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St Mary, Tansor, Northamptonshire

(52°30′20″N, 0°26′54″W)
TL 054 909
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Northamptonshire
now Northamptonshire
medieval Our Lady
now St Mary
  • Kathryn Morrison
  • Ron Baxter

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St Mary's has an aisled nave with a clerestorey. The nave is more or less rectangular in plan, but the arcades to N and S are differently treated. On the S are five uneven bays; the two western bays round-headed and the remainder pointed. The N arcade piers are more regularly spaced, i.e they are entirely out of step with those on the S. In the N there are three round-headed bays at the W end, then two full-sized pointed bays and a short pointed bay, leading to a vestry and partly blocked with a later doorway inserted. These different arrangements bring the two arcades to roughly the same point, and here the aisleless chancel starts, although there is no masonry chancel arch. The liturgical arrangements have been altered at some time, and a chancel step built right across the nave at S pier 1, which is part-way along the first full-sized bay on the north. This bay now houses the organ, and the liturgical changes have brought it into the chancel. The chancel is short and square-ended, substantially 13thc., although on its E wall are the remains of an earlier round-headed window. The W tower arch is 12thc., but a pointed arch has been inserted to reduce its size. The tower itself has a tall lower storey of rubble with plain 12thc. windows, and to which a 13thc. storey has been added. There are N and S nave doorways, both under 19thc. porches. Romanesque work is found in the nave arcades, the tower arch, the N nave doorway and a piscina set in the S nave aisle. The church was restored by Ewan Christian in 1885-87 (N and S porches, N aisle wall), and by H. F. Traylen and F. J. Lenton in 1933-35 (tower).


Tansor was held by the king in 1086. No church was noted. Nassington, a prebend of Lincoln Cathedral was endowed with Tansor church in 1107-16. In the early 13thc. there were two Lords of Tansor, each of whom claimed the advowson. This resulted later in the century in two rectors. The chapter of Lincoln eventually picked up one advowson c.1300 and the other by 1325, but the moieties were not consolidated until 1397.

Benefice of Warmington and Tansor and Cotterstock and Fotheringhay and Swick.


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches




Piscinae/Pillar Piscinae


The doorway has been rebuilt, and the outer apex voussoir cut down in the process. This raises the possibility that the letters of the inscription may have been jumbled, and that it originally read DAVID. The author is indebted to John Higgitt for this suggestion.


RCHME Report, uncatalogued.

Victoria County History: Northamptonshire, II (1906), 597-99.

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, 475-78.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Northamptonshire, Harmondsworth, 1961, rev. by B. Cherry, 1973, 423-25.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northampton. VI. Architectural monuments in North Northamptonshire, London, 1986, 144-49.