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Church Post Code      NN14 3EP

Open to visitors

In my mind, in years gone by, I cycled effortlessly throughout the Northamptonshire countryside.  My memories might be a little clouded, or more likely deluded, to be fair! Certainly I wasn’t gliding effortlessly towards Clopton on this October 2022 revisit; with recent attacks of covid and shingles still draining the energy levels, with a large amount of chocolate cake eaten at a coffee morning at neighbouring Winwick not helping either! In fairness my advancing age probably wasn’t helping either!

Clopton is a small village in North Northamptonshire, with a population of a little over 150 at the time of the 2011 census.  We are isolated here in beautiful Northamptonshire countryside; with a Kestrel blessing me with an appearance on my first visit here’ flashing past on a glorious autumn afternoon as I chatted with a local.

 Great Gidding is five miles or so off to the south east, Thrapston is a similar distance off in a vaguely south westerly direction and Oundle is six miles off to the north north east. I have a great love for this area, its churches and its people.

The village was mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086 but there was no mention of a church or a priest here at that time.


One fascinating piece of local history here is that of ‘Skulking Dudley’ who is said to have haunted the village for many years. Legend states that in 1349 he was the winner in a duel to the death. Immediately he had won he became bent over and his health started to fail. In 1905 the Bishop of Peterborough, along with 21 other members of the clergy, arrived at the village to exorcise his ghost.

In 1974 the Anglican Church set up a Deliverance Ministry; where every diocese in the country was set up with a team who were equipped to perform exorcism; albeit with that only being allowed after approval from the Bishop.

Approaching the church of St Peter from the north, on my first visit here back in 2010 it looked from distance to be a Victorian church; and so it is, but it is so much more than simply that!

The church that we see today dates from 1862/63, with this being built on or close to a previous structure which dated back to the late 13th century. This previous structure consisted of west tower with spire, nave with north and south aisles of four bays, with clerestories, south porch and chancel.

The tower and spire were struck by lightning towards the end of the 18th century, causing much damage. The decision was made not to repair the damage with a wall being built at the west end to separate the rest of the church from the tower.


   There were four bells in the old tower, and it is thought that three of the bells were sold at the time of the collapse. North's Victorian book on the church bells of Northamptonshire casts doubt on the local thought that three bells were sold to Leighton Bromswold.

 According to North, the inscription on one of the bells was "Ihoes, Zorke fecit me in honorem sci Petri" which translates as Ihoes Zorke made me in honour of St Peter. Ihoes Zorke, is thought to be also known as Johannes De Yorke who was a Leicester bell founder. His bells are exceptionally rare and exceptionally old. At the time of Norths Victorian church bell study there was only one other bell by him in the whole of Northamptonshire. His foundry was active in the latter years of the 14th century.

At the time on North’s study the church had been rebuilt just a few years. He noted that there was a single bell here, this being cast by Thomas Mears in 1860. North also noted that the tower here was capable of carrying a ring of eight bells and it was hoped that further bells would be added in the future. These days, roughly 145 years later, the situation is still the same with just a single bell here.


The church of St Peter sits in the south east corner of the village. It consists of west tower, with saddleback roof, nave with north aisle, south porch, north vestry and chancel. There is a stair turret to the south east corner of the tower. A pleasing church; well proportioned, with all roofs here in red tile.

The church here was open to visitors, as it has been on each of my three visits here over the years. Okay, this is a Victorian church from the early 1860’s but there is much of interest from the original church that has been saved for the visitor to enjoy.

It was bright and welcoming inside, with sunlight streaming in through the south windows. Victorian benches can be seen either side of a red carpet which runs the length of the nave and in to the sanctuary. The north arcade is of three bays with seemingly the capitals being reused from the previous church.

Moving in to the chancel, the altar is small with a plain altar cloth. Along with the cross and candlesticks there was attractive flower displays which I suspect might have been left from a harvest festival.

The reredos is in the form of a blue curtain which covers the width of the east wall; attractive stained glass can be seen in the east window. On the south wall of the chancel, a sedilia, the seating for the clergy, is neatly fitted underneath a window.


 The east window depicts Christ in Majesty in a roundel at the top, crowned with hand raised in blessing. He is surrounded by angels. Below this is a cockerel and keys, each of which is a symbol of St Peter, after who the church id dedicated.

Central in this window are four panels depicting the four Gospel writers. Above this are four scenes from the life of Christ. We have the nativity, Jesus’ baptism, the crucifixion and one panel which show Jesus blessing an angel. 

Below this are four scenes from the life of Peter. On the first he attempts to walk on water, nest Jesus reinstates Peter after his betrayal on the night of Jesus’ arrest; ‘Feed my sheep’. Next is Peter in prison with an angel freeing him from his chains. Finally, Peter is crucified upside down.

An interesting window at the west end of the north aisle depicts several scenes from Acts, with a couple of scenes shown that I can’t recall having seen before in glass. One of these is Philip baptising an Ethiopian eunuch and the other shows Paul preaching.

 Seated high up in the congregation is a young man who looks sleepy as Paul preaches. I think that this is Eutychus from Acts Chapter 20; verses 9 – 10. The NIV translation reads....

‘Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!”

Running through the centre of this window are two scenes showing healing. In one scene a crippled man holds out his hand to Peter and John. The panel above shows the same man without bandages, healed and as the caption below reads ‘Walking and leaping and praising God’.

One further piece of stained glass can be seen under the tower arch with Peter again portrayed, this time carrying the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Peter is often depicted with receding hairline which is the case here!


There some interesting monuments here, with a wall plaque to Dame Judith Williams and her daughter Mary being of great quality. This is to be found in the north aisle, with exquisite side of portraits of mother and daughter facing each other.

 Dame Judith died 1754 aged 53 years. Part of her epitaph reads ‘In the gracefulness of her person and the shining qualities of her mind she was superior to most of her sex’. Daughter Mary died in 1756 (I think! the script is hard to read in places) aged 21 years. Her epitaph is really moving. It is said that she displayed ‘true Christian courage’ in ‘that solemn and trying season when death was making its approaches’. It ends with ‘too precious a jewel for the present.

On the north wall of the chancel is a plaque to William Bretor, dated 1658. Carvings of human skull gaze out at the onlooker; reminding them that Man is mortal and will die. The inclusion of other symbols such as the hour glass, crossed bones and the gravediggers tools of pick and shovel all force home the same message; live a good life, be at peace with God for you do not know when your own time will come and it may be later than you think!

These memorials would have been brought over from the old church, as would two recumbent effigies and a stone coffin to be seen at the east end of the north aisle.

The coffin is thought to date from around 1300; making it older than the previous church here. Could this point towards an earlier church still in this village? This is finely carved with the centre point being a lion and a unicorn fighting, with a small human head peering out from between the two.

By the side of this are two recumbent effigies of a male and female, which look to date from the 17th century. The male figure is bareheaded and dressed in armour. The female figure is missing both hands, has her head veiled and wears a large ruff.


Moving back outside, there is nothing of any great age or interest in the church grounds. Unlike the interior, there doesn’t appear to be anything that pre dates the early 1860’s rebuilding. Either there was a substantial gravestone clearance in the grounds at the time of rebuilding or the old church was not on this present site.

I have a great deal of love for this church. Open and welcoming with much of interest to see! A favourite church in an area that I have a great deal of love for!  It was time to hit the road again ; heading west three miles to neighbouring Titchmarsh, with not a solitary person seen on the backroads in the time taken to cycle between the two villages!

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