In the little village of Brixworth, just a few miles from Northampton, is one of the most important Romanesque churches in Europe.
Brixworth Church served a monastery that was founded here in 680 during the reign of King Offa of Mercia, probably on a different site and made of wood. This was likely to have been under the auspices of Medehamsted Abbey (modern Peterborough). The present church dates from AD750-850. The monastery was destroyed by the Vikings in 870 and the church ruined but not destroyed. Reconstruction took place in 960-970.
The nave shows on both sides clear evidence of archways to what were originally “porticuses” - side chapels (such as existed also at Deerhurst). It is believed that on the north side that these separated from each other by walls, but excavations suggest this was not the case on the south side. These were removed in the 960-70 rebuilding, the arches through to the nave were filled in and the clerestory windows we see today were added. The filled in arches still show the Roman brickwork that the Saxon builders had re-used!
The nave is entirely Saxon in construction. At the west end the doorway would have led into the narthex - an entrance porch in which much church business and ceremonies would have been carried out. The narthex became the base of the current tower. The tower stair turret was added in c11. Also in the west wall is a filled in doorway that may have led to an internal gallery - again, Deerhurst is believed to have had a similar arrangement. The triple arch was added in c11.