When I was setting up this site, the idea was simple. Draw a circle, ten miles radius, around Peterborough and photograph all of the churches within that circle. Then the interest really took hold and that circle was extended to twenty miles. Then it got more complicated still and I found places just outside the twenty miles radius that I wishes to include. Suddenly the cicle was more resembling a hexagon and places such as Lowick....according to Google Maps a little more than 21 miles from Peterborough found themselves included.
The church of St Peter at Lowick is featured in Simon Jenkins' excellent book "England's Thousand Best Churches". I had heard more than one person say that this church would end up in the top one hundred, never mind top thousand! Jenkins describes the church of St Peter as a "hidden masterpiece of English perpundicular"...not sure about the hidden part though as the church dominates the landscape for miles around!
Having visited this church inside and out, my own opinion on this church is that St Peter ranks alongside any church that I have personally visited. Within the churches in the catchment area of this site I would rate it in the top three with Castor and Crowland Abbey. I have given two pages over to this church. One page for exterior shots, the other detailing the interior. If you are looking at this page, and have not seen the photographs of the interior, please take a look as St Peter is stunning inside.
Lowick is a small village two miles from Thrapston in East Northamptonshire. The church stands on high ground at the north end of the village. There is known to have been a church here at the time of the Domesday survey in 1086, but no visible trace of that church remains. Large scale rebuilding was undertaken in and around 1300. The church was almost entirely rebuilt at the end of the 14th century, with the work being down to Sir Henry Green, who succeeded his father as the Earl of Drayton in 1369.
The west tower dates from the early 15th century, and is a four stage affair. The top stage is octagonal and is supported by flying buttresses, reminiscent of Fotheringhay. There are 12 pinnacles on top, with each having a golden weatherwane on top. Quite beautiful, particularly with the summer sunshine blazing down. The tower was completed by 1480.
Victorian restoration came about in the late 1860's and early 1870's and today an appeal is underway to help raise money to repair the roof.
On the south side of the tower there is an engraved sundial, whilst the church clock and chimes date from 1891. At the top of the third stage of the tower some very finely carved gargoyles can be seen.
St Peter has a ring of six bells, with three of these coming from the Watts bellfoundry of Leicester. Hugh Watts and his father Francis were prolific bellfounders, and one of Hugh Watts bells here is inscribed "IHS NARARENVS REX...." with a date of 1619. This is a common inscription from Watts, so much so that these are known as "Watts Nazarenus bells" with no fewer than 90 bells with this inscription hanging in churches in Leicestershire alone at the time of North's Victorian church bell study. Watts other two bells are inscribed "God Save The Kinge" and "Cum, cum and prae".
Another bell is inscribed "Tho. Goodfellow John Lee CH W 1713. This was re cast by Taylors of Loughborough in 1884, and there is another bell from the same foundry dated 1896. The other bell is inscribed "Richarde Woode Made Me". This is thought to have come from the Newcombe foundry at Leicester circa 1540.
It was interesting to see part of an engraved coffin lid standing up against the wall on the south side of the church. This is thought to date from the 14th century.
Church grounds are well maintained and there are some very beautifully carved gravestones dating back to Georgian times. With the church being set on high ground, the view of the church as one makes their way towards it is lovely. However, the same can be said when standing in the church grounds and looking south over some beautiful East Northamptonshire
countryside. It is quiet and peaceful, and hard to imagine that the main A116 in to Thrapston is so close. A few sheep, the odd horse or two, a few scattered farm dwellings...but apart from that just field after field. Unspoiled and beautiful, we are truly blessed.
Church grounds are well maintained. By the looks of them I would say that a few of these date back to the late 17th century, but sadly all text has long since been worn away. The usual selection of fabulously carved Georgian cherubs were in evidence again, and after having visited churches at nearby Thrapston, Islip and Tichmarsh over a two day period I have to say that there were some talented stonemasons in this part of East Northamptonshire.
An old man was sitting to the west of the church grounds so I went over and chatted to him. He said that he loved churches, the peace and quiet, the history and the buildings themselves, which he found beautiful. Well said sir.
A beautiful church in a beautiful place. Well worth a visit.