Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kings Sutton, Northamptonshire

‘Northamptonshire for spires and squires’, says an old proverb, and Northamptonshire spires don’t come any more beautiful than this one at King’s Sutton, near the border with Oxfordshire. Its delicate, almost lace-like details suggest that it’s probably late-14th century, and although it was restored in 1898 it’s likely that it looks very much the way it did when it was built. The pinnacles, flying buttresses, and openings are classics of their kind. Pevsner’s Buildings of England volume on Northamptonshire calls it ‘one of the finest, if not the finest, spire in this county of spires,’ and it’s easy to agree.

Pevsner was not the only admirer of Northamptonshire spires. The Victorian architects who revived and developed Gothic church architecture used them as models of their churches. Many of these designers especially admired the Gothic of the 14th-century – they called it the Decorated or Middle Pointed style – and ‘Northamptonshire’ spires can be seen above the terraces of London and between the mills of Yorkshire towns.

The 198-foot spire makes a stunning centrepiece for Kings Sutton, with church, manor house, court house, and ironstone cottages around a green. A traditional rhyme praises some of the place’s other attractions:
King's Sutton is a pretty town,
And lies all in a valley;
It has a pretty ring of bells,
Besides a bowling alley:
Wine and liquor in good store,
Pretty maidens plenty;
Can a man desire more?
There ain't such a town in twenty.

Hats off to the inspiring churches and villages of Northamptonshire.

1 comment:

Peter Ashley said...

Living as I do barely a mile from the Leicestershire / Northamptonshire border, it always somehow comes as a surprise that the county of squires and spires also has a border with Oxfordshire.
It's like never quite believing that Buckinghamshire, another neighbour, also nearly touches Heathrow Airport.