Northampton, Northamptonshire

Holy Sepulchre Church, Northampton, Northamptonshire

Northampton’s most important church stands at the far northern end of the town centre. The area is now almost forgotten amidst shopping arcades and terraced housing. This is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – sometimes called St. Sepulchre’s (or St. Sep’s). It is one of just four round churches from the medieval period to have survived in England (alongside one in Cambridge, one in Little Maplestead, Essex and the Temple Church in London).

Usually round churches are the work of the Knights Templar, but there is no known connection with the site at Northampton, although it may still be one of their constructions. The church was started around 1098 by Simon Senlis on his return from the first crusade. Even then it was the largest of the round churches, but in 1180 the North Aisle was added and then a further aisle was added in 1275. In the early 1400s the tower was added and the South Aisle put in place, making the church by far the largest round church in the country.

Then in the Victorian period the church was extended even more with work for the ever present Sir George Gilbert Scott in the 1860s and John Oldrid Scott in the 1880s. All this extra work, however, does partly obscure the original circular shape which is certainly more apparent at both Cambridge and Temple Church in London.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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