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St Peter & St Paul’s Church

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The church has been at the centre of Abington life probably since the twelfth century and the earliest parts of the building, the lower part of the tower and the south doorway, date from this period.
Sadly Abington Church is not mentioned in the Doomsday Book and the earliest record of it occurs in 1224 when Isabel de Lisors, Lady of the Manor, presented Peter of Irchester to be Vicar.

Today, the church and its churchyard are cared for by dedicated volunteers and thanks to a number of legacies and regular donations we are able to maintain the building to a high standard.


The church is home to some beautiful glass in different styles.  The East Window (behind the altar) is a Victorian depiction of St Peter, St Paul and Christ as the Good Shepherd.  The window was a gift in 1861 of the Revd. Matthew Thursby (Rector 1849-1869) and his brothers in memory of their father, John Harvey Thursby IV.  The window was created by Heaton, Butler and Bayne of Covent Garden, London and shows the strong design and colours of the Gothic Revival.
In the Thursby Chapel is a fine example of an Arts and Crafts style memorial window which was installed early in 1990 by a parishioner in memory of his late wife, Elizabeth Stewart, a local hair-stylist.

In the Lady Chapel there is a 20th century example of the work of John Piper in his Annunciation window.


The Font

The Font is 15th century and originally stood by the west door to the rear of the Nave and was for a time under the tower, being moved to its present position in 2000.

The oak font cover also of 15th century date now lies in the tower room. Octagonal in shape and its carvings include roses, shields, circles, leaves and quatrefoils.

The Pulpit

The exquisitely carved Pulpit is thought to have come from the  London workshop of Grinling Gibbons, though it is not the work of the master himself. The tester, or sounding board, which hangs above it is said to be as large as that of any Wren church in the City of London.

The Pulpit was a gift to the church in 1702, from Thomas Rocke, who had been clerk to Judge Sir William Thursby (see The Thursby Legacy, below).


The Lectern

Although made in the early 20th century, the Lectern style complements the Pulpit extremely well.  Given by the congregation in memory of Rector Gunning who died in 1916, it features carved figures of St Peter and St Paul, the patron saints of the church, on its sides.
The Holy Bible on the lectern is read at each service in the church. The Church has bibles dating back to King James I and many of our lectern bibles have been given in memory of loved members of the congregation. 


The Shakespeare Connection

Elizabeth Bernard (nee Hall) was Shakespeare’s granddaughter and the last of his direct descendants.Elizabeth Hall was born to Susanna Shakespeare and Doctor John Hall and  was baptised in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford on Avon. She was the only grandchild William Shakespeare ever knew, because her three cousins were born after his death in 1616.

In 1629, Elizabeth Hall married Thomas Nash, who was a member of the Manor and Lordship of Shottery. On 4 April 1647, Thomas died, leaving Elizabeth a widow. Elizabeth then married John Bernard, of Abington and  died in Abington  on 17th February 1670 aged 64. John Bernard died in 1673. Her name was added to the grave stone following an archaeological investigation in 1902, led by an amateur historian engaged upon research into Shakespeare and his family.

A slate memorial  stone in her memory has been placed  in the Lady Chapel.


The Thursby Legacy

The Thursbys were Lords of the Manor of Abington for over 200 years.  An astute lawyer, later judge, and MP for Northampton, Sir William Thursby carried out many improvements to the Manor House and a major rebuilding of the church.  He also appointed a surveyor to produce the earliest known map of Abington in 1671.  Beneath the Thursby chapel lies the family vault in which nine coffins of family members have been placed.  Sir William Thursby’s memorial stands in the Thursby chapel.

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