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Description: Church of St Andrew
Date Listed: 3 May 1968
English Heritage Building ID: 231985
OS Grid Reference: SP8081062910
OS Grid Coordinates: 480810, 262910
Latitude/Longitude: 52.2584, -0.8175
Explore more of the area around Billing, Northamptonshire at Explore Britain.
725/23/550 CHURCH WALK
03-MAY-68 GREAT BILLING
CHURCH OF ST ANDREW
C12 or earlier with C13-14 phases. Partially rebuilt after 1759. Restoration of 1867 by E. F. Law.
Coursed stone rubble, N chapel is ashlar. The C16 panels in the clerestory and tower parapets are said to have come from the old Billing Hall, demolished in 1776. Leaded roofs.
Nave with four-bay N and S aisles, S porch and W tower. Chancel with N chapel.
A medieval church, partly rebuilt after the fall of the spire in the mid C18, and made more medieval in appearance in the C19. The chancel S windows are C19 and have quatrefoil tracery, and the S door has a pointed head. There is a date stone reading LM/STP 1687 above the chancel E window, which has C19 Geometric-style tracery. Two C18 urns formerly on the E corners of the chancel now stand in the churchyard. The N chancel chapel is late C17 and has prominent quoining on the NE and NW corners. The E wall has a very large, framed blind window surmounted by a segmental broken pediment on brackets. The parapet of the E wall rises up in a curve to accommodate the pediment. The chapel N windows are C19 Gothic-style replacements. The N aisle was rebuilt after the fall of the spire in 1759 and retains Classical quoins at the NW corner. The windows have C19 Y-tracery. The S aisle is c.1400, but the windows have C19 Y-tracery like those on the N, replacing C18 windows with pointed heads. The S porch is C18, and has a round-headed outer opening. The S door is c1400 and has a pointed head with crockets and shields on the hood mould stops. The nave clerestory windows are C19, but the openings are C18. The nave parapet has panels of Elizabethan balustrading with pierced quