I first visited the church of St Leonard at Glapthorn on a bright but showery Sunday morning early in 2007. A re-visit was made on a gloriously sunny Easter Bank Holiday Monday in 2009. This was on the final day of a four day
cycling tour of East Northants and Rutland. The first three days were dull, wet and miserable and it was good to see the sun for the first time since mid way through Good Friday morning. I feel that you have been unlucky with the weather when you can remember all the times that the sun came out!
Those eagle eyed amongst you might notice that the path leading up to the south porch at St Leonards is wet in the picture on the left, and dry in the picture on the right. The picture on the left was taken on that first trip, with other photographs on this page dating from the re-visit two years later.
Glapthorn is in a lovely part of East Northamptonshire, and is just over a mile or so away from neighbouring Southwick. Those explorong the area by cycle might care to know that there is a steep hill in between the two villages!
When I arrived on the Easter Bank Holiday Monday, the church was oepn and the lawns were being cut. Inside, and my attention was immediately drawn to several Medieval wall paintings peeping out from the limewashed walls. Sadly, these were in very poor condition. A little internet research has suggested that there were two depictions of St Christopher on the walls here, protecting the travellers of the day. Elsewhere, there were basic designs repeated....probably the Medieval equivialent of wallpaper!
One large wall paintinng sits over the chancel arch. Three pictures included below, and you can judge for yourself how poor the condition of them is!
The south porch dates back to the 14th century. There are north and south aisles in St Leonards with one capital being dated at 1160. Others are dated a little later. The pulpit has Jacobean panels (the Jacobean era was 1603 until 1625) and the communion alter rails date from the same period. These were originally installed to keep dogs or other animals from straying in to the sanctuary.
Also catching the eye inside is a Victorian bier, a cart used for transporting coffins at a funeral. There is one similar at nearby Woodnewton.
Outside, on the south side of the tower, a solitaty gargoyle sits, mouth pulled open in typical medieval gesture. Whilts on the subject of the tower, St Leonards's has three bells, two of which are very ancient. One is by John Sleyt and dates from the 14th Century. The inscription on this reads....INNORE SATTI MARIA JOHANNES SLEYT ME FECIT. After a less than successful attempt to translate this using an online Latin - English translation all I will say is that I think this translates as Blameless St Mary. John Sleyt made me.The online translation didn't like the words SATTI or FECIT. I think Saint in Latin is SANCTUS. Any help would be appreciated!
Also in the tower, and a long way from home, is a bell dated 1480 by Kebyll of London. The other bell is is dated 1710 and was cast by prolific Leicester bellfounder Hugh Watts II
The church grounds are well kept and, as mentioned earlier, grass cutting was underway when I arrived. Graves were for the most part badly weathered and held little interest.
A pleasant time spent here. As the information booklet stated, St Leonards is a simple country church. And there is nothing wrong with that at all!
The sun was still blazing down, and it was still fairly early. so I continued on my travels, heading next to any open shop for some emergency chocolate and a bag of crisps. I am counting the crisps as one of the essential five a day as they are made from potatoes. The day that they make chocolate another of the essential five I will be a happy man! After stocking up I headed for St Peter at Oundle. One thing was certain, with St Peter having the tallest church spire in Northamptonshire, a massive 210 feet high, this did not prove difficult to find.