For me, the church of St Mary at Haddon is a bit special. The church doesn't have the wow factor of other churches within the catchment area of this site. It doesn't have priceless treasures or a wealth of history. It is an honest, small village church with no pretensions. What it does have though is a friendly and welcoming attitude that is not matched in the area in my experience.
The sign posted up on the door welcomes visitors. A further sign offers a hot drink to the visitors and points them in the direction of the kettle!
Haddon is a village that you don't really visit unless you have a reason to go there. Set just off the busy A1 a few miles from Peterborough, this is a very small farming village, if indeed it is big enough to be called a village. Perhaps "hamlet" would be a better description.
I first visited here on the second day of shooting for this site, back in September 2006, being chased by a large black labradore for my troubles. Despite the anti social behaviour of this labradore, this has become a favourite place of mine to visit since that time. A place where one can enjoy the solitude.
The north side of the church grounds here contains a fair number of trees, which makes photographing the north of the church very difficult. For that reason, the exterior photographs of St Mary are taken from the south. The church grounds on the south side run in to a large area of farmland, with the bust A1(M) visible in the distance. Also visible, a few miles across the fields to the south east, is the spire of St Peter at Yaxley.
There was a church mentioned at Haddon in the Domesday Survey of 1086. It is thought that the Eastern wall of the Nave belongs to that period. The church inside is bright and welcoming, especially when sunlight streams in through the south windows. The chancel arch is a very fine piece of work, with some nice carvings on the capitals. Arcades on the North and South sides were added in the early 13th Century. Over the chancel there are the fragments of a 15th Century wall painting that shows a figure seated on a rainbow. These fragments are very badly faded and,just about illegible.
A large memorial window in the chancel commemorates Lieutenant Cornwallis Jasper Trower, R.N., killed at the battle of Majuba Hill, in February 1881. The font is plain, and is thought to date from the 14th century, and inside the church, against the north wall of the aisle, is a stone carving of a lion, which is said to have once belonged to a large monument. There is a floor slab in the chancel to Samuel Morton, Rector here, who passed away in 1680.
Three bells hang in the 16th century bellfry. The first of these was originally cast by 15th century bellfounder, and wine maker, John Danyell. The other two bells date from the 16th century, and were cast by Newcombe of Leicester. North's study of church bells in Huntingdonshire, complied in the 1860's, made note of the fact that two of the three bells were broken. In the end all three bells were re-cast by Taylor of Loughborough, and rehung in the very early 20th century.
The church here is a faviurite place of mine to visit when things are not going well. The peace and quiet to be found here is priceless. The church is sure to be open and if anyone does turn up then you can guarantee that there will be a warm welcome. The people here have their hearts in the right place and bigger churches could look on and learn. One the of photos here has a special significance for me. Things had gone very badly and I escaped life for a couple of hours, visiting St Mary. I stood in a field just watching the sun go down The sky was beautiful and it was lovely to see the church in silhouette and reflected in the nearby pond. It was beautiful and somehow things didn't seem quite so bad...