St Michael, Wadenhoe, Northamptonshire

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Feature Sets (2)


St Michael's has a 12thc. W tower of three storeys and a gable, with blind arcading on the N side and much-remodelled bell-openings. The N bell-opening is a 14thc. replacement. The tower also has small plain 12thc. windows in the second storey (W and S faces) and the third (S face), not described in detail. The nave has three-bay N and S aisles with 13thc. arcades, the S later than the N, and 16thc. clerestoreys. The chancel is 13thc., with a S vestry. The exterior is faced with stone rubble. Of interest is the font, certainly 13thc. since it is carved with dogtooth and floral motifs and thus not described in detail here (though illustrated). The sparse disposition of motifs on the bowl and their depth of relief indicate a prodigious volume in wasted stone. Romanesque features are confined to the bell-openings and arcading of the tower.


In 1086 the manor was held by Aubrey (presumably Aubrey de Vere) from the Bishop of Coutances. A smaller piece in Wadenhoe was held by Roger from the Abbot of Peterborough. The advowson has been held with the manor, at least since 1227 when Henry de Vere made the first recorded presentation.

Benefice of Aldwincle with Thorpe Achurch and Pilton with Wadenhoe and Stoke Doyle.


Exterior Features


E bell-opening

As W opening but the central shaft is cylindrical with a cushion capital with no impost, and the label is double chamfered and not integral with the window head.

S bell-opening

A pointed double-lancet with chamfered jambs, a central shaft chamfered with chamfer stops at top and bottom, and monolithic window heads chamfered on the intrados and carved with an integral label.

W bell-opening

A round-headed double-lancet, the jambs and arch chamfered, and the central shaft chamfered with stops at top and bottom. The head is surrounded by a non-projecting enclosing arch. It has an integral label and in the central spandrel is a chamfered vesica-shaped opening.

Exterior Decoration


Tower N face

Three bay blind arcade at ground level. The central arch is pointed, those to either side round headed, all are chamfered. The arcade is carried on detached en-delit shafts on bases with a heavy roll necking above a quadrant roll. Capitals are disastrously worn but all show foliage elements including vertical leaves terminating in spiral hooks. Where neckings survive they are rolls; imposts are hollow chamfered with a quirk at the top of the chamfer.


The E bell-opening appears to show the earliest form, and despite the cushion capital it must date from the last quarter of the 12thc. The S and W openings are not much later, and it is unusual that they should all be different. The blind arcade to the N of the tower defies explanation.


  • RCHME Report, uncatalogued.
  • Victoria County History. Northamptonshire, III (1930)
  • Anon., The Church of St Michael and All Angels Wadenhoe. A Description and History (church guide). Undated leaflet available in the church.
  • 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, II, 390f.
  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Northamptonshire. Harmondsworth, 1961, rev. by B. Cherry, 1973, 439f.
Exterior from SW.
W tower from NW.
Interior to E.
Font from N.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
TL 008 833 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Northamptonshire
now: Northamptonshire
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: Peterborough
medieval: not confirmed
now: St Michael
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter