We could have driven back from Milton Keynes straight up the M1, but instead went on the back roads to Northampton. I worked here for a couple of years back in the late 1980s, but don’t think I’ve ever been back. We found a parking space, had a wander, and ended up in All Saints’ church – SP 754 604. They have a website at http://allsaintsnorthampton.co.uk/. You could not get a town centre church much different to Milton Keynes, but it is wonderful that both are open. A notice at All Saints says it is the only town church open during the week.
There was a Norman church on this site, but – with the exception of the tower – it was destroyed in the Great Fire of Northampton in 1675. By 1680 it had been rebuilt with the help of donations from all over England, including 1,000 tons of timber from King Charles II. The Portico is rather wonderful. It was added in 1701, and I failed to photo the statue of Charles which was added in 1712.
The Nave is a wow – its design is attributed to Henry Bell of Kings Lynn whose work was heavily influenced by Christopher Wren. The Nave is basically two concentric squares with the inner square formed by four majestic Ionian columns. The columns are topped with figures of the four evangelists. The plaster ceiling and dome are decorated with acanthus motifs, religious symbols, cherubs and oak leaves. Edward Goudge, one of Wren’s chief plasterers was responsible for this work.
The West gallery houses the recital organ which was presented by the Sunley Trust in 1983 in memory of Mary Sunley. It was made by J.W. Walker & Son of Suffolk, and is linked to the new chancel organ. The clock is an C18 bracket clock, signed Davies, Northampton. The two pictures in the gallery are of Moses and Aaron, and were the C17 reredos.
Going up into the Chancel is quite splendid. The ceiling is magnificent. The oak pulpit dates from 1680, though the base is Victorian. Lectern rather good too. The reredos was erected in 1888. The large painting of the crucifixion is thought to be Italian. I like the cherub under the 10 Commandments. The marble font is 1680.
There is some nice glass in the Lady Chapel, and these two chairs look nice and comfy.
I also liked the selection of monuments. The poet John Clare is remembered too.
The Good Loaf artisan bakery and café is in the portico – not as cheap as High Wycombe, but it is good to see the church open and business being there. It is a wonderful church, a real town centre church serving its community.
At the east end of the building is the Northampton Town and County War Memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Sadly the gate to that was locked.