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Services are normally held at 11:00 am on the first and third Sundays of the month. Please see the Parish Calendar for this month's arrangements

From the Victoria County History (1927)

Church

The church lies 300 yards down a track east of the A413 Towcester to Buckingham road.

The church of ST. NICHOLAS consists of a chancel measuring internally about 29 ft. 7 in. by 13 ft. 8 in., north organ chamber and vestry, nave 31 ft. 7 in. by 16 ft. 1 in., north and south aisles each 6 ft. 9 in. wide, west tower 9 ft. 2 in. square, and a south porch 7 ft. by 5 ft. 6 in.

The east and west walls of the nave, with the chancel and tower arches, are the only survivals of a late 11th-century aisleless church with a western tower. Early in the 13th century the chancel appears to have been rebuilt and lengthened, the walls of the western portion following the line of the original walls. The tower, if ever completed, must have been in a ruinous condition at this time, as the window in the west wall of the nave, which now looks into the tower, is of about the same date as the older work in the chancel. About 1240 the tower seems to have been rebuilt, and to the same period may be assigned the coupled lancet windows in the side walls of the eastern half of the chancel. In the last half of the 13th century the aisles were added to the nave and a new east window was inserted in the chancel, the recess on the north and the wall arcade on the south being formed at the same time. The north wall of the chancel is reported to have been in ruins in 1366; the 13th-century detail here bears marks of resetting and suggests that the whole wall has been rebuilt, probably a few years after this date. Beyond the addition of the south porch and the insertion of a window in the south aisle in the early 15th century no further structural alterations appear to have been undertaken in the middle ages. At a later period the north aisle appears to have been pulled down to supply material for the repair of the church; this was probably done at some time in the 17th century, as, according to Browne Willis, there was no north aisle existing in 1735. The uppermost stage of the tower has evidently been rebuilt, perhaps during the 18th century. In 1868 the church was restored by Street, who rebuilt the north aisle and added the north vestry and organ chamber. The walling generally is of limestone rubble, but the south porch has a facing of rough ashlar work.

The late 13th-century east window of the chancel is a fine and interesting example of the transition from plate to bar tracery. The head is two-centred, and it is of three lights, the central light being higher and wider than the side lights; the tracery above is formed by three trefoiled circles with pierced spandrels between them. The mullions are shafted, and the rear-arch also springs from attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The coupled lancet at the northeast, originally inserted about 1240 and reset at the later rebuilding of the wall, has a lozenge ornament between the heads of the lights externally, and a circular flower ornament in a corresponding position internally, now partly covered by the rear-arch. The wide recess to the west of the window has a segmental two-centred head subdivided by forked ribs springing from a central moulded corbel. Both the main head and the ribs are hollow-chamfered, and there are small shafts at the angles of the jambs. The whole work is very rough, and the junction of the ribs with the main head is clumsy in the extreme, the result, doubtless, of unskilful rebuilding. At the west end of the wall is a modern arch opening to the organ chamber. At the east end of the south wall is a late 13th-century piscina with a projecting bowl and credence shelf and a trefoiled ogee head. The label inclosing the head is linked to the label of the contemporary wall arcade which occupies the remainder of the lower part of the wall. Above the arcade are two windows, the eastern a coupled lancet window of the same date as that in the opposite wall, but more elaborately moulded externally, the mullion being shafted and enriched with dog-tooth ornament, while the western window is a lancet of the early 13th century. The end bays of the arcade beneath are narrower than the two middle bays, the easternmost bay having a stilted semicircular head, while the other bays have two-centred segmental heads; all spring from attached shafts with moulded bases and capitals, and the abaci are ornamented with the nail-head. The two eastern bays formed sedilia, and the westernmost bay contains an early 13th-century low-side window rebated for a shutter. The labels are linked horizontally and stopped by a mask-stop on the west. The chancel arch, which is semicircular and of rough workmanship, springs from plain square jambs with chamfered imposts.

The north and south arcades of the nave are each of three bays and are alike in detail; the arches are two-centred and of two chamfered orders, and are supported by octagonal columns with moulded capitals and water-table bases standing on octagonal plinths with square sub-plinths. The outer orders die upon the end walls of the nave, the inner orders being carried by moulded corbels, and the arches are inclosed by labels on both nave and aisle faces. The north arcade, which had been built up, was considerably restored when the north aisle was rebuilt, and the bases are modern. The tower arch is like the chancel arch, but the imposts have been recut; above it is an early 13th-century lancet, now looking into the tower.

The modern north aisle is designed in the style of the 13th century. The south aisle retains no original windows; the east window is an insertion of the 14th century, and is of three trefoiled lights with reticulated tracery in the head, while at the west end of the south wall is a two-light window of the same date and type. The remaining window at the opposite end of the same wall is a square-headed early 15th century insertion of three cinquefoiled lights. The south doorway, which is contemporary with the aisle, has a two-centred head of two orders, the outer order having shafted jambs, while the inner order is continuous.

