All Saints, Great Harrowden is built of ironstone, except for the tower, which is grey Ashlar. The tower was rebuilt in 1822. Formerly there was a low spire, but this collapsed in the eighteenth century. The tower is now topped with four pinnacles.
Outside the Church
On the north side, there is a 14th. Century vestry with an opening which indicates a ‘bone hole’. This was cleared in the mid 1970’s, in the course of renovations and the remains re‐interred. On the south side, you will see that the south aisle has disappeared, and that the present wall is made up of the blocked up arches of the south arcade. The intersected tracery of the south windows, which were reset when the aisle was taken down, dates from C. 1300. On the north wall can be seen a fine set of gargoyles which is strangely absent from the south side of the church. In the far south west of the churchyard there is an old well, which belonged to some workers cottages now demolished. The well used to be outside the churchyard until it was extended when the cottages where demolished. On the north side of the church can be found an iron headstone which is very unusual.
Inside the Church
The arches and shafts of the south arcade are earlier than those of the north. The style of the former vestry and chancel (reconstructed in 1845 by Earl Fitzwilliam) is Decorated. There are two light windows, north and south, and an east window with five lights. The east window is of five trefoiled lights with reticulated tracery and has a moulded arch and shafted jambs. In the south wall are three 14th‐century ogeeheaded windows and two in the north wall, all of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil above, and the window of the vestry is of the same type. The piscina and triple sedilia are original and form a single composition of four moulded trefoliated arches on triple shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The three seats are on the same level, and the arches are set below the moulded string which runs at sill level along the south and north walls
Oak Chancel Screen
Perpendicular in style, dating from 1400. The darker wood shows some Victorian restoration or addition. It should be noted that the rood screen is not in fact symmetrical. Behind the screen where the old high alter was, on the south wall are to be found some seats. These look very low showing that the altar was raised at some point in the church’s development.
14th Century Doom Painting
Above the chancel arch, was discovered in 1896, and repaired and restored in 1963. It shows Our Lord seated on a rainbow and shows his wounds; Our Lady kneels to his right. Various angels hold the instruments of the Passion. On the left, the dead rise from their graves and above them is the gate of Heaven with St. Peter receiving the redeemed. To the right is Hell’s mouth, its frightful wide‐open jaws receiving the damned. It is one of the finest DOOM’S in the country. During repairs, traces of an earlier Doom were found. A separate information sheet on the Doom painting is available.
Another wall painting near the organ dates from a different time and shows a city wall, but it is very crude incomparison to the great Doom painting.
Brass (in chancel) of William Harrowden (d. 1423) and Margery, his wife He wears Lancastrian plate armor, she is in widow’s dress. (this is now cover by carpet to protect it from further wear and damage) Their son, William,married Margaret Vaux and so began the long connection ofthe Vaux family withGreat Harrowden. The Vaux family used to live inGreatHarrowdenHall butthe hall is now owned by the Wellingborough Golf club. The family came under suspicion with the gunpowder plot and at one times the Vaux’s lands were taken away from the family but were returned in 1612.An underground passage used to exist between the church and the hall itself. The exit of this passage in the hall was behind a painting. The location of the entrance from the church has now been lost. If anybody has any information about this please let the Vicar know and mind your step!
Memorials include one to Lady Mary Milbank, sister to the 2nd Marquis of Rockingham (twice Prime Minister), into whose family (the Wentworths) Harrowden passed in the 1700’s.
dates from the 1600’s and is one of only three known to exist. (One is in the Bedford Museum). This used to run the church clock until recently when it was replaced by an electric mechanism.
The date of the door to the base of the tower is uncertain, but if you look carefully near the floor you will see the church mouse, believed to be one of the “signature” carved mice by Robert Thomson.
In the early 1970 ‘S the Altar was removed from the East wall of the sanctuary to the west side of the medieval chancel. The old chancel is now used for social gatherings after services and for activities such as Harvest lunches. Since 1975 considerable‐refurbishing work has been done. In 1982-83, thanks to much sacrificial giving, considerable work was carried out on the north side of the church and the tower. Subsequently electric heating has been installed.
As a result of the 1989 Quinquennial Inspection, further remedial work has been completed, particularly the construction of a gravel drain on the south side to try to eliminate damp in the church. In 1991 the organ was completely overhauled, it has an unusual straight pedal rack offset to the left, which can be a problem for organists with large feet!
In the Chancel repairs have been carried out to the last few fragments of the original stained glass dating from around the time of Oliver Cromwell. The tower holds three bells but these are no longer safe to ring. The tower has been re-roofed as well as the chancel.
If you have any interesting history of the village such as maps, photo’s or information and would like to submit them to this page, email them to [email protected]