Alwalton can be found just off of the A605, about five miles West of Peterborough. The village is joined to Chesterton, with the two being separated by the A1. Alwalton has some beautiful old houses and St Andrews Church is the jewel in the crown of what is a lovely village.
Alwalton is close to the site of a Roman fort, and the Roman town of Durobrivae. The Romans built a bridge at Alwalton over the river Nene. Much excavation was undertaken in this area by Victorian archaeologist Edmund Artis, who is buried in the churchyard in neighbouring Castor.
Visitors to the area can stay at a National Trust holiday home, which was a building which used to stand in Chesterton, and which was part of Chesterton House, which was built in the 1400's and demolished in the early 1800's. Alwalton is very close to the river Nene, and some very nice walks along the river can be had. It is only a short hop (or paddle!!) across the river to Castor, home of one of the finest Norman churches in the country.
Alwalton has few real claims to fame, but Henry Royce of Rolls Royce fame was born in the village in the 1860's. He died in 1933 and his ashes were buried at the church in 1937. There is a slab on the north wall of the nave commemorating him.
No church was mentioned at Alwalton in the Domesday book of 1086, but there was a church on the present site by the end of the 12th Century, parts of which still exist today. In 1300 AD a project to rebuild the church was started, however this was abandoned unfinished some 30 years later. The church was restored in 1840, at which time the South Porch was built. At the time of this restoration medival stained glass was removed from St Andrew to let in more light!
As well as the stained glass being removed, so were some monuments. A page of sketches in the British Museum, dated 1798 shows four medieval tombstones, two with recumbant effigies, along with some other fragments, one of which was part of a stone coffin. All were removed!
The chancel dates from around 1300, with the windows thought to date from around that time. The stained glass in the large window on the east wall of the chancel dates from the 20th century. Much more ancient though is the glass in a small window on the south side of the chancel. This contains fragments of medieval stained glass, dating from the 14th century.
There are five bells hung in the tower which, if you look closely, you will see leans gracefully towards the west. The tower was underpinned at the start of the 20th century which has stopped its wanderings! Four of the bells were made by the Stamford bellfoundry, who were prolific in this area in the 17th century. Three of these bells are inscribed “Thomas Norris made mee 1661”, with the other having the same inscription but being dated 1672.
The other bell was made by Peterborough based Henry Penn and is dated 1722. This bell also has Will Waring Rector and John Cox Churchwarden inscribed on it. I am grateful to David Neate for the photograph of the bells.The tower is surrounded by some fairly worn gargoyles. There are also gargoyles lower down on the south wall.
The south porch was built in 1841, and this "modern" feature hides a 12th century doorway, with Norman zig zag carving around it. At the side of this is a scratch dial carved in to the wall. A sun dial is to be seen on the south transept wall. This dates from the 1735 and has the inscription "Watch and Pray".
The church grounds here are well maintained and there are a number of very finely carved 18th century gravestones. Some of these are of a very high quality. The tower is surrounded by trees and bushes, and opposite the church are some 17th century stone cottages, one of which has a stone gateway with a sign dated April 1684 on it. I was really impressed with this until a friend told me that the owner had bought it from a local car boot sale!! Loads of squirrels here as well.
It was a hard life in these villages in the 19th century, with epidemics rife, leading to a high mortality rate. This is highlighted here with a plaque on the exterior south wall noting the passing of three infant children of the Revd John Hopkinson and his wife Elizabeth. Sadly, this was far from uncommon in the 1830's and 1840's in this area.
A couple of the interior photographs were taken at a midnight communion service in 2013. Thanks to David Neate for the photograph of the church bells. The church here is normally kept closed to visitors but the jkey can often be found at the local village shop a hundred and fifty yards away.