St. Leonard, Hardwick



HARDWICK village with its few houses lies just outside Wellingborough between the Kettering and Northampton roads. ST LEONARD'S built around 1200 is small and compact with a thirteenth century tower and battlements. A clerestory was added on the south side in the fourteenth century and in 1795 the chancel was shortened by eight feet, the aisle taken down, and a new south wall erected blocking the arcade, which was incorporated within the new wall and a south porch was also erected. In 1866 the arcade was opened out and the aisle rebuilt, a north porch added, the east wall of the chancel reconstructed, and the whole church re-roofed. At the restoration of the chancel the original east end foundation was found, but the wall was rebuilt on its eighteenth century foundation. The font is thirteenth century and is one of the most interesting in the county. The bowl is set within six plain arches on rounded columns, reaching from the base almost to the top, each arch having a plain background with a recess shaped like a window. The church has two bells (one dated 1484) and were for some time rung every year to commemorate Guy Fawkes Day – an unusual custom. There are interesting stories attached to the brasses of the Nicholls and Bagshawe families.
A brass inscription on the floor near to the lecturn tells of Henry Bagshawe having spent seven years as a factor in France coming to London and receiving the Freedom of the Company of Merchant Taylors and then coming to Hardwick to receive the Freedom of Heaven!. He died young at 28 in 1621.
On the south wall there is a monument to Sir Francis Nicholls, who lived at the manor, his wife and their son and daughter all kneeling. Sir Francis was Governor of Tilbury Fort at the time of the Armada and would have witnessed Queen Elizabeth in full armour, and riding a white horse triumphantly amongst the ranks of her troops stirring them into battle. Sir Francis died around 1621.
The pulpit dates from around 1860 and is probably made of Italian marble and according to legend was exhibited in England in 1860 and bought as a gift for the church by an unknown benefactor. The inlaid design is that of the Good Shepherd.

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