All Saints Church, West Haddon, Northamptonshire

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All Saints, West Haddon in Northamptonshire, 2016, held a lovely surprise, a Norman Font.  There is nothing to show that this church is Norman, just the amazing font, Pevsner quotes a date for it of around 1120.  It is square and sits in a modern plinth, with each side having a biblical scene.

It now stands in the south aisle, west of the doorway.  It was discovered in 1887, built into the west wall of the nave. The 12th century bowl is square with a circular inner basin lined with lead. It stands on modern shafts and a double step. The bowl is damaged at the bottom and has been squared with mortar for fixing to its modern supports, and it has lost large chips from the upper north east and north west corners.  Each of its faces is carved with a figure scene in relief, each scene with an upper beaded border.

The main structure of the present building was erected in the 12th to 14th centuries, with further work in the 17th and 19th centuries. The church now consists of a nave, north and south aisles, chancel and west tower.

18 Replies to “All Saints Church, West Haddon, Northamptonshire”

  1. Curious designs on the font, especially the choice of scene. There’s what looks like a Nativity, perhaps preceded or followed by the Flight into Egypt; also the Resurrection and a Christ Pantocrater in a nimbus. Why no Baptism in the Jordan? Or Holy Spirit as inspirational Dove? Odd designs too, squeezed to fit the flat oblongs perhaps.

    1. I did read about the fact that Christ was Baptised in a font and not the river on one of the panels. Although as you have pointed out the size of the oblongs could have something to do with it. Also although it is a Norman font, did a Norman actually carve it, were the instructions carried out as they should have been. The carver might have thought the font shape stood for the river. Also there is one panel showing Mary given birth, but I have trouble sorting any of the shapes out 🙂

      1. Right, the Historic England site says this:
        “C12 square font, has scenes on the sides depicting the nativity, baptism of Christ, entry into Jerusalem, and Christ in glory between the eagle of St. John and the angel of St. Mathew.”

        I can identify the Nativity, definitely. The Baptism of Christ (curiously, in a font, as you say) has an unusual John the Baptist (if it is he) on his left, not at all the traditional man dressed in skins, let alone baptising by the Jordan.

        The Entry into Jerusalem on a ‘donkey’ seems to need the eye of faith to be certain this is the intended subject, to my mind.

        Christ in Glory is recognisable, but why only two evangelists, and why these two?

        Usually sculptures of this period have patterns and designs that conform to traditional models; the fact that this is all over the shop (design wise) may possibly be due to the squashed nature of the spaces available, I’m guessing.

      2. And “Mary giving birth” is not quite the correct description: Mary’s on the left, presumably resting after the birth; Baby Jesus is swaddled up in a crib on the right. No shepherds, donkey or ox, not even the hint of a king — no room at all!

      3. Oh, it looked like Mary was laying down and a doctor or whoever at the other end was waiting for the birth……..I will have go and look again 🙂

      4. Having looked at the panels again, I can now see, with some imagination which ones they are. I thought I might have had another font to compare, but my Norman ones are mostly of the four seasons. I think you are right, that they had to squash them in, and especially the two evangelists, no room for four. I need to find another one to compare 🙂

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