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Great Brington, St Mary

Medieval church in Great Brington

The church dates from circa 1300 but it is the intervention of the Spencer family of nearby Althorp that transform the Medieval building. Sir John Spencer (d. 1522) rebuilt the chancel and commenced the funerary chapel that lies adjacent to it. Further intervention of both church and chapel by Edward Blore in 1840’s.

The church contains good 16th /17th century benches with poppy heads. The final appearance of the chancel, redos and pulpit date from circa 1903. The east window of The Adoration of the Lamb by Morris and Co, 1912, is a memorial to Countess Spencer.

In the north part of the church lies the Spencer chapel / mausoleum originally probably designed by Thomas Heritage in the early 16th century; it was radically altered by Blore in 1846. It's fan vaulting of that period is a conscious imitation of that to be found in Henry Vll's chapel at Westminster Abbey.

The earliest tomb here in the east arch of the chapel is to Sir John Spencer (d. 1522) and his wife which is attributed to Richard Parker of Burton on Trent. The effigies lie on a tall tomb chest under an elaborate canopy. The next tomb to Sir William Spencer (below east window) who died in 1532 is also a tomb chest but the effigies have disappeared. That to Sir John Spencer (d. 1586) and his wife is a splendid affair by Jasper Hollemans.

Another tomb chest with effigies note the large obelisk covered with strap work. Hollemans also provided the tomb for the 1st Lord and Lady Spencer in 1599. He is in armour and she wears an heraldic coverlet denoting that she died in childbirth. The final work by Hollemans is that to Sir John Spencer (d. 1599 ) and his wife is the largest in this part of the chapel in the form of a four poster with the effigies lying beneath.

In all these the display of heraldry denotes the new power and station of the family. In the chapel itself, which is normally kept locked, but visible through grills can be seen the following (in chronological order):

William, Lord Spencer d. 1636 by Nicholas Stone, a noble detached eight poster with white marble effigies

Sir Edward Spencer d. 1655 also by Stone, the deceased very oddly shown emerging from an urn

John, 1st Earl Spencer d.1783 by Nollekens after a design by Cipriani; an extraordinary hanging monument with a female figure of plenty holding a medallion portrait of the Earl

Georgiana, Countess Spencer who died in 1814 is commemorated here by Flaxman, and

Captain Robert Cavendish Spencer commemorated here by by Chantrey

Various other monuments and wall plaques are also to be found here. In the floor of the chancel you will find set in the tomb stone of Laurence Washington (d.1616) agent to the Spencers and ancestor of General Washington, first President of the United States of America.

Contact & Opening Times

Great Brington, St Mary, Main Street, Great Brington, Northamptonshire, NN7 4JB|
[email protected]|
01604 754167

Opening Times


The church is open during daylight hours.

The church lies close to a Country House which offers a restaurant and is open to the public. For opening times, please look at the Historic Houses section of our website under Althorp.

Contact Details


Key holder is church warden Mrs Joan Heaps – 01604 770047

Explore the area

Click the pins on the map to see other attractions nearby

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