Saint Andrew’s Church History

The Grade 1 listed parish church of St. Andrew is located to the east of the village at the end of a long avenue of trees.  It is adjacent to the River Nene and the churchyard has been built up over time to form a terrace which surrounds the church.  It contains graves both old and new and the villagers greatly respect those that have gone before in this place.

The church consists of a chancel and a nave with aisles; a west tower, a south porch and a north vestry.  The bell tower houses five bells dating from 1708; some were recast by Taylor’s of Loughborough in 1889 and Taylor’s did some remedial work on the bell frame in April of  2015.

The earliest part of the fabric consists of two small areas of herringbone masonry at the eastern ends of the north and south walls of the nave; they may date from the late 11th or early 12th century.  In the Norman period a west tower was added.  In the 13th century arcades and aisles were added to the nave.  Also in the 13th century but somewhat later the present belfry stage was constructed.

During the second quarter of the 14th century the chancel was totally rebuilt on a large scale to accommodate a college of priests founded in 1338.  This college of priests had a provost and twelve chaplains.  The college prospered until the late 15th century when it was stripped of its lands and with only three priests remaining by 1500 was formally dissolved by Henry VIII in 1536.  This was one of the largest (probably the largest) of these collegiate chantry churches in England – only about 70 ever existed and almost all were abolished during the reign of Edward VI as part of the Reformation.  Only three survive, including St George’s Chapel, Windsor and Westminster Abbey. Our large 14th century chancel is without doubt the most outstanding feature of the Church and against the south wall, there is a fine brass above the grave of Robert Wyntryngham, provost of the college of priests of Cotterstock who died in 1420.

In the 15th century the porch was constructed and buttresses were added to the tower.  The porch has embattled parapets, gargoyles and diagonal buttresses terminating with figures of heraldic beasts and on the gable is a chained dragon.  Bosses on the ceiling are carved with symbols of the evangelists and centrally, the Trinity.  Great changes to the fabric of the church took place in 1876-8 when the Victorians ‘restored’ it.  Plaster was stripped off throughout, revealing that rubble had been used instead of cut stone when the chancel was added, hence the application of ‘tuck pointing’ to try to improve the look of the walls.
 
The floor in front of the altar was lowered before it was tiled, and the memorial tablets were removed from the chancel walls to the bell tower.  As well as a number of curious carved stone heads around the church there are carved wooden bosses in the chancel roof including a ‘green man’.  Pew ends, both in the nave and chancel, are beautifully carved with no two patterns the same.  The gargoyles around the outside of the church and porch are decorated with grotesque animals, including a monkey; sadly all have suffered badly over time from erosion.

St Andrew’s is cared for as a place of worship and distinctive heritage for the community and beyond and is maintained in a good state of repair. Apart from the addition of exterior floodlighting in 2012, there have been no major works to the Church during the last few years.  In the near future it will be necessary to do extensive work on the bell frame when funding permits.