St Peter, Northampton, Northamptonshire
- Site Location
- National Grid Reference
- SP 750 604
now: Peterboroughfrom 1539
now (or name of monument): St Peter
- Type of building/monument
- Parish church
II General Description
St Peter's is the finest 12thc. church in the county, and its capital sculpture is one of the highlights of the Romanesque in England. There is no structural division between nave and chancel, and the exterior treatment is uniform throughout the length of the building except for the low W tower. Nave and chancel are aisled and decorated externally at clerestorey level with blind arcading and a corbel table. Within there is no chancel arch; the division between nave and chancel being marked by a low step and the position of the choirstalls. The chancel arcades are of three bays, and both aisles are now used as vestries. In both nave and chancel the clerestorey windows are fairly regularly spaced, but their spacing is greater than a bay but less than two, so their positions vary in relation to the piers. The chancel has no provision for vaulting or roof support whereas in the nave every second pier has a respond on the nave side, running up the wall to a capital at the top, and a transverse arch respond on the aisle side. The nave aisle arches are gone now, but arch springings are sometimes visible. Intermediate piers are cylindrical. The nave arcades are five bays long (two and a half double bays), and the beginning of another bay at the W end of either arcade indicates that the nave was originally longer. It was shortened from six bays in the 17thc. when the W tower was rebuilt approximately 3m E of its original position. There are N and S nave doorways, the N under a porch.
The original tower arch was rebuilt, and shows some inaccuracies in assembly. The present tower is three storeys high with a battlemented parapet, and the western angles are buttressed by triple shafts, their diameters diminishing in stages. The middle storey is decorated with arcading and corbels, some dating from the rebuilding and some reused from the original tower or perhaps from the removed W bays of the nave clerestorey. Reset in the W wall of the tower is the arch of the original W doorway. The church is built of blocks of roughly coursed reddish sandstone (ironstone) and yellowish oolitic limestone. These are laid in decorative bands in the lower part of the tower, and there is some decorative alternation in the external blind arcading of nave and chancel, although this may not be original. Within, the lighter limestone is used throughout, except for the arches of the arcade, which use both more or less decoratively. In the 17thc. the nave was shortened by one bay, the tower being rebuilt as described above, and at the same time the original E end was demolished and a wall built across the chancel in line with the E responds of the arcade. The present E end was added by G. G. Scott in his restoration of 1850, apparently following the original foundations. Scott's E facade incorporates a central shaft with a 12thc. capital. He also rebuilt much of the clerestorey and replaced the roofs. Scott's restoration report is published in Serjeantson (1904), 259-64. In addition to the 12thc. fabric described above, St Peter's houses several loose carved stones and an important grave-slab.
III Exterior Features
(i) S nave doorway
Round-headed, of two orders. First order. Plain jambs and arch with hollow chamfered imposts with a roll at the bottom of the face. Second order. En-delit nook-shafts on tall attic bases. The capitals are double scalloped with wedges between the cones and little remaining of the plain neckings. Imposts are as the first order. The arch is plain and square in section. The label is quirked hollow chamfered without stops.
|h. of opening||2.33 m|
|w. of opening||1.21 m|
(ii) N nave doorway
Round-headed, of two orders, under porch. First order. Plain and continuous. Second order. En-delit nook- shafts. Only the E base survives, and that is worn to a lump. Capitals are worn too, but both were of the same design and the E is better preserved. It is of triple scallop form, with two rows of shields on each face and an angle cone shared between the faces. The abacus is very tall and square, and the necking is plain and square. Imposts have a hollow chamferbelow a face with a rolled upper edge. The arch is plain and square in section. The label is quirked hollow chamfered, cut off at the ends by the walls of the porch.
|h. of opening||2.43 m|
|w. of opening||1.07 m|
(iii) W doorway
Round-headed. A decorative arch constructed of 12thc. carved voussoirs has been set above the rectangular W tower window. It consists of three orders of archivolts, but they are all set flush with the wall, and surrounded by a 17thc. label.
First order. An angle roll carved with two-strand cable, and outside this on the face a row of cusping in the form of stilted pointed arches lying over a fat roll with the tips of their straight stilts resting on the cable angle roll. This is therefore a form of the decoration described by Heslop as beaker clasp, and in this case each voussoir is carved with two halves of adjacent cusps rather than with individual cusps. The cusping is worn but has a moulded profile of an angle roll and face hollow.
Second order (21 voussoirs). Voussoirs are almost square, and each is carved in relief with a saltire interlaced with a central square. The square fields produced by this lattice are carved with four-pointed stars in relief. There are two variations to this scheme. Voussoir 4 has no stars, and voussoir 21 is rectangular and carved with two units of the pattern.
1. Radial leaf design. Voussoirs 1, 3, 5, 19, 21, 23. The design is centred on eight stems radiating regularly from the centre. Four terminate in ovate leaves with their tips at the angles of the voussoir. The alternate four open into buds flanked by lanceolate leaves that fill each of the triangular fields between the main leaves. The central spokes are interlaced with an annulet.
2. Four trefoil design. Voussoirs2, 4, possibly 10 (damaged), 22. The voussoir is carved with a saltire in relief, each arn splitting into three at the end, a central leaf terminal and stems that curve to either side, meeting a similar stem from the adjacent arm in a cusp and thus forming heart-shaped fields between the arms of the cross. Each of these is filled by a trefoil suspended from the cusp.
3. Four-arc cross in square. Voussoir 6. An open cross is made up of four intersecting quadrants, each centred on a corner of the voussoir. The arcs are slender fillets, reeded or beaded. A similar small annulet, centred on the centre of the cross, interlaces with the arcs of the cross about halfway out, and outside this a similar square interlaces through the tips of the cross.
4. Four-arc cross in double ring. Voussoirs 7, 8, 9, 13, 15, 17. An open cross is constructed of four intersecting semicircular arcs, each centred at the midpoint of one of the edges of the voussoir. Surface treatment of the arcs is as 3. Two concentric circles, similarly treated and centred on the centre of the voussoir, interlace with the arcs of the cross.
