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St Mary, Roade, Northamptonshire

(52°9′36″N, 0°53′41″W)
SP 757 519
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Northamptonshire
now Northamptonshire
medieval Our Lady
now St Mary
  • Ron Baxter

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Feature Sets

St Mary's has a chancel with a S vestry, a central tower and a nave with a 19thc. N aisle and no clerestorey and a S doorway under a porch. The N nave doorway now communicates with a church hall, added in 1972 to replace the old church institute, dating from 1886, which had fallen into disrepair. The original aisleless nave and chancel are mid-12thc. work, to judge from the small round-headed lancets in the chancel and the S nave doorway, with beakhead decoration. The tower, a substantial structure of stone rubble, is presumably contemporary, but the pointed lancets and the spacious triple arcading on the N and S walls suggest a remodelling around 1200, while the transomed, trefoil-headed double bell-openings of the upper storey must date from the 15thc. The nave roof collapsed in 1660, and in 1669 it was re-roofed and new windows put in the S wall. At the same time one of the tower arches was bricked up, and only a small door provided to give access between nave and chancel. In 1822 the chancel was still walled off from the nave, and was in use as a Sunday School. The partition was eventually taken down in 1840. Meanwhile the nave was repaired in 1822, when the floor level was raised and a gallery was added at the W end. The N aisle was added in 1850. The tower was restored in 1856, and the chancel in 1857 by E. F. Law, including re-roofing with the present high-pitched roof. The nave roof was raised to match the chancel roof in 1864. The S vestry was added in 1879. A major restoration of the tower took place in 1949-50, and in 1950 the interior of the church was restored. A further restoration of the exterior took place in 1981. Features described here are the S nave doorway and the tower arcading.


Roade apparently belonged to Gunfrid de Chocques in 1086, and Dodin held it from him, but Dodin's holding of four parts of half a hide is very small, and may not have represented all of Roade. No church or priest was recorded. A church was established around 1100 by the Hartwells of Hartwell and the Lupus family of Ashton, and by 1167 Simon Hartwell had given his portion to the abbey of St James, Northampton as a chantry for the souls of his father, Geoffrey, and his brothers William and Henry. A dispute over the tithes between the abbey and Sir John Hardreshall, the Lupus heir, is recorded between 1342 and 1346, which was resolved in favour of the abbey.

Benefice of Roade and Ashton with Hartwell.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration


The beakhead on the S doorway is a mixture of conventional bird beakhead, cats' heads, some with their tongues lying across the angle roll, and doglike heads carved as exaggerated caricatures. There is no indication that any of these heads is not original. Elsewhere in the county, the beakhead ornament is also found at Pitsford and Earl's Barton but all three appear to be by different workshops.

Victoria County History: Northamptonshire, V (2002), 345-74.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Northamptonshire, Harmondsworth, 1961, rev. by B. Cherry, 1973, 386.
H. C. Trengrove, The History of St Mary the Virgin, Roade, 2nd edition, rev. by D. Cochrane, 1987.