EASTON ON THE HILL : CHURCH OF ALL SAINTS.
Church Post Code PE9 3NZ
Usually open to visitors
Easton On The Hill can be found at the extreme eastern tip of North Northamptonshire; in that curious area where Northamptonshire seems to merge in to Rutland, then in to Cambridgeshire then in to Lincolnshire, all within a few minutes.
The tower of All Saints is visible in the distance (to those not driving) from the A1 out across the fields; and is a welcome distraction from Ketton Cement works further north. The village was mentioned during the Domesday Survey of 1086 and is also home to the Priests House, which dates from the 15th century and is owned by the National Trust.
This was a revisit; the return trip with David coming on the most gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon, which was to end up with a very lively evening service at St George at Stamford, David took a look at the Priests House, whilst I wandered around the village taking some long distance shots of the fine perpendicular tower. This is a very beautiful village, with All Saints looking attractive from whichever angle I chose to shoot it from.
The welcome committee was good as well; a friendly border collie wandering over with the almost obligatory ball in his mouth. He was good company for a while, as was his owners to be honest. As is often the case, locals are interested in what we are doing and why we are doing it!
The earliest parts of the present structure date from the 12th century, with building work ongoing here until the 15th century. The church was restored towards the end of the 18th century, with two more periods of restoration during the 19th century. The structure that we see today consists of west tower, nave with north and south aisles and clerestories, South porch, north transept and chancel. There are chapels to north and south.
The west tower is perpendicular in design, and is a five stage affair, with substantial crocketed pinnacles on each corner of the tower, and weather wane on each pinnacle. The tower here is, in my opinion, one of the best to be found within the catchment area of this site.
There are gargoyles of great quality surrounding the tower, including a ‘mooning gargoyle’ of which there are a few scattered around. There is one at Glinton within the catchment area of this site and another at Colsterworth a little further north.
The gargoyle shows its buttocks to those walking up the path leading to the south porch. Unlike the one at Glinton, this one is anatomically correct. Fortunately the tower is very high and the full splendour (if that is the correct word and I almost certain that it isn’t) could only been seen and appreciated (and that is definitely not the correct word!) when the photos were on my computer.
A frieze of repeated quatrefoil design runs around the tower, which is also battlemented and buttressed. The church grounds are a little tight to the south; the best view of the exterior coming from the north.
When North compiled his study of church bells in Northamptonshire in mid Victorian times there were four bells hanging here. The first was made locally in Stamford by Thomas Norris in 1640. The second is of great age, cast by Mellours of Nottingham around 1510.
The third was courtesy of Thomas Eayre I of Kettering. If you really want to bore someone, an interesting fact about him is that, as well as being a bellfounder, he produced the first full scale map of Northamptonshire. I am sure that women would not find this fact of interest at parties; not that I ever get asked to any!
The fourth was another from Norris, with this one having the names R Wheatli and J Browne inscribed on to it.. This latter bell was re-cast by Taylor of Loughborough in 1997, who also added two new bells at that time, making for a ring of six today.
This church was open and inside it was very peaceful and calm. Lighting conditions were ideal as the sun blazed in through the South windows. The south porch dates from the 13th century and the inner doorway is 12th century. There was much rebuilding here in the 1850’s, with the north aisle being rebuilt at that time and the north clerestory being restored during the same period.
There are three bay arcades to north and south of the nave. The walls are whitewashed and there is a large hatchment dated 1826, hanging over the chancel arch. The faded remains of a wall painting can be seen to the south side of this. It appears as if the fittings here date from the restorations of the 18th and 19th centuries, although there is a bench dated 1631.
Turning around and looking to the west, the tower arch is tall and elegant. There is clear glass in the three light west window, but there is coloured glass in the tracery, which was just starting to be caught by the sun as the afternoon wore on and the sun moved over to the west.
The east window of the chancel is of five lights and contains clear glass; the altar below has HIS initialed on to the altar cloth, this being an abbreviation of the word Jesus in Greek. The reredos behind looks to be Victorian and runs the width of the chancel.
There are two gargoyles resting against the north wall of the nave. These date to the 15th century and they have been enjoying retirement since they fell off the tower when it was struck by lightning in 1915
A wall plaque at the east end of the south aisle reads as follows...'Reader beneath interrd doth lye Mary the daughter of Thomas Brudnell Citizen who by her fair will gave ten pound to the poore of Easton. A communion chalice to this church and ten pound to the poore of Ketton where shee first drew breath and here expired it Sept 20 1662' My spell checker did not care for this inscription!
In amongst the other memorials in one to the Skynner family, including Captain Lancelott Skynner R.N. who died in the ship wreck of the Lutine in 1799.
I was also interested to see a plaque, which features several indented shapes, which would, at one time, have contained brasses. There was what appeared to be a knight on horseback, with what may be a dialogue box for whatever Latin text there would have been, extending from it. There is an indent for a coat of arms and a bird flying overhead could be the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. The font is ornate, and is octagonal in design, being covered in shields and tracery.
The church grounds are very large and are very well maintained and there are some delightful views of the church to be seen from the far north of the church grounds. In fact there are beautiful views to be had of this church from all over the village. A couple of very old graves caught my eye. One was worth noting purely for age, this was the grave of Mary, the wife of Rich Michel, and was dated 1642. This would go down as one of the earliest dated graves that I have seen in any church grounds. This is in very good condition as well given the age. Personal gravestones were rare at that time, and I would think that the early gravestones here were for people of means.
Close by stand the graves of Henry Bacon, who died in 1684 and Ellin. Who may have been his wife, who ‘deseced’ in October 1664.
Worth noting is a variation on a theme of the Mortality of Man. A grave with a skull on, with crossed bones behind, is nothing unusual. However, this one had two cherubs, one on either side of the skull, lifting a crown on to the skull. The crown symbolises victory with the victory in question being over death with the soul of the deceased moving forward to eternal life. This stone dates from the mid 18th century and is pretty weathered, but still of great interest.
It was good to see a few people exploring the church grounds and a few inside as well enjoying the church and I hope the peace that goes with it. What a lovely way of spending a Sunday summer afternoon. Pre covid the church here was always open and welcoming.
If you would like to see another photograph of a mooning gargoyle, please click on the photograph of the mooning gargoyle here. This will take you to the page for St Benedict, Glinton. The local legend there states that the stonemason carved this gargoyle exposing his buttocks and aimed it in a direct line towards Peterborough Cathedral to register his displeasure and being underpaid for his work! This page will open up in another window.