Apethorpe is a small, picturesque, East Northamptonshire village, a mile and a half from Kings Cliffe. St Leonard is an attractive looking church in a nice setting. Trees surround the church, and a war memorial stands on a small green nearby. On the opposite side of the road, in a specially built shelter. the last Apethorpe stocks and whipping post remind us of less tolerant days in the past. In the ninetnneth century, a very large Roman Villa was excavated a few hundred yards from where the church stands.
It is thought that the present structure dates from the late 15th century, although there is stonework near a window on the north aisle which can be dated to the 12th century. It is therefore thought that an earlier structure stood on this site. The perpundicular tower was built in 1633, with the clock being attributed to Stamford clockmaker John Watts, being dated at 1704. Another of Watts' clocks can be seen nearby at Nassington. Gargoyles surround the tower, and the single church bell dates from the 15th century, and was made by the Newcombe foundry at Leicester. The South chapel of this church was built in 1621 to house the Mildmay Monument, regarded as one of the finest of the period. The effegies of Sir Anthony, who died in 1617 and his wife Lady Grace, who passed on three years later, lay side by side, with hands raised in prayer, on a black and white tomb chest under a great canopy. In each corner stands a female figure representing the four virtues, Piety, Charity, Wisdom and Justice. On the north side of this monument Man's mortality is depictedby a human skull and the gravediggers tools of pick, shovel and torch. In my own opinion this monument is, with the possible exception of the Dove monument at Upton near to Castor, the finest piece of work in any church within the catchment area of this site. In the same year, a huge stained glass window was commissioned. This is a really stunning piece of work. The first panel shows Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. At the bottom of this panel is the wording "love not your own pleasures more than your own souls". The next shows Christ on the cross, with above him the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, Jospeh of Arimathea, an apostle and two other women, along with the wording "Poor friends far off, great enemies near". The third panel shows the Ascension of Christ, with bodies rising from the grave. Under this is the wording "the dead men shall live". The final panel shows Christ surrounded by Angels with the text underneath reading "More honour to kneel in heaven than to be knelt to on earth" Close to the Mildmay Monument is the tomb of the Lord Of The Manor, Sir Richard Dalton, who died in 1442. This is another very fine piece of work, but it looked stunning with the sunshine pouring in through the south windows on this gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon. The east window representation of the Last Supper is a very interesting piece. This was made by John Rowell of High Wycombe, and is dated at 1732. This was made at a time when stained glass making was a declining art. The artists of their day used to produce "painted glass windows" instead. Over the years most of these faded very badly and this is a very rare surviving example. The window here was removed in 1994 and restored. The compact church grounds are well maintained and there are a few very nicely carved Georgian headstones standing. Close to the porch stands the base and lower part of an ancient churchyard cross. As with most churches in the area, this church is kept open and a visit is essential for anyone visiting in the vicinity. Glorious!