Font-St Peter and St Paul 's Church- Hannington- Northant's
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Norfolk12
N 52° 19.830 W 000° 48.630
30U E 649191 N 5800055
A lovely old 13th century church with some good features.
Waymark Code: WM8RPY
Location: East Midlands, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 05/08/2010
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member Brentorboxer
Views: 1

The parish of Hannington has been inhabited for a much greater period of time than many people may realise. Evidence exists from the Bronze Age and from the time of the Roman occupation and also later from the Medieval period. Bronze Age worked flints have been found at three different locations in the parish, and there are traces of a Roman settlement just north of the present day village where Roman pottery has been found.

Just east of the church, an area of around two hectares shows signs of a medieval settlement which appears to have consisted of enclosures or paddocks, formerly part of the village itself. Hannington was mentioned in the Domesday book, and it is of note that the parish was then much smaller than most settlements in the area as it continues to be today.

The church, once a major part of village life, was built in the late 13th century, though it incorporates some stonework from an earlier period. At the time of construction the church was “in the gift” of the Gilbertine Order of Sempringham in Lincolnshire. The Gilbertines are thought to have provided the first priests in exchange for annual “tythes” from the village. The arrangement of the nave with its two central pillars and three arches or arcades, may have been influenced by the plan of Sempringham Priory, started just 100 years previously and incorporating a central wall which separated the cannons (monks) and their accommodation from the nuns and their dormitory and refectory. It has been suggested that a monastic cell existed in Hannington and also that when Archbishop Thomas a Becket fled from the King and the General Council in 1164, accompanied by Gilbertine cannons, he stayed overnight in Hannington. There is no documentary evidence to support either belief. It is believed that Becket left St. Andrews, Northampton, in the evening and was in Lincoln the following day.

The church of St Peter and St Paul is one of only two in England with a bisected nave; the other is at Caythorpe in Lincolnshire. The latter had a north aisle added in Victorian times, spoiling the symmetry. St Peter and St. Paul, Hannington, could therefore be considered to be unique in England. The delicate medieval screen now enclosing the vestry was originally placed across the arch separating the chancel (occupied only by the priest and assistants), from the nave (used by the people). The oak pulpit is of similar age.

In 1562 Thomas Godwin became Rector of Hannington. In the same year he baptised his baby son Francis in Hannington's church. The Reverend Thomas left to become Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and eventually Bishop of Bath and Wells. His son Francis became Bishop of Hereford and wrote the first science-fiction novel in the English language, The Man in the Moone, a fascinating read with amazing predictions.

By the mid 19th century the church had fallen into a serious state of disrepair and was little more than a ruin, but thankfully in 1869 the building was restored to its former glory and a new Rectory was built alongside it. The person responsible for this was the Rector, John Downes. He personally paid for the restoration and for the building of the Rectory, now called Hannington House. It was John Downe’s wife Lucy who founded the school in Hannington in 1871, and this school building still exists and is used as the Village Hall. A portrait of Lucy Downes hangs in the building to this day, having been donated by the family in the 1970s.

John Downes is perhaps one of the village's most notable past residents. A graduate of Cambridge University, he studied botany with Charles Darwin under Professor Henshaw. It is believed that John Downes had been offered the position of botanist on the Beagle which he declined, as his vocation was in the Church. He then went on to become a Parish Priest. This role of botanist was then taken on by the very famous Charles Darwin. But John Downes is famous in his own right for his work, and from time to time Hannington receives visitors interested in John Downes’ background. There is a memorial to John Downes, his wife and his daughter in the church in the form of a stained glass window in the east wall.

Clearly the church would have been at the heart of village life in Hannington. However, since 1954 the village has shared a vicar with the neighbouring parishes of Walgrave and Old, and more recently, Scaldwell. Older villagers can recall there being a good congregation and a choir made up of local boys. At one time there was also a Chapel in the village situated close to West Farm. Now, in common with many village churches, the congregation of the church is modest and the majority of villagers are not involved.

details from wikipedia
Approximate Age of Artefact: 13th century

Relevant Website: Not listed

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