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St Mary, Whittlebury, Northamptonshire

(52°5′33″N, 0°59′44″W)
SP 689 443
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Northamptonshire
now Northamptonshire
medieval Our Lady
now St Mary
  • Kathryn Morrison

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Feature Sets

Whittlebury is a village in the S of the county, a mile from the Buckinghamshire border on the A413 road from Buckingham to Towcester. A large part of the medieval parish was occupied by Whittlewood Forest, where assarting was recorded as early as the 13thc. and probably took place before that. Remains of the forest are mostly to the S and E, forming a ring of discrete woods and copses. The settlement itself was centred on the area of the church, at the N end of the modern village, where finds by the Whittlewood Project indicate Iron Age habitation. The church consists of a 12thc.-13thc. W tower, an aisled nave with no clerestorey, offset from the line of the tower and a square-ended chancel, largely of 1878. Pevsner describes the church as "restored beyond redemption", but it retains some Romanesque features. A datestone suggests that the N aisle was rebuilt in 1638. The church was repaired and refurnished in 1832, and a vestry was added in 1850. The entire church was restored in 1878. The tower arch is included here, although it may be 13thc., and a sawtooth stringcourse above it. The N nave arcade includes a waterleaf capital.


Whittlebury is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey. The chapel was first recorded in an ordination of 1236 (Franklin, 302).


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches



The arcade may date from the 1170s or '80s; the tower arch from twenty years or so later. Sawtooth appeared early in the 12thc., but retained its popularity until late in the century. The Whittlewood Project, hosted by Leicester University, is long-term multi-disciplinary project on settlement in the area, using documentary evidence; place-names; archaeology (both above ground and excavated evidence); and standing buildings.

RCHME Report, uncatalogued.
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, I, 247.
M. J. Franklin, Minsters and Parishes: Northamptonshire Studies. Cambridge 1982.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Northamptonshire. Harmondsworth 1961, rev. B. Cherry 1973, 460.
Whittlewood Project, Medieval Settlements and Landscapes in the Whittlewood Area. http://www.le.ac.uk/elh/whittlewood/index.htm