All Saints' Church, Northampton

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All Saints' Church
All Saints' Church, Northampton
Country United Kingdom
Denomination Church of England
Churchmanship High Church
Dedication All Saints
Diocese Peterborough
Province Canterbury
Vicar(s) The Revd Dr David McConkey SSC
Organist/Director of music Vacant
Organist(s) Vacant
Churchwarden(s) David White & Jill Davidge

All Saints' Church, Northampton situated in the centre of Northampton, is a Parish Church of the Church of England and Northampton's Civic Church. It is a Grade I listed building. [1]

Simon de Senlis' church of All Hallows, Northampton, England, lasted with medieval alterations until disaster struck the town on 20 September 1675. Most of the old town was destroyed by fire, not unlike the Great Fire of London in 1666 (see Great Fire of Northampton). The fire began in St. Mary's Street, near the castle, and the inhabitants fled to the Market Square, but then were forced to evacuate, leaving the buildings to burn, including All Hallows:

All Hallows Bells jangled their last and doleful Knell, presently after the Chimes had gone Twelve in a more pleasant Tune: And soon after the wind which did flie swifter than Horsemen, carried the Fire near the Dern-Gate, at least half a Mile from the place where it began, and into St. Giles-street in the East, and consumed every house therein, save one, whose end-Walls were higher than the Roof, and by them preserved.[2]

The New Church[edit]

All Saints interior

After the fire, Charles II gave a thousand tons of timber for the rebuilding of All Hallows Church, and one tenth of the money collected for the rebuilding of the town was allocated to the rebuilding of All Hallows under the management of the King's Lynn architect, Henry Bell. Henry Bell at the time was resident in Northampton, and he set to rebuild the church in a manner similar to Sir Christopher Wren's designs.

After the fire, the central medieval tower had survived, as well as the crypt. The new church of All Saints was to be built east of the tower in an almost square plan, with a chancel to the east, and a north and south narthex flanking the tower.

You enter the church through the existing tower into a barrel vaulted nave. At the centre there is a dome, supported on four Ionic columns, which is lit by a lantern above. The barrel vault extends into the aisles from the dome in a Greek-cross form, leaving four flat ceilings in the corners of the church. The church is well lit by plain glass windows in the aisles and originally there was a large east window in the chancel, that is now covered by a reredos. The plasterwork ceiling is finely decorated, and the barrel vaults are lit by elliptical windows.


A statue of King Charles II by John Hunt was erected on the portico parapet of the rebuilt church in 1712

The comparison between this building and Sir Christopher Wren's building of the London churches after the Great Fire of London cannot be ignored.

After the Great Fire of London, the rebuilding of the city churches was initiated by financing of the second Building Act of 1670. Sir Christopher Wren, as Surveyor General of the King's Works, undertook this operation, and one of his first churches was St Mary-at-Hill.

The interior space of St Mary-at-Hill is roughly square in plan, and of a similar size to All Saints. To the west is the tower, again flanked by a north and south narthex. Wren spanned the square space by a barrel vault in a Greek-cross plan, with a dome at the centre, supported on four columns. If Henry Bell drew his inspiration from any one of Wren's churches, then this would be the one. The barrel vaulting though in All Saints is much flatter than in St. Mary-at-Hill, which has semi-circular vaulting. The dome in All Saints is more hemi-spherical, and the columns at St. Mary-at-Hill are Corinthian with fluting. The Mayoral Seat dominates the pews on the south side, and in the north aisle there is a Consistory Court. Two icons – of Saint Peter and Saint Katharine – are situated at the east end before the steps in to the Quire, and these were written for the church in 2001 to reflect the parish boundaries, which include the site of St Katharine's Church (demolished) and St Peter's Church. St Peter's Church, which was given to the Churches Conservation Trust in 1998, can lay claim to being the most outstanding Norman church in the county; it is open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Thursdays and Fridays.

The rebuilt church of All Saints, Northampton, was consecrated and opened in 1680. Then in 1701 a large portico was added to the west end, in front of the narthex. As a memorial of Charles II's contribution to its rebuilding, a statue of him was erected above the portico, dressed in a Roman tunic. At noon on Oak Apple Day each year the choir sings a Latin hymn to Charles from the roof as the statue is wreathed in oak leaves; a similar ceremony takes place on Ascension Day at 7:00 am.

