The contents on this page remain on our website for informational purposes only.
Content on this page will not be reviewed or updated.

Image, Sponne coats of arms
St Lawrence Church, Towcester

Home Page
Online Tour
Roman Period
Saxon Period
Tudor Period
To the Present Day
List of Clergy
Benefaction Boards
Monumental Inscriptions
Pew allocation
Drawings by T. Trotter
Notes by Sir Stephen Glynne
Site Map

To the present day

For the past five hundred years the Parish Church has remained substantially unaltered.
In 1626 James Keene of Woodstock supplied a set of five bells for the church.
In 1627 a handsome oak panelled gallery was erected at the west end, given by
"Henrie Newby, Citizen and Haberdasher of London, born in this towne of Towcester, one of the sones of George Newby late of this towne Woollendraper, for the glory of God and a faire ornament for this parish church at his own proper cost and charges erected this Gallery A.D. 1627".
Later it became an organ gallery and remains of it can be seen both in the Jacobean panels of the pulpit and behind the south chapel altar.

Jacobean Panelling
Jacobean Panel

At this time a Church Survey in 1637 by Bishop Francis Dee states:
"The church porch is very defective in the paveing and there wants an outer doore to keep out the beggars wherewith they are much annoyed, soe that the parishioners cannot in a morneing git in to the Church at 6 o’clock prayer"
In 1725 a treble bell was cast by Richard Chandler of Drayton Parslow, Bucks and donated by William Henchman, churchwarden.

Interior view of church
East View

In the 19th century Towcester was on the route for stagecoaches travelling between London and Dublin (via Holyhead), the population was expanding and there was no guarantee that you could get a seat in church. The pews were rented out to individual families and often a pew belonged to a house. (For further information see Allocation of pews) This placed a great deal of pressure on space. High box pews were installed, and a gallery built across the chancel arch area. 1836 saw further pews added with two new galleries being erected above the north and south aisles. This increased the seating to a capacity of 1176 people, of which 678 seats were declared to be free and unappropriated for ever (i.e. no charges made).
At this time there was a tall pulpit in the centre of the nave.
The refurbishment in 1836 cost about £1,800, under the direction of the late J. L. Pearson R. A., this included velvet cushions for the pulpit, reading desk, and a communion table by William Deacon.
Mrs. Sabin and John Lovell donated the richly painted east window of the chancel (Later to be replaced by the present east window).

Interior view of church
West View

From the 1840's the Gothic style became popular in churches led by architect A. W. N. Pugin, an example of which can be seen in the present tiled flooring. In 1872 the new chancel arch was inserted and notes in the rear of the 1842-1872 burial register describe the removal of the high box-pews, open oak benches arranged stall-wise were inserted instead. The choir was bought from the west gallery into the upper chancel. By the end of the 19th century, the Anglo-catholic movement was gaining momentum. Most churches now saw Holy Communion as the main service rather than Morning Prayer, and churches became more focused on the altar rather than the pulpit.

The present pews still retain their original brass umbrella stands.

Exterior view of church
South east view of St Lawrence Church
(Published by J. B. Hurfurt. Bookseller, Towcester. Printed by C. Moody High Holburn)

The church continues to evolve.
The nave was completely re-roofed in 1957 by Mr. Forsyth Lawson, replacing the earlier 1714 structure.
Modern gas heaters have improved the Victorian coke-fired boiler’s under-floor system and a ring of twelve bells was installed in the tower in 1990.