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Image, Sponne coats of arms
St Lawrence Church, Towcester

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Roman Period
Saxon Period
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55BC -
AD 406

c.120 -400 Romans in Towcester. A public building was erected and maintained on the site

406 - 1066

8th century

Watling Street became the frontier between the kingdom of Wessex and Danelaw

917 Alfred the Great’s son, Edward the Elder, fortified the town and it seems possible that a Saxon church may have been established around this time

1066 - 1485

1170 -1200 A late Norman ‘Transitional’ church laid and is the basis of the plan of the present church
c.1210 Embellishment work of the ‘Early English’ Gothic style
1300 -1360 Extensions and embellishments in ‘Decorated’ style
1422 Archdeacon Sponne becomes rector of Towcester
1448 Archdeacon Sponne died. His will stated that at his funeral 13 poor men were to carry 13 torches and wear white gowns with a hood. Also that the poor were to be fed and 1000 masses were to be said for his soul ( Baker p. 334)
c1470 Edward IV gave forty square feet of stone from his quarry at Handley in the forest of Whittlebury for building and repairing the steeple, church and churchyard at Towcester. ( Baker p. 328)
1480-1485 Major ‘Perpendicular’style tower constructed in brown ironstone,
(1483 Richard III confirmed grant by Edward IV for stone for church)
1538 Thomas Cromwell ordered that an English Bible should be set up in every parish church.
1548 Rood dismantled
1561 The church register dates from the year 1561.

1603 - 1714

1612 The old roof beam at east end of South aisle is dated 1612
1614 Date in roof, north aisle
1626 James Keene of Woodstock supplied a set of five bells for tower
1627 Gallery erected at West end of nave by Henry Newby,
a citizen of London and native of Towcester
(Whellan 1874)
1640 Chancel re-roofed by Sir Robert Banastre of Passenham

1714 - 1837

1714 Nave re-roofed
1726 William Henchman contributed a sixth bell (treble bell)
1727 Churchwardens accounts - six pence given to a woman and six children to leave the town
1755 25th March 1755 - Rt Hon Earl of Pomfret gave a large bason & ewer double gilt for use of the church
1774 5th April - £20 11s 6p paid for chandelier for church (i)
1776 9th October - making and putting up weathercock £14 0s 6p (i)
1781 Church paved (i)
1784 26th September - Painting and gilding weather cock £1 13s 0p (i)
1786 16th October- For writing inscription on board of Richard Hicks, benefactor, and fitting in church £3 12s 4p (i)
1790 5th August-Paid William Inns for a desk in church and stairs to the desk and pulpit in best Norwegian Oak (i)
1795 Two side galleries added (Whellan 1874)
1795 8th June- Paid William Inns for erecting and furnishing a gallery in the North Aisle of the church £21 4s 0p (i)
1795 26th October- Gallery South Aisle £19 16s 11 and half a pence.(i)
1798 Church white washed (i)
1798 3rd September- Window glass and lattice in belfry door. 8s 0p (i)
1799 24th August -2 chandeliers £10 10s (i)
1807 New bellframe installed at a cost of £70
1817 The Rt. Hon. George Earl of Pomfret gave the organ
1823 The tenor bell cracked and was recast by Taylors, of Oxford (ii)
1836 21st October-Clock bill £60 0s 0p.
Beer for men erecting scaffolding for clock 2 shillings
1836 Gallery added to the church making it capable of seating 1176 people, 678 of the seats were free
1826 26th October- ‘At a meeting it was resolved that the front seat of the South Gallery ought to be, and was agreed, for the sole use of Samuel Wood and his family. Being the present tenant of one of the houses belonging to this charity’ (Hicks Charity) (i)
1836 Church repaired and restored by E.F Law in 1835-36 (Whellan)
1836 The chancel of St Lawrence Church was lowered to the same level as the nave. Chancel seated
1836 Archdeacon Sponne's grave was broken into. "His skeleton lay perfect and then fell into dust." (NRO: Towcester burials register 1842 - 1872)

1837 - 1901

1837 High box pews introduced
1837 Lead relaid on chancel roof
1837 23rd November-Cost of lighting church 2 shillings and six pence per sitting. (i)
1847 Restoring clerestory windows and other works £100 (i)
1848 17th January Mr. E. F. Law the architect employed in the restoration of the church window paid £9 0s 0p (i)
1872 The new chancel arch was inserted, there being none before. Chancel walls stripped of their whitewash and mortar
1872 High box pews from the chancel were removed and open oak benches arranged stall-wise instead. The choir was brought from the west gallery into the upper chancel
New chancel tiles
1872 Lead re-laid on chancel roof
1882 Under-floor heating ducts installed
1883 Sponne monument decapitated and wooden hands and feet from Sponne tomb removed
1885 1st April- Bill for rebinding and restoring the Bible £10 10s 0p (i)
1885 The Church cemetery was closed ( Kelly's directory 1940)
1886 A new cemetery was opened in Brackley Road ( Kelly's directory 1924)
1897 Weather vane on church tower richly guilded
1898 New East window erected, by public subscription, to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee
1898 The churchyard was enlarged by half an acre by Earl of Pomfret
1901 -
1903 Chimes were added to the clock which strikes the hours and chimes the quarter hours. The cost was met by the Hicks Charity and public subscription
1906 In 1906, the vaulted crypt under the eastern part of the chancel, was completely restored by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners
1935 The cracked treble bell was recast and the frame strengthened by Mears and Stainbank of Whitechapel (ii)
1938 Restoration of Sponne Chapel
1955 -56 Tower roof renewed. Chancel and vestry roofs restored
1957 Nave roof was rebuilt by G. Forsyth Lawson. It has heavy tie-beams whose ends are masked by feathery decorations carved like wings to conceal lighting.
1961 Roof of north nave aisle renewed with oak beams and purlins and chestnut boarding
1971 South aisle roof and nave floors renewed
1975 South porch and roof renewed
1978 Organ from the redundant church of St Edmund in Northampton was installed
1976 Repairs after fire in Vestry
1981 Crypt ventilation
1982 Automatic winding mechanism installed in church clock
1983 Ironwork to rood stairs, vestry, glass doors, alter crosses and candlesticks
1984 Renewal of floors in north and south aisles
1987 Restoration of tower windows, south aisle and chancel external repairs
1990 Twelve bells installed in the tower

Reference(i) -Hicks Charity
Reference(ii) -Towcester-The Story of an English country town