Easter 2009, and a four day excursion in to East Northants and Rutland. The first three days were dull and gloomy but the Bank Holiday Monday proved to be a lot better, with the sun making its first appearance for three days! I was due to be travelling home on the Monday, but I hung around Bulwick long enough to do a quick exterior re-shoot in much better lighting conditions.
Bulwick is a lovely village, situated just off the A43, in between Stamford and Kettering. The spire of the church of St Nicholas stands tall and elegant above the picturesque stone cottages of the village. Gargoyles sit proudly on each side of the tower.
There can be few, if any, better settings for any church within the catchment area of this site. It seems that whichever direction you look from, there are some picturesque long distance shots of St Nicholas to be had. When you onsider that Tixover is nearby, as well as Duddington and Wakerley then it is possible to ay that this is an area of outstanding natural beauty.
There are five bells in the tower, with four of these dating from the 17th Century, the other being mid Victorian. The three oldest bells, two dated 1629 and the other a year later, come from the Stamford Bellfoundry, which was owned by the Norris family, on whom I am doing some research. I am fairly sure that all three of these bells would have the name Thomas Norris on them. Thomas was the son of Tobie Norris, who founded the business, and who passed away shortly before these three bells would have been cast.
Inside the church and it is hard to know where to look first! My eye was first caught by a monument on the south wall to Sir Henry Fowkes who died in 1612, and his wife Eleanor, who passed away three years previously. A curious monument this as at one point, underneath the figures of Sir Henry and his wife, there were figures of their six children. These are no longer there.
Still on the south wall there is a monument to Vice Admiral Sir George Tryon. He died, along with 300 of his men, when H.M.S Victoria collided with H.M.S Camperdown, and sank in the Mediterranean in 1893.
There are some very striking wooden carvings in the pew ends. These date from Victorian times and were the work of John Henry Holditch. He was Rector of Bulwick from 1862 until 1892. He was responsible for much restoration of the church and he was a very talented wood carver. . I attempted to photograph each of the carvings that he produced, but the lighting was pretty poor and I struggled to get the results that I wanted. Two examples of John Henry Holdich's work are included here at the bottom of the page though.
As a small village, Bulwick has probably not had all that many famous people live there over the years. Way back in 1170 Reginald Fitzurse is said to have lived in the village. He was one of the four knights of Henry II who murdered Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas A Becket. Interestingly, when I was out and about on the Saturday, I popped in to All Saints church at Ayston, close to Uppingham. There I was delighted to find some medieval stained glass. Two ladies were cleaning the church in readiness for the following days service. They were pleased to have a visitor and were keen to show me a particular panel in one of the ancient windows which showed Archbishop Thomas A Becket with a knife or sword sticking out of the side of his head. Due to the local interest here with regardsReginald Fitzrse, I have included a photograph of this window below, bottom right. Lots of stained glass windows to be seen here as well. Some nice Victorian examples. One particular favourite of mine included below.
The church grounds here looked, and smelled, delightful. Blossom was everywhere and the noise of bees droning was very loud. It was good to see a Death Head stone in the church grounds here as well. These are stones that were carved with symbols on them denoting Man's Mortality. In this particular instance this is in the form of two human skulls. Other examples have such things as an hour glass (sometimes with wings), or the skull could have wings as well. All designed to remind the onlooker that time is fleeting!
And talking of fleeting time I made a quick exit to re-shoot the church at Deene whilst the sun was still out. Before starting the long cycle ride home to Peterborugh via a very circuitous route, taking in churches at Southwick, Glapthorn, Oundle, Stoke Doyle, Cotterstock and Warmington on the way. Bulwick is quite simply a delight and there will be a re-visit in the Summer.