LUTTON : CHURCH OF ST PETER

Church Post Code  PE8 5ND

The church here is usually open to visitors

An open church is an important Christian witness, and  the church of St Peter has been open on each occasion that I have visited, except for the times when covid restrictions were in force. An open safe place, just to sit and be, when life gets tough!

    Some of you know the struggles that I have gone through over the years. When things got too much there was one of two points of call to escape to; the church of St Mary at Haddon and the church of St Peter at Lutton. Both always open, welcoming and a refuge when the storms going on within your head get a little too much to cope with.

    The church of St Peter was one of the first churches that I visited when deciding to set up this site back in the Autumn of 2006.Over the years, it has become a favourite place of mine, both to visit and as a rest stop on the way home from far flung places that I used to cycle to before age started to catch up with me.

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This a delightful place, particularly in the spring when the daffodils are out.  The old red telephone box on the opposite side of the road from the church has a Grade II listing in its own right.

Fond memories of taking in an evening prayer service on a Sunday evening, on a warm summer evening. Part way through the service a group of young Polish land workers came in, ready to worship after their days work. We all spilled out in to the grounds after the service had ended. I spent a lovely time with a young lad who was working for a year to save up some money for his future career. I then moved on, hoping to impress a young Polish woman with my grasp of her language. Fantastic kids! The churches are beautiful and historic, but it is not all about the churches, it is about the people that you meet on the way and the memories formed!

    The church of St Peter is situated at a junction to the west of the village, with Great Gidding four miles or so to the South,  Polebrook  and Oundle are off to the West. There are some lovely old cottages to be found in Lutton, with a Grade II listed thatched cottage immediately to the west of the church catching the eye.

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    The church, which sits on raised ground, consists of west tower, nave with north and south aisles and clerestories, south porch and chancel. The west tower is heavily buttressed and battlemented. Gargoyles peer out from all four corners.  The chancel is quite long, looking to me a little out of proportion with the rest of the building; with a bricked in window to the east. Moving over and looking at the church from the north, there are no windows on the north side of the chancel at all. A small piece of carved Saxon interlaced sculpture is re-set in to the north wall of the tower.

     It is thought that no part of St Peter dates from earlier than 1220 AD. The chancel and the north arcade is thought to date from then, with the south arcade dating from the end of the 13th century. The tower dates from 15th century, and houses a ring of four bells. All of these were made by the Stamford bellfoundry, with three being cast by Tobias Norris in 1604, 1610 and 1619. The former of these three was subsequently re-cast and is one of the earliest bells that was made by Norris. He cast bells at Wadenhoe, Tydd St Giles and Sutton St James in 1603, when he was about 17 years old, and the bell at Lutton, and at neighbouring Warmington, were cast in the following year. The other bell was cast by Tobias Norris III in 1682, this bell also being re-cast at a later date.

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    Moving inside, there is a real sense of peace. This is a quiet, beautiful place to spend some time. Most of the jewels to be found inside this church are in the chancel, and come in the shape of monuments to the Apreece family. Monuments to this family appear on North and South walls of the chancel.

        Many years ago there used to be a church standing at nearby Washingley. This village was decimated during the plague, and the church was believed to have fell in to disrepair and was pulled down, with building materials being taken to Lutton and Yaxley. No trace remains. Some say that two of the monuments in the chancel at St Peter might have been removed to here from Washingley. Certainly, the Apreece brothers lived in Washingley, and possibly the bricked up window on the south wall of the chancel might indicate that memorials were brought back to the church here and inserted against that wall.

 The monuments against the south wall of the chancel is to one Adlard Apreece. He kneels against a prayer desk, dressed in armour and with hands raised in prayer. Below him are two carvings of human skulls; reminding the onlooker that Man is mortal and will die. In symbol form, this puts over the same message that is written in text on a floor slab, which I will come to in a moment.

On the north wall of the chancel is another monument to the Apreece family, three generations of the Apreece family have been lined up in silent prayer for more than 380 years, this monument being installed in the church in 1633. These three figures face outwards, looking at the onlooker across the chancel rather than facing east.

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There is no stained glass in the church here. The altar is plain and tasteful; with a cross and candlesticks supplemented by a Bible open at the page of the day. On the north wall of the chancel is the remains of an Easter Sepulchre; a rare survival as these were hated by the reformers and were mainly destroyed.

    Several carved heads can be seen in the nave. At the entrance to the chancel, a female head with one sightless eye looks down the nave, this being beautifully lit by the sun which streamed in through the south windows. High up on the north wall of the nave, a squat figure with huge nose and a bulbous stomach, crouches down. At the west end of the nave, a head with mouth open in anguished scream, has doubtless given nightmares to the local children for the last few hundred years!

  A floor slab caught the eye, to the wonderfully named Wildbore Rowles Wilkinson, who died in April 1811 aged 30 years. The script at the bottom of the slab reads 'Take ye heed, watch and pray, for ye know not when the Lord calleth'

   A glance upwards will show carved angels and ceiling bosses in the roof of the nave. One figure, with sightless eyes, holds a chalice. One further holds a cross, which appears to have been broken and repaired in the past.

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  The church grounds are well cared for; being built up high, so that the ground level is at the level of the top of the church wall. This gives an uninterrupted view across the grounds to the church.

 There are some very finely carved gravestones, dating back to the eighteenth century, without there being anything of any great interest or rarity. Some fond memories of summer afternoons spent in the ground here, enjoying the sun on my back and just listening to the buzz of the bees. 

    It is always good to visit here. One of my favourite churches in the area. Well worth looking at if you can.

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If you would like to see the page for this visit to neighbouring Hemington, please click on the photograph above right to be directed there.