Ss. Peter and Paul, Sywell



ST PETER AND ST PAUL, SYWELL was probably built between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries using Northamptonshire ironstone, but restored, including the rebuilding of the chancel around 1862 to 1870. Retained in the chancel is the medieval piscina. The late thirteenth century tower with an interesting stair projection on the west wall, rests on its original Norman foundations and a Norman tower arch and Norman arcade with three huge pillars. Whilst visiting look for the grim-looking gargoyles around the tower. The original south doorway was probably late twelfth century and the recessed tomb in the north transcept was fourteenth century.
The east window is really worth a study with its beautiful Elizabethan glass dated 1580 has delicate glass coloured figures. According to ‘Sywell The parish and the People’ by Don Slater Anthony Jenkinson and his wife Elizabeth Anne tragically lost twins Judith and Jane during October 1579, having lived for only a few days. Jenkinson had travelled around the globe for 26 years before coming back to Sywell in 1572 to settle in his new house and to enjoy laying out his new park and being with his family. It is possible that the tragic death of his new born twins is represented by the coloured figures in the east window and that the window, dated 1580 is a memorial to the twins by grieving parents. The window has recently (2009) been restored.
One of the most beautiful features of the church is the peace memorial window designed by Christopher Whall – a well known stained glass artist of the 19th and early 20th century and a leader of the Arts and Craft movement of the time. It has four lights and shows Joshua outside the walls of Jericho, note the lovely scenery in the background of the window depicting sun, moon and stars. There are many monuments to the Pell family who succeeded the Wilmers at Sywell Hall. An unusual feature of the church are its two fonts, but the thirteenth century one found in the local field is still used.
It is pure speculation that William Tresham who was murdered in the Thorplands area of Moulton on a September morning in 1450 was buried at Sywell. William Tresham was Attorney General to Henry V Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and a Speaker of the House of Commons (1449). There are no brasses or memorials inside the church but as he lived in Sywell, possibly in a building on the site of Sywell Hall (built in 1580) it is likely that William would have been returned and buried in Sywell Church.
Sywell is an old, modernised church situated in the old village, surrounded by cottages, many of which were built by Lord and Lady Overstone during the Victorian era when they amassed one of the biggest fortunes in England. On the green outside the church the old preaching cross now forms part of the Jubilee Memorial of the Victorian era.

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