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All Saints, Braybrooke, Northamptonshire

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Feature Sets (2)

Description

All Saints' as it now appears has a nave with four-bay aisles, but the eastern bays on either side were originally transept arches. They date from the 13thc., whereas the remainder of the nave arcades are of c.1300. The chancel has no arch, but its E window suggests a date around 1300. To the S of it is an imposing chapel with a tall three-bay arcade, dated by Pevsner to c.1520-30. The chapel also contains the important wooden effigy of Sir Thomas de Latymer. The entire eastern arm, chancel and chapel, have been partitioned off with panelled studding to make a parish room. This seriously compromises what must have been a beautiful, airy space, and one hopes that it is a temporary arrangement. At the west is a two-storey Perpendicular tower in ironstone ashlar with an octagonal ashlar spire. The remainder of the church is of large, rough ironstone blocks, except for the south chapel, in very fine grey ashlar. No Romanesque fabric, then, but a 12thc. font which stands out even in a county with many fine examples.

History

In 1087 the largest landholder was the Abbey of Grestain with two hides. In addition, Countess Judith held half a virgate of sokeland, and Ketilbert held one hide and a virgate from her. Robert de Vessey held one hide, and St Edmundsbury Abbey held half a virgate of sokeland. In none of these holdings was a church recorded.

Benefice of Desborough, Brampton Ash, Dingley and Braybrooke.

Features

Furnishings

Fonts

At Wend of S nave aisle. The font has a square 12thc. sandstone bowl with the angles chamfered off, apparently later, the chamfers with chamfer-stops at the top. The basin is circular and lead lined. It stands on a later octagonal shaft and base, dated by Bond to the 15thc. Each face of the bowl is carved with a different design as follows:

E face: A complex interlace of four intertwined serpents, their heads at the four corners of the rectangular field, and their bodies, decorated with beading, tangling and recrossing to make their tortuous route to the central vertical axis, where they are bound in a pair of grooved annulets, one above the other. At the right and left edges of the field are flowers with a beaded bud between a pair of furled leaves. Scattered in the interstices of the coiled serpents are small pellets. The field has a band of two-strand guilloche with pellets between the strands at top and bottom. This presumably formed a frame on all four sides before the angles were chamfered.

N face: A knotwork design of flat fillets consisting of a central ring with a compass-drawn four-petalled flower intersecting it. The four spandrels of the knot contain fan-shaped fluted leaves with scalloped edges, and the petals contain beading. At the four corners of the rectangular field are further fan-shaped leaves, and in the centre of each vertical side a trilobed leaf, the lobes decorated with rows of beading. The field was originally framed by a row of beading, which survives only at top and bottom.

W face: The rectangular field is almost filled by a pair of confronted palmettes with multiple, hook-ended lobes. Between them at the top is a mass of beading, like a bunch of grapes, and at the bottom a small triangular palmette framed by its own stems. The border survives in part to the right as well as at top and bottom, and consists of a row of sawtooth pointing inwards, with a nebuly outer edge.

S face: The field is divided into two by a vertical fillet. To the left is a siren with a curved fish's tail with scales and a female head and arms. She is shown in left profile, holding a fish to her mouth in her left hand. Her nose is long and pointed, her lips closed, and her eye almond-shaped with the lower lid chamfered. She has straight hair hanging down her back in a plait. She is carved sideways, that is with her head towards the bottom of the font. The right field is occupied by a cross of the type sometimes called baptismal, on a three-step base. The double field is framed with a two-stand cable, plain and beaded. The framing survives at top, bottom and left.

The bowl has a large horizontal crack right across the centre of the west face and extending into the north and south faces. There are gypsum plaster repairs at the NE and NW angles of the rim, and lock damage at the SW angle.

Dimensions
ext. w of bowl (E-W) 0.64 m
ext. w of bowl (N-S) 0.645 m
h. of bowl 0.48 m
int. diameter of bowl 0.54 m
overall h. of font 1.08 m

Comments/Opinions

This must be compared with the earlier font at Aston-le-Walls, which is also square with a different design on each face. The only shared design, however, is the knotwork and this is not identical. Pevsner finds the conjunction of cross and siren on the S face incongruous. The siren, however, provided the most popular shorthand for the allurements of the world tempting mankind into sin and damnation; while the baptismal cross offered a road to salvation, through the sacrament the font was designed to perform.

Bibliography

  • R. Baxter, Bestiaries and their Users in the Middle Ages, Stroud, 1998, 35-36.
  • F. Bond, Fonts and Font Covers, Oxford, 1908, 45, 97.
  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Northamptonshire, Harmondsworth, 1961, rev. by B. Cherry 1973, 121.
Exterior from SE.
Nave to E.
Interior to W from S chapel.
Interior to W from S chapel.

Location

Site Location
Braybrooke
National Grid Reference
SP 765 846 
Boundaries
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Northamptonshire
now: Northamptonshire
Diocese
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: Peterborough
Dedication
medieval: All Saints (1510)
now: All Saints
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter