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St. Andrew's Church

The Church of St Andrew is situated on high ground overlooking the Billing Brook. Before the enclosures of the Eighteenth Century, 45 Churches were visible from this spot.

The Medieval Village was closer to the Church, occupying the area to the south of the Church yard.

The first evidence of a Church dates from a Royal Charter of 1165. There are also two architectural features that date from this time:-

The Capital of the Central Pier in the North Aisle.

The Nailhead moulding above the arch in the South Aisle (not in situ).

The earliest Church probably consisted of a small Nave and Chancel, with a North Aisle being added. The Aisle and Nave were rebuilt and enlarged in the Thirteenth Century. In the late Thirteenth Century and early Fourteenth Century further enlargement of the Aisle, Nave and Chancel took place. The South Aisle and lower part of the Tower were also added at this time.

The Tower was built in three stages, with a spire eventually being added. This was dramatically destroyed during a storm in 1759. Two Eighteenth Century prints of the area show the spire as a distant landmark.

The South doorway, and the Clerestory were added in the fourteenth Century, as was the reredos in the East wall of the South Aisle. Parts of the Chancel screen are believed to date from the late Medieval period.

At the end of the Seventeenth, or early Eighteenth, Century the North Chapel was built as a funerary, or mortuary, chapel for the Thomond Family. It was later used by the Elwes family. The architectural style, viewed from the outside, is distinctly different from that of the Medieval Church. The South Porch also dates from this period. These were the last significant additions to the Church.

There have been several significant restorations. In the 1760s much of the Nave and Aisles had to be restored following the lighting strike. In 1776 Lord Cavendish had the exterior walls covered in stucco. He also had the parapets, recently removed from his Manor House during demolition, placed on top of the Tower and Nave.

In 1866 – 7 the Chancel was restored and some of the arches were replaced.

In the 1990s the bells were restored and re hung, with a gallery being added in the Tower for the bell ringers. Fabric was restored and the Church was connected to the water supply.

References to St Andrew’s Church can be found in various works including the following;

A Guide to St Andrew’s Church, Great Billing K.Ward 1990

St Andrew’s Great Billing a short guide to its history.

Church pamphlets

A Brief Guide to St Andrew’s Church Great Billing

The King’s England Northamptonshire Arthur Mee Hodder & Stoughton1945

The Buildings of England N Pevsner Penguin 1961

Northamptonshire & the Soke of Peterborough A Shell Guide by Juliet Smith 1968

Victoria County History

HMSO Historic Monuments

Reference is also made on the Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture website



Until recent years Little Billing was a small village nestling among the trees on the South facing slopes of the Nene Valley. The original village was situated close to the important River crossing at Clifford Hill. It was considered so important by the Normans that they built a Motte and Bailey Castle here.

It is likely that a Church already existed here before the Castle builders arrived. At the time of Domesday (1086) a Priest is recorded at Little Billing. Inside the Church is a font that dates from the Eleventh Century, and upon which the Saxon craftsman has inscribed his name: ‘Wigberht, craftsman and mason, constructed for this…….whoever comes to immerse his body, without doubt…….’

Other than the font there is no remaining evidence of the original Church. It probably consisted of a Nave, Aisle and small chancel. Extensive Victorian restoration and rebuilding work has made interpreting the early history of the Church difficult.

The existing Chancel and North Chapel appear to date from the Fourteenth Century. The West part of the Church (Nave) was rebuilt about 1500. This appears to have involved merging a North Aisle with the Nave under one roof. At a later date wooden pillars were placed on existing stone bases (probably left from the original aisle.) The erection of these wooden pillars would suggest that the Church Officers had some concerns about the wisdom of their forebears’ decision to construct such a wide roof span without support.

During the seventeenth century there are a number of references to concerns about the repair of the Church. In 1611 the South Porch was said to be in need of repair, while, in 1683, the Chancel was described as being nearly derelict.

