A post from my occasional series, Tales From the Edge.
As I drove out of Yardley Gobion I could see Hanslope church on the horizon. I parked the car and started to take photographs. It was August. I was in Northamptonshire, but Hanslope, on the other side of the valley, is in Bucks.
The River Tove runs along the bottom of the valley and flows into the Ouse, just North of Old Wolverton.
The border between Northants and Bucks mostly runs along the river here, and you can see the trees along the river just below the middle of the first photo. The nearer row of trees are along the Grand Union Canal.
Hanslope was two and a half miles away, across the fields. I remembered that there’s a place in Old Wolverton where I could also see the church, so I changed my plans and drove to the spot, about 300 yards East of the canal bridge on Old Wolverton Road.
An obliging sheep posed in the foreground. From here, the church is three and a quarter miles away.
The rest of these photos are from 2009.
I last visited Hanslope church over nine years ago. Looking at these old photos, I'm amazed how long ago it was.
It is well worth visiting on the annual open day, which this year was on Saturday 14th July, starting at Noon. If you visit the church on the open day and get the chance to climb the tower, take it.
It's possible to visit the church at other times; details are here. The Observers Book of Old English churches, although it's long out of print, is a very good guide which will fit in a pocket.
The tower and spire of Saint James the Great at Hanslope was built some time after 1414, and it was originally just over 200ft tall. In 1804 the spire was destroyed when it was struck by lightning, and it fell on to the West end of the South aisle.
The spire was rebuilt the following year. It lost some height, but the tower and spire are still a foot taller than the 185 ft reach of the tower and spire of Olney church, six miles away across the fields.
I climbed the tower on the church's open day in 2009.
Looking North East along Newport Road.
When this one ton, two hundredweight tenor bell is rung, the whole tower sways; I was at the top of the tower by the base of the spire. When the bell stops, the tower takes a little while to stop moving. Some people think it’s a bit disconcerting; I can’t imagine why... : )