6. Saltire in square with leaf terminals. Voussoirs 16, 20. As 5, but the central square is made up of four straight stems, each ending in a leaf. Four further leaves terminate the arms of the intersecting saltire.
7. Looped cross in square. Voussoir 18. Similar to type 3, but the loops forming the cross are not compass-drawn, there is no intersecting annulet, and the corners of the intersecting square are embellished with leaves.
3. Exterior Decoration
a. String courses
(i) Tower N wall, top of first storey
Two rows of single-roll lozengestring course, the fields raised in pyramids. The two rows are carved on limestone courses, separated by a plain course of sandstone. They are not true lozenges, but overlapping rows of chevron. Their condition suggests that they date from the 17thc. rebuilding of the tower.
(ii) Tower S wall, top of first storey
(iii) Tower W wall, below arcading
Sawtooth string course, probably entirely 17thc.
(i) Nave and chancel, N wall at clerestorey level
The wall arcade is divided into seven bays (here numbered from left to right (E-W)) by the clerestorey windows. Each bay of five or six arches is carried on en-delit shafts and capitals except at the ends of the bays, which have plain embrasures and quirked hollow chamfered imposts. The arches are round headed and unmoulded, made of voussoirs in a mixture of limestone and red sandstone towards the E end, but predominantly of limestone in bays 5, 6 and 7. The clerestorey wall was rebuilt by Scott; the arches are all his work, but some of the capitals, shafts and bases were reused. In the following descriptions only the 12thc. work is described in detail.
Bay 1 (E): All by Scott. Five arches on cylindrical en-delit shafts, capitals all double scalloped with wedges between the cones and plain chamfered neckings, tall bases with a fat roll below a hollow, impostscarved from the same block as the capital, with a quirk below the face.
Bay 2: Six arches. All by Scott except capitals 4 and 5, and such bases as are visible (1, 2 and 3) which are of the design used by Scott elsewhere. Capital 4: Red sandstone, double scallop with integral quirked chamfered impost Capital 5: Limestone, double scallop with convex wedges between the cones. Integral chamfered impost, with three steps to the front chamfer, each carved with billet in phase rather than alternating. Possibly 17thc.
Bay 3: Six arches. Capitals apparently original, all of limestone with integral imposts as before, and all double scalloped, capitals 1 and 2 with angle tucks and wedges between the cones; capital 3 with angle wedges; capitals 4 and 5 with angle tucks and no wedges.
Bay 4: Six arches. Capitals apparently original, all of limestone with integral imposts as before, and all double scalloped. Capital 2 has angle tucks; the others have wedges between the cones and at the angles.
Bay 6: Five arches. Capitals apparently original, all of limestone with integral imposts as before, and all double scalloped. Capitals 1-3 with wedges between the cones and at the angles, capital 4 with angle tucks and no wedges.
(ii) Nave and chancel, S wall at clerestorey level.
Bay 3: Five arches. Capitals 1 and 3 by Scott as those in bays 1-2. Capital 2 similar but the capital is lower and the impost taller with a chamfer and a roll at the bottom of the face. Capital 4 may be original; it is a plain double scallop with angle tucks.
Bay 5: Six arches. Capitals all original: Capital 1: limestone double scallop with wedges on the cones and the lower edges of the shields outlined by a groove. The integral impost has a hollow chamfer and a low roll at the bottom of the face. Capital 2: sandstone double scallop with wedges between the cones. Impost as capital 1. Capital 3: limestone multi-scallop (four scallops on main face, three on sides). Impostas capitals 1 and 2 but taller and with a more vertical chamfer. Capital 4: limestone double scallop with angle tucks and conical wedges between the cones. The impost has a chamfer and a hollow partway up the face. Capital 5: limestone double scallop, too worn to discern details and with the top of the impost replaced by a square block.
Bay 6: Six arches, only capitals 1 and 3 original. Capital 1: sandstone double scallop with angle tucks and conical wedges between the cones. The impost has a chamfer and a low roll at the bottom of the face. Capital 3: limestone double scallop with wedges between the cones. The impost has a slender quirked chamfer.
Bay 7: Five arches, all by Scott.
(iii) W tower, N face, second storey, upper arcade.
Round headed and of seven arches, the arches with angle rolls and face hollows; the supports are all octagonal en-delit shafts on worn bulbous bases. Construction is entirely of limestone. Capitals have roll neckings and worn integral imposts.
Capital 1 (E): double scallop with wedges between the cones and a badly damaged NW angle.
Capital 2: cushion with angle tucks.
Capital 3: double scallop with angle tucks.
Capital 4: double scallop with angle tucks and wedges between the cones.
Capital 5: sheathed double scallop.
Capital 6: double scallop with angle tucks and wedges between the cones.
Capital 7: cushion with angle tucks.
Capital 8: badly damaged.
(iv) W tower, N face, second storey, lower arcade
Round-headed and of seven arches, the arches unmoulded; the supports all cylindrical en-delit shafts on worn bulbous bases. Construction is entirely of limestone. Capitals have roll neckings and worn imposts of differing heights with a quirked chamfer and a broad low roll occupying most of the face.
Capital 2: double scallop with sheathed cones.
Capital 4: double scallop with double sheathed cones.
Capital 5: damaged double scallop with angle tucks.
Capital 6: double scallop with sheathed cones.
Capital 7: double scallop with sheathed cones.
Capital 8: double scallop with angle tucks.
(v) W tower, W face, second storey
Round-headed and of eight arches, the arches with angle rolls and face hollows; the supports all octagonal en-delit shafts on worn or replaced bulbous bases. Construction is entirely of limestone. Capitals have roll neckings and all imposts have been replaced.
Capital 1 (N): damaged double scallop with sheathed cones.
