Towcester Church, Northamptonshire

Towcester Church stands close to Towcester Castle (now merely earthworks). Towcester owes its existence to fortifications, first by the Romans and then by King Edward the Elder who in around 921 AD fortified the village as it stands on the border of the Danelaw. It seems probable that the first church was built here then.

A rebuild in stone had clearly happened by 1142 when William I gave Towcester Church as part of his gift of four churches to Fontanelle Abbey (Normandy).

By 1200 the church held broadly the same ‘footprint’ that the current one does although it was probably of simpler designer and less height. It was not until thirty years’ later than the church was increased in length and height. During the reigns of Edwards I-III the church was enlarged again and a north aisle was added. The tower began construction in 1480 and wasn’t completed until 1485.

After the Reformation the church interior was denuded of its statuary and images and the rood screen was removed in 1548. It remained in this state until Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin arrived in 1842 and began his usual programme of ‘gothicisation’.

Today, Towcester Church is handsome if slightly hidden by the more recent buildings along Watling Street.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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