The tower rises in three plain stages, the ground and intermediate stages being lighted by plain lancets on the west, and the rebuilt bell-chamber by coupled lancets on all four sides. The early 15th-century south porch has a pointed outer doorway of two chamfered orders, and is lighted from each side by a quatrefoil. The walls rise from a boldly moulded plinth and have small two-stage buttresses on the east and west; the roof is steeply pitched and covered with stone flags.

The font and fittings are modern. In the sanctuary floor are preserved eight early 13th-century tiles with raised designs, and some 14th-century red and yellow 'slip tiles' are placed in the floor on the north and south sides of the chancel. Hung on the north wall of the chancel is a pulpit-hanging embroidered with the Dayrell arms and bearing the inscription '1659 Donum Thomae Dayrelli Armigeri.' Above it are also hung two funeral helms, one probably made up from a 16th-century close helmet, while the other seems to be a modern imitation.

The earliest monument in the church is a table tomb in the third bay of the arcade, on the south side of the chancel, commemorating Paul Dayrell (d. 1491) and his wife Margaret, the date of whose death is not given. In the covering slab are their figures, he in the plate armour of the period, and she in a gown trimmed with fur. Below the figures is the inscription, 'Hic jac[e]t paulus dayrell Armig' et Margareta uxor eius qui quidem | paulus obiit xxix die Marcii A° dñi m°cccc° lxxxxj q. a[n]i[m]ab[us] ppicietr de[us]' In the back of the recess in the north wall of the chancel is a memorial, with a headless figure, to Richard Blakysley, a former rector (d. 1493). The inscription is as follows: 'Hic sub pede jacet d∼n Ric[ard]us blakysley quond[a]m Rector istius eccl[es]ie qtilde; obiit sexto die aprilis A° d[omi]ni m°cccclxxxxiij° cui[us] a[n]i[ma]e ppicietr de[us] amen.' Standing in the middle of the chancel is a fine table tomb to Paul Dayrell (d. 1556) and his third wife Dorothy (d. 1571), widow of William Saunders, with their recumbent effigies. On the sides are shields of arms and the kneeling figures of their nine sons and six daughters. At the angles are small baluster columns supporting a Doric frieze, in the metopes of which are carved elephants' heads and the Saunders coat, alternating with Dayrell cinqfoils. Beneath the altar is a floor slab to William Cave, a former rector (d. 1635). The slab is traditionally said to be the original altar slab, but no crosses are visible on the exposed side, though they may exist on the underside. The dimensions of the stone render the tradition not improbable. On the south wall of the chancel is a monument to a later Paul Dayrell (d. 1690). There is also a floor slab at the east end of the chancel to Frances, the wife of Matthew Wilkes and daughter of Peter Dayrell (d. 1694).

There are three bells: the treble by John Warner & Sons, 1868, the second by Edward Hall, 1726, and the tenor by Richard Chandler, 1674.

The Village

The houses of the village are hidden from the A413 road from Towcester to Buckingham. Tile House stands in well-wooded grounds. In the park is a large sheet of water, and an avenue leads from the house to the eastern boundary where Tile House Farm stands. Old Tile House, which also stands in the park, is a brick and stone building with a tiled roof. The present house was built by Sir Marmaduke Dayrell, a member of a younger branch of the family, between 1693 and 1697, the former date with the Dayrell arms being on a stone over the porch and the latter date on the head of one rain-water pipe, while the initials M.D. occur on another. The house was much altered in the 19th century. It is of two stories with attics, and the original windows have wooden mullions and transoms. Insidel some original panelling and other fittings remain.

The old rectory, formerly called Pondclose House, is a 17th-century building of brick and stone roofed with tiles and slates. It was refronted in the 18th century, and additions were made to it in the 19th century. On the east side of the house are the remains of some fish-ponds.

Lillingstone House has a park of about 20 acres.

The site of Luffield Priory exclusive of the church lay in the north-west of the parish, but there is now no trace of the buildings above ground. A little to the east of the site at Chapel Green are the remains of the 15th-century chapel of St. Thomas of Canterbury. This chapel was apparently founded by Robert Dayrell and Ralf his son, who in the 13th century gave to Luffield Priory the piece of land on which it stands. (fn. 11) It is built of stone and has now a thatched roof. It was converted into two dwellings and partly rebuilt in the 17th century. There still exist traces of the 15th century east window of the chapel, the west doorway and west window over it, all now blocked and the east window partially covered by a 17th-century chimney stack.

The royal forest of Whittlewood extended into the parish.

 

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