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Church Post Code  NN14 3EX

Open to visitors

It was good to be back in Brigstock again; some 12 years since my previous visit. I had an enjoyable stay in the village back in 2011, based in a bed and breakfast close to the church. I have fond memories of that stay; sitting in the church grounds of St Andrew at the end of the day, enjoying the summer warmth as the sun started to set.

I cycled to Brigstock from my home to the west of Peterborough. No great challenge there, with it being around 17 miles. However, in those long ago sepia tinted days when my body was a bit fitter I chose an incredibly long and illogical route which turned the journey in to one of more than 60 miles with 12 churches visited on the way and a puncture at Sudborough, two miles away from my destination.

This return visit came on a bitterly cold but gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon in January 2023, with St Andrew being the second in what turned out to be a six church crawl of the area.


 Brigstock is a pleasant village in North Northamptonshire, which had a population of 1357 at the time of the 2011 census.  There are glorious stone cottages here, with getting on for 50 structures in the villages having a listed status. Oundle is seven miles off to the east, with Lyveden New Bield, an unfinished Elizabethan House, three miles off in the same direction. Corby is four miles off to the North West.

    There is plenty of history here, with a skeleton found locally being dated back to 1500 BC and Gartree Road, a Roman road which connected Leicester with Godmanchester, ran through the parish.  Two Roman temples were excavated here, with evidence that there was a pre Roman Iron age temple here before that.

 Brigstock became the largest village in the Rockingham Forest. It was mentioned in the Domesday Survey, with there being evidence of a priest here at that time but curiously no church mentioned!  Queen Elizabeth I passed through the village in 1586 and the village cross was put up to mark the occasion.

The village sign is double sided; one side having a depiction of the church, along with the village cross, with a rider and hounds off to one side. A short distance away the village war memorials is totally covered with poppies.

The church here is ancient and a sign points the interested visitor to a ‘notable Saxon church’. The church consists of west tower with spire, western stair turret, nave with north and south aisles and clerestories, south porch, vestry and chancel.

    There was an ancient church here which was destroyed by Vikings, but the earliest parts of the church that we see today date back to the 10th and 11th centuries. This early structure would have been a fairly basic affair with a chancel, an aisleless nave, a west tower and stair turret. Some of the building from that time still exists.


The chancel was enlarged during the 13th century with the two storey south porch being a 15th century addition. The upper storey is called a parvaise and these were often used as schoolrooms, a small stair turret to allow access to the upper room stands to the west of the porch. There is an empty image niche with a plinth at the base, which would have held a statue in pre reformation days with a sundial above.

Memories of a trip to Norfolk a few years ago; I was photographing a sun dial at Ditchingham  with some young lads doing some community service in the church grounds. One of the lads came over and asked if this was a sundial; the answer was yes. He wanted to know why the time was an hour out, the answer being that this was produced before we started to alter the clocks; a few hundred years before to be honest as we didn’t start to alter the clocks until 1972!

In the 15th century the clerestory was added and the north chapel was elaborately reconstructed. There was considerable restoration here in Victorian times.


 A ring of eight bells hang here with three of these being relatively new additions. When Thomas North was compiling his mid Victorian study on the church bells of Northamptonshire there were five bells hanging here, with details as follows.

 One bell is from Kettering bellfounder Thomas Eayre, and dating from 1758. It is inscribed "THOM'S EAYRE CAMPARINUS FECIT Wm BOWN + Wm VICCARS HIEROPHYLACEBUS 1758" I have no idea what the word "Hierophylacebus" means. I tried to Google it but had nothing back at all except being pointed back to North's original study. Can anyone help?

   Four of the bells come from the Norris family, who ran the Stamford bellfoundry. All four are courtesy of Thomas Norris and are all dated 1647. Two of the bells are inscribed "THOMAS NORRIS MADE ME 1647". A third is inscribed "JOHN BARTON GAVE ME  WORSHIP TO GOD IN TRINITIE 1647". The fourth reads "S SHAW CH WA ROBERT + R HARRIS GAVE X POUND TOWARDS THIS BELL 1647".

   The three recent additions were brought in from a church at Partington near to Manchester, with all three having been re-cast, two by Taylor & Co of Loughborough in 1881, and the third by the Whitechapel bellfoundry in 1991.


