St Mary, Gayton, Northamptonshire

Feature Sets (2)


Gayton is a substantial village towards the S of the county, 4 miles SW of Northampton. Gayton stands on a hill with the church and manor house at the NE edge of the village. St Mary's comprises a W tower, an aisled nave with a clerestorey and a square chancel with N and S chapels. The tower is of three storeys; the lowest 12thc. with plain lancets, the next with plate-traceried 13thc. windows and the top storey with flowing bell-openings and a battlemented parapet. The upper part, however, is 19thc. The nave has aisles with three-bay arcades of c.1300. The chancel has a large 14thc. E window. The N chapel has the tomb of Sir Philip de Gayton (d.1316) in the arch to the chancel, and that of his daughter Lady Scholastica de Meaux (d.1354) with effigies of her and her baby against the N wall. The S chapel now houses the organ. The font is the only Romanesque feature.


Gayton may be the manor held in Towcester Hundred in 1086 by Sigar de Chocques. A priest is mentioned in the Domesday entry.




Font at W end of S aisle.

This tub font stands on a later octagonal plinth of darker stone. The interior is unlined. The rim is carved with a cable motif, and has a mend on the NW, caused by the removal of a lock. The main surface is carved with an interlacing arcade, composed of flat, round-headed arches which sprout chip-carved, spandrel-shaped, tracery patterns at springing level. The bottom of the tub is moulded.

diam. of basin 0.59 m
h. of tub 0.43 m
max. circumference 2.33 m
overall diameter 0.72 m
overall h. 1.26 m


The inclusion of tracery-like elements, and the deep hollow of the moulding at the bottom of the tub, suggest that this font is early 13thc. in date, although it has typically 'Romanesque' motifs. It is related to other Romanesque fonts in the area (eg: Grafton Regis, Chacombe), and probably represents the tenacity of local sculptural traditions. Pevsner posed the question: 'is it a remodelling of a Norman font, or an example of archaism?'


  • RCHME Report, uncatalogued.
  • Victoria County History: Northamptonshire, I (1902), 373.
  • 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.
  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Northamptonshire, Harmondsworth 1961, rev. B. Cherry 1973, 221-22.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SP 706 548 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Northamptonshire
now: Northamptonshire
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: Peterborough
now: St Mary
medieval: Our Lady (1516)
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Kathryn Morrison