August 2011, and a visit to the church of All Saints at Sudborough. When I first set this site up, one of the most important things for me was to be able to visit places that I would otherwise never have seen. Sudborough is a small village in between Thrapston and Corby, to be found just off of the busy A6116. I would never have visited here if this site had not been set up, would have had no reason to visit it...but I am really glad that I did!
To my mind, this is a typical, beautiful English village. The church is centrally located and is surrounded by lovely thatched cottages. As is often the case, the local public house is not too far away! I spent a very pleasant few minutes chatting to the church wardern and can recall looking down the main street and saying to him that you could never get fed up with that view!
The church was open and welcoming and there is a lot to mention here. The present structure itself has 12th century origins but dates mainly from the 13th century. There is evidence to suggest that a church was here on this site as far back as the 10th century. Some alterations were made in the 15th century and there were three different periods of 19th century restoration here. A saxon gravestone was found here during the 19th century restorations, which is thought to have dated from around 975AD.
The west tower is three stage, with clasping butresses supporting the lower level. The tower in pinnacled at each corner and a row of grotesque faces surround the tower. Five bells hang here, with one of these being added in 1897, being cast by Taylor & Sons of Loughborough. The others are all of considerable age and interest. Two were made by Thomas Norris of the Stamford Bellfoundry, with both being dated 1647. One bell is uninscribed and is thought to date from circa 1350. The other bell is thought to have been cast by Newcombe of Leicester in 1570.
Inside, and the eye is caught by a very large stained glass window featuring images of St Francis of Assisi, St George and St Hubert, who is the patron saint of hunters and who is depicted with a stag at his feet. This is the work of Charles Eamer Kempe, who worked from premesis in London and whose work can be seen at York Minster and Bristol Cathedral. St Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals and is pictured with and eagle and a pair of doves at his feet. St Francis was also the first person to receive the stigmata, meaning that he bore the wounds in the hands and feet that Jesus received during the crucifiction. The wounds are clearly visible on the hands in Kempe's depiction of St Francis.
On the north wall of the chancel is a recess in which there is a recumbant effigy of a cross legged knight. The fact that the Knight's legs are crossed is important as this is a symbol that the deceased died in the Christian faith. Sometimes the figure on the tomb of a knight has his legs crossed at the ankles, this meant that the knight went on one crusade. If the legs are crossed at the knees, he went twice and if the legs are crossed at the thighs he went on three Crusades.
Thereare a couple of very ancient and interesting memorial brasses here as well. A man and woman stand side by side, with hands devoutly raised in prayer. To the side of that two adult male figure, with again hands raised in prayer, look at eight children, with a third adult female figure in between the adults and the children sadly being without head.
The inscription on the first brass reads "Here lie William West who died on the day of purification of the blessed Virgin Mary, in the year of our Lord 1390. And of Joan his wife who died on December 16th in the year of our Lord 1415. On whose souls may God have mercy Amen". The second brass basically is just a plea to pray for the souls of William and Joan, their eight children and their descendents.
The church clock was given by Lady Elizabeth Germain of Drayton House in 1740. Drayton is a large country house nearby which was built on land given to Aubrey De Vere for his distinguished service at the battle of Hastings.
I spent quite a long time looking around the church grounds, in part die to the fact that I had a puncture as I entered the village and was waiting to see if my tire would stay up!! It was good to see a deaths head stome here, with very weathered human skull at the top of the grave and crossed human bones on either side of the base of the grave. The script on this grave is long since gone but I would estimate mid 18th century in date. Looking up to a window on the south wall, the onlooker can see two very unusually carved stone heads, pictured below. These have been protected from the elements over the years and they are look to be of great age, but still in good condition.
For those interested in visiting the area it is highly recommended. Sudborough is just a couple of miles away from Lowick, with its impressive collection of medieval stained glass. It is also worth visiting the gardens at the Old Rectory at Sudborough, right next to the church as you would expect, which are open to the public from March until September. .
Right, tire fixed, cycle put back together and it was off on the road again, this time to neighbouring Brigstock, and it's Saxon stair turret.....one of just four surviving examples in the country.