There are many reasons to be proud
of our church: sadly there are few parish churches nowadays
with such an active membership or with an expanding
congregation like ours. The importance of the church
in this community is something to celebrate. The centuries
of worship within these walls is something to cherish
and nurture. However, it is also a part of English history
and of people and events that belong to the world
In a village as ancient as Geddington,
there was most likely a church before the still visible
Saxon portion, but the present building is dated by
most authorities as about 950AD, though there are expert
arguments placing its construction over a century and
a half earlier. It is still possible to see the Saxon
arcading on what was the original exterior wall as well
as the slope of the original roof. Bones from a Saxon
grave were discovered while the floor was being repaired
The Plantagenet Kings who frequented the church added
the aisles, first in the 12th century and later in the
14th, as well as their own personal entrance known as
the King's Door.
As the Royal
Hunting Lodge behind the church grew to become
known as the Palace of Geddington throughout the Plantagenet
and Medieval period, the famous and the infamous attended
councils, a parliament and other national and royal
assemblies held here.
Of course the best known event is
the procession of Queen Eleanor in 1290. The hundreds
of nobles and servants that accompanied her body and
attended the services held for her in St Mary Magdalene
would still recognise much of the present day church.
Throughout the church there are many, many objects such
as sculptures, gargoyles, gravestones and carvings which
attest to its passage through the ages. Some of which
bear the marks of the reformers of the mid 1500's after
Henry VIII. All images, graven or otherwise were considered
heretical, so statuary noses were chiselled off and
all of our medieval stained glass would have been smashed
The 'Rood' screens were also a target
of these reformers, as they not only contained an image
of the Christ, but it was felt they separated the priest
from his congregation. Through luck, providence or guile,
St. Mary is possibly the only church in England which
has managed to still have in use all of the Rood screens;
the ancient screen which was meant to be destroyed,
the post James I from 1618, (a gift of the famous Tresham
family,) and the Victorian era screen.
The east windows were created by
Sir Ninian Comper. He also designed windows for Westminster
Abbey and the entirety of St Mary's in Wellingborough,
amongst many others. Interestingly, the central East
window was created in the early part of his illustrious
career while the South East window was created much
later, and it is startling to see the vast changes in
style in the intervening 50 years.
More detail can be found in a pamphlet available in
the church and you can visit the St. Mary Magdalene
page of the Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture of Britain
and Ireland Site by clicking here.
Or far preferable, come visit us
and discover the beauty and history of the village and
our church in person.
We hate having our doors locked to anyone, so if you
are interested in viewing the church and possibly seeing
portions which are not always seen, the church is open
from Spring until Autumn, Saturdays from 10:30 until
and Sundays during our two morning services and from
12:30 until 4:30.
Or if you know when you will be visiting
the village you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or email@example.com and we can try to
arrange for the church to be open for you.
Mid 10th Century - Building
of Saxon church, corresponding approximately to the
12th Century - North
1217 - Date of earliest
Circa 1330 - Chancel
extended to its present size.
Circa 1380 - Tower and
Spire erected and South aisle added.
15th Century - Side
Chapels built at the end of the North and South aisles.
1618 Screen now at East
end of South aisle given by Maurice Tresham.
1636 - Dallington Charity
1857 - Church interior
completely remodelled. Tresham screen moved from chancel
arch to present position. Norman piers on North side
1990 - Collapse of part
of the floor led to discovery of Saxon skeleton and
burial chambers under the South aisle.