The church of St Andrew at Northborough is tucked away on a lane a little way from the busy A15 which leads from Peterborough heading towards Bourne. Despite the close proximity of this busy road, it is quiet and peaceful in the church grounds. A visitor here for the first time might be wondering about the very large south transept here which pretty much dwarfs the rest of the structure.If it wasn't for the south transept, this structure would resemble the church at Peakirk, a mile or so away to the east.
This was a return trip to Northborough, in fact two return trips! The exterior photos used here are from a Sunday morning visit in the summer of 2013. The church was closed to visitors then, but I gained entry with a friend during an evening prayer service that Autumn. It was very dark then and the interior shots have suffered a little as a result.
It is thought that the original structure here was built towards the end of the 12th century or the start of the 13th century. Not only was there no mention of a church here at the time of the Domesday Survey of 1086, there was no mention even of a village here!
The only survivng part of that original structure is the west wall. The present nave, which has north and south aisles, was built around 1230 and in the 14th century the clerestory windows were added with the chancel arch being rebuilt at the same time.
The south transept is known as the De La Mere Chantry, or the Claypole Chapel. It was built around 1350. This contains the tomb of James Claypole and also of Elizabeth daughter of Oliver Cromwell, who died in 1665. The original inscription on her tomb has long since worm away but the Cromwell Association has placed a commemorative plaque close to where her tomb is.
There are two tomb recesses in this chapel which are both empty. It is suggested in the Northborough entry of British Listed Buildings website, that the two figures currently in the porch at the church of St Benedict at Glinton, might have originally have been situated in these two tombs.
There is just a simple bellcote here on the western end. This holds two bells with one of these being very ancient. The older bell was cast in Nottingham around 1410 by John (Johanne) De Colesale. The second bell was cast locally by Tobias Norris I at the Stamford bellfoundry. This bell is inscribed CVM VOCO AD ECCLESIAM VENITE WL AS 1611. I think that this translates as 'Come to the church when I call'.
The font is 15th century and octagonal in design. Lots of stones heads are dotted around the interior and it was interesting to see fragments of wall painted script in the nave, which I think might be Elizabethan. It was good to be here and the people in the congregation were very friendly.
Moving outside and there is a good but rather worn example of a deaths head stone adjacent to the path leading to the south porch. This has an image of a human skull on it, with crossed human bones below, designed to symbolise that Man is mortal and will die, and put this message over in a form that the onlooker could understand, in days when most people were illiterate. One beautifully carved stone, below right, which I suspect could be from the early years of the 18th century, is cracked completely in half but is now fixed to the west wall of the church to prevent future damage.
Peasant Poet John Clare was born in nearby Helpston and spent ten years living in Northborough. His wife Martha and several of their children are buried in the church grounds here.
This is a lovely church and I enjoyed my time here very much. There are some lovely churches close by such as Glinton and Peakirk, and this is a nice area to visit if ever you are around here.