St Botolph's is one of the oldest Parish Churches in the Borough of Kettering. In no sense is the following meant to be a complete history of Barton Seagrave or of its Church, but we hope that what is mentioned will prove of interest.
Those who have inspected the List of Rectors, will have noticed the difference in the spelling of "Barton Segrave" from that in common use today. This is because Barton was named after the Segrave family. Nicholas de Segrave in the first year of Edward ll was appointed Marshall of England. In 1311 he built a Castle at Barton. In 1345, in Edward ll's reign, Sir John de Segrave owned Barton Castle and Manor. From the wording of the Jane Floyde brass (1616) in the side Chapel, we see that Barton was the town on the bar, "this Bar-Towne witness can." (See below for the full inscription.) We thus know that Barton Seagrave was the Town on the Bar, and once belonged to the Segrave family.
The Church is dedicated to St. Botolph, an East Anglian saint, who died on June 17th, some 1300 years ago. He was of noble Saxon blood but was educated in France. St. Botolph in the Middle Ages was thought to be the patron saint of travellers. His name means, "Botwulf" (boat help). He probably preached here on his travels, or his body may have passed this way in the course of various burials.
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Originally, the Church was entirely Norman. Judging from the paucity of mouldings and rudeness of the execution it is believed to be early Norman. It consisted of nave, central tower and chancel. These date from 1130 A.D. and form today the North aisle. When Victorian restoration of the Church took place in 1878, the present South Aisle, which now forms the main body (nave) of the Church, came into being, complete with a new chancel at the East end. In the latest restoration of 1987, the Victorian chancel furniture and nave pews were removed and the nave floor, which was of two separate heights, taken down to one level.
Your attention is drawn to the North Main Door with the Tympanum, the Norman font, the List of Rectors dating from 1229, the Clerestory windows, the massive Norman tower arches, the Hagioscope (or Lepers Squint), the Carved Heads, the Side Chapel with its beautiful 13th century arcades and the Jane Floyde brass of 1616. Note also the small round-headed Norman windows, three of which remain, and the Decorated Style windows of the fourteenth century.
The Main Entrance (1). (viewed from outside)This contains a fine sixteenth century door, and what appears to be a Sanctuary Knocker. Above the door in the archway is a rather crude tympanum, carried out in low bass relief. In the middle is a human face, and on each side are two grotesque monsters. The one on the left appears to have a human head in its mouth.
Inside (2) above the inside Norman Door in the old Nave is the monument to John Bridges, the County Historian. This has a Latin Inscription.
The North Part of the Nave
The Font (3), which is Norman and cylindrical and plain, is the glory of the Church. During the restoration in 1887 it was removed from the South West corner under the tower to its present position just inside the main door. We should remember that the Prayer Book rubric in the Baptismal Service for infants still permits the Minister to dip the child in the water discreetly and warily (" if the Godparents shall certify to him that the child may well endure it."). Since at least 1763 (the date on the silver Christening Bowl) most Barton parents have regarded their child as weak, so that it shall suffice to pour water upon it! This Baptismal Bowl is a fine piece of plate. On the front are engraved the arms of the See of Rochester. As many parents know, it is still in use today.
The earliest fonts were not provided with covers, but in the 13th century the Archbishop ordered that font covers with some means (usually an iron strap with staples and lock) be provided to prevent removal of water which had been blessed and left in the font, for superstitious people thought that the water contained magical power. During the time of Cromwell, many of these covers were forcibly ripped off, and often the stone damaged. Marks can be seen on St Botolph's font, where portions of damaged stone have been repaired.
If you inspect the List of Rectors (4), you will notice the difference in the spelling of 'Barton Segrave' from that in common use today.
This is because Barton was named after the Segrave family. Nicholas de Segrave in the first year of Edward II was appointed Marshall of England, in 1311, he built a castle at Barton, ln 1345, in Edward II's reign. Sir John de Segrave owned Barton Castle and manor. From the wording of the Jane Floyde brass (1616) in the side chapel, we read that Barton was the town on the bar, "this bar-towne witness can..." (see later, for the full inscription). This could be presumed to mean that there was a 'shallow' (a bar or shoal) crossing over the Ise river, or it is simply it pun on the word Barton
The Clerestory Windows (5), The four trefoil windows in the Clerestory are rather quaint and unusual in design. How grateful we are that more recent Church architecture has enabled us to worship at St Botolph's on a fine summer's day with bright sunshine streaming through. The Stained glass of the Church is Victorian.
