Mid summer 2013 and a truly gorgeous Sunday evening. My friend and myself had had a lovely afternoon photographing churches arounf the Alconbury area and we took in All Saints at Buckworth whilst we were there. It was very warm and humid and we stood for a while in oepn countryside, looking out at the church spire off in the distance, seemingly surrounded by oilseed rape fields in full bloom. Not a place for those who suffer from hay fever!
There was no mention of a church here at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086. The earliest parts of todays structure are parts of the nave, which date back to the 12th century. The south arcade and the south aisle were added at the end of the 13th century, with the tower and spire following around 1300. Ten years after that the chancel, north arcade and north aisle were all added. The south aisle and the north aisle were rebuilt around 1400, with the porch and clerastory being added then.
The church was restored in 1862, with the spire having further work on it in 1884. The tower was repaired in 1908, and again in 1925 after it was damaged by lightning.
Five bells hang here. The first was re-cast by Taylor of Loughborough, and is inscribed "Catherine D. Shafto Gave Me 1885 Praise The Lord". She was the widow of a previous rector. Bells number two and three are both courtesy of Newcombe Watts of Leicester, with both dating from around 1600. Both are inscribed with glorious olde English script. "Geve God The Praese" states one bell with the other reading "Geve Thankes To God Alwais".
There was originally at least three bells from Newcombe Watts hanging here. Another was re-cast by Taylor of Loughborough in 1884. In the Revd Owens look at the Church Bells Of Huntingdonshire, published in 1899, the fifth bell here is thought to have been cast by Robert Oldfield, an itinerant bellfounder, in the late 16th or early 17th centuries. However, the National Church Bell Database has this one down as being cast by Mellours of Nottingham circa 1500.
Whilst doing the research for this page, I came across a local legend which states that, in days long gone, neighbouring Leighton Bromswold buried a dead man that Buckworth had refused to inter, the former claiming a church bell in payment.
Some very fine gargoyles and grotesques can be seen all around the church, particularly some grotesques around the porch on the south wall. These stand on the corners of the walls, with arms on hips. Fabulous pieces of work. Two carvings on bricked up archways on the third stage of the tower, are of interest. The three heads pictured on the left are, I would imagine, a depiction of of the Holy Trinity, whilst that on the right is a type of Green Man, with foliage sprouting from his mouth. Similar carvings are repeated on the other sides of the tower.
The church here is normally kept locked but a very nice lady saw us in the church grounds and asked us if we would like to see inside. This was a definite yes and we spent an enjoyable fifteen minutes looking around. The church is beautiful inside. Walls are whitewashed and stained glass can be seen at the eastern end of the chancel and both aisles. One striking window depicts a scne from the resurrection where an angel, pointing upwards, instructs the onlooking women that Jesus had risen. A wall monument to one William Stevenson features the skull and crossed bones at the bottom. According to the script he was, a "kind husband and a tender father to a numerous ofspring (sic)"
Looking up and there are four large coloured ceiling bosses, with several smaller ones surrounding them. The four large ones are thought to date from the 15th century, designs including kings and green man and a bishop,with the smaller ones being much more recent and depicting the family crest of the Dumcombe Shaftco family.
There are some quite ancient looking graves here. One, which I would estimate from around the 1680's, is tilted over and sunken in to the ground. The christian name Gorge (note the spelling) is legible, but most of the rest is not. To the south of the church grounds, and under the shelter of a tree, which I daresay has protected it over the years, is a superbly carved deaths head stone. This features a human skull, with crossed bones, with the skull wearing a laurel wreath. The image of a skull symbolising Man's Mortality, is fairly common. The laurel wreathe is less so, and was used as a symbol of victory, in this case the victory being over death as the deceased moves on to immortality.
This was not my first visit to this church, having made a previous visit on a bleak and miserable Bank Holiday Monday a few years previous. At that time some work was being done here and what appeared to be a coffin had been uncovered very close to the main porch. There was no one around that day to ask, and I have not found any information on the internet, but would like to know any more information on this. If anyone reading this knows, please get in touch.
A gorgeous church, and well worth a look if you are in the area. If you visit here then don't miss the church of St Giles at Barham, a mile or two away which is exquisite.