Parish of King's Cliffe

 

The Parish of King's Cliffe is part of the Benefice of King's Cliffe, Bulwick and Blatherwycke, Collyweston, Easton-on-the-Hill and Laxton. Our Vicar is Revd Philip Davies. Further information can be found by clicking on the buttons above.

King’s Cliffe is a living village with schools, shops, a surgery, community centre and village hall. The worshipping community of the Church seeks to serve the village through its worship, witness and pastoral care.

The village currently has a population of approximately a thousand people with a lively church-going community. There are also artists and musicians who live here and organise events and exhibitions which everyone can join in. The word “King’s” indicates a historical connection with the crown and the name “Cliffe” is an old English word meaning a slope or the bank of a river.

The village is set in Rockingham Forest which covers a large area of Northamptonshire and which was at one time a Royal hunting ground. In the 11th Century the royal manor was called Clive and both King John and his son Henry III came to stay at the royal hunting lodge.

 

All Saints and Saint James Church stands on an imposing site with the east wall of the chancel facing Hall Yard. The present rectory is a fine Georgian building which was formerly a mill house.

King's Cliffe Church

The tower is the earliest part of the church, built in the first half of the 12th century. The broach spire was added in the 13th century and the rest of the church dates mainly from the 15th century. There may have been an earlier Saxon church on this site, round headed windows can be observed in the north and south walls of the tower with their Saxon-style centre shafts and capitals. Similar windows have been blocked in the east and west walls. The west window can be seen from the nave high over the west chancel arch. Also note the Barnack stone quoins on the exposed north-east corner of the tower adjacent to the little outside door.

King's Cliffe Church Interior

The great east end of the Chancel was built in the 13th century replacing the earlier Norman chancel and nave. The north chancel wall was built slightly to the north of the original Norman line and the eastern chancel arch was built wider than the western arch so that the chancel axis was moved slightly to the north. The fine moulded column in the north west corner bearing an arch respond indicates preparation for a small chapel on the north side of the chancel. Subsequently this north west corner was re-modelled to provide the through passage to the north transept and an external mock buttress was built against the north transept to accommodate the passage which could also have been used for viewing the elevation of the host at the high altar. On the south side of the high altar can be seen the piscina which would have been used for pouring away unwanted sanctified water.

The majority of the chancel was rebuilt in the late 15th century and it is hard to miss the fine late 19th century leaded glass window in the great east end. Inside the chancel there is a brass plate to Samuel Wyman (1700), a woolstapler which reads:

“Know Reader that in dust I lie,
That as you are now, so once was I,
And as I am so must you be,
Therefore prepare to follow me”.

The Bells In the bell tower behind the louvres of the gabled lucarnes there are six bells ranging from treble to tenor. It was popularly supposed that the daily bells were for the guidance of keepers, woodmen, charcoal - burners and farm workers, but more likely they were for the daily offices of the church from ancient times. Until about the year 1932 the fourth bell, which was then the third, (note A) was rung daily in summer at 7 a.m., winter at 8 a.m., then at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.. At 8 p.m. the curfew was rung on the fifth (note G), which was then the fourth bell. This one is the oldest original bell, inscribed ‘ William Heywood, Henrie Thorpe, 1592 ’.

The Font is situated by the door of the north porch. It dates from the 13th Century, and was renovated and resited in 182 and 1897. The Nave was rebuilt in the 13th century and in the external west wall can be seen the lines of the steep pitched roof above the great west window. At the eastern end of the nave, above the arch can be seen a doorway which would have led out onto a balcony above the rood or painted screen. In medieval times there would have been squint holes in the screen to enable worshippers to watch the elevation on the host. Altars would have been placed at convenient places by the eastern walls of the church. The finely carved pulpit was made out of 15th century woodwork from Fotheringhay church in 1818.

The Porches It is unusual for a church to have two porches. The royal hunting lodge of King John was on the south side of the church and indeed the village may have also been sited on this side. However there was a great fire in Kings Cliffe between 1450 and 1480 and the village may have been rebuilt on the north side as it is today. The north porch provides ready access from the church to the village and inside a lozenge is inscribed ‘1663 LTTR’ indicating a possible rebuilding date. Originally built in the 15th century the porch subsequently became a monument to Charles Attkins who died in 1802 having served Kings Cliffe as an apothecary for 33 years. The south porch is built in a similar style but without windows and dates from the 15th century. On the east side of the entrance arch indentations for a 15th century brass Kneeling male figure are visible.

William Law King’s Cliffe’s most distinguished son, was born in the village in 1686; son of the grocer, Thomas Law. He was a fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge and took Holy Orders, but had to resign his Fellowship as he felt it wrong to take the Oath of Allegiance to George I. He then became a leading “Non-Juror”. William Law was an important theologian whose major work “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life” is still read today. He retired to King’s Cliffe in 1740 - to the house that is now Hall Farm in Hall Yard - and established charitable foundations including schools and almshouses. He died in 1761 and is buried in the churchyard, overlooking Hall Yard. His library is in the Northamptonshire Public Records Office and contains 187 books.