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St Botolph, Barton Seagrave, Northamptonshire

(52°23′5″N, 0°41′48″W)
Barton Seagrave
SP 888 771
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Northamptonshire
now Northamptonshire
medieval St John
now St Botolph
  • Ron Baxter

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St Botolph's consisted originally of nave and chancel with a central tower, all of the early 12thc. Original nave windows, now blocked, are visible on the N and S walls inside. To this nave was added a 13thc. S aisle, two bays long, and this was rebuilt by Carpenter and Ingelow in 1878 as a second nave with a second, broad chancel to the E. The original nave received a clerestorey of trefoil lights in spherical triangles, probably c.1300. The central tower retains its narrow E and W arches, with important carved capitals, but the space beneath it has been converted into a vestry and organ loft, with the original chancel serving as a small chapel. Inside this is splendid wall arcading with naturalistic foliage capitals of c.1300. When visited, the second nave and chancel to the S had been arranged for a concert, with the stage in the chancel and auditorium occupying both the original nave and the new one. The plain font may be 12thc. On the exterior, some herringbone masonry is visible in the N walls of the tower and chancel. Early 12thc. sculpture survives on the N nave doorway, with its figural tympanum, and the elaborate windows on the N wall of the tower, nave and chancel. The 12thc. tower itself is of three storeys, undivided by string courses; the bell-openings are of the early 14thc., and the parapet still later.


Barton Seagrave was held by Robert from Geoffrey de Mowbray, Bishop of Coutances in 1086. No church was mentioned, although the monks of Peterborough claimed to have been given the vill before the Conquest. RCHME argues that Peterborough was granted the church by the lords of Barton in the 1140s, and the earliest reliable document attesting to this dates from 1148-66.

Benefice of Barton Seagrave with Warkton.


Exterior Features



Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches




Pevsner suggests that the head on the N tympanum is that of Christ, but the position between lions surely makes Daniel likelier. Position is irrelevant, of course, if, as Pevsner asserts, the tympanum is wrongly assembled, but the fact that the three panels carved with the two lions and the head are joggled to fit together seems suggestive of a lintel position. The raised upper rims of the two panels carved with goats indicate that they too are in the correct relative positions; only the chip-carved panels seem out of place. Pevsner dates the Norman work c.1120-30 on the basis of the decorative features found on the doorway, windows and tower arches. They could even be slightly earlier - all are found at Ely before c.1120, and the volute capital design was becoming old-fashioned by then. Zarnecki dates the tympanum c.1100, and assumes that it all belongs together.

Victoria County History: Northamptonshire. III (1930).
G. Baker, The History and Antiquities of the County of Northampton. 2 vols, London, 1822-41
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.
C. Keyser, A list of Norman Tympana and Lintels. London 1904 (Second ed. 1927), xlvi, 5.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Northamptonshire. Harmondsworth 1961, rev. B. Cherry 1973, 103-04.
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), 275.
RCHME Report, uncatalogued.
G. Zarnecki, English Romanesque Sculpture 1066-1140. London 1951, 28.