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Visions of Another Brackley Did

Not Materialise


Helmdon Church, with its squat embattled tower, is strikingly similar to that in the neighbouring parish of Lois Weedon.


It was at Lois Weedon that a former vicar, William Losse, shut himself up in the tower and successfully resisted a squad of Parliamentary troops sent to arrest and take him to Northampton during the Civil War.


The church at Helmdon is dedicated to St Mary.  Evidence of an earlier church exists – including a sedilia and piscina in the south aisle, and in a wonderful state of preservation.


And beneath the same aisle were found two large stone coffins, supposed to have been buried in what was a manor chapel.


The church stands in an elevated position at the west end of Helmdon – a village which stretches for nearly a mile.


During the last century the village relied chiefly on agriculture, supplemented by lace-making and stone quarries.


Apparently, the village was more prosperous then for the population in 1871 was 656.  Now it has declined to 463.


When the Northampton and Banbury Junction Railway opened a station at Helmdon, visions of the village becoming a rival to Towcester and Brackley arose.  But no such hopes- or fears – materialized.


In medieval days, Helmdon was of sufficient importance to have three manor houses.


The principal one, now a farmstead, belonged to the Cistercian Abbey of Biddlesden.


After the dissolution, it passed through several hands and eventually sold to Oxford University in 1552.


The University is still among the largest landowners in this part of the county and Corpus Christi College holds the patronage of the living of Helmdon.


The churchyard has long been noted for a giant yew tree 23ft in girth.  It is claimed to be the largest in the county.


The Mercury & Herald - 4th June 1954



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