In 2008 the narthex, vestries and lavatories were refurbished, and a privately leased coffee shop operates from its north and south areas, and on the space under the portico. The north end of the coffee shop is named the John Clare Lounge, after the poet who sat outside this space, composing his poems. Two years earlier, in 2006, a new chancel organ was installed to accompany the choirs (a west gallery organ is used for regular recitals), and a small organ in the memorial chapel for congregational services) alongside a new ring of ten bells, replacing a heavy set of eight dating from 1782.

All Saints is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm throughout the year, with extended opening on days with choral services.

The Choirs[edit]

The choirs of All Saints' Church

The choir was formed in the Middle Ages and consists of boys and men and more recently, girls, and is highly regarded. The choirs sing a full programme of choral services each week, and over years have undertaken international tours across Europe and North America, with some performances being broadcast live.

In the past five years they have performed in concert with many noted orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Henryk Wieniawski Orchestra of Lublin, members of Queens' Park Sinfonia, Fiori Musicali, and the Stephen Petronio Company in a performance of Rufus Wainwright's Bloom. Their repertoire focuses mainly on larger choral works, and they have produced several records.

Commissioning of New Music[edit]

The choirs of All Saints pride themselves on performing a diverse repertoire, and since 2002 have continued the earlier tradition at St Matthew's Church by commissioning new choral and organ works; in the last five years they have given first performances of numerous choral and organ works, including a Mass setting by Adrian Self, a setting of "Ave Maria" from James MacMillan, and two new carols by Sir Richard Rodney Bennett ("The Holly and the Ivy" and "The Shepherd's Carol"). In May 2011 they gave the first performance of a double-organ and double-choir Mass – Messe pour Saint-Sulpice – from David Briggs, and on Saturday 14 January 2012 they gave the first performance of Michael Finnissy's Third Service. On 22 November 2013 they gave the first performance of their 2013 commission, a Festival Anthem by Jonathan Dove lasting nearly twenty minutes. In 2014 the choirs did not be commission a major work, rather a competition was held to compose an anthem to mark the sesquicentennial anniversary of the death of the poet John Clare. Principal commissions are listed in bold.

2014: With a glorious eye, SATB+org, Ivan Božičević

  • 2014: Bring all Heaven before mine eyes, SATB+org, Francis Jackson
  • 2014: A Song to David, SATB+org, Anthony Fort
  • 2014: Preces & Responses, SSS a capella, Ashley Grote
  • 2014: A Prayer of Saint Julian of Norwich, SSS+Jazz Trio, Robert Busiakiewicz
  • 2014: Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in B minor, SS+org, Laurence Caldecote
  • 2014: In the Cross of Christ I glory, SS+org, Tim Noon
  • 2014: Cantare amantis est, SATB+org, Bruce Neswick

2013: Out of the Whirlwind, A solo, STB verses, SATB+(2)org, Jonathan Dove

  • 2013: Missa Placare Christe servulis, SS+org, Adrian Self
  • 2013: Three Anthems (Hymn to Saint Katharine) SATB+org, (Formam Columbae Caelitus) SATB+org, (When morning gilds the skies) S+org, Laurence Caldecote
  • 2013: Hymn to Saint Joseph, SATB+org, Vernon Hoyle
  • 2013: The Lord's Prayer, ATB a capella, Robert McCormick (for extant setting of Preces & Responses)
  • 2013: The All Saints' Service, ATB+org, Andrew Parnell

2012: Magnificat and Nunc dimittis (Third Service), S+org, Michael Finnissy

  • 2012: Three short motets (Lov og tak og evig ære ske dig, Skriv dig, Jesus, på mit hjerte, Som hønen klukker mindelig), S+org, Adrian Self
  • 2012: Preces & Responses, S+org, Ronald Watson
  • 2012: O sing unto the Lord a new song, SATB+org, Malcolm Archer
  • 2012: Holy is the true light, S+org, Vernon Hoyle
  • 2012: Nunc dimittis, SSA a capella, Robert Rice

2011: Messe pour Saint-Sulpice, S+SATB+(2)org, David Briggs

  • 2011: Ecce sacerdos magnus, SSATB John Caldwell
  • 2011: O Jesu, blessèd Lord, to Thee (O Jesu! søde Jesu, dig), S+org, Humphrey Clucas
  • 2011: Sussex Carol, SATB+org, Alan Spedding after an incomplete score by Trevor Hold
  • 2011: God be in my head, SATB+org, Philip Moore

2010: Two Carols (The Holly and the Ivy; The Shepherd's Carol), SATB (with divisions), Sir Richard Rodney Bennett

