before having lunch in the grounds of St Peter & St Paul at Hemington. I had started off early so that I could get back to listen to England take on Australia in the cricket world cup. Had a lovely time in the sun, eating lunch in the solitude, just a couple of horses and a single car passing in twenty minutes or so. The only noise was from the birds and a few early Spring bees. Gorgeous time spent...and then the cricket started and the day suddenly went horribly wrong!
This church is kept locked and there is a note of the keyholder on display in the porch. Church grounds on the south side contain some finely carved and ornate gravestones, which in their time would have been of the highest quality, are hidden behind bushes. The grounds are nicely kept and a bench is set out in the cover of a large bush on the north side, which looks out over the fields.
The north side of the church grounds is especially attractive to visit in the spring when the ground is carpeted in flowers. Plenty of trees on the south side of the church grounds as well. An idyllic setting.
Much of this church was pulled down, and rebuilt in 1666, apart from the tower which is late 14th century. The new building was erected by Lord Montagu, whose coat of arms can be seen on the west tower. The name "MOVNTAGV" (please note the difference in spelling and the reversed letter N) is also to be seen carved high up on the south wall. Close by is carved the name "THORNHILL". I did a little internet research but cannot find a connection between the two names. Very faded, and hidden away at the side of the south doorway, are the initials E.T.H and the year 1667. Ancient graffiti on churches is fairly commonplace, but perhaps these are the initials of the master builder, all those years ago.
Restoration work was done here in Victorian times. In 1872 the nave was restored, and the chancel and south porch added. The chancel arch is believed to have been a copy of a previous ancient arch, and it is thought that some of the original stonework was incorporated in to the replacement arch.
Inside, there are ten oak stalls, which came from the church at Fotheringhay, and which retain their original carved misericords. The carvings are as follows...a dragon, crown, hawk, publican with jug, mermaid, owl, best in monks hood, a tumbler and two boars. It is said that these stalls were left to Hemington church in a will from a Fotheringhay farmer in the 18th century.
There are four bells in the tower, with a pit for a fifth. One bell was dated 1598, and the National Church Bell Database has this down as being cast at the Newcombe Foundry at Leicester. This has the inscription CVM VOCO AD ECCLESIAN VENITE EM 1598. It is thought that the EM stands for Edward Maonagu, the Lord of the Manor who died in January 1601. He represented Northants in Parliament in the first year of Queen Elizabeth I's reign, and was also later Sherriff of the county. He was knighted in 1567. The Montagu family were supporters of this church for mahy, many years.
One of the other bells is dated 1724 and was cast by Thomas Eayres I at his foundry in Kettering. A third bell has the lovely inscription "Obe (obay) The Prince" It is suggested that this bell might also be pre 1600 and another from Newcombe's foundry. This bell was subsequently re-cast by Taylor of Loughborough.
At the east end of the nave is a floor slab with brass figures of Thomas Montagu and his wife Agnes (Dudley), and a shield in each of the four corners. The male figure is bareheaded, with long flowing hair and wears a large cloak and gown edged with fur; the lady is wearing a tight-fitting gown and also wears a headdress. The inscription records that Montagu died 5 September, 1517
There are some fine quality gargoyles to be seen here, particularly on the south wall. These are very high quality, but I suspect that they are of no real age. As mentioned earlier, restoration work was undertaken here in the 1870, and I suspect that these might have been put up them.
The font is exceptional. Dating from the 12th or 13th century, this is octagonal and has the figures of carved heads, sadly very worn, on four sides. One of these heads really resembles a muzzled bear to me. Another face, this one definitely human, has tongue stuck out in typical medieval gesture of insult.
My first ever visit to Hemington was on Easter Sunday 2007. I had been on the cycle all day, starting off at Glatton, moving on to the Giddings, then on to Hamerton and a few other assorted East Northants villages
One interesting thing here is a stone at the rear of the chancel. On the outside wall, one stone has the names of several people, builders perhaps, carved in to it.The dates 1668 and 1690 are carved in to the stone. Interesting that this one stone has several names carved in to it but no other stone around it has anything on it at all.
I really enjoyed looking inside the church here. This is a lovely church in a delightful part of East Northamptonshire. Back on the cycle and off in the vague direction of home, via Lutton.