All Saints, West Haddon, Northamptonshire
- Site Location
- West Haddon
- National Grid Reference
- SP 630719
now: Peterborough (from 1539)
now (or name of monument): All Saints
- Type of building/monument
- Parish church (benefice of West Haddon with Winwick and Ravensthorpe)
II General Description
West Haddon is a village in W central Northamptonshire, 10 miles NW of Northampton on the road to Rugby (the A428). The village was a medieval market town in the Domesday hundred of Alwardsley and clusters around a crossroads on high ground in the hilly landscape, with the church at its centre and the hall site to the S. The nave is tall, with a big Perpendicular clerestorey and aisles with three-bay 13thc. arcades. There are doorways to N and S, the latter 13thc., under an 18thc. porch. The chancel has a 13thc. piscina and a small 13thc. lancet in the S wall, but the E end is Perpendicular. There is a vestry on the N side. The W tower dates from the 14thc. and had a spire which was taken down in 1648. All Saints' contains an important 12thc. font with figure scenes.
It now stands in the S aisle, W of the doorway.It was discovered in 1887, built into the W wall of the nave. The 12thc. bowl is square with a circular inner basin lined with lead. It stands on modern shafts and a double step. The bowl is damaged at the bottom and has been squared with mortar for fixing to its modern supports, and it has lost large chips from the upper NE and NW corners. Each of its faces is carved with a figure scene in relief, each scene with an upper beaded border:
|h. of bowl||0.36 m|
|w. of bowl (N-S)||0.72 m|
|w. of bowl (E-W)||0.74 m|
|int. diam. of bowl||0.59 m|
Christ in Majesty between the angel of St Matthew and the eagle of St John. Christ is enthroned in the centre, seated and frontal with a cross halo and his right hand raised in blessing. He is surrounded by a mandorla. There is a large rectangular loss at the lower right of the field within the mandorla. To the left is a seated, haloed angel, turned towards Christ and extending his hands toward him. The angel's wings are open behind and above him. To the right is a haloed eagle in left profile, its head inclined upwards and its wings displayed above and below its body. The large loss NE corner of the bowl affects the end of the eagle's near raised wing. The three figures are on an undulating ground line, and foliage stems loop around the outer figures. The surface of the carving is worn, and drapery patterns hard to see, but both the angel and Christ have panels of drapery on their lower legs, surrounded by looping folds, and there are nested vees between the angel's knees.
Nativity. The field is divided into two by a pair of segmental arches decorated with beading, and with a tower between them. The Virgin lies under the left arch, her haloed head to the left; the infant Christ lies under the right arch, similarly haloed and with his head to the right. Below the figures, the bead is indicated by a row of beading carried on arches. Above the Virgin is the hand of God, issuing from a cloud. Behind Christ are the heads of the ox and the ass. Joseph is seated to the right, beyond Christ and facing him in left profile with his head bowed and his hands extended towards him.
Entry into Jerusalem. Christ is at the left, riding right on a horse rather than a donkey. He has no halo and holds the horse's bridle. To the right, facing him, a standing man in a helmet with a noseguard, holding a trilobed palm in each hand. Behind Christ, at the extreme left, is a tree with palmette-like foliage. There is a bush, also a palmette, between Christ's horse and the standing man, and more foliage behind Christ. A small disc with radiating spokes behind Christ may represent the sun.
Baptism of Christ. John the Baptist stands in right profile at the left, pointing towards Christ in front of him with his right hand, and holding up a book in his left. Christ himself is shown frontal and half-length, his lower body immersed in a font, indicated by a reeded bowl with a beaded upper rim (like the rim of this font). To the right, a standing angel holds out Christ's tunic towards him. All three figures have haloes, but Christ's is too worn to retain any signs of a cross. At the angles of the bowl are large masks with foliage issuing from their open mouths. The upper spandrels, between the angles of the bowl and the curve of the basin, are decorated with palmettes.
In the Domesday Survey, the main holding of 2 hides was possessed by the abbey of Coventry, and there were smaller parcels of 11/2 virgates held by William Peverel and 1 virgate held by Gunfrid de Choques. The church of West Haddon was later given to the Cluniac priory of St Augustine, Daventry by Hugh Poer, grandson of the founder. A market and a fair to be held in the town were granted by King Edward I to the Prior and Convent of Daventry in 1292.
Zarnecki (1951) dated the font c.1120, associating its style with that of the historiated capitals at Swell Minster. Stone (1955) linked its style to the font at the Cluniac priory of Lenton (Notts) which also depicts scenes from Christ's life, a connection rejected as "not convincing" by Zarnecki (1998). Drake (2002) noted the idiosyncratic treatment of the biblical scenes and considered the Entry into Jerusalem to be unique in English baptismal iconography. His discussion of the iconography is useful.
- C. S. Drake, The Romanesque Fonts of Northern Europe and Scandinavia, London, 2002, 5, 17, 29.
- J. H. Parker, Architectural Notices of the Churches of the Archdeaconry of Northampton, London and Oxford 1849, 232-34.
- N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Northamptonshire, Harmondsworth 1961, rev. B. Cherry 1973, 457.
- L. Stone, Sculpture in Britain: The Middle Ages, Pelican History of Art, Harmondsworth 1955, 244 n.20.
- Victoria County History: Northamptonshire, II (1906), 109-14 (on Daventry Priory)
- G. Zarnecki, English Romanesque Sculpture 1066-1140, London 1951, 33.
- G. Zarnecki, 'The Romanesque Font at Lenton', J. S. Alexander (ed), Swell and Nottinghamshire: Medieval Art, Architecture and Industry, British Association Conference Transactions XXI, Leeds 1998, 136-42, esp. 139.