  • 2010: Jubilate Deo in E, SATB+org, Gordon Lawson
  • 2010: Two Benediction Hymns (O salutaris hostia; Tantum ergo), S+org, Norman Caplin
  • 2010: Dei virgo Catharina, S+org, George Haynes
  • 2010: Rhapsody, org, Gordon Lawson

2009: Ave Maria, SATB+org, James MacMillan

The choirs of All Saints' Church premièring James MacMillan in St George's Chapel, Windsor
  • 2009: Little Mass of All Saints, SS+org; Ave verum Corpus, SS+org; Preces & Responses, SS+org, Adrian Self
  • 2009: Man be merry, SATB, Barry Ferguson
  • 2009: Magnificat and Nunc dimittis (The Northampton Service), SS+org, Gordon Lawson
  • 2009: Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous, SS+org, Andrew Bryden

2008: The Passion according to Saint Matthew, S+SATB+(2)org, David Bednall

  • 2008: O soft self-wounding Pelican! S+pf/org, Stephen Hough
  • 2008: Prelude and fugue on 'Kingsfold', org, Richard White
  • 2008: Make here a little quiet, SATB; Magnificat and Nunc dimittis (The All Saints' Service), S+org, Barry Ferguson

2007: Two anthems (Ecce sacerdos magnus, SSAATTBB; O living bread, SATB+org) Ian Colson

  • 2007: Fünf geistliche Lieder, SSS+org, Lee Dunleavy

2006: O praise God in his holiness, SATB+org, David Bednall

  • 2006: Berceuse, org, David Briggs
  • 2006: Quam Dilecta, SSSAA, Simon Whiteley

2005: Missa 'Omnes Sancti', SATB+(2)org, Malcolm Archer

  • 2005: Dominus illuminatio mea, SATTBB+org, Matthew Martin

2004: For Remembrance, SATTB, Robert Walker

2003: Two anthems (Drop, drop, slow tears; The Bethlehem Star), SATB+org, Robert Walker

2002: O where can I go from your spirit?, SATB+org, Malcolm Archer

  • 1998: Father, we thank Thee, S+org, David Sanger
  • 1996: Bread of the World, SATB+org, John Hoyle
  • 1995: The Song of Saint Francis, SS+rock band, Kendal Kirkland
  • 1993: May the road rise up to meet you, SATB+org, Russell Jackson
  • 1844: Psalm 150 (O praise God in his holiness), SATB+org, Charles McKorkell

Directors of Music[edit]

  • 2006–2014: Lee Dunleavy MA (Oxon), FRCO (DipCHD), ACertCM (Hertford Oxford, York Minster)
  • 2004–2006: Edward Whiting MA (Oxon), FRCO (Queen's Oxford, Norwich & Wells Cathedrals)
  • 2003–2004: Richard Longman BA, FRCO (Lincoln Cathedral)
  • 1998–2003: Simon Johnson FRCO (St Albans Abbey, Norwich & St Paul's Cathedrals)
  • 1993–1998: Richard Tanner MA (Oxon), FRCO, ARAM, Hon FGCM (Exeter Oxford, St Albans Abbey, Blackburn Cathedral)
  • 1991–1993: Russell Jackson FLCM (Nativity Cathedral, Bethlehem PA, USA)
  • 1981–1991: Ian Clarke MA (Cantab), Mus.B, ARCO, ARCM (Trinity Cambridge)
  • 1973–1981: Jeremy Suter MA (Oxon), FRCO (Magdalen Oxford, Chichester & Carlisle Cathedrals)
  • 1972–1973: Gary Sieling MA, BMus., FRCO (Peterborough Cathedral, Dunstable Priory)
  • 1962–1972: Graham Mayo MA (Cantab), FRCO (Corpus Christi Cambridge)
  • 1960–1962: George Millar FRCO
  • 1920–1960: Ralph Richardson Jones FRCO, FTCL (St James Chapel Royal)
  • 1914–1920: Albert Charles Tysoe Mus.D (Leeds Minster, St Albans Abbey)
  • 1898-1914: Brook Sampson Mus.B (Oxon), FRCO
  • 1878–1898: Ebenezer Law
  • 1836-1878: Charles McKorkell
  • 1774–1836: John Barrett (son of William)
  • 1743-1774: William Barrett
  • 1706-1743: Mr Morris
  • Mid-16th century: William Cockin


  1. ^ Historic England. "Church of All Saints (1372129)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  2. ^ Northampton (1675) A True And Faithful Relation Of The Late Dreadful Fire At Northampton,... Printed for J. Coniers, Duck Lane, London.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°14′13″N 0°53′48″W / 52.23694°N 0.89667°W / 52.23694; -0.89667