The Church of St Mary the Blessed Virgin
The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Warmington, was described by the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments in their inventory of 1984 as: ‘…an outstanding building of the late twelfth and early 13th century…’
The church is very uniform in style having been built over a relatively short period between 1180/90 and 1280. The architecture and general style of the church has been uneffected by the restoration work that has taken place over the past 700 years.
The early history of the church is unknown, however, there is evidence that the church is built on the site of a smaller and older church dating from before 963. The only visible indications remaining are the column plinths either side of the Nave, which have elaborately carved mouldings. In the Taxatio Ecclesiastica of 1291/92, Warmington church was valued at three times that of any other local church.
The church was restored in 1850 when an 18th century gallery on the West side was removed. Evidence for its existence can still be seen on either side of the tower clock face where there is a weather course of a low pitched roof. There are also grooves in the tower buttresses where they were crossed by the roof structure. Further restoration was undertaken in 1875/76 by the last Lord Carysfort and architect Sir Gilbert Scott. This included the rebuilding of the south porch, the addition of the vestry and organ chamber and the replacement of the plastered roof in the chancel by trussed rafters. Responsibility for the fabric of the church also became divided. The parish being responsible for the nave and the rector responsible for the chancel.
St Mary’s is a fine example of a quintessential English village church. It has been a symbol of stability at the centre of Warmington for over 800 years. Today it remains the focal point of the village, a centre for worship and cultural events.
The original building comprised part of the current Nave and a small Chancel. The south aisle was added first, then the north aisle. The south aisle and nave were then extended by two bays followed by a similar extension of the north aisle. The lower half of the west tower was added around 1230 along with the south porch. At the end of the 13th century the rebuilding of the Chancel was commenced. The new Chancel was built around the existing building and is therefor wider than the Nave, and slightly defected to the north. Around this time the north aisle was also widened and two new windows inserted in the external wall.
Various minor changes and additions were made during the early 14th century and some rebuilding took place in the 15th century. In the 16th century several buttresses were added to reinforce the walls to the Chancel which had started to lean outwards. Other than the addition of the vestry in 1875/76 the church remains much as it was in the 13th century.
The red labels on the plan refer to some of the points of interest in the church.
The church is constructed from Barnac ragstone with ashlar and Barnac stone dressings in several places. The roof in the Nave dates from the 13th century and is one of the most impressive features of the church. Although it is constructed in timber it is a simulation of stone built barrel vaulting. This style is commonly found in cathedrals such as York Minster and monastic churches. It is rare to find a ceiling of this style in a village church.
Down the centre of the roof are nine bosses carved with face of the Green Man. This image is commonly found in Northamptonshire churches, it is a pagan representation of the spirit of nature. The church has one of the finest collections of Green Men carvings in England.
The north aisle roof has a boss carved with the date ANO DOM 1650 and a second boss with the initials RBIM. Whom RBIM was is unknown. Eight of the wooden corbels on the north side of the roof timbers are carved with human heads. The south aisle roof dates from between the 15th and early 16th century. The south aisle also has four of the original stone corbels, all carved with human masks.