The Tower in the old part of the Church was central, between the old (North) Nave and the old Chancel, and was once entirely open. Its massive arches are of great beauty. As all the decorative work is on the West face of these arches, we suppose for the benefit of the congregation, for on the East side they are perfectly plain. The upper part of the Tower belongs to the early Decorated Period, as can be seen from the distinctive windows of this period. The archway above the organ is also 14th century work. The Tower wall was breached on the South side to connect the Tower to a Chantry Chapel. Barton Seagrave is one of the few places in the county where complete rings of four ancient bells still exists, being Pre Reformation. The Latin inscription on one reads, "Saint Peter pray for us"! They may have been cast in the churchyard as the state of the roads would probably have made it impossible to carry a bell over great distance. A fifth (treble) bell was added in 1903. Now 3 more bells have been added to celebrate the Millennium, making a full peal.
The Carved Heads (6). (on the corbels which Support the nave roof timbers) (6). Before the Reformation, the advowson of St. Botolph's Church belonged to the Priory of Kenilworth. This explains the many carved beads in the old part of the church. These are supposed to be portraits of the monks and lay brothers. The detail of the work is outstanding. These would also date from the Decorated period. Note also the small round 'headed Norman windows, two of which remain, and the Decorated style windows of, the 14th century.
The South part of the Nave
The South part of the nave is Victorian except for the pulpit south wall (7) which has some fine Jacobean panelling on it.
The Chancel is mainly Victorian, but it does possess a 13th century piscina (a stone basin with a drain for carrying away the water used in ceremonial ablutions) set into the south wall (8). This came front the old chantry chapel of the Bridges which was originally on this site.
In the north wall is the blocked tip entrance to the rood loft (9), which spanned across the old Norman chancel arch (now the entrance to the Lady Chapel).
The Tower in the old part of the church was central, between the old (north) nave and the old chancel (now the Lady Chapel). Its massive arches are of great beatify. All tile decorative work is on the west face of these arches, supposedly for the benefit of the congregation, for on the east side they are perfectly plain. The upper part of the tower belongs to the early Decorated Period, as can be seen from the distinctive design of these windows when viewed from tile Outside. The archway above the organ is also 14th century work. The lower wall was breached here on the south side to connect the tower to a Chantry chapel.
The Hagioscope (or Squint) (10), In about 1350 the hagioscope gave a view from the Chantry Chapel (which had been built on the South side of the Tower) to the High Altar in Chancel of the main Church. Though this could have been made for lepers to watch the service of the day (standing originally outside the Church) it is more likely that this allowed the Chantry Priest to elevate the Host at the same time as his colleague did in the Chancel during the saying of Mass.
Mural Tablets (11), In the Norman Lady Chapel is a small brass memorial tablet to Jane Floyde who died in 1616, a young wife of a former Rector, Hugo Floyde 1610-1631. The tablet shows her in an attitude of devotion. She is "wearing an enormous ruff and hood; the little ones left desolate by her death are shown in their pathetic helplessness -a tiny baby in a cradle, and two older children in small beds, with two others at prayer. The simple inscription written apparently by the sorrowing husband, adds to the pathos of it all" (Arthur Mee). It reads :-
"Here was she borne &
bred here was she married.
Here did she live and dye thvs was she bvried.
This brasse can say no more this Bar-Towne witness can.
How good to poore she was, how meeke a Christian.
Both when shee liv'd and died she was the Lord's.
She had what earth, she has what heaven affords."
(12) Finally you should not overlook the wording on the Memorial to the Honourable and Reverend Richard Bruce Stopford, Rector here for forty-six years, "He faithfully preached Christ crucified, and sought to win souls for God" -words that surely have again and again been a challenge to all. Indeed, could they but speak, what stories the walls of our Parish Church here at Barton Seagrave could tell us, as they must, throughout the centuries, have looked down on squire, people and parson ; as they were the silent spectators of the fight for reformed faith, and witnessed the advent of vital religion and Bible Christianity. But - make no mistake - our Church is no museum. It is God's House of prayer and praise, in which His word is preached, and the two Sacraments are duly administered.