The church of St Mary The Virgin at Warmington was one of the first churches that I visited, back in 2008 when this site was set up. Since that time, I have visited it several times and it has become a favourite of mine. This part of East Northamptonshire contains some very beautiful and historic churches. Within a few miles are Fotheringhay, with its associations to Richard III and Mary Queen of Scots. Nassington, a little further still over the fields was regionally, very important in medieval times. Warmington is important mainly as it has a collection of nine ceiling boses, which many consider as being amongst the finest in England.
Despite the fact that Warmington is in Northamptonshire, the church here was included as part of a Cambridgeshire Historic Churches tour day in the Summer of 2014. Most of the photographs on this page were taken on that day.
It is thought that there was a smaller church on this site as far back as 963. Most of the present structure was built inbetween the years 1180 and 1280. Some rebuilding was undertaken in the 14th and 15th centuries. In the 16th century, buttresses were added to the chancel walls, which had started to lean outwards. In the mid 1980's the church here was described by the Royal Commission On Historical Monuments as being... ' an oustanding building of the late twelth and early thirteenth century...'
When North compiled his mid Victorian look at the church bells of Northamptonshire there were five bells hanging here. Three of these were cast by the Norris family, who had premesis in Stamford. Tobias Norris I was just eighteen years old when he re-cast an earlier bell in 1604. Tobias Norris III added two more in 1669 and 1670. Celebrated local bellfounder Henry Penn, of whom there is a street named in Peterborough, cast a bell here in 1710. This is inscribed with the names Will Drake and Tho Henson, the church wardens of the day.
The fifth bell is not attributed to a founder and has the Latin inscription 'Vitam Metior Mortem Ploru' which translates as 'I Measure Life, I Weep on Death'. A quick look at the National Church Bell Database today shows that there are now six bells here. Two of the bells from the Norris family are still as they were in North's day, as is the one from Henry Penn. Of the others, two were re-cast by Mears and Stainbank in 1876, with one new one being added in 1912.
Inside and the nave has a very beautiful ribbed ceiling which dates from the thirteenth century. As mentioned earlier, a series of ceiling boses, nine in total, run the length of the nave. These feature green men type images, with grotesque heads and foliage designs.
There are several stained glass windows here, of high quality. These depict scenes from the Gospels concerning Jesus. One panel depicts the annunciation, with the Angel Gabriel telling the Virgin Mary that she is to give birth to the Son of God. One large panel shows the Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus, with an adjoining panel showing Jesus being presented to Simeon in the timple.
A further window depicts a young Jesus, teaching in the synagogue with another illustrating the tale of Jesus' first miracle, where He turned water in to wine at the wedding in Canaan.
One further large window of three panels shows Jesus at the resurection, dressed in white, wounds on hands and one foot visible. Jesus is pictured on the centry panel. Two figures in white can be seen guarding the empty tomb in the top left hand corner, with St Peter and another disciple below, kneeling in worship. The right hand panel depicts two women, one of whom would be Mary Magdalene, also kneeling in worship. As good a series of windows are we have in this area of East Northamptonshire.
The brightly coloured pulpit has been restored and features a depiction of Jesus Christ, hands raised in blessing, wounds visible with blood flowing freely from them. He is standing on a globe. Interesting to see scratch marks on the face where, at some point back in time, someone has not liked the idolotry of this. The font is octagonal and of considerable age, the base of the font is more modern with a date of 1662 carved in to it.
The church grounds are well maintained and there are some nice pieces of work to be seen. One very nicely carved grieving widow grave is worth mentioning. The lay out is pretty standard with the grieving widow depicted in the act of mourning. To the right of the grave is what appears to be a coffin, on top of which is a human skull with human bones underneath. This symbolises the fact that Man is mortal and will die. Surviving examples of deaths head stones are not massively common in this part of the county and this is a nice example.
The church of St Mary The Virgin is kept open to visitors, and in general this is a pretty good area for open churches. There are some good long distance shots to be had from high ground to the south east. This is particularly true towards sunset when mist is liable to form on the low lying ground.
This is a very attractive church, with a wealth of history attached to it. If you are in the area then please note that neighbouring churches at Elton, Nassington, Fotheringhay and Oundle are all liable to be open.