The church of St Mary at Duddington is a frustrating one to photograph. It is virtually impossible to get a decent exterior shot of the whole church together, as it is surrounded by trees and bushes and the church grounds are quite compact. However, in my opinion, if we are looking at
the traditional English parish church in its natural surroundings, this is one of the most beautiful settings of any in the catchment area of this site. Duddington is right off to the north of the catchment area of this site, close to the busy A47. However, the village is tranquil and picturesque and it is one of those places that is beautiful whichever direction you look at it from. Much the same can be said of the immediate area with nearby Tixover, Wakerley and Barrowden all being set in gorgeous countryside. A delight always to visit this part of the world! There has been a church at Duddington for more than 900 years. The first church here would have been wooden, with the earliest stone structure being built around 1150 AD. This would have been a simple affair with nave, south aisle and chancel. The tower was built in the 13th century, and is interestingly situated on the south east corner of the church, rather than the west end as normal. The spire was added later and the north aisle was also added in the 13th century. The main door dates from 1220, and the huge hinges are original and date from that time. The very large south porch is 14th century. As with most other churches, there was considerable restoration here in Victorian times. The work here was undertaken by Bryan Browning, whose most notable work was the designing of Bourne Town hall, which was built in 1821 and which is still in use today. The restoration work at St Mary came about in 1844, and some of the pews here date from that time. Browning was also responsible for the horribly named House Of Correction at Folkingham, and for the workhouses at Bourne, Stamford and Spalding. The church of St Mary was open and welcoming. It was good to see a sign up outside the porch wishing the visitor a warm welcome. The chancel was rebuilt, and enlarged, in the 14th century. The stained glass in the chancel dates from the Victorian era. The carving on the pillars of the north and south aisles are intricate and impressive. The font dates from the 13th century, and is octagonal in design, resting on an octagonal base. There is evidence on the font to show that this would once have been locked, so that the blessed holy water could not have been stolen. There are six bells hanging at St Mary, with all of this ring of six bells being cast by Gillett and Johnston in 1920. When North compiled his study of church bells in Victorian times the situation was very different. According to North there were three bells here in 1700 but only one remained at the time of North's study, this one coming from the Newcombe foundry in Leicester. It was said by villagers at the time that the other two bells were melted down for millstones! I visited St Mary at Duddington for the second time in the Summer of 2010. After worshiping myself in the neighbouring village of Thornhaugh I cycled to Duddington and arrived in time to have my lunch in the church grounds, whilst waiting for the sun to finally force its way through some stubborn cloud. A leisurely look around the church grounds showed a few interesting features. A large chest tomb close to the south porch is a massive piece of work. This is dated 1666 and has the initials T.P carved on it. A few 17th century stones can be seen close to the porch, with dates still legible. One beautiful stone, not in situ but propped up against the back of another stone commemorates one Chrestofer (surname illegible) who "dyed in February 1684. The usual selction of finely carved Georgian stones can be seen here, with some of the examples being particularly good pieces of work. Two gravestone symbols caught my eye and are worth mentioning. A crudely carved skull and crossbones can be seen on the end of a chest tomb on the north side of the church, this symbolising Man's mortality. I was also interested to see a very fine example of a downturned torch. Torches that are downturned like this, with the flame pointing towards the ground, symbolise death and mourning. The same torch that is carved with the flame pointing upwards symbolises life, and the regenerative power of fire! I was here for quite a long time as the sun played peek a boo through the clouds. I hung on for some decent light conditions and enjoyed my time here. A public footpath runs close by and there seemed to be quite a few people about. Quite a few starlings as well, with about two dozen of them lining up on the spire as they paid homage to that scene in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" which frightened me witless as a child! Lunch eaten, photos taken and the sun now blazing down I headed off the short distance to neighbouring Tixover. Lots of miles cycled that day, but a lovely way to spend a Sunday!