During the eighteenth century there were a number of additions to the contents of the Church, ie Parish Chest, Sundial, Clock. It would appear, perhaps, that the problems of the previous century had, to some degree, been overcome and a period of stability was enjoyed by the hard pressed church officers.

The nineteenth century saw a number of restorations. The most significant being in1849 and 1852 – 4. The North Chapel was rebuilt, the Nave and Chancel extensively restored, and the bell tower added.

During the twentieth century routine maintenance and restoration continued. The Organ, dating from 1880, was purchased for the Church by the Manfield family in 1922. In 1925 a statute of the Madonna and Child was presented in memory of Rev H E Dudley. The Century and Millennium closed with further restoration, including restoring the bells to working order and replacing the pews with more comfortable and practical seating.

The new Millennium saw, in 2004, the restoration of the organ completed, and so the cycle of repair and restoration continues.

References to All Saints Church can be found in various works including the following:

All Saints Church Little Billing Kevin Ward 1986

A short Guide to All Saints Church Little Billing a church pamphlet

The King’s England Northamptonshire Arthur Mee Hodder & Stoughton 1945

The Buildings of England N Pevsner Penguin 1961

Northamptonshire & the Soke of Peterborough A Shell Guide by Juliet Smith 1968

Victoria County History

HMSO Historic Monuments

Reference is also made, including a bibliography relating to fonts, on the Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture website


Parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and St. Anslem

Click Here to go to the web site for the

Parish of Perpetual Succour and St. Anslem

200 Years of Methodism in Great Billing

(Based on “A History of Great Billing Methodist Church” by Mrs Freda Carter and up-dated for our Bi-Centenary)

The first name associated with Methodism in the village was Susanna Luck. Along with six others she dissented from the Anglican Church in 1807.

John Wesley made several visits to Northamptonshire, the first in 1741 and his last visit in 1790.

James Hervey, the son of the Rector of Hardingstone, came under the influence of Wesley at Oxford. He became curate and afterward incumbent of St.Peters, Weston Favell, where he ministered for 15 years until his death in 1758. It is thought that he was Northampton's first clergyman to take up the Methodist cause. In 1752 he wrote to Wesley: “I am one with Methodists in heart, though hampered and withheld by a languished constitution.” It is thought that James and his followers had some influence on Susanna Luck in the village of Great Billing some years later.

Susanna held meetings in her house, and in 1808 a Society was registered, being the second Village Society registered in the Northampton Circuit. The first registered being at Boughton in 1804. Susanna had her house licenced for worship under the Act of Toleration for the Protection of Protestant Dissenters.

The Society continued to grow and by 1834 there were 35 members and a larger building was needed. We have evidence of a Meeting House being licenced in 1835 and said to be a `newly erected building called the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel' and situated in the Parish of Great Billing.

It is interesting to note that Gt. Billing now remains as the longest serving active congregation within the Northampton Circuit.

This means that there has now been a Methodist witness in the village for over 200 years.

As we look back to those far off days of church planting it is good to give thanks for the many dedicated workers who have maintained the work of the Methodist Church over the intervening two centuries. It is also something to rejoice in, for it is still as undiminished as ever, and whilst the current membership remains small at seven, we give thanks for the additional supporters who on a regular basis give rise to congregations in excess of twice that number.


Over the years this small yet vibrant community has continued to faithfully witness and just as one thinks it is time to start writing an obituary, like a phoenix rising from the ashes new folk appear on the scene and the next phase in its life takes off with the same warm welcome and accepting love and fellowship that has endeared it to countless generations over the last 200 years.

God still has a purpose for this small village cause, and alongside its Church of England and Roman Catholic partners it continues to seek its calling to serve the present age. It has been my privilege to serve them during the past 6 years, and as I approach my ‘sitting down’ from the active ministry I give thanks for their faithfulness and friendship and pray God’s continuing blessing upon them and all that they undertake in His name.

Rev Dave Tomlin, 2008