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Easton Maudit, St Peter and St Paul

Easton Maudit, St Peter and St Paul

The building is early 14th century with a slightly later tower and then restored by Lord Alwyne Compton who on this occasion employed William Slater.

Having visited Castle Ashby Lord Alwyne’s Minton tiles are immediately apparent. The glass is slightly later, installed by Clayton and Bell in 1906. But you do not come here for the architecture which is nothing out of the ordinary, but rather for the tombs, or rather those that survive.

Some explanation is required. In the early 19th century the ancient family of the Yelvertons who had arrived here from Norfolk in 1578 effectively died out. The last resident of the ancient house, which stood to the north of the church, was Henry Yelverton, Earl of Sussex, Viscount Longueville, Baron Grey of Ruthyn, Hastings, Weysford and Valence who, dying at his house in London in April 1799, was brought back here for burial.

Within two years the estate, encumbered by debt, was sold to the neighbouring Comptons, and the subsequent restoration of the church saw the destruction of many of the Yelverton tombs. What remained were largely removed to the North chapel: fortunately what remains is of particular interest. The earliest memorial is to Sir Christopher Yelverton (d. 1612) who bought Easton Maudit Manor from the Earl of Oxford. He became Speaker of the House of Commons and Judge of the Court of the King’s Bench. He and his wife are commemorated here, she, Mary, being the daughter of Thomas Catesby of nearby Whiston. Their monument is free standing with a canopy held up by columns beneath which lie life sized effigies of the deceased. Sir Christopher is in judicial robes, his wife in widow’s weeds. Note the emblems at their feet – an artichoke for Yelvertons and a cat for Catesby. Indeed the tomb is rich in heraldry as befits a newcomer who had bought the estate from the ancient de Vere family. Along the base of the tomb are their children, five sons and eight daughters. The whole must have been made in Derbyshire or Nottinghamshire, carted across country in pieces to be erected here.

Adjacent is a substantial wall tomb to their eldest son. Sir Henry Yelverton, (d. 1631) who followed his father into the law, became Attorney General and Judge of the Common Pleas. Whereas his parents’ tomb followed a familiar pattern, even though it’s on a rather good scale, his tomb is extraordinary on account of the almost life sized Bedesmen. They stand on either side, old men who are left money in a Will to say prayers for the deceased soul (bedes, a reference to the rosary). These substantial figures hold up a canopy above the effigies, helpfully cushioned. Above the canopy you can see small statues of Faith, Hope and Charity. The back wall of the tomb is richly decorated with carved spines of books and all manner of emblems as well as the Yelverton shield and crest. Below, Sir Henry and his wife, Margaret Beale (daughter of Robert Beale, clerk to the Council under Elizabeth I – that is why the famous Beale papers, now in the British Library – came to the Yelverton family) lie uncomfortably. Uncomfortably because they are tilted on their sides and rest on their elbows. Beneath them are another range of children.

With the tomb of Sir Christopher and his wife we almost come to the end of the memorials save for the small wall plaque to Thomas Morton, (d. 1659). He was protected by the Yelverton family and employed as a tutor after he losing his Bishopric and expelled from Durham House in 1648. He was, with Laud, perhaps the most victimised of all the Anglican clerics by the Puritans. If you look down at your feet you will find you are standing on later 17th and 18th century inscribed tablets, all that remains of the Yelverton tombs that originally lined the Chancel. These include Sir Christopher Yelverton, 1st Bt. (d. 1654) who rescued Morton, Sir Henry’s son who married Susannah, Baroness Grey of Ruthven. Henry, (d. 1704) who was created Viscount of Longueville for supporting William and Mary at the Glorious Revolution and was Gentleman of the Bedchamber to George, Prince of Denmark, Queen Anne’s consort. Here also is Talbot Yelverton, created Earl of Sussex, another Lord of the Bedchamber, who as Deputy Earl Marshall arranged George II’s Coronation, and his brother, George, Lord of the Bedchamber to Frederick, Prince of Wales. Quite a distinguished group to be reduced to floor covering.

For more details on the church there is an excellent book for sale here by Gyles Isham, which is a bargain – a wealth of information including a chapter on the famous 18th century antiquarian, Thomas Percy, who was Vicar here, AND a photo of the ancient Yelverton coffins that rest below in the vault. Directions From Castle Ashby take the road towards Yardley Hastings but turn off following signs to Easton Maudit. It’s about 2 ½ miles journey in all. As you enter the village the church is on the left. Tempting to park near the church but as the road is rather narrow, it might be safer to drive down the village lane and walk back up.

Please refer to the Glossary for any terms in the text that you are unfamiliar with.

Contact & Opening Times

St Peter , Easton Maudit, Northamptonshire, NN29 7NR|
[email protected]|

Opening Times

The church is normally locked, see below for contact details.


Contact Details

Key obtainable from Tim Allebone – 01933 663255, 07973 147143 or email in advance to [email protected]

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Click the pins on the map to see other attractions nearby

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