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Recent Additions

Nassington (Northants)

East Brent (Somerset)

Great Gonerby (Lincolnshire)

Kirkburn (Yorkshire)

Langtoft (Yorkshire)

Cowlam (Yorkshire)

North Grimston (Yorkshire) and St Simeon Stylites (Syria!)

Kirkdale (Yorkshire) - revised

Wootton Wawen (Warwickshire)

Beckford (Worcestershire)

Wareham (Dorset)

Melbury Bubb (Dorset)

Morcott (Rutland) - revised


Dedication : St Mary the Virgin          Simon Jenkins: Excluded                                     Principal Features : Norman Font; Anglo-Saxon Fragments

Wansford is the 100th church I have added to my site. I wanted my “century” church to be one of the small, ancient and unlauded churches that I love best. It’s also only nine miles from where I live.

It started life in Anglo-Saxon times. We know this from the little Anglo-Saxon window high up in the west wall of the nave. The nave itself is believed to be early Norman. The south door is certainly later than this, bearing as it does all the signs of being of the Transitional period. It is believed to date from 1200. The tower too is dated to the c13. It is of hefty dimensions. Its broach spire is early c14. There is a north aisle with an arcade dating from early c15.

The chancel dates only from 1902 after the original fell down. It does not look that recent so I surmise that much of the original character of it was deliberately retained.

So far, so ordinary. It is the Norman font, however, that is the glory of this church. It is variously dated between 1100-1120. A rather old information board in the church says that it was found at Sibberton Lodge in nearby Thornhaugh a mile or so away. The village Of Sibberton  is said to have been deserted since 1389 because of the ravages of the Plague. Wansford Church was only a “Chapel of Ease” for Thornhaugh Church so it makes sense that this rather grand font was originally elsewhere.

It has arcading around its circumference which provides niches for figure carvings. Unlike many such Norman fonts (such as Coleshill in Warwickshire), however, this one is not populated by Christ and his Apostles. Three of the panels have decorative motifs and of the ten figures some are unidentifiable laymen with long coats, two of whom are fighting each other with clubs or maces and bearing under-sized heart-shaped shields. Whoever they are meant to be they certainly are not Norman soldiers! On either side of these two are priests holding up their hands. Elsewhere is supposedly the scene of Christ’s baptism.

If you need a break and a bit of tranquillity as you are racing along the A1, you can be at Wansford Church within, literally, a minute or two. The village is delightful too, all of limestone and boasting a lovely bridge over the River Nene as well as pubs and restaurants. If you are really lucky you can visit it from your river cruiser! If you are really adventurous or you want to keep the kinds happy visit the nearby Nene Valley Steam Railway as well.

Left: The chancel dates from 1902 although I’m not sure you would know that without being told. The east window is, admittedly, a bit of giveaway with its too-regular tracery and shortened height but then many east windows are Victorian replacements. Otherwise, it is a surprisingly tasteful re-creation and probably not dissimilar from the original. Right: Looking towards the east end. The west door is surprisingly lintelled, although this might not be its original form, of course. The south doorway (on the right) is a no-nonsense affair. The font is in the centre.

Left: Another view of the west end, showing the Anglo-Saxon window at the top of the west wall. The south wall was reconstructed in 1663 and the north aisle was added in c13. The clerestory seems not to have been “raised” in the usual way: rather windows have just been cut into the nave wall. All of this suggests that the nave always was the height it is now with the usual loftiness of an Anglo-Saxon church. Perhaps much of the north nave wall is of that period? Centre: The Transitional south door with its round head and lack of decoration. Right: The Norman font.

The Wansford Font

Above: The tower.  Note the crude drip moulds over the windows.

Right Above: Where the tower joins the bracoh spire there is a nail head decorative strip.

Right Below: The northern aspect.