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Church Post Code NN14 3BX

Open to visitors

It was a bright, sunny but very cold Saturday afternoon in 2023, and a return visit to the church of All Saints, Sudborough. This was the third of what was to be a six church Northamptonshire crawl.

We had started the day at Lower Benefield, before moving on to see the important Saxon church at Brigstock. From there it was a couple of miles journey to the south west to Sudborough. Thrapston is the nearest town, a further three miles off in the same direction.

I like the setting here, with the church of All Saints located centrally, with the Vane Arms, a glorious thatched pub, a short distance away to the west. The Old Rectory Gardens are nearby to the east, with these sometimes open to the public; although a note on Google suggests that these are now permanently closed. There are some delightful thatched cottages here, with a thatched fox stalking down a pheasant on one of the nearby roofs.


 There is evidence to suggest that a church was here on this site as far back as the 10th century, with a Saxon gravestone found during 19th century restoration being dated to around 975AD. The structure that we see today dates mainly from the 13th century, with alterations made during the 15th century. There were three separate periods of 19th century restoration here.

The church that we see today is cruciform in structure, and is made up of west tower, nave with north and south aisles and clerestories, south porch, north and south transepts and chancel.

The three stage west tower is buttressed at its lowest stage and pinnacled. A plain parapet surrounds the top of the tower, with a frieze containing heads both human and animal.

The south porch has a faded sundial over the door; against a window in the chancel, tucked in tight to the south transept, are two quirky heads which appear to be of great age. Other stone head appear more recent, possibly from one of the periods of Victorian restoration.  This is a church of pleasing dimensions.


When Thomas North compiled his study of the church bells in Northamptonshire, which was published in the late 1860’s, there were four bells hanging in the ring here, which were noted as follows. The first and fourth of the ring were cast at the Stamford bellfoundry, by Thomas Norris; each being inscribed ‘Thomas Norris made me 1647’.

The second of the ring is blank and the National Church Bell Database suggests a date of around 1350, but no founder. The third of the ring in North’s day is attributed to Newcombe of Leicester with a date of 1570. There were two bell founders of that name working in Leicester at that time, Edward and Thomas II. It is liable to be the work of the latter as the bell is inscribed ‘Thomas’.

Today, there are five bells in the ring here, with a new first bell of the ring cast by Taylor of Loughborough in 1897.


The church here was open to visitors on this crisp January afternoon; and was open on each of my previous visits here. It was light and welcoming inside; walls are whitewashed throughout and the sun was streaming in through the south windows.

There are three bay arcades to north and south, with each of an identical style, with circular piers and capitals. A close look at one of the piers shows a little ‘graffiti’ in the form of three carvings of crosses.

 The church organ is to be found at the east end of the south aisle. There are a couple of memorial brasses, which I will come to later, mounted on to the east end of the south aisle.

The altar has a symmetrical look to it, with a cross central and three candles on either side, in descending height with the tallest closet to the cross.  There is a double sedilia, the seating for the priests during the mass, in its usual position against the south wall. There is no accompanying piscina though. The altar cloth and reredos are of matching material.


The east window is of stained glass, and is a tad on the dark side to be honest. A beautiful window though! The central two panels depict the nativity; two small golden haired angels at prayer at the side of the manger. Joseph and Mary are depicted central with the shepherds looking on from the left. One holds a recorded whilst a set of bagpipes has been laid on the floor in excitement.

This scene is flanked by two Bishops, who have scrolls which read ‘When thou tookest upon thee to deliver Man’ and ‘thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb’ These are each lines from the Te Deum, a Latin Christian hymn which has associations to St Ambrose and St Augustine, who I would imagine are the Bishop’s depicted.

This window was made by noted stained glass artist Charles Eamer Kempe. He used to ‘sign’ his work by incorporating a small wheatsheaf in to the design.

At the west end of the south aisle there is a three light window which shows St Francis of Assisi, St George and St Hubert. St George is central, dressed in armour, with blue dragon vanquished at his feet.

To the left as we look at it is a sorrowful looking St Francis, the patron saint of animals. Here he carries a cross and a prayer book, with birds surrounding him. St Francis is said to have stigmata, the wounds of Christ’s crucifixion on hands and feet. Those wounds can be seen in this depiction, with each wound having small tongues of light radiating out from them.

St Hubert is the patron saint of hunters and is depicted with stag alongside him. The story of his conversion is interesting.  After the death of his wife, Hubert devoted himself to hunting. One Good Friday morning he was hunting a stag when a crucifix appeared between its antlers, along with a voice from on high which told Hubert to amend his ways or he would go to hell. This is told in a roundel below.


Also included in the glass here is the annunciation, where a golden haired angel Gabriel appears to a similarly golden haired Mary. The Holy Spirit comes down towards Mary in tongues of fire, with angels watching from above. There are also some beautiful depictions of angels; with one in particular catching the eye. This is a female form, holding a cross, with arms folded. She wears an elaborate robe and has stunning golden wings.

    On the north wall of the chancel is a recess in which there is a recumbent effigy of a knight, hands raised in prayer and head resting on a pillow. This is a memorial to Robert De Vere, who fell in battle against the Saracens in 1249 during the Sixth Crusade.

This knight has its legs crossed. There has been much conjecture over the years as to the meaning of this. It is suggested that this means that they went on Crusade and died in the Christian faith. That would certainly be the case here. Others dispute this though and claim that it was just the fashion of the time to carve them in this way. As with many things; the real meaning is probably lost in the mists of time.


    There are a couple of interesting medieval memorial brasses at the east end of the north aisle. One of these shows three adults, one of whom is missing a head. To the side are eight children; with all figures having their hands raised in prayer.

Close by is a brass to a man and woman, again with hands raised in prayer. The inscription on this reads "Here lies 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 descendants.

The church clock is interesting, being given by Lady Elizabeth Germain in 1740, of nearby Drayton House a couple of miles away to the south. There is no clock face here, just a striking mechanism.


I spent a little time in the church grounds, but not as long as I did on a previous visit here, when I got a puncture when entering the village, mending the puncture in the church grounds. I have cycled literally thousands of miles over the years whilst churchcrawling and have forgotten lots of what has happened; but I can remember every puncture that I have had along the way.

There is nothing in the church grounds that has its own Grade II Listing, but the church grounds are of interest. One gravestone, with details weathered away and with a coating of orange, white and black lichen still shows the deaths head; a depiction of a human skull. This was used to remind the onlooker that Man was mortal and will die, so live a good Christian life and do not be caught lacking when your own time comes. And in those days of low life expectancy, it could be later than you think.

One slate gravestone from 1775 contains a beautiful carving of an angel, probably as crisp now as on the day it was carved. This stone is to one John Tebbutt, who passed away at the age of 17, which was by no means uncommon in those days. The lengthy epitaph stating that he was ‘untimely snatch’d away’.

Leaning against the wall of the nave is another deaths head stone; almost totally weathered away and just recognisable by its shape; soon to be lost to us for good.


This church is a favourite of mine and it was good to see it again. Open and welcoming and well worth exploring! 

As mentioned earlier, I also like the setting here, with the church and the pub close together. When I first visited here I thought of how nice it would be to be here on a warm, humid summer evening, thunder rumbling off in the distance. Just to sit outside the pub with a cold drink and an evening meal, enjoying that rare chance to do nothing! A time spent out of the rat race, enjoying watching the world go by in this pleasant Northamptonshire village.

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