Capital 2: double scallop with fluted angles.
Capital 3: double scallop with double wedges between cones.
Capital 4: double scallop with sheathed cones.
Capital 5: worn triple scallop.
Capital 6: double scallop with no shields, all edges straight and sheathed cones, probably a replacement.
Capital 7: worn double scallop with wedges between cones.
Capital 8: badly worn scallop capital.
Capital 9: double scallop with sheathed cones.
(v) W tower, S face, second storey upper arcade
Round headed and of six arches, the arches with angle rolls and face hollows; the supports all octagonal en-delit shafts on worn or replaced bulbous bases. Construction is entirely of limestone. Capitals have roll neckings and imposts are worn (1, 4, 9) or replaced. Capital 2 is a replacement.
Capital 1 (W): worn or damaged cushion capital.
Capital 3: badly damaged cushion capital with angle tucks.
Capital 4: cushion capital with angle tucks.
Capital 5: double scallop with angle tucks.
Capital 6: double scallop capital.
Capital 7: worn and cushion capital, set askew.
c. Corbel tables, corbels
(i) Reused capital on E façade
Scott's E façade includes a central applied half-column extending to the top of the second storey and capped by a reused 12thc. capital. It is of volute design with a damaged motif on the main face between the volutes, and below this a triple fluted leaf form with scalloped upper edge rising from the broken roll necking. The impost block is chamfered with worn foliage scroll motifs in relief on face and chamfer. Capital and impost are of yellow stone, and the impost is now protected by a lead cap.
(i) Nave and chancel, N wall
The corbels below the eavesdo not correspond to the bays of arcading below them, and are thus continuously numbered from L (east) to R. Several corbels are obvious replacements and this is indicated in the descriptions, but there has been more than one campaign of replacement. The older replacements presumably date from Scott's restoration, but others are very recent. No attempt has been made to distinguish between different campaigns of replacement. Original corbels are of ironstone or the yellowish limestone; the replacements of grey stone.
N2. Ram's head with spiral horns alongside head. Replacement (copy of S51).
N3. Dog's head, worn. Yellow stone.
N4. A pair of bat-like heads with very long ears. Replacement.
N5. Wide-mouthed demon's head. Replacement.
N6. Worn dog's head. Ironstone.
N7. Tau cross with horizontal bobbin. Replacement.
N8. Grotesque head with prominent teeth. Replacement.
N9. Dog's head. Replacement.
N10. Human head with beard and moustache. Replacement.
N11. Horse's head with bridle. Replacement.
N12. Inverted step-pyramid. Yellow stone.
N13. Human head with small straight mouth and pointed chin. Ironstone.
N14. Tau cross, the vertical stem pierced by a stepped tapered bobbin. Grey stone.
N15. Triangular beast head with pointed chin, long pointed ears and a single pointed horn between the ears. Ironstone.
N16. Pair of heads; the left human and elongated with crude features and round mouth on the lower face of the corbel. The right broken and worn but with beast's ears surviving. Ironstone.
N17. Bat like head with long pointed ears, damage to the snout. Ironstone.
N18. Schematic grotesque head. Ironstone.
N19. Grotesque head with large slanted almond eyes. Yellow stone.
N20. Lion head with eyes carved as spitals, small pointed ears and mane at brow. Yellow stone.
N21. Round sheeplike head with small round ears. Yellow stone.
N23. Horse's head with bridle. Yellow stone.
N24 Human head with very broad brow and narrow pointed chin. Small open mouth, almond eyes, straight nose and long thin moustache. Yellow stone.
N25. Lion's head with pointed ears. Yellow stone.
N26. Spherical motif with folds of fabric to left and right and a major vertical crack. Yellow stone.
N27. Grotesque beast head with pointed ears, straight nose and bulging eyes. Ironstone.
N28. Very narrow head with small round eyes, cap of hair and snout at bottom, damaged at right. Yellow stone.
N29. Double head, the left human with round, drilled eyes and smiling mouth, the left mostly lost but with pointed ears. Yellow stone.
N30. Lion's head. Yellow stone.
N31. Double head, the heads turned away from one another. The left head human with very long jaw, round mouth and eyes and nose very high; the right animal with low wide mouth and damage to upper part, the two nevertheless very similar in shape. Yellow stone.
N32. Round human head with loss to chin, high nose and open comedy mouth. Yellow stone.
N33. Cat-like head with long pointed ears. Yellow stone.
N34. Lion head with eyes closed. Yellow stone.
N35. Lion head. Yellow stone.
N36. Worn human head with pointed chin. Yellow stone.
N37. Lion head. Yellow stone.
N38. Devil's head with round beast's ears, round eyes, long hooked nose and comedy mouth. Yellow stone.
N39. Lion head. Yellow stone.
N40. Small human head, broken at bottom with wide brow and hollow eyes. Yellow stone.
N41. Lion head. Yellow stone.
N42. Foliage corbel with central stem descending from top to bifurcate and terminate in a pair of spirals, and another pair below. Yellow stone.
N43. Beast's head. The head is short and broad but topped by a large pair of incurved horns. Eyes are widely-spaced, and mouth wide and open. Yellow stone.
N44. Three rows of billet, each of two units. Yellow stone.
N45. Medusa's head. Yellow stone.
N46 Schematic cat's head, the bulging eyes encircled by ridges and the tongue protruding above a row of teeth. Yellow stone.
N47. Grotesque beast head with long straight vertical ears, oval eyes and enormous oval mouth surrounded by teeth. Yellow stone.
N48. Grotesque beast with closed eyes, straight nose and wide open mouth showing teeth and tongue. Yellow stone.
N49. Human head with floppy hair, triangular nose, marked brow-line and small closed mouth with lips emphasized. Yellow stone.
N50. Female human head with small open mouth, triangular nose, marked brow-line and wimple. Yellow stone.
N51. Bird, probably an owl, flying downwards. Yellow stone.
