St Peter’s and the Old Black Lion, Northampton

St Peter's Church, Northampton, Northamptonshire

We are delivering an ambitious project to regenerate the Old Black Lion public house in Northampton, which is next door to St Peter’s Church.

St Peter’s, which dates to the 12th century and is listed at Grade I, closed in 1995 and was vested in CCT in 1998. Despite periods of use by the community and an active Friends group, in recent years the church has struggled to function as a heritage landmark and venue due to a lack of hospitality facilities or WCs.

The Old Black Lion pub, a Grade-II listed building overlooking the churchyard, closed in 2018. Its historic fabric, dating to the 16th-century onwards, is deteriorating and it has been subject to break-ins and criminal activity. This has a negative effect on the church and churchyard, and the wider character of Marefair, which is the main route from Northampton town centre to the railway station.

The primary aim of the project is to restore the Old Black Lion as a pub, open for business and once again serving the local community. The refurbished pub will provide hospitality for visitors and volunteers at St Peter’s Church, supporting the work of the Friends of St Peter’s Church and encouraging beneficial uses of the church for concerts, performances and events.  The revitalised pub will also generate funds for the repair and conservation of St Peter’s Church and to support the work of CCT more broadly, providing the church with a more sustainable future. In addition, CCT’s national office will be located on the first floor of the Old Black Lion.

CCT has a long-lease for the Old Black Lion from the building’s owner, West Northamptonshire Council. Separately, we will agree a sub-lease of the pub spaces with a hospitality operator who will operate the pub business.

The Central Council of Church Bellringers has also expressed an interest in hiring part of old stables in the pub courtyard as a dedicated national training centre to support new bellringers; they would fit a training ring of bells and also also use the ring of eight bells at St Peter’s Church, first peeled in 1739, and at other Northampton churches.

The project will cost £3.5m, of which £3m is capital expenditure. CCT was awarded a National Lottery Heritage Fund Enterprise Grant of £1,841,800 in 2016; in November 2022, this was augmented by £794,405, to reflect rising costs.  Funding has also been granted by HM Treasury’s Towns Fund, West Northamptonshire Council, the Architectural Heritage Fund and West Northamptonshire Development Corporation.

In June 2022 we received planning permission and listed building consent for the proposals. An enabling works contract was completed in August 2022. Practical completion of the main building contract is scheduled for Spring 2024, with the publican opening the pub shortly afterwards. The project will be complete by March 2025.