Parish of St Mary's, Orlingbury
Churchwardens: Jan Miles 400123 Gillian Walton 401340
History of the Church
The present building was erected in 1843 on the site of a medieval church. The original structure had deteriorated to such an extent that it considered impossible to repair, so despite some controversy from a few villagers, it was demolished and rebuilt in the Decorated style. This provided the opportunity to add a north transept and vestry. The old church had a steeple at its west end, but the new one has an impressive tower containing a belfry at its centre. The total re-building cost was £4,500, of which £1,200 was donated by a Mr A A Young, who lived in Orlingbury Hall, opposite the Church. The Young Chapel is named after his family.
The tall tower, a local landmark, was surmounted by a parapet and pinnacles. However, in 1971 these were judged unsafe and had to be lowered by 10 feet making the new height 90 feet. Parts of the removed stone work can be seen in several houses and gardens around the village.
The tower clock was given by villagers to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. In 2006, villagers paid to have the clock restored and the mechanism powered by electricity.
The belfry, which is reached by a spiral staircase accessed from the churchyard, contains six well-maintained bells. These are rung to announce services as well as to celebrate weddings and other occasions for rejoicing. Three of the bells, the 2nd, 3rd and Tenor, are contemporary with the church. In 1919, the old 4th bell was recast as a thanksgiving for peace after the First World War and the 1843 bells were re-tuned and re-hung in the original oak frame. In 1993, as part of the 150th anniversary celebrations, a further bell was added to make a ring of six and the 4th (the original third) was recast.
The building is designed in a traditional cross, with a long, narrow nave leading down to the choir stalls, with the organ and utility area to the left and a small side chapel, known as the Young Chapel, to the right. The chancel has some old choir stalls, now unused and the vestry is situated to the left of the altar. The nave is furnished with fixed wooden pews, with a central aisle.
The pulpit: is placed on the south wall, which is an unusual feature as tradition places the pulpit on the north. The reason for this positioning is unknown.
The organ: dedicated to the Revd. Hugh Tupholme, was installed in 1956 and replaced one that had been used for over 50 years. Prior to that music was provided by an harmonium.
Rose window: this beautiful window behind the altar shows Saint Peter at the top and Mary at the bottom with the Gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John looking on. In the 1920's the glass was replaced as the original had perished.
Other windows: The stunning chancel windows, paid for by the Rector, Revd. Hilton, shows important events in the life of Christ. Two other windows in the nave commemorate the lives of local people.<
The altar: the ornate angel topped altar surround was made by Frank Knight who lived in the Old Rectory. He was a renowned gold and silversmith with premises in Wellingborough.
Memorials: over the years many gifts have been given to the church and these are listed in an album in the Young Chapel. When the church was rebuilt many old memorials, including brasses, were saved and reinstalled in the new building. In a recess in the sanctuary there is an alabaster effigy of a knight inscribed "I H C Nazareni".He is reputed to be Jock of Badsaddle, a deserted village west of Orlingbury, who is said to have killed the last wolf (or boar) in England.
Old Font: in the corner of the Young Chapel is an octagonal font, possibly Norman, and presumably from the old church, that was discovered in the grounds of Orlingbury Hall and returned here.
View a short history of St Mary's Church, Orlingbury