N53. Frontal male and female figures side by side, each with a hand on the other's head. Yellow stone.
N54. As N48. Yellow stone.
N55. Crouching man drinking from flask while displaying enormous genitals. Yellow stone.
N56. Ovoid rabbit's head with long pointed ears. Yellow stone.
N57. Human head with wide brow with a row of fluted hair at top, pointed chin, oval eyes with double brows and thin nose. He uses both hands to open his mouth with displaying his tongue. Yellow stone.
N58. Damaged, possibly a ram's head as the downward curving horns survive. Yellow stone.
N59. Lion shown in right profile with tail curved down between legs and up over body. His head is turned down to look under his body. Yellow stone.
N60. Muzzled bear with round mouth displaying teeth and tongue, and paws at the sides of the mouth. Yellow stone.
N61. Ram walking right and shown from above, with prominent horns and reeded tufts of fur. Yellow stone.
N62. Beast shown lying on its back, head to left, with its left rear foot in its mouth and long tail sloping to cross the top of the corbel around the midpoint. Yellow stone.
N63. Pair of heads. To the left a lion-like beast with eyes closed; to the right, possibly a human head wearing a bridle decorated with drill-holes and holding up hands to the sides of the face. The latter damaged at the bottom. Yellow stone.
N64. Pair of standing figures, probably human but very badly eroded. Yellow stone.
N65. Similar to 48 but with wrinkled snout. Yellow stone.
N66. Human head with round face, cap-like hair, round eyes, large triangular nose and tiny oval mouth with lips. Yellow stone.
(ii) Nave and chancel, S wall.
Numbering is from left to right (W to E).
S1. Ram's head with spiral reeded horns. Yellow stone.
S2. Pair of squatting figures with large heads holding the ends of a long slim object in their mouths. They appear to be displaying their genitals, but the state of wear makes this uncertain. Yellow stone.
S3. Broad oval head with round eyes and a large loss to the lower part. Yellow stone.
S4. Grotesque beast head with pointed ears and a pointed horn between them, almond eyes with double brows, large hooked nose and mouth open to show pointed teeth. Yellow stone.
S5. Bear's head with muzzle and open mouth showing tongue. Yellow stone.
S7. Worn and water damaged. A pair of animals side by side, perhaps cats seen from above, their heads impossibly turned to face forwards. Yellow stone.
S8. Schematic grotesque head with plate-like wrinkles and mouth open to show teeth. Yellow stone.
S9. Lion's head. Yellow stone.
S10. Badly worn round head. Yellow stone.
S11. Human head with cap of fluted hair. Yellow stone.
S12. Muzzled bear's head with paws to either side. Yellow stone.
S13. Two figures playing musical instruments. To the left a viol played with a bow, to the right a wind instrument. Yellow stone.
S14. Lion's head. Yellow stone.
S15. Beast head with spiral horns above head. Yellow stone.
S16. Wolf-like head with pointed ears and mouth open. Yellow stone.
S17. Human head with toothache and right hand in mouth. Yellow stone.
S18. Damaged beast head with ears turned forwards. Yellow stone.
S19. Grotesque human head with mouth open to display two rows of long teeth pointing forwards. Yellow stone.
S20. Human head with arms to either side, holding a rod in front of the mouth. Yellow stone.
S21. Grotesque beast head with plate-like overlapping wrinkles. Yellow stone.
S22. A pair of elongated human heads. Yellow stone.
S23. A pair of beast heads, the left fox-like, the right grotesque with bulging eyes and long nose. Ironstone.
S24. Elongated composite human head with ears at top of head. Yellow stone.
S25. Beast head entirely worn away but showing pointed ears. Yellow stone.
S26. Pair of human heads turned away from one another. Ironstone.
S27. Human head with pointed chin and small mouth slightly open. Yellow stone.
S28. Pair of grotesque lion heads with wrinkled snouts. Yellow stone.
S29. Grotesque lion head with bulging eyes. Yellow stone.
S30. Head broken at bottom, upper part human with round eyes and wrinkled brow. Yellow stone.
S31. Armed head with hands pulling corners of mouth. Yellow stone.
S32. Human head between two tall conical wedges. Yellow stone.
S33. Grotesque beast head with mouth open displaying teeth. Yellow stone.
S34. Pair of beast heads with pointed ears, the left grotesque with wrinkled snout, the right without wrinkles and with a large loss at bottom right. Yellow stone.
S35. Beast head with round drilled eyes and pointed ears, damaged at the bottom. Yellow stone.
S36. Grotesque beast head with wrinkled snout and pointed ears, damaged at the right. Yellow stone.
S37. Grotesque beast head with wide mouth open to show teeth. Yellow stone.
S38. As S32. Yellow stone.
S39. As S24. Yellow stone.
S40. Pair of heads, the left lost, the right a bird beakhead. Yellow stone.
S41. Grotesque beast head with bulging eyes and cheeks and open mouth. Yellow stone.
S42. Pair of beast heads, the left a muzzled bear or bridled horse, the right a cat. Yellow stone.
S43. Bridled horse with round drilled eyes. Yellow stone.
S44. Pair of human heads turned away from one another, each enclosed in a half-niche, the left damaged at the bottom. Yellow stone.
S45. Armed human head with hands on cheeks and round drilled eyes. Yellow stone.
S46. Bird beakhead between a pair of worn projections. Yellow stone.
S47. Human head with oval drilled eyes. Ironstone.
S48. Round human head with short square beard and long moustache. Yellow stone.
S49. Human head on short neck with oval drilled eyes. Yellow stone.
S50. Badly flaked and eroded, possibly an acrobat. Yellow stone.
S51. Ram's head copied in N2, right horn worn, left broken off. Yellow stone.
S52. Grotesque beast head with bulging eyes and marked brow ridge. Yellow stone.
S53. Muzzled bear's head. Yellow stone.
S54. Tau cross with stepped bobbin, copied in N7. Yellow stone.
