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Church Post Code NN17 3JY

Usually closed to visitors


September 2019, and it was English Heritage Ride and Stride Day. This event had been blighted by the weather in recent years. Two years before I was caught in a thunderstorm walking between Peakirk and Glinton and the following year I abandoned my ride and stride part way through, being caught in a downpour at Horncastle in Lincolnshire. The latter was probably the foulest day that I had ever been out with the camera. Astonishingly, though, the 2019 event was held in gloriously sunny conditions.

I first visited the church of St Mary The Virgin, Weldon, on New Year’s Day 2007, on the way back from seeing Stamford football club play Corby Town in the Southern League. It had been an early kick off and light was just starting to fade, on what had been a dull and bitterly cold day. The church was closed that day, and on a couple of other occasions subsequently, and it was really good to see the church open this time, and manned with some friendly stewards.


Weldon is to be found on the eastern outskirts of Corby, a couple of miles from the town centre. The village has some considerable history, being mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1087. The population at the time of the 2011 census was a little over 2000. Some new housing estates had been built since my last visit so that is liable to have increased accordingly. The church is set back a little from the main road through the village.

Despite the main road running from Oundle to Corby being a short distance away, it was quiet and peaceful in the church grounds.  I entered the church grounds from the north side, through a narrow bridge over a small brook.

The church that we see today dates mainly from the late 13th and 14th centuries. The south porch dates from the 15th century. The west tower was rebuilt in the 18th century and a north chapel was added in 1862.The roofs were restored during the 19th and 20th centuries.

    A quick look at the exterior shows a west tower, nave with north and south aisles, clerestory, north chapel, chancel and south porch. An octagonal lantern sits atop the tower. A church clock sits on the south face of the tower, a sundial immediately above it. The nave, clerestory and south porch are all battlemented.

 Gargoyles of some age and quality can be seen running the length of the nave and clerestory to north and south; mainly mythical beasts crouching against the walls, but with the odd human figure thrown in.

This is not a big church, the clerestory is a mere three windows long, but it is very beautiful, with the view of the church from the south being very picturesque, with the church nestling in front of a background of trees.


 The west tower has what appears to be gunshot marks embedded in the stonework. My original thought was marks made by English Civil War musket balls, like at Yaxley near to Peterborough, but this is certainly not the case as the present tower was, as mentioned earlier, re-built during the 18th century. The guides on duty suggested that it was liable to have been American troops who were in the area during the Second World War. A plain pinnacle stands at each corner of the tower, with a plain parapet running along all four sides. A two light window can be seen in all four walls of the tower.

It is suggested that the lantern atop the tower was used as an aid to navigation in the days when the village here was contained within Rockingham Forest. This was part of a royal retreat, encompassing an area of 200 square miles; being used as a royal Hunting ground by William I after the Norman Conquest.

When Thomas North compiled his Victorian study of the church bells of Northamptonshire, which was printed in 1878, he noted a ring of six bells here, all cast by Peterborough founder Henry Penn in 1710.

Each bell has a Latin inscription has a Latin inscription, which when translated read, in order ‘Second to none’ ‘Go first I will follow’  ‘Thrice happily and yet more’  ‘Our tongues are with us who can contradict us’  ‘Each in its own order’ and ‘Final crowning work’ with this sixth of the ring includes the name Henry Goode, the rector of the day.


    Moving inside and I was well looked after. The kettle was on and I spent an enjoyable time looking around the interior with a cuppa and chatting with the three ladies on duty. It was bright and welcoming inside, and the sunlight was creating some beautiful multi coloured patterns through the stained glass.  

The walls are whitewashed and much of the fittings here look to date from Victorian restoration. Much of the interior dates to the late 13th century. There are three bay arcades to north and south leading to a pointed chancel arch; a chancel screen separating nave from chancel. The tower arch is rounded. The chancel has a double sedilia and piscina against the south wall.

The east window shows the ascension, a fine depiction with Christ, depicted with red and gold nimbus, and with crucifixion wounds visible on hand and feet, rising up with the 11 disciples below (this was after Judas had departed and before Matthias was elected in his place. Angels play musical instruments above and on either side, angels point upwards towards Heaven. The altar is plain and simple with the top being covered up with plastic which made me wonder if there was a slight issue with bats here.


An altar is set at the east end of the south aisle, which also has a medieval sedilia and double piscina against the south wall. To the left of the altar is an image niche with steep triangular crocketed head. This contains a modern statue of the Virgin and child.

There is lots of stained glass here, with some of great age and interest. The oldest glass is medieval, and can be seen in the north aisle. This features an exquisite depiction of a priest at prayer at the bottom, with three roundels above it, one of which shows a man drinking from a communion cup. At the top of this window is the coat of arms of the Bassett family. The glass here dates back to the 13th century. Just a quick aside here, to mention of the eclectic nature of the north aisle here. Close by this ancient glass is a drum kit, used for the more contemporary services held here.

    A window in the west wall of the tower is also of great interest. This is Flemish, dating from the 16th century and depicts the Adoration of The Magi. An inscription below the window shows that this was given by Lord Nelson to Sir William Hamilton. He was the wife of Emma Hamilton, mistress of Lord Nelson.

The window at the east end of the south aisle is a depiction of the nativity. This is a window by Charles Kempe, a prolific stained glass designer and manufacturer whose work can be seen in Lichfield and Wakefield cathedrals, as well Australia and Canada. Kempe’s company mark was the wheatsheaf, which he incorporated in to his designs until his death in 1907.

    Close by is another Victorian stained glass design, this one, in bright and vibrant colours, illustrates one of Paul’s missionary visits from Acts. Much more recent is a modern abstract depiction of the movement of the Holy Spirit; with the spirit falling in the form of a dove and in tongues of flame.

The sunshine through stained glass cast some attractive patterns across a wall plaque to Christopher Vivian, Gent, who died on Christmas Eve 1685. Close by a grotesque human head looks on sternly


I wandered back out in to the interesting church grounds.  There are a large number of Georgian gravestones to be seen, with many being finely carved. Having said that though, there is nothing of great importance to be found. Three chest tombs, with one dating from the mid17th century and the other two being early 18th century, all have a Grade II listing. I don’t photograph modern graves, I am just interested in the older stones, but one modern gravestone raised a smile with a charming depiction of a garden spade with a Robin perched on it!

   I spent a little time looking in detail at the gargoyles. As mentioned at the start of this piece, some of them have shown the ravages of time, with one low down on the south porch being partially destroyed, just a pair of legs being left. A little graffiti can be seen, although nothing of any great interest. It is worth noting though that a set of initials has the date 1862 underneath it. This was the date of the north chapel being added. Perhaps we have a builder leaving his mark on completion of the work?

This is a lovely church and it was great to be able to see inside after so many years. It is always good to be able to take part in Ride and Stride day, even if it was on the bus, and this was to be the last one proper for a time as covid was rear its ugly head a few months later. The cuppa served in a china cup and some good company for a time also helped this to be a pleasant time spent. I was gradually heading towards Northampton and the next point of call was Isham, where I was to renew acquaintance with the rude lady of Isham; a rather explicit carving which I was told had offended Victorian sensibilities back in the day; not that that took a lot of doing!

    The church here is normally kept closed to visitors, but is well worth taking a look at if you are in the area and get the chance. I was also told that a local café does a fine cooked breakfast so a return visit is definitely called for at some point.

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