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St Lawrence Church, Towcester

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Tudor Period
In the 15th century Towcester's prosperity was increasing and this allowed much rebuilding to take place. The nave arcades were re-built and heightened. The windows of the south aisle and clerestory are also of this period.
During this period the most distinctive addition, with its stark exterior lines, was the ‘perpendicular’ tower, built in five stories, marked by diminishing stages of the angle buttresses, and rising to a height of 90 feet. All this work took five years, and was completed in 1485.
Edward IV granted permission for stone to be quarried from the royal forest of Whittlebury to carry out the reconstruction. This stone is the distinctive rich brown ironstone, which is quite different from the original limestone.
"Toucestre in reliefe of the grete importable costs and charges by the said parishens susteigned in buylding and reparacione of their steple, churehe, and ehurche-yerde, as moche stone as they shulde hapen to fynde within the circuyt and compasse of 40 feet every way square, within any place in his querrey in the bailifwyke of Hanley in the forest of Whitelwode."
The works were not completed before the accession of Richard III, who in the first year of his reign, confirmed the grant of his predecessor

Chancels and chapels would have been divided from the nave and side aisles by a large screen under the chancel arch, with a large rood or crucifix attached to it, flanked on either side by the Virgin Mary and St John the Evangelist. The images carved onto the screen would have provided a devotional focus for the lay people while the mass was going on in the chancel. It would have been possible to walk across the top of the screen on the 'rood loft' whenever it was necessary to lower the crucifix for processions, or alternatively as access to read the gospel from here on ceremonial occasions. The two existing spiral staircases in the walls of the aisles would have given access to this loft.
The chancel of the church was the domain of the priest, and the nave 'belonged' to the parishioners. Statutes in the 13th century introduced the concept that each was responsible for paying for the upkeep of their part of the church.

After the Reformation the church was striped of its statues and images. Worship became more sober and the ‘rood’ was taken down in 1548.
In 1538 Thomas Cromwell ordered that an English Bible should be set up in every parish church. The new emphasis was on the Bible being read in the native tongue instead of Latin. Towcester's Treacle Bible still retains the chain by which it was secured to a reading desk and available for the congregation to read.
The Statutes of 1547 required parishes to keep records of all birth, marriages and deaths within the parish. St Lawrence's parish registers date from 1561 and can be viewed in the Public Records Office at Wootton Hall. Northampton.