S55. Spherical schematic cat's head copied from N46. Greyish stone replacement.
S56. King's head with crown. Greyish stone, possibly a replacement.
S57. Bull's head with spiral fluted horns, bottom section missing. Greyish stone, possibly a replacement.
S59. Bud motif. Grey stone replacement.
S60. Doglike beast head with round, drilled eyes and mouth open to show teeth. Yellow stone.
S61. Replacement copy of N42. Grey stone.
S62. Triangular beast head with pointed ears and fluting between them. Replacement.
S63. Grotesque wide oval beast head with incurved horns, large bulging eyes and wide open mouth showing tongue. Yellow stone.
(iii) W tower, N face corbel table
(iv) W tower, W face, upper corbel table
(v) W tower, W face, lower corbel table
(vi) W tower, S face, upper corbel table
(vii) W tower, S face, lower corbel table
IV Interior Features
b. Tower/Transept arches
(i) Tower arch
Round-headed, of three orders to E, one to W, rebuilt. Signs of rebuilding are most marked in the S embrasure, where there are marked disjunctions between the second and third-order nook-shafts and their capitals, and between the capitals and their impost blocks.
First order (shared). The arch is carved on each face with centrifugal chevron, roll, quirk, roll, double quirk with a cogwheel edge. The soffit is plain. It is carried on attached half-columns supporting carved capitals as follows. S capital: of trefoil scallop design with two recessed trefoils on the main face and one on each side face, all recessed and bordered with beading. The cones are sheathed and the necking double-strand cable moulded. The hollow chamfered impost is carved on the face with a running scroll with a grooved stem and beaded clasps from which emerge furled leaves enclosed by the loops of the scroll. The chamfer contains a row of single cable in relief. N capital: volute type with vertical stems between the volutes; two on the main face and one on each side face. These stems are carved with a nested chevron design, and spiral terminals emerge from their tips. The necking is double cable moulded and the impost plain and chamfered, probably a 17thc. replacement.
Second order (E face). The arch is carved with point-to-point chevron of double-quirked roll profile on face and soffit. Each of the angle lozenges contains a round pellet. It is carried on en-delit nook-shafts, the S octagonal and carved with nested chevron with rows of beading alternating with low rolls, and the N cylindrical and carved with double-strand cable. S capital: volute type with a row of schematic leaves around the bottom of the bell, and rising from this on each face a grooved stem with a clasp at volute level and a double spiral terminal above this. The necking is double-strand cable moulded. The impost is chamfered but the design on each face ignores this, and consists of a mirror-symmetrical double-cee stem with spiral upper and lower terminals and a central clasp. N capital: as S capital, the impost is plain and chamfered.
Third order (E face). The arch is carved with centrifugal face chevron of a roll, quirked hollow profile with a cogwheel edge. It is carried on en-delit nook-shafts, the S cylindrical with a basketweave design, the N cylindrical and uncarved. S capital: trefoil scallop design with recessed shields with beaded borders and sheathed cones. The necking is double-strand cable and the impost carved as the second order impost on its N face, but the E face has a lion walking right entangled in foliage. N capital: capital and necking as on the S, but the impost is plain chamfered.
(i) N arcade
Five bays (21/2 double bays), round-headed. As noted in the General Description, the nave has been curtailed at the W end. The piers alternate between quatrefoil clusters as described in 2a(i) above (E respond, pier 2, pier 4), and monolithic cylindrical columns with shaft-rings (pier 1, pier 3, and the W respond, originally a free-standing pier). It should be remembered that the aisle was originally vaulted. The transverse arches of the vault fell on the square imposts of the monolithic column capitals, but had their own imposts and capitals on the aisle side of the cluster piers. For ease of understanding, however, all the capitals on the arcade piers are described here, including those of the aisle vault responds. There are no corresponding responds on the aisle walls now because these walls have been rebuilt. Pier bases are generally of roll hollow profile, although pier 2 has a simple roll necking above a square plinth with angle spurs. Spurs are also found on pier 4 and pier 1, but those on pier 1 are replacements. Pier 1 is also carved with sawtooth, and some of this appears to be original. The base of pier 3 is entirely replaced and the pulpit hides that of the E respond. The arcade arches are decorated on both faces with centrifugal face chevron of roll, quirked hollow profile with a cogwheel edge.
E respond, W capital (arcade). On the main face is a pair of addorsed birds in vinescroll, pecking at bunches of grapes. The side faces are carved with vinescroll. The necking is of nested chevron, alternately broad and narrow, and the chamfered impost is carved with symmetrical double-cee motifs in the form of foliage stems with fluted leaf lower terminals and beaded clasps. There are three of these on the main face and two on each side face. The design is carved without regard to the chamfer. E respond, N capital (aisle). Vinescroll inhabited by two small birds on the main face, flying, addorsed and pecking at fruit. Necking and impost as E respond, W capital.
Pier 1 capital and shaft ring. The shaft ring has a central roll with chamfers above and below, and above and below them are rows of double-strand cable, the intermediate row beaded. The capital is of block type, carved with Winchester acanthus in the form of two large scrolls per face with the usual side-shoots terminating in furled leaves or spirals. The necking is carved with cane ornament. The impost is chamfered, the chamfer uncarved and a row of chip-carved saltire-crosses with pellets in the fields on the face.
Pier 2 capitals. The three capitals of pier 2 are similar, volute capitals with each volute flanked by a pair of short pseudo colonnettes carved with double-strand cable, the intermediate strands beaded. They have pseudo-capitals decorated with rows of beading, and above these a clasped inverted lily. The field between the volutes on each main face is carved with a symmetrical foliage stem motif with spiral terminals and beaded clasps. A similar motif is repeated along the chamfered impost, as usual without respecting the chamfer. Neckings are double-strand cable, the intermediate strands beaded.
