site. This Upton is close to Alconbury Weston, on the way to Huntingdon. The other Upton is near to Castor, closer to Peterborough.
Upton is a picturesque village. Very quiet and peaceful despite being close to a main road. At the centre of the village is the church and a duck pond. Ducks were running across the church grounds and there are probably as many horses as cars going through the main street. The church is on raised ground, and the path leading to the south porch is lined with trees..
There has been a church in Upton since before the Domesday Survey of 1086. No part of that structure now remains though, with the earliest parts of the present church being the south porch, and the font, both of which date from the 12th century. The chancel, the nave arcades and the south aisle all date from the early 13th century. The tower is 15th century, and replaced a bellcote which stood there previously. In 1870 the churc underwent a complete reconstruction, when the north aisle was rebuilt and widened, a vestry was built on the north side of the chancel, both aisles were restoreD, the roofs were renewed, and a south porch was added.
There are two bells in the tower. One was cast in 1778 by the St Neots founder Edward Arnold. This is inscribed W Walton, the then Rector. The second bell is dated 1671, and was made by the Stamford bellfoundry. Some very basic and crude gargoyles surround the tower, very poor quality compared to those at nearby Buckworth and Alconbury.
The church was open, with a lady doing cleaning work in readiness for a service the following day. The pride that she had in showing me around her church was evident, and was good to see. Some very nice stained glass windows to be seen here. Included amongst these are Christ carrying the cross on His way to crucifiction, Christ crucified and a window showing Christ in benediction, post crucifiction, with wounds visible in hands and side, with the scars also left from the crown of thorns.
It was good to see some very attractive long distance shots of St Margaret from out over the fields from nearby Buckworth. We stood enjoying the warmth, with St Margaret visible over to the east, with Buckworth church visible to the west, a large number of oilseed rape fields in between the two. It was glorious, unless you happen to suffer from hay fever.
The church grounds are well kept, and there are a few very finely carved gravstones to be seen here. The church, as already mentioned, stands on high ground and this has meant that there has been quite a bit of subsidence over the years, with gravestones standing at gravity defying angles.
My eye was caught by a particularly impressive stone for one Mary, wife of Emanuel Cater Bull, a vetinary surgeon of Huntingdon, who passed away in 1840 aged 28 years. A little internet research showed that in 1873 Bull was to become the Mayor of Huntingdon.
Another stone, from the mid to late eighteenth century is also worth noting. This has seven cherubs on it, three to the left, three to the right, and one in the centre of the stone. A superbly crafted stone.
It was good to be able to see inside the church here as it is usually locked to visitors. It doesn't have the wow factor of neighbouring Buckworth or Alconbury and that doesn't matter at all. It is what it is, a small parish church in a small village with a wealth of history. As such it is to be treasured.
It had been a good day out and we headed back towards Peterborough by the unual circuitous route, taking in Hamerton and the three churches in the Giddings on the way as the sun as the sun was starting to set.