TALES OF EVERDON BY MICK MEGEARY

THE CHURCH STONES

If you look carefully at the stonework on St. Mary's Church you will soon realise that the stones are not all from the same source. Their colour and texture indicate that they come from many different quarries. There are several reasons for this.

Over the 650 and more years that have passed since the building was completed, the walls have of necessity been repaired many times and the stone for these repairs has been quarried from many different stone pits. In this part of Northamptonshire, stone was traditionally quarried from small pits which were worked until the removal of the enclosing clays and soils (the Overburden) became too great to make the extraction of the stone by hand a practical proposition. The pits were then abandoned and new pits opened on a different site, this meant that a pit had a relatively short life. This stone is all Northampton Sand/Ironstone and was laid down as silts in vast river estuaries in the Jurassic Period about 100 million years ago. Within the Parish there are the remains of Medieval stone pits in the field just north of Snorscomb farm, stone from these pits probably supplied stone for the church tower. The tower of St. Mary was almost certainly built first allowing the existing church on the site to function as long as possible, by the completion of the tower it must have been obvious to the builders that the stone was not as durable as they had hoped. The remainder of the Church was then built of a more durable stone drawn from different quarries, probably in Farthingstone Parish. The beautiful Decorated windows in the Nave aisles are made from a fine shelly Limestone originally laid down in a Jurassic sea in a climate that the Bahamas enjoy today. This stone was sourced many miles from the Parish. The windows would have been manufactured at the quarry and brought to the site as a jigsaw of pieces. The most intriguing stones on the Church are built into the Tower, they form the tops of the clasping buttresses and are of a distinctive Pink colour. The same stone can be seen in the arches of the open tower at St. Michael's, Newnham. This stone is not from Northamptonshire at all but its nearest place of origin is North of Rugby. They were formed in a much earlier epoch probably in dessert waddies in Triassic times some 200 or more million years ago. So how did they get to Everdon? The most likely explanation is by local trade. Limestone was quarried in Weedon and even in Medieval times it was realised that dressing fields with Lime increased fertility. It's probable that limestone was taken to Warwickshire for that purpose and just as today returning goods wagons must have a load to keep a business in profit so then the wagons returned with good quality stone which could be used in local church building.

(Originally published in the Everdon Newsletter - May, 2003)

 

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