Brixworth Church

Location; 6 miles north of Northampton just off the A508

Description; Brixworth is in the Saxon kingdom of Mercia and was built in the late 8th Century probably during the reign of King Offa. It was built as a monastery and the lower part of the nave (below the clerestory windows in the above picture) dates from this foundation. Both above and right show the original arches piercing the nave walls which led to individual ”lean to” chapels which were later demolished. The arches are built from re-used roman brick. Laid quite inexpertly by the Saxon builders they show a lack of understanding of the principle of the arch, a technology lost with the withdrawal of the romans in the early 5th Century. They have, however, lasted over 1200 years! The arches were blocked and had round headed windows inserted during a Norman reconstruction.

The Normans also raised the nave walls to their present height, with the insertion of clerestory windows. The original Saxon roof line can be determined by looking at the west wall of the nave. The arched doorway to a typical upper room in the original tower was cut through in late Saxon times and a triple window inserted when the tower was heightened.

Historical characters associated with Brixworth are St Chad and St Wilfrid. Chad baptised Wilfrid and also established the first monastery in Brixworth. A window commemorating this event was made in the 19th Century. Wilfrid went on to found the minsters of Ripon & Hexham and became bishop of York in 664.

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Sources; Look at Brixworth Church, © Rena Gardiner, available from the site

Photographs by the author.