I first visited Winwick on a beautiful Spring morning in April 2010. The exterior photographs are from that visit. Sadly, the church was locked that day and I could not see a keyholder notice. I made a return trip in August 2011 and fell lucky as the church was open, with a small party of volunteers getting ready to do some cleaning. I asked to see inside and they were very accomodating and interested in what I was doing. The interior photographs are from that return trip.
Winwick is a small village, a few miles to the east of Thrapston . St Michael stands on high ground and dominates the landscape. Some particularly impressive views of the church are to be seen from high ground about a mile to the south on the road to Old Weston, see photograph below.
There is not much in the way of Winwick's history on the internet. There was mention made though of an outbreak of plague in 1546, which decimated the village, when 40 people, including the vicar, all died.
I do get people interested in researching their family history looking at this site, and any interested in Winwick should be aware that there is another separate parish of Winwick, which is also in Northamptonshire, and close to the Warwickshire border.
The was no church mentioned here in the Domesday survey of 1086 but the 12th century south doorway points to a stone church being around as far back as that time. The chancel, nave and south aisle were rebuilt in the middle of the 13th century, and the north arcade was formed and the aisle added about 1325. The chancel arch was rebuilt to the full width of the chancel in about 1340. The south transept was built in the early part of the 15th century, and the four stage, perpundicular, west tower towards the end of that century.
The church was restored in Victorian times, when the south transept, south aisle clearstory, porch and the upper part of spire were rebuilt. More restoration was undertaken in 1935 after the spire had been struck by lightning.
There are three bells hanging at St Michael. Two of these are from the Newcombe foundry in Leicester and are each thought to be 16th century. The other dates from the 1860's and was cast by Taylor's at Loughborough. There were five bells here at one time with eighteenth century bells by Peterborough founder Henry Penn and Eayre of Kettering also hanging here.
The inside of the church was a delight, with sunshine shining in brightly through the south windows. My attention was drawn to a painting showing the church of St Michael, standing in between two cottages, with a lady standing in front of one of the cottages. The garden is filled with flowers and a blue tit hangs from a feeder. A lovely scene. I would imagine that this is a memorial to one of the church stalwarts now passed on.
The chancel was redesigned in Victorian times by FE Low and some undistinguised Victorian stained glass can be seen on the east wall. Elsewhere, a modern (Victorian?) wooden carving of a Green Man looks out through sightless eyes, foiliage sprouting from both sides of his head.
Winwick is deep in the beautiful Northamptonshire countryside of which I am so fond. Trees surround three sides of the church, with only the south side of the church without trees. Down to the south sheep and horses graze and there is field after field of unspoiled countryside. Exquisite!
Church grounds themselves are kept neat and tidy and the bees were busily engaged with the Spring blooms. There is a bit of a subsidance problem here, and gravstones stand, or should I say lean, T all all sorts of gravity defying angles. Many of the graves are extremely weathered, but a few on the eastern sides of the church grounds would have been of exceptional quality. One Georgian grave features an angel in flight, blowing a trumpet, with clouds represented below him. At the top of the grave is a scallop shell which symbolises pilgrimage. The scallop shell was the emblem of St James, the Patron Saint of Pilgrims.
Elsewhere, a solitary veiled head, encrusted with lichen, peers out from a gravestone, the script of which has long since been lost to the elements.
A lovely church, set in the most beautiful countryside, the church of St Michael is a delight to visit. Spent an enjoyable time here before heading off south in the direction of Old Weston. As briefly mentioned earlier the tower here really dominates the landscape to the south and it was to be a fairly slow ride to Old Weston as I kept stopping to look at the views of the church across the fields. This is Northamptonshire at its finest. It is a pleasure to cycle these roads and I feel a genuine affection for this area. Well worth a look if you are in the area.