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Church Post Code  NN14 3EP

Open to visitors

It was later April 2015 and the most glorious of Sunday afternoons. David and I had a pleasant afternoon churchcrawl which ended in an evening prayer service at Wadenhoe; watching the sun set at Stoke Doyle a little later in what was some of the best lighting conditions that I have ever taken the camera out in.

Aldwincle, which is sometimes spelled as Alwinckle, is a pleasant Northamptonshire village which can be found on a bend in the River Nene, some four miles north of Thrapston. There were two villages here at one point, St Peter and All Saints, with each parish having its own church. The two villages merged to form a single parish in 1879, with the church of All Saints, which can be found at the south east of the village, being declared redundant in 1971, being cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust. The village recorded a population of 333 at the time of the 2021 census.

I have very pleasant memories of my times here; apart from being stung by a wasp whilst cycling in to the village back in 2013! This includes going past the village shop during covid restrictions and seeing a socially distanced queue waiting outside which included someone standing with a horse! There are some good long range views of the village to be had from high ground at Titchmarsh to the south, with the tower of All Saints standing proud in front of the fishing lakes.


The village here has a great deal of history, dating back to before Roman times; it was mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086 but there was no mention of a church here at that time.  It was pleasantly warm and time was moving slowly in this beautiful part of North Northamptonshire. The shadows were starting to lengthen and a solitary Red Kite circled close to the church. The visit was made to the continual sounds of bleating from the sheep and lambs in the field to the south of the church.

Just a few people were out walking and a couple of horses clopped past slowly. If someone from overseas asked to be a shown a beautiful English village church, you could do far worse than take them here, particularly on a late afternoon such as this.

The church of St Peter consists of west tower with octagonal broach spire, nave with north and south aisles and clerestories, south porch, north vestry and chancel. As mentioned earlier, there was no church recorded here in 1086; the earliest parts of the present church date back to the late 12th century, with the main bulk of the structure dating from the 13th and 14th centuries.


The oldest part of the present church is the western pier in the north arcade which dates from 1190, with a north aisle being added at that time to an aisleless early 12th century church. The south aisle was added in the middle of the 13th century with the north aisle being rebuilt in 1290. The west tower and spire, clerestory and south porch all date from 1370-75, with the chancel being rebuilt at that time.

The chancel was restored in 1860, with the rest of the church being restored in 1875, at which point the north aisle was rebuilt.

Taking a look around the exterior, the west tower is of three stages, with the church clock set in to the west face and stair turret to the south east corner. The octagonal broach spire has three tiers of gabled lucarne windows set to the main compass points. A frieze across the top of the tower consists of carvings of grotesque creatures, including one which resembles a turtle, and a selection of cartoonlike human heads including one which appears to be wearing a truncated bishop’s hat!  A human figure lower down, with curiously elongated face and impressive beard grimaces as he looks out to the south.

The aisles and clerestories are battlemented; the clerestory consisting of four two light windows. The church was open to visitors, with visitor access being through the north door rather than the south porch.


There is a ring of five bells here, with all being cast by Taylor of Loughborough in 1903. Prior to that there were three bells in the ring here when Thomas North compiled his study of the church bells in Northamptonshire, which was published in 1878.

The first of the ring was cast by Taylor in 1843, and was a recasting of a previous bell. North was very thorough in his studies but does not note the founder of this earlier bell. He does however, note the fact that a bell fell here and was damaged in 1837, and I imagine that this is the bell that was recast.

The second was cast by Thomas Eayre I of Kettering in 1724. This has the Latin inscription ‘HIS NAZARENUS REX FLIL DEI MISERERE MEI GLORIA PATRI FILI ET SPIRITUI SANCTO’ which translates as ‘Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews son of God have mercy on me Glory to the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit’

The third is simply inscribed ‘ANNO DM 1585’ and North has it listed under unknown founders. This ring of three was recast by Taylor in 1903, with two more added, giving us the ring of five that we see today.

