Hidden histories of Northamptonshire church revealed

The forgotten stories of a small church in the Northamptonshire hamlet of Preston Deanery have been brought to life in a new project by The Churches Conservation Trust, which it is hoped will attract new visitors.

Though much of the fabric of the building dates from the 12th century, during the Reformation the church was partly demolished and the chancel was turned into a kennel for greyhounds whilst the tower became a pigeon house. As part of the project, ‘greyhounds’ and ‘pigeons’ have been invited back into the church, in the form of installations in the tower and chancel.

The Trust has worked with pupils from nearby Hackleton Primary School - who have painted colourful pigeons which will ‘fly’ inside the tower – and artist Lottie Sweeney has created an installation of greyhounds on a bed of straw. New signage will explain these stories, along with others of the church and its unique 10th or early 11th century horizontal string course of limestone, which features a Viking snake and two fan-tailed birds and pre-dates the church. Meanwhile, another installation sees a pigeon ‘roasting’ in the tower oven, with the 16th century recipe available to take away and try at home.

 Peter Aiers, Director, South East, at The Churches Conservation Trust, said:

“It’s amazing what you find when you scratch beneath the surface of the parish church, and the Church of St Peter and St Paul is typical in that it brims over with interesting tales. We wanted to reveal the hidden histories of this sleepy little Northamptonshire gem, and bring them to life for visitors to enjoy.”

The installations are available to view in the church daily after a special opening event this Sunday, 28th June at 2pm, followed by Evensong and the Annual Patronal Service at 4pm.

More about the Church of St Peter & St Paul, Preston Deanery