August 2011 started off, not with a blaze of sunshine exactly, but rather with a blast of humidity. I had given myself the afternoon off and a friend and myself headed off towards Huntingdon to scout out some of the further flung village churches to the south of the area covered by this site.
Last year I had cycled to nearby Woodwalton and had stopped there, a rather steep hill halting me in my tracks. No problems, I optimistically
thought. Would make a return trip at some point using the bus. No chance, as Abbots Ripton, as well as neighbouring Kings Ripton do not appear to do buses. That is a slight exaggeration as they each do one bus a week!!!
Abbots Ripton is probably one of the nicest villages that I had ever been to. Beautiful thatched cottages were everywhere and according to the British Listed Buildings website, there are no fewer than 34 listed buildings in the village, including barns, an outhouse, some wooden shutters on a building...and believe it or not a telephone kiosk!! A sleepy place, but once the scene of a rail disaster. On January 21st 1879 a collision occurred between three traIns in a blizzard, one of the trains being a "Special Scotch Express", later to be known as the "Flying Scotsman". In all, 13 people were killed and 59 injured, making this one of the worst rail accidents in the UK at that time.
There was a church here at the time of the Domesday Survey of 1086, but nothing of that original structure remains. The earliest parts of the present building date back to the mid 13th century. The church here was consecrated by the Bishop Of Lincoln in 1242.
Much rebuilding work was done here at the start of the 16th century, and it is thought that the plan was to rebuild the whole church. The chancel was rebuilt at this time, as was the north chapel and north arcade. The west tower also dates from around this time.
As with most other churches, much restoration was undertaken here in the Victorian period. In 1858 the church was restored by subscription and ten years later the roofs of the nave and south aisle was restored as a memprial to Frances Rooper, the Rooper family once living in Abbots Ripton Hall and Rectory.
The tower is a four stage affair and is perpundicular and castelated, eith a square finial at each corner. It is heavily butressed and it did appear to the naked eye that the tower might be leaning a tad.
There are three bells hanging here, with the treble bell being of particular age, dating from around 1400 and being cast by William Dawe of London. Another of the bells here was cast by Tobias Norris III of the Stamford Bellfoundry in 1671. A third was added by John Warner & Son in 1875, replacing a bell dated 1622 which was either cast by Tobias Norris of the Stamford Bellfoundry or Haulsey of St Ives.
The church clock on the tower was given in remembrance of the magnificently named Revd Plumer Pott Rooper and was donated by his surviving brothers and sisters. That is the second time that the name Rooper has been mentioned already. This was an important family with a William Roper (different spelling but the same family) marrying Margaret the daughter of Thomas More, councilor to Henry VIII in the 1520's.
The church grounds here are well maintained and there are a few very nicely carved Georgian stones to be seen. Nothing remarkable here though and it appears as if there may well have been a quite substantial graveyard clearance here at some point. Was taken by the two smiling cherubs, pictured below third down on the left. Was also interested in the monkey like creature at the bottom of one of the windows on the south side. Reminded me of a similar carving high up on the tower at Nassington in East Northants.
As with so many other churches in this area the church here I found to be locked to visitors, as was neighbouring Kings Ripton and Wistow which were visited later on that day.
I found Abbots Ripton to be a lovely place to visit, a real slice of olde England with charming thatched cottages, thatched public house and tiny village shop with friendly, chatty staff....and of course the church, which was gorgeous!