Pier 3 capital and shaft-ring. The shaft ring has a central roll with chamfers above and below, and above and below them are rows of double-strand cable. The upper and lower edges have angle rolls. The block capital is decorated with Winchester acanthus. The stems are triple-reeded and form two cordate loops on each face, with beaded clasps and a pair of curved leaf terminals inside each heart. Looped stems are festooned between the bottoms of the hearts, and there is a mask at the lowest point of each swag; i.e. one at each angle of the capital and one in the centre of each face. The necking is double-strand cable moulded. The chamfered impost has a plain chamfer and a row of palmettes under arches along each face, five per face. Pier 4 capitals. The three capitals are similar block capitals carved with Winchester acanthus with fine double-reeded stems. The main faces contain a pair of symmetrical but irregular looped stems, enclosing stemlets which branch and terminate in spirals with triple-reeded clasps, forming a dense foliage mass. Each side face has just one of these motifs, but here the design is less uniform. Small masks are carved halfway up the angles, and small pinecones or bunches of grapes at the tops of the angles. The neckings are carved with two rows of lateral chevron, and the chamfered imposts are uncarved.
W respond capital and shaft-ring. As noted above the W respond was originally a monolithic column with a shaft-ring and a single capital. The respond follows that form, but the column appears to have been replaced with half-shafts and a demi-shaft-ring rather than encased in the new W wall. The shaft ring has a central roll with chamfers above and below, and above and below them are rows of double-strand cable, the intermediate row beaded. The upper and lower edges have angle rolls. The capital is similar to those on pier 2. The necking is double-strand cable and the chamfered impost uncarved.
(ii) S arcade
Five bays (21/2 double bays), round-headed. Generally as the N nave arcade, except for details of bases, shaft-rings and capitals. The bases are of roll, hollow profile, those of the E respond and piers 1 and 2 only with spurs. E respond capitals. The E capital of this pier is the W respond of the choir arcade, and the description will be found in section 2.a.(ii).
E respond, W capital (arcade). The entire N half of the capital is a modern copy. On the main face is a pair of addorsed griffins in foliage stems, and on the (replacement) N side face a single griffin. The original S side face is carved with foliage only. The necking is carved with barley-sugar twist. Of the chamfered impost, the N half is again a modern copy. The main and N faces of the impost are carved with a row of cordate double-reeded stem loops, alternately upright and inverted, held by reeded clasps and containing stemlets with spiral terminals. This decoration ignores the chamfered form of the block. The S face has a row of single-roll nested chevron; one unit on the face and a half-unit on the chamfer, in a design continued from the neighbouring (S) impost.
E respond, S capital (aisle). The main face is carved with a pair of addorsed beasts in spiral-ended foliage stems. Of the side faces, the E was inaccessible at the time of the visit, while the W is carved with similar foliage. The barley-sugar twist necking is the same as on the E respond, W capital, and the impost is carved with a row of single-roll nested chevron; one unit on the face and a half-unit on the chamfer.
Pier 1 capital and shaft-ring. The shaft-ring is as N arcade, pier 3. Block capital, each face carved with a pair of Winchester acanthus loops clasped together at the centre. Each loop has side-shoots with spiral or furled-leaf terminals, and in the centre of each loop is a three-petalled Byzantine blossom. The necking is barley-sugar twist, and the chamfered impost has a row of chip-carved saltires in squares on the face.
Pier 2 capitals. All three are volute capitals with double-strand cable neckings, the intermediate strands beaded. The E arcade capital and the aisle side capital are similar, with four loops of double-reeded foliage with side-shoots, clasped together in a square pattern on the main faces, and a fountain of similar foliage stems or simple quirked loops on the side faces. The main face of the W arcade capital is carved with a naked frontal man standing between a pair of stylised trees bearing cones or bunches of fruit, which he clasps with his outstretched hands. The imposts are all chamfered and different on all three capitals. That of the E arcade capital is carved with a zigzag that ignore the division between face and chamfer, each triangular filed filled with a fluted leaf form with vertical flutes, except on its aisle face, which has single-roll nested chevron, one unit on the face and a half-unit on the chamfer. This design continues on the impost of the aisle side capital. The W arcade impost is carved with a more elaborate design whose unit is a symmetrical pair of clasped stems, each with four spiral terminals. There are three of these on the main face and two on each side face.
Pier 3 capital and shaft-ring. The shaft-ring is as N arcade, pier 3. The capital is of block type with on each face a pair of mirror-symmetrical foliage motifs, each consisting of two pairs of furled leaves. The smaller upper pair are clasped together and encircled by stems. They curve apart, while the larger lower pair curve towards on another. Each motif is clasped to the next, and there are clasps at the angles. The necking is carved with double-strand cable, and the impost is as that of the E arcade capital of pier 2.
Pier 4 capitals. The two nave arcade capitals are similarly treated with a loose and irregular mass of double-reeded stems with spiral offshoots. They differ in that the W capital has a small mask on the NW angle, and its S face is carved not with foliage but with a single scallop of the same design as those on the adjoining aisle side capital. This has three scallops on the main face and one on each side face; the shields recessed and the cones sheathed. Neckings of all three capitals are of double-strand cable. The chamfered imposts are all slightly different. The E arcade capital impost has two rows of sawtooth on the face and one on the chamfer. The W arcade impost has one row of sawtooth on the chamfer and one on the face, with a low roll above it. the aisle side impost again has a row of sawtooth on the chamfer but four rows of fish-scale on the face.
W respond capital and shaft-ring. The shaft-ring is as the N arcade, W respond. The capital is a curious combination of volute and scallop types. The angle volutes are of the normal type found here, but between them on the main face are two scallops with recessed shields with beaded borders, and sheathed cones. There are similar scallops on the shortened side faces. The necking is double-strand cable, and the chamfered impost has a row of sawtooth at the top of the face, with a flat roll below and a plain chamfer.
