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St Michael, Stowe Nine Churches (Church Stowe), Northamptonshire

(52°12′49″N, 1°3′58″W)
Stowe Nine Churches (Church Stowe)
SP 639 577
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Northamptonshire
now Northamptonshire
  • Ron Baxter
24 June 2004

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Stowe Nine Churches is made up of Church Stowe and Upper Stowe (formerly Great and Little Stowe). St Michael's has a nave, chancel and W tower. There are aisles extending from the W wall of the tower to the E wall of the chancel. Inside, this curious arrangement resolves to nave aisles with three-bay arcades and two-bay chancel chapels on either side. All the arcading appears to be 19thc. In the chancel, the N chapel contains a Purbeck tomb, reputedly of Sir Gerard de l'Isle (d.1287), and the S the tomb of Lady Elizabeth Carey (d.1630), with an effigy made by Nicholas Stone ten years earlier. A vestry has been added to the N chancel chapel. In the nave there are N and S doorways, the S under a porch, the N blocked and overgrown. Battlements have been added to the nave, but no clerestorey. The original nave has the tall proportions of the 11thc., and the tower arch is certainly of this period or earlier. The tower has part of an Anglo-Saxon cross shaft built into an exterior angle, and more pieces are inside the church. Also in the tower is a small round-headed W window, splayed towards the exterior. Unfortunately it is covered with render and the stonework cannot be seen, although it has been examined in the past (Taylor and Taylor). It has no buttresses and has been considerably heightened, with a late-medieval bell-storey and a battlement. The core of this too is Anglo-Saxon. The rest of the church is faced with coursed stones. There was a restoration c.1860 described as 'very drastic' (Taylor and Taylor, 96). Features here described are the 12thc. doorway reset in the N aisle and the chancel arch.


Church Stowe (then called simply Stowe) was held by Gilbert de Ghent in 1086. No church was mentioned. The manor passed to John de Armenters in the reign of Henry II, and remained in the family until the time of Edward I, when it passed by marriage to the de Lisles.


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches

Taylor and Taylor dated the tower and its arch to period C (950-1100). Compared with, for example, Brigstock (Northants), Wittering (Cambs) and Barnack (Hunts) the arch is small, more like a doorway, which might suggest a date in the 10thc. rather than the 11thc. Serjeantson (1913) gives the dedication to St Michael on the basis of wills proved in 1524, 1532 and 1540. The Liber Regis on the other hand, produced by Henry VIII's commissioners but not published until the 18thc, gives a medieval dedication to St Peter and St Paul. An earlier dedication to St Ninian, given on the website of the Medieval Combat Society, has proved impossible to verify.


G. Baker, The History and Antiquities of the County of Northampton. 2 vols, London, 1822-41, I, 439-49.

J. Ecton and J. Bacon, Liber Regis vel Thesaurus Rerum Ecclesiasticarum, (1786 ed), 817.

S. Glynne, Church Notes of Sir Stephen Glynne, Hawarden, St Deniol’s Library, vol. 42, f. 30-32.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Northamptonshire, Harmondsworth, 1961, rev. by B. Cherry 1973, 418-19.

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), 411.

H. M. and J. Taylor, Anglo-Saxon Architecture, Cambridge, II, 1965, 594-96.