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St Peter, Sywell, Northamptonshire

(52°17′48″N, 0°47′45″W)
SP 822 672
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Northamptonshire
now Northamptonshire
medieval St Paul and St Peter
now St Paul and St Peter
  • Ron Baxter

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The church has a nave with a three-bay S aisle extending W a further bay alongside the tower and a clerestorey on the S only, a N transept, and a S doorway under a porch. The ashlar chancel, taller than the nave and with a steeply pitched roof, was rebuilt in 1862. The W tower, dated to the late 13thc. by Pevsner, appears earlier to the present author, and its windows are included in this report. The tower has been certainly rebuilt, as it has a tall plinth course, W-facing buttresses and a 19thc. W stair-turret. The aisle and porch and the N transept chapel too are 19thc. work, largely faced in brick-sized blocks of red ashlar. Inside, it is apparent that the tower arches were dramatically modified when the S aisle was rebuilt by J. Manden in 1870. 12thc. material is present, but the arrangement is extremely quirky. The tower now has arches to the nave and the extended S aisle. The S wall of the tower is pierced by a 19thc. arch, supported by a half-column respond at the W and a cylindrical pier at the E. All of this is 19thc. work, but the E pier has a reused foliage capital of c.1200. Immediately to the E of this pier is another similar, which forms the last pier of the 19thc. S arcade. The E tower arch is also unusual. Its N respond is a semi-quatrefoil with a moulded capital, both 13thc., and on the S it is supported by a quatrefoil pier with a similar capital, the pier positioned alongside the double-pier at the E of the S arch. The SE angle of the tower is thus supported by three piers. A further complication is introduced by the wave profile of the E arch soffit; a motif which belongs neither to the 13thc. nor the 19thc. Described here are the S tower arch and the tower windows.


The Count of Mortain held 4 hides in Sywell in 1086. No church was recorded at that time, the first evidence for it dating from 1107-23, when it was confirmed as a possession of St Andrew's, Northampton.

Benefice of Mears Ashby and Hardwick and Sywell with Overstone.


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches

The use of waterleaf motifs on the S tower arch capital and S tower windows suggests that they belonged to the same campaign, which must date to the last quarter of the 12thc.. Similarly the moulded capitals of the E tower arch andN bell-opening belong together, and stylistically to the 13thc. proper rather than (say) c.1200.

RCHME Report, uncatalogued.
Victoria County History: Northamptonshire, IV (1937), 134f.
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, 148f.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Northamptonshire, Harmondsworth, 1961, rev. by B. Cherry, 1973, 422f.