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All Saints, Wilbarston, Northamptonshire

(52°29′14″N, 0°48′20″W)
SP 812 884
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Northamptonshire
now Northamptonshire
  • Ron Baxter

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Wilbarston is in the NW of the county, within the ancient forest of Rockingham, and 2 miles from the river Welland that forms the border with Leicestershire. The village stands on a hill, separated from its neighbour, Stoke Albany, only by a stream. The Jurassic Way; a long-distance walkway along the limestone ridge between Stamford and Banbury, passes through the village, and the church is on the N edge of the village. All Saints' has an aisled and clerestoreyed nave with arcades of three bays. The N arcade is carried on cylindrical piers with 12thc. half-column responds at the E and W ends, but the pier capitals are 13thc. moulded work, and the arches must date from c.1300. The S arcade is also much modified. Bay 1, perhaps a transept arch originally, is round-headed and substantially 12thc., while the arches of bays 2 and 3 are 13thc. and pointed. All the capitals are moulded, and the piers cylindrical, except that shafts have been added on the E side of pier 1 to match the arch profile (see below). The S nave doorway is 13thc., under a 19thc. porch, and the N doorway is blocked. The chancel contains a 12thc. priest's doorway. The W tower is late 13thc., short and unbuttressed with a broach spire with two tiers of lucarnes. The church is built of yellow stone throughout. The nave was restored in 1884. Romanesque sculpture is found in the two nave arcades and the S chancel doorway.


Robert de Tosny held most of Wilbarston in 1086, holding three hides and one virgate. A further three virgates were held by the king. No church or priest was recorded. Between the 13thc. and the Dissolution the church was in the hands of the abbey of Benedictine nuns at Elstow (Beds).


Exterior Features


Interior Features



The linked leaf motif, with elements of a waterleaf design, finds a local parallel on the more elaborate capitals of the doorways at Spratton. Pevsner has suggested that the Norman church had transepts before it had aisles, that the E bay of the S arcade was originally a transept arch, and that the 12thc. E respond of the N arcade must therefore be re-set.

Victoria County History: Bedfordshire, II (1904), 353-58 (on Elstow Abbey).
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Northamptonshire, Harmondsworth 1961, rev. B. Cherry 1973, 462-63.