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St Nicholas, Twywell, Northamptonshire

(52°23′36″N, 0°36′8″W)
SP 952 782
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Northamptonshire
now Northamptonshire
  • Ron Baxter

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St Nicholas' was an early 12thc. cruciform church without aisles. The N transept has been removed, but its arch is visible inside and out. The S transept was overbuilt by a S aisle, but the arch remains as bay 1 of the S arcade, including its E respond and capital. The remainder of the S arcade is 13thc. A 14thc. clerestorey was added on both sides of the nave. The N nave doorway remains from the early 12thc. campaign; the more elaborate reset S doorway could be slightly later. Plain 12thc. windows survive in the chancel N wall, the nave N wall, the W tower W wall, and reset in the S aisle W wall. The chancel can thus be dated to the 12thc. too, although its S windows indicate a remodelling c.1300. It has a S chapel now housing the organ and vestry. Finally the 12thc. W tower is of three storeys with much-altered bell-openings and a corbel table. A parapet with quatrefoil frieze and battlements was added in the 15-16thc. there was a spire which collapsed in 1699.


In 1086 the manor of three hides was held by Thorney abbey, with another holding of 1½ hides in the hands of Countess Judith. No church was recorded.

Benefice of Cranford with Grafton Underwood and Twywell.


Exterior Features



Exterior Decoration

String courses
Corbel tables, corbels

Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches

Zarnecki (1958) compared the king's head on the S doorway with those similarly placed on the Vestry and Monks' doorways at Ely Cathedral. The roll corbels on the N doorway he compared to the later rolls on the Monk's doorway, and they should also be compared to the similarly placed corbels on the Ely N transept doorway and at Wentworth (Cambs). He dated the S doorway c.1130. A similar date is reasonable for the N doorway and what remains of the transept arches. The tower corbels must be later. The best-preserved and most effective of these are on the N face (N1, N2, N6), but the overall quality is good and comparisons should perhaps be sought on the W transept of Ely Cathedral, dateable to the end of the 12thc.

Victoria County History: Northamptonshire. III (1930)
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Northamptonshire. Harmondsworth 1961, rev. B. Cherry 1973, 436-37.
G. Zarnecki, The Early Sculpture of Ely Cathedral. London 1958, 22, 45, pl.18.