The church was open to visitors, as it has been on each occasion that I have visited over the years. The light quality inside was beautiful; bright and welcoming.

There are three bay arcades to north and south. Two of the bays to the north are 12th century with the eastern most bay dating to the 13th century, at which point the south arcade was added. Looking west, the tower arch is Saxon, with beautiful rounded arch.  An ancient doorway leads in to the tower itself.

The chancel has medieval sedilia and piscina on the south wall. The reredos dates from 1930 and features an illustration of the annunciation in the centre panel. Saint Andrew can be seen to the left as we look at, carrying a saltire cross, on which he was to be martyred. St Michael can be seen to the right.

The east window, which is partially obscured by the reredos, is a depiction of epiphany, with the wise men bringing their gifts. Jesus is sat on Mary’s knee while Joseph stands off to one side slightly.

Close by, an angel appears to the three Mary’s on Easter morning. The angel, with golden wings and hair, points upwards towards Heaven. ‘He is not here he is risen’


A 15th century screen separates north aisle from north chapel; this came from the nearby Cistercian Abbey at Pipewell, which was dissolved during the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538.

A three light window at the east end of the north chapel shows Jesus surrounded by children in the central panel. This is flanked by Mary of Bethany washing Jesus’ feet with pure nard shortly before his arrest. The other panel simply shows Jesus talking to a man. I think that this is the rich young man who went away sad because Jesus had told him to give away his wealth and follow him. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

The altar in the north chapel is plain and simple; with just a single cross. The altar cloth has the Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God and the symbols for the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. An intricately carved image niche to the north of the altar contains a modern statue of the Virgin Mary; the original probably falling foul of the reformers during the 16th century.

A bier, used to carry coffins to the graveside can be seen in the north chapel, along with a white marble monument to Richard Vernon, 1st Baron of Lyveden, who was Liberal Party politician. Interestingly, a quick Google checks shows that in 1845 he was appointed one of the lay commissioners in lunacy, a board overseeing the running of asylums and the welfare of the mentally ill.


The south aisle has a small altar at its eastern end, with the organ chamber behind that. The remaining glass here is my favourite and left me puzzled for a minute or two. Jesus sits on the throne, crowned and attended by angels, one of who wields a censer. Jesus holds out his hands, which are without wounds, towards a woman kneeling at prayer. She wears a blue cloak and a gut reaction is that it was Mary the mother of Jesus.

An angel prepares to hand her a crown and underneath it reads ‘well done good and faithful servant’. My take here is that this is someone who has passed on and having lived a good Christian life will move on to eternal life in Heaven.


The church grounds here are of interest, with one stone having a Grade II Listing in its own right. This is against the south aisle and is dated 1670. I didn’t notice this one when looking around. It was listed back in 1988 and I either missed it or, sadly, in the years since it was listed, the date might have become illegible.

Some of the carvings are of very high quality with angel faces peering out through the ivy. One stone features a carving of a human skull with wings. The skull is a memento mori image, the deaths head, reminding the onlooker that Man is mortal and will die. Therefore live a good Christian life; be at peace with God and do not be found lacking when your own time comes. The wings indicate the safe passage of the soul towards Heaven.

A grieving window is depicted in mourning, arm resting on her husband’s urn. At the side of her is an anchor and a cross, entwined together; each a symbol of the Christian faith, these professing the faith of the deceased. On the other side is the flame of life; upturned symbolising eternity and the trumpet symbolising resurrection. There is also what looks to be a laurel wreath with this being a symbol of victory. Death is beaten, the faith of the deceased has ensured that his soul will be in Heaven and his body resurrected on the final day.


I keep banging on about this but an open church can be an important Christian witness, especially in challenging times; with the previous three years fitting definitely in to that category. A safe place to go and sit awhile; the chance to get some peace!

 All churches had to close during covid lockdowns and subsequent restrictions; and this would have hit churches like this hard. I would imagine that they closed when they had to and opened back up as soon as it was safe to do so.  This is their witness and it can be a valuable one, those who know me well will know of my own struggles and know how important an open church has been for me over the years on several occasions.. Open and welcoming; an absolute must visit if you are in the area.

All photographs on this page are from the January 2023 revisit, with the exception of the photograph of the village sign and gravestones, which were taken on a previous visit. Both the sign and the gravestones were quite difficult to shoot in the bright winter sunshine.

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