A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PARISH CHURCH OF ST. PETER. CLOPTON
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St. Peter's was built in 1862 but in order to appreciate the present building it is helpful to understand a little of the history of Clopton and, in particular, the Parish Church.
The old Parish Church stood to the southwest of Clopton Manor. Today. its graveyard contains graves going back as far as the 1 tb century. Nothing of the old church remains there but several monuments and parts of the fabric were used in the present church.
We are lucky that before it was pulled down, Sir Henry Dryden. of Canons Ashby, made a record of it. Further drawings of the church were also made in a report prepared in 1862 by one S. Moore: a copy of this document can be viewed by appointment with the Churchwardens.
It appears that there was originally, a Saxon church, constructed of timber on the site which Sir William de Clopton (formerly de Graunthorst) who built the first Clopton Manor, rebuilt in stone around 1150. His brother Reginald became the first rector of Clopton around 1180.
When the new church was built, parts of the old piers were used for the new aisle and the old north chapel window was rebuilt as the new east window of the chancel. An article at the time of its building noted that the new edifice had been raised principally of the stone from the old church with the window dressings, tracery, quoins etc., and all pillars and arch stones, having been used again, ending that"... the whole being kept as near as possible to the spirit of the mother church."
Several monuments were transferred to the new church. Those of the Dudley family did not survive the move although that of a 17th century rector. William Breton did. It is worth noting the monument to female members of the WiJ1iams family: Dame Judith Williams (died 1754) wife of Sir Hutchins Williams and Mary Williams (died 1756) her daughter. TI1eir monument, with its two medallion portraits was re-fixed to the north wall of the new church. A smaller oval plaque situated in the south wa11 of the nave is to the memory of Anne, wife of Sir Booth Williams who died in 1799.
Also removed from the old to the new church were stone effigies, being all that remains of the large Dudley monument in the old church, These are of Sir Edward Dudley, who died in 1632 aged 62 and his wife EJizabeth.3 TI1cse effigies were transferred from the old church to the tower of the new church and it was not until the 1950s that they were restored and moved to the north aisle of the new church where they can now be seen. Considerably older is another stone refugee from the old church: a stone coffin of around 1200. This was apparently sunk into the north transept of the old church. The coffin is decorated with some uncommon features: the large end ornamented with a lion and flowers and the lid with beast and foliage edged with dog-tooth.
The new church is late 13th century in style. It was built by Richard Armstrong of London for the then Lord of the Manor. William Peere Williams-Freeman and consecrated on 3rd July 1863.