(i) N arcade
Three bays, round-headed. In the following description, piers are numbered from W to E. The arcade is carried on cylindrical ashlar piers with a half-column respond at the E end, except for pier 2, which is monolithic, in three pieces, the central one a double-chamfered shaft-ring decorated with a row of drill-holes just below the centre. The W respond is in fact a quatrefoil cluster pier made up of four half-columns, three of which have capitals at springing level. The exception is that towards the central vessel, which runs without interruption to a capital at the top of the wall, as part of the provision for roofing the nave. The W and E responds are the first supports of the nave and choir arcades respectively, while the aisle side respond has a capital that once supported a transverse arch of the nave aisle vault, and is described along with the nave arcade in section 2.c. below. Pier and respond bases are of an attic form, but with two rolls below the hollow. The arches of bays 1 and 2 are decorated on each face with centrifugal chevron of roll, hollow profile with a cogwheel edge. The arch of bay 3 has triple-roll centrifugal face chevron with a cogwheel edge. Capitals all have chamfered impost blocks.
W respond capital. Block capital carved in relief with a pair of standing addorsed birds in the centre of the main face, both tangled in vinescroll and both pecking at a convenient bunch of grapes. N and S faces are each carved with a single bird, entangled in vinescroll and pecking at a bunch of grapes. The necking is carved with nested chevron, alternately broad and narrow. The carving of the impost ignores the division between face and chamfer; the main face of the impost is carved with a row of three symmetrical double-cee stems terminating in spirals at the top and fluted leaves below. The S face with two similar motifs but with spiral terminals at top and bottom, and the N face with a diagonal stem with spiral offshoots.
Pier 1 capital. Volute capital with vertical stems with spiral terminals emerging from clasps on each face. Double-strand cable necking. Impost carved with dragons, ignoring the division between face and chamfer. Pier 2 capital. Volute capital similar to pier 1. The necking is double-strand cable, the thin strand decorated with beading. The impost is carved with lozenges, a single row covering face and chamfer, three to each face, enclosing rhomboid leaves, except for the E face which has nested chevron on the face and no chamfer at all. E respond capital. Block capital with a pair of addorsed lions in foliage on the main face, a dragon in foliage on the S face, and a similar but bird-headed dragon in foliage on the N. Double-strand cable necking. The chamfered impost is carved with nested chevron on the face and a row of chip-carved saltires in squares on the chamfer.
(ii) S arcade
Three bays, round-headed. Structurally as the N arcade, with the arch decoration showing the same change of design. Again pier 2 is a three-part monolith with a shaft-ring, but this has rows of drilled beading above and below a roll. The S aisle was not accessible at the time of the visit, so no descriptions of the S faces of the capitals can be given.
W respond capital. Block capital with a pair of addorsed lions in foliage on the main face, and a single lion in foliage on the N face. The necking is carved with barley-sugar twist. The impost carving ignores the division between face and chamfer, and consists of a running scroll with spiral offshoots and clasps.
Pier 1 capital. Volute capital carved on the faces with pairs of fluted leaves (N and W faces) or pairs of buds sprouting from fluted collars of leaves (E face). The necking is carved with double-strand cable and the impost with dragons. Both capital and impost are similar, therefore, to N arcade pier 1, but the carving is less well-preserved.
Pier 2 capital. Volute capital carved on each face with a pair of trees with spiral trunks and branches falling between them to form a pair of double-spirals. The necking is plain and chamfered, and the impost carved with a row of clasped cee-stems enclosing leaves in a design that ignores the division between face and chamfer. Below the chamfer but still part of the impost is a flat band carved with incised zigzag. E respond capital. Block capital with a pair of addorsed lions in foliage on the main face, and a single lion in foliage on the N face. The necking is a double-strand cable and the impost carved with a clasped, symmetrical spray of leaves on the N face and two similar on the main face leaves in a design that ignores the division between face and chamfer.
4. Vaulting/Roof supports
(i) Choir aisle vaults
(i) Main roof supports
N arcade, E respond capital. Multi-scallop, four scallops on the main face and two on each side face. The shields are plain and the cones sheathed. The necking has double-strand cable, and the impost block is hollow chamfered with a row of sawtooth above a low roll on the face.
N arcade, pier 2 respond capital. Plain multi-scallop with four scallops on the main face and two on each side face. The necking has double-strand cable, and the impost block is plain and chamfered. N arcade, pier 4 respond capital. As pier 2, but with a barley-sugar twist necking. S arcade, E respond capital. Volute capital with a clasped lily on multiple stems on the main face. The necking has double-strand cable, and the impost block is chamfered with a row of deep-cut sawtooth on face and chamfer.
S arcade, pier 2 respond capital. Multi-scallop with four scallops on the main face and two on each side face. The shields are plain and the cones sheathed. The necking has double-strand cable, and the impost block is chamfered with a row of deep-cut sawtooth on face and chamfer. S arcade, pier 4 respond capital. Plain multi-scallop with four scallops on the main face and two on each side face. The necking has single-strand cable, and the impost block is plain and chamfered.
(ii) Nave aisle vaults
(i) Grave slab
Now set up on end at the E end of the S nave aisle. The slab is trapezoidal, being slightly wider at the top than the bottom, and is carved from a single piece of oolitic limestone.
