Thursday, 6 February 2014

Pastoral Peculiars Revisited

How I came to miss this when I made my Pastoral Peculiars book nine years ago is as mysterious as the thing itself. High on a windy ridge above the Northamptonshire village of Little Brington is all that remains of the church of St.John's. Built as a chapel of ease in 1856 by Frederick Spencer, 4th Earl of Spencer (1798-1857), it served those in the village who found the walk to the Spencer tomb-laden St.Mary in Great Brington wearisome. Altruistic as this may seem, it also doubled-up as a memorial to the Earl's first wife Elizabeth Georgina Poyntz, whom he married in 1830. A hundred years on and the church had fallen into disrepair and the body of it was demolished. At the request of the Air Ministry (wish we still had one of those) the tower and broach spire were kept as a navigational landmark. A friend also quite rightly thinks that the local hunt would've lobbied for its continued presence as a prominent marker in these steeplechasing acres. There's another pastoral peculiar nearby that a faulty camera memory card and glowering clouds prevented me from snapping, but you'll find more of the same here, and if I've read it correctly for as little as one penny. Now that is peculiar.


Philip Wilkinson said...

Brilliant the way it's stuck there and you squint through the trees and think, 'Is that REALLY all there is?'

Peter Ashley said...

Yes, one of those buildings when because we are so familiar with a particular shape, our eyes and minds want to put back what's not there. The vanished chancel of Fotheringhay church, by the Nene in Northamptonshire, is a case in point. The surviving nave and tower just look disproportionate, even though still incredibly beautiful.

Mike Biles said...

That IS fascinating. I am always intrigued, and often delighted, by the little surprises one finds dotted about Britain. I popped into Swinbrook church the other day - the amazing Fettiplace memorials will feature on A Bit About Britain in due course, but they are worth a visit if you haven't seen them.