Monday, 23 November 2015

Little Paxton, Huntingdon

St James was open but only because Mass was being celebrated; normally it's LNK when not in use however it is open on Friday's between 10.30am and 12.00pm - so that's alright then.

It's a stunning building with a fantastic churchyard full of interesting headstones but the highlight (externally) is the crude Norman south door tympanum

ST JAMES. Barbaric and entertaining Norman tympanum with a cross in the middle, on the l. Christ and the Lamb (?) on the r. two indefinable animals. In the chancel S wall the head of a Norman window. The chancel arch responds are Norman too, square with an angle shaft. So nave and chancel were once Norman. Perp W tower with its buttresses inside the church. Perp S arcade of four bays, very rough. Octagonal piers, but the responds just corbels in the form of a knot.. - PLATE. Cup and Cover Paten inscribed 1569; Plate 1685-6. - MONUMENT. In the churchyard N of the N porch plain coped stone to the architect John Buonarotti Papworth (d. 1847), architect to the King of Wurttemberg, as the inscription tells you. Paxton Park, which he built, has been demolished.

S door tympanum (1)

John Buonarotti Papworth 1847

Headstones (3)

LITTLE PAXTON. An enchanting hamlet in a lane, it has a park, thatched barns, and cottages that have been company for the church for 300 years. But best of all is the peep of the Ouse shining among reeds and willows.

For nearly 600 years the tower of the church has stood in all this loveliness, its little tiled cap peeping through the battlements. The chancel is older and comes from Norman times. The 13th century font has an oak cover 400 years younger; and in the chancel are fragments of red and yellow glass 500 years old. Two odd things we noticed by a window in the chancel, scratched drawings of horses on the wall, the work of old artists or mischievous boys.

Perhaps the best possession of the church is the south doorway, with its small arch on simple shafts. The stone over the door has a cross in a circle between two sculptures - a figure of the Good Shepherd and a wolf attacking a sheep. Roughly but finely carved, it is Little Paxton’s oldest picture.


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