About this church
Not far from the roaring chicanes of Silverstone race track lies the tiny Northamptonshire village of Slapton. From a narrow lane, its parish church, St Botolph's looks like hundreds of others in the English countryside. Built in the 13th century, it stands on a slight rise with a sprawling manor farm for a neighbour, and views that stretch from grassy paddocks to the edge of modern housing.
But opening its ancient door is like entering no other church. On a far wall a bearded giant carries a child across a river swirling with fish, while either side of a stone arcade a hanging man dangles from a tree and an angel gestures towards a young woman. Look further and more paintings appear: a huge white horse, a wall of walking skeletons, a haloed figure in a friar's habit linked by black rays to the crucified Christ. It is a world of wonderment and the miraculous, a world that once entranced and embraced generations of Christian worshippers and which still has the power to astonish and delight today.
Slapton is one of the best places in England to see how a medieval church would have looked before Tudor monarchs outlawed its images, banned its paintings and imposed a more austere, less sensual, form of national religion.
Although as one would expect there has been some alteration to the building since it was founded, it remains in essence of the 13th and 14th centuries. Such alterations as have taken place have been confined mostly to the roof and the south porch in the 19th century. Other points of interest include three pre Reformation bells, two hole dials on the right hand side of the south porch which have at some point unfortunately been defaced by later insertions of radii and holes.
This small medieval church standing in a field above the village has a series of fascinating wall paintings dating from the late 14th to the 16th century, Recently the church has been provided with new lighting that illuminates them properly for the first time.
Come and see St Elois mending a horse' leg or three squabbling women having their heads knocked together by the devil.