A lovely warm Sunday afternoon in the summer of 2013, and a return visit to the church of St Mary Magdalene at Yarwell. Yarwell can be found in the extreme east of Northamptonshire, near to the border with Cambridgeshire. Head count was just over 300 at the 2001 census. Like many other villages there used to be a village post office, used to be a village school....and used to be a railway station here, Yarwell being the junction of two lines, one from Market Harborough and one from Northampton.
The church here dates from the 13th century, and has no north or south aisles, consisting of chancel, nave and west tower. There used to be aisles here but in April 1782 there was a very heavy fall of snow. The weight of the snow, plus the weight of new lead on the roof, led to a collapse. Both the North and South Aisles were put out of action. It was decided that the nave and chancel were "more than adequate to contain the inhabitants" so both aisles were removed and their arcades bricked up, as can be clearly seen in the photographs taken from the north (above) and the south (below).
This church is open and welcoming. Lovely to see the multi coloured shadows on the floor with the Summer sun shining through the stained glass window on the south wall. Inside the vestry is a tomb to one Humphrey Bellamy. As a child, Bellamy came to Yarwell ill and destitute, whilst walking to London to find his uncle, who was a rich merchant. He was looked after by the locals, and he vowed to, one day, repay their kindness. He became successful, and became Alderman of London. He died in 1715 and was buried at Yarwell. He endowed a local charity to aid the poor of the area. His beautiful tomb can be found on the North side of the chancel, pictured below right. It is thought that the tale of Dick Whittington is based on Bellamy's life.
The font is octagonal, and dates from the 19th century. Most of the fixtures and fittings date from the 19th and 20th centuries. Stained glass is modern and shows Christ in ascension whilst a beautifully carved depiction of Christ crucified hangs over the chancel.
It was a delight to see a 'retired' gargoyle in the nave. I am assuming that this was on the wall of the north or south aisle when the collapse happened in 1782. It is always lovely to see these close up rather than high up on a tower
Part of this church used to be thatched. In 1804, James French was paid £6 10s for thatching the chancel, which remained thatched until 1892.
Four bells hang in the tower, with one of these being particularly ancient, being attributed to Richard Seliok, a Nottingham founder, by the National Church Bell Database. This is dated at approx 1540. The bell is blank with the exception of the letters "hi".which may refer to the donor of the bell.
The second bell is from Peterborough founder Henry Penn and is dated 1714. This has a latin inscription on it which translates as "When I call, come (to church)." This bell is inscribed to one Edwarde Lisle.
The third bell is dated 1754 and was cast by Joseph Eayre of St Neots. This has the inscription "MULTI VOCATA PAVCI ELECTI" (Many are called few are chosen) and is also inscribed with the names Thomas Tilton and Edward Peak, who were the church wardens of the day.
The final bell is a much more recent affair, coming courtesy of Gillett and Johnstone in 1926.
Church grounds are nicely maintained and there are some pretty old graves here, sadly the vast majority being very badly weathered. To the north of the church is a is a very old tomb. A date of 1633 can just be seen, with the rest of the script being lost to the elements. This tomb has a Grade II listing in its own right. Another tomb, this one dating from the late 18th century, is also listed. As mentioned already, most of the gravstones here are very worn. However, there are a couple of deaths head stones here, with the human skull on each just being discernible. One of these also has a depiction of an upturned hourglass to the right of the skull, telling the onlooker that Man is mortal and will die.
The church grounds to the south of the church are left to grow wild in places, this being to encourage wildlife. It was lovely just to be at peace here, with the gengle buzzing of the bees as they went about their business.
I always enjoy my visits to Yarwell. A lovely church in a very pleasant village. This part of East Northants is always worth visiting should you get the chance.