North notes that the cost of recasting the single bell in 1843 was £18 10s with a further £6 10s spent on rehanging.


Moving inside, there are three bay arcades to north and south; the westernmost pier in the north aisle dating from the late 12th century with the rest dating from the rebuilding of 1290, with elegant quatrefoil piers The 13th century south aisle has circular piers with octagonal capitals, on which is nailhead design.

A selection of carved heads look out at those in the nave; which includes a green man, a grimacing figure with sightless eyes and a figure with a wisp of hair and a fearsome mouth of teeth.

Nave is separated from chancel by an oak screen which was installed in 1921. Moving in to the chancel, the altar is plain and simple, with altar cloth having the symbols of Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, with the crown of thorns hanging from the cross.

On the south wall of the chancel there is a sedilia, the seating for the priests during the mass in pre reformation days. This takes the form of a window sill, which is graduated to two heights, with the highest seat being for the most senior, and therefore holiest, person there. When the sedilia is graduated, the highest seat is always towards the east, the holiest part of the church.

 To the east of this is an ogee headed piscina, for the washing of the holy vessels used in the mass. On the north wall, there is an aumbry, a cupboard used for storing the holy vessels. A priest’s door on the north wall leads in to the vestry.


The east window is of five lights, with the stained glass here courtesy of Charles Eamer Kempe, with his traditional ‘signature’ of wheatsheaf to be seen in the bottom left hand corner close to a depiction of Peter. The crucifixion is central, with Mary the mother of Jesus and John in their traditional positions alongside the cross. These are flanked by Peter, to the left as we look at it, who holds the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and St Thomas who holds a spear. Up in the tracery are several figures, with the reinstatement of Peter central.

   Other glass here includes a two light window at the east end of the north aisle; a depiction of the events at Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning. On the first panel the three Mary’s make their way to the tomb; on the second panel they have met an angel of the Lord who holds a banner which says ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead’.

Over to the west we see Jesus with Martha; she kneels before Jesus, who holds a banner which says ’I am the Resurrection and the life’. Alongside, we see the raising of Lazarus her brother.

A two light window has stained glass on two levels. One of the larger panels shows a scene from Genesis Chapter 8 showing Noah offering up a burnt offering to God. This is pre flood, with the ark in the background. To the right we have a depiction of Jesus with sheep; not I Am the Good Shepherd but script from Deuteronomy Chapter 28, which teaches of listening diligently to God, who will bless you with an ‘increase of thy kine and the flocks of thy sheep’. This is in the Old King James translation and my spell checker did not like the word ‘Kine’ and neither did I to be honest. A quick visit to an on line dictionary identifies this as an archaic plural of cow! Below are two smaller panels, which illustrate the parable of the sower and the seeds.

On my visit I missed a couple of medieval stained glass panels up in the tracery of a window on the south wall of the chancel. These depict St Christopher carrying the Christ child and St George. When I am next in the area I will pop back in and reshoot these (then amend the page to cover up the fact that they were missed in the first place!)


At the east end of the north aisle there are two piscina, each ogee headed with the most northerly one dating from the 13th century. The font, which is unusually to be found towards the east end of the south aisle, also dates from the 13th century. It looks as if there was an altar here as well as the two light window towards the east end of the south aisle has a sill which is made in to a seat which I daresay was a sedilia, showing that the mass was celebrated here.

There is the remains of a medieval churchyard cross to the south of the church grounds here; nothing else in the grounds is listed.


To see my page for Wadenhoe click on photograph above centre. To see the page for Stoke Doyle, click on photograph above right.

It was time to move on; heading off the short distance north to neighbouring Wadenhoe for an evening prayer service. My page for Wadenhoe is on my first website and features photographs taken on that evening. Exterior photographs of Stoke Doyle were also taken that evening. Links to both of these pages can be found by clicking the photographs marked.

Alwdincle is well worth a visit. Each of the churches are usually open to visitors and there are usually a few open churches close by for anyone visiting the area.

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