The front surface is carved in relief. At the top are two circular motifs side-by-side; to the left a lion passant regardant in a beaded annulet, and to the right an interlace design of an open cross constructed of four intersecting semicircular arcs, with two concentric circles interlacing with the arcs of the cross. This is a motif found on the W doorway, where it is described as a four-arc cross in double ring. Centrally placed below these is the mask of a bearded man with his mouth open and issuing downwards from it a short reeded stem that soon terminates in a boss. Further reeded stems leave the boss to left and right, terminating in large three-petalled Byzantine blossoms to either side of the mask. Perched on the left blossom is a bird that pecks at the man's ear. All this accounts for the upper third of the slab, and the remainder is filled by three large and irregular loops of foliage; grooved or double-grooved stems with short side-stems ending in hooks or furled leaves. Each loop is inhabited: the uppermost by a wingless dragon or serpent, the middle by a winged dragon, and the lowest by an inverted scene showing a large horned goat with a smaller quadruped like a dog apparently leaping up to bite its head.
|h. of slab||1.375 m|
|w. of slab at top||0.45 m|
|w. of slab at bottom||0.415 m|
VI Loose Sculpture
(i) Chevron voussoir
|l. of voussoir||0.29 m|
|w. at extrados||0.13 m|
|w. at intrados||0.11 m|
(ii) Fragment of capital
|max. h.||0.21 m|
|max. w.||0.26 m|
|max. d.||0.18 m|
Construction of the church is usually attributed to Earl Simon II of Northampton on the basis of the style dating of the sculpture to the 1140s. The earliest reference to the church concerns the institution of a rector by deputies of Bishop Hugh of Lincoln (1186-1200), but the document makes it clear that there had been a previous rector. By the end of the 12thc. the advowson had passed to the Priory of St Andrew, Northampton.
Benefice of All Saints with St Katharine and St Peter.
Zarnecki, as ever, did the groundwork in establishing the significance of the Northampton workshop, and his guiding hand is apparent at points in the work of his student, Henry Maguire. Maguire divided the capitals into four groups, based on their decoration.
Group A (nave E responds /choir W responds N and S, choir S arcade E respond, nave N2, S2, N4, S4). Characterised by wire-like coils of grooved foliage stems with clasps, sometimes beaded. Some capitals have fictive shafts as part of their decoration; others have beasts in pairs. Maguire related these to Anglo-Saxon and Romanesque goldsmiths' work.
Group B (Choir N1, N2, S1, S2, nave W responds N and S). As A but more crudely carved.
Group D. (Nave N3, S3). Systematic and symmetrical decoration including large furled leaves with fluted lobes. He did not suggest that these represent the work of different sculptors of workshops, and to the present author it seems clear enough that the groups represent nothing more than distinctive characteristics of a single workshop, which could be combined at will.
In discussing the sources of the workshop he confined himself to two strands.An Anglo-Saxon tradition was related largely to manuscript illumination, and accounted for the prevalence of the Winchester acanthus foliage, and certain of the beast decoration. The lions on the choir N arcade E respond capital, for example, were compared with those found in a Rochester copy of Gregory's Moralia (London, BL, Royal 6.C.VI, f.91). A continued manuscript influence was detected through the appearance of the Byzantine blossom, e.g. on pier 1 of the nave S arcade. This motif he compared with initials in the Eadwine Psalter (Cambridge, Trinity College, R .17.1 e.g. on f.200v). An Anglo-Saxon tradition was also seen in the shaft-rings of the arcade piers, which he related to baluster shafts at Brixworth and Earl's Barton.
The second source examined was Northern Italian sculpture, particularly in Lombardy. Lions and dragons on imposts were compared with similar work at S.Michele in Pavia and S. Savino in Piacenza, but the most striking comparison was with the wire-like leafless foliage stems of group A, a common N Italian ornament exemplified in by the choir-rail of S. Giovanni in Pieve Trebbio, dateable c.1108.
The present author is less than convinced of the relevance of the Italian parallels, especially in view of the late date of Northampton. The wire-like foliage, for example, cannot really be separated from the ubiquitous Winchester acanthus, which had been part of the stock-in-trade of English sculpture for many decades before these capitals were carved.
Maguire's work is more useful in identifying other pieces by the same workshop. The tomb slab belongs with the capitals, employing similar Byzantine blossom, foliage, lion and dragon motifs. Nearby the fonts at Harpole, Greens Norton, Paulerspury, Dodford, Tiffield and Weedon Lois (all Northants), and Maids' Moreton (Bucks) are by the same carvers. St Chad's, Stafford, has capitals almost identical to some of those at St Peter's, but they are all 19thc. copies dating to Scott's restoration of 1873-74. They were described in the restoration report as copies of the 'lamentably abused' Norman work.
The W doorway uses a different range of motifs, based on interlaced knotwork and symmetrical flowers, and this also finds a local parallel, in the font at Mears Ashby (Northants).
As for the corbels; the replacements are fairly easy to identify, and usually seem to copy a surviving original. The originals are all in either red ironstone or yellow limestone, but there is no apparent system to this. Most are heads, some paired, including humans, monstrous forms and more-or-less recognisable animals. Of the last, a number show bears and dogs with muzzles, which is not especially common, but the usual cats and rabbits also make an appearance. The most frequently occurring beast has a lion-like head and bulging eyes, and vicious rows of teeth are a regular feature. The paired corbels are worth more study. On the N side, N52 shows a pair of bird beakheads and its neighbour, N53, has embracing male and female figures crouched to show their genitals. Among the single figures, more genitals are on display in N55 and S2.
- Anon, Saint Peter's: Northampton's Oldest Heritage, undated church guide.
- J. Bridges, The History and Antiquities of Northamptonshire, Compiled from the manuscript collections of the late learned antiquary J.Bridges, Esq., by the Rev. Peter Whalley, Oxford, 1791, I, 445-47.
- M. J. Franklin, Minsters and Parishes: Northamptonshire Studies, Cambridge, 1982.
- H. P. Maguire, 'A Twelfth-Century Workshop in Northampton', Gesta, 9, 1970, 11-25.
- N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Northamptonshire, Harmondsworth, 1961, rev. by B. Cherry, 1973, 321f.
- RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northampton, V. Archaeological sites and churches in Northampton, London, 1985, 371-78.
- R. M. Serjeantson, History of the Church of St Peter, Northampton, Northampton, 1904.
- Victoria County History. Northamptonshire, III (1930).
- J. Williams, 'Northampton's Medieval Parishes', Northamptonshire Archaeology, 17, 1982.
- G. Zarnecki, Later English Romanesque Sculpture, London, 1953, 18f, 54, pls 14-18.