St Mary the Virgin, East Haddon, Northamptonshire

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Feature Sets (3)


St Mary's is an ashlar church with a nave with a S aisle and S clerestorey, a low W tower and a long chancel with a N organ chamber of 1878. The S arcade of the nave dates from c.1300, and the clerestorey from the same period or later. The S aisle was rebuilt in 1839. The N doorway is blocked and the south, of 1839, has a porch. The chancel arch has 12thc. responds and a 14thc. arch, and the chancel dates from the 14thc. too. The tower is Perpendicular with a battlemented top storey of 1673, to which period also belong the bell-openings and Wdoorway. The church contains an elaborately carved font, which could be 12thc. or 13thc., and this and the chancel arch are the only features considered here.


East Haddon was held by the Count of Mortain in 1086, and the manor had members at Brampton and Brington, and held the soke of Holdenby, which (according to RCHME) suggests that all these parishes might have been dependent on East Haddon. A priest was recorded, suggesting a church too. Sometime between 1155 and 1175, the church was granted by William de Dive to the Premonstratensian Abbey of Sulby (Northants), the grant confirmed by his son Hugh.

Benefice of Brington with Whilton and Norton and Church Brampton with Chapel Brampton and Harlestone and East Haddon and Holdenby.


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

The arch itself is pointed and 14thc. with two chamfered orders to the west. The responds are 12thc., of two orders to the Wand a single plain order to E.

First order (shared): The embrasure has coursed nook shafts towards the W with attic bases. The N capital has a palmette with fluted lobes on the main angle and half-palmettes on the side angles, with a chamfered necking and plain chamfered impost. The S capital has flat leaves with scallop-shell leaf terminals at each angle, a chamfered necking and plain chamfered impost.

Second order (W); En-delit nook-shafts on attic bases. Both capitals are plain flat-leaf with roll neckings and imposts as the first order.



In the S aisle W of the S doorway. It has a cylindrical bowl, slightly tapered, of oolitic limestone standing on a later shaft and a modern step. The bowl is lead lined and decorated with figures, foliage and arcading in low relief. Around the lower part is an arcade of round-headed intersecting arches; the shafts very short and without bases or capitals. Above this a narrow fillet chamfered at top and bottom, and above this, occupying most of the bowl, a figural scene. Towards the N is a man standing frontally in a short tunic. In either hand he holds the neck of a large dragon, just below the head. These two dragons are confronted symmetrically. They have long, curved, swanlike necks, folded wings, and clawed feet. Their long curved tails bifurcate where they join the body; the lower branch curving down in a short loop ending in a bud, while the upper branches of each dragon's tail transform into a wavelike running scroll of foliage with short side-shoots terminating in buds or furled leaves, which occupies the remainder of the upper level of decoration except for a band around the upper rim. Here is a band of paired leaves with scalloped edges and central spines, like oak leaves, on short stems, which do not appear to grow from the scrollwork below.

ext. diam. at rim 0.69 m
h. of bowl 0.43 m
int. diam. at rim 0.52 m
overall h. of font (not step) 0.94 m


A similar combination of arcading and foliage decoration is found on the fonts at Hinton-in-the Hedges and Magdalen College, Brackley, both dated to c.1190-1210 on account of their dogtooth ornament. Of these the Hinton font is closer to East Haddon, containing very similar foliage and arcaded registers in a different sequence, and must date from around the same time.


  • RCHME Report, uncatalogued
  • G. Baker, The History and Antiquities of the County of Northampton, 2 vols, London, 1822-41, I, 165.
  • 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, 505f.
  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Northamptonshire, Harmondsworth, 1961, rev. by B. Cherry, 1973, 198.
  • R. M. Serjeantson and H. I. Longden, 'The Parish Churches and Religious Houses of Northamptonshire: their Dedications, Altars, Images and Lights'. Archaeological Journal, 70, ns 20 (1913), 331.
Exterior from S
Interior to E


Site Location
East Haddon
National Grid Reference
SP 667 682 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Northamptonshire
now: Northamptonshire
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: Peterborough
now: St Mary the Virgin
medieval: St Mary (1515)
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter