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All Saints

Much of Northampton was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1675 and All Saints church was no exception. The church was almost completely destroyed. Originally thought to have been built by Simon de Senlis ll in the 12th century, an early reference to All Saints fairs dates the church as pre Norman. The first reference to a fair at Northampton is found in the charter of Simon II granting to the monks of St. Andrew's priory a tenth of the profits of the fair held on All Saints' Day in the church and churchyard of All Saints (1180–1183) The fair may have grown out of the church wake which would probably make it older than the Conquest.

Gale force winds on the 20th March 1593, blew many large stones from the top of the church onto the leads just before the service. It forced the roof in just above the mayors seat and had he been a little earlier for the service, he would have lost his life.


The wooden tower which was added in the 14th century was the only surviving part. In 1617, the pulpit was built by John Gibbs and the steeple repaired and strengthened. It was completely rebuilt in 1680, half it's original size and the surviving tower was incorporated into the design. King Charles II had donated 1000 tons of timber from his royal forests to help rebuild Northampton and in honour of that gift, a statue of him was erected above the portico, strangely dressed in a Roman toga.

All Saints has played a part in the Crusades. At least three crusades launched from Northampton. In February 1214, according to the chronicle of St. Andrew's priory, 300 persons of both sexes took the cross here; in November 1239, Richard of Cornwall and nobles too many to count, swore on the altar of All Saints' that they would lead their troops that year to the Holy Land; in June 1268 the two sons of Henry III, with 120 other knights and many others, took the cross from Northampton.

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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. Inigo Jones designed the portico and inside the church, the labours of Sir Christopher Wren's chief plasterer, Edward Goudge can clearly be seen in the fine, intricate plasterwork on the ceilings. The statue of the King by John Hunt was erected on the portico parapet in 1712 in memory and thanksgiving for his part in the rebuilding. Underneath the statue is the following text:

'This Statue was erected in memory of King Charles II who gave a thousand tun of timber towards the rebuilding of this church and to this town seven years chimney money collected in it.'


1782 saw eight new bells installed in the tower. The tenor bell has two crown pieces on it; one showing the head and the other showing its reverse.

On the 29th May each year a special service is held at this church. It is Oak Apple Day and the statue is wreathed with oak leaves. It is to celebrate the anniversary of the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 when Charles || escaped from the Roundheads by hiding in an oak tree.

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All Saints church became the focus of commercial activity from the 12th century onwards. Northampton market was held here until 1235. King Henry III decided that markets could not be held in churches or cemetaries and ordered Northampton to move the market to a piece of wasteland just north of All Saints.

Northampton tunnels

Today underneath the modern streets of Northampton, there still remains a labyrinth of tunnels, along with many cellars and ancient crypts. Many of these cellars are thought to have originated from the church buildings, that today are centred around All Saints Church. Clashes took place over the years between the church and the monarchy - such as the banning of markets being held in the churchyards. It is thought that various of these tunnels were established as some sort of escape routes for the clergy for use in times of trouble. The various religious houses in early times were found at all the main 8 compass points - giving rise to a series of radial tunnels heading out from All Saints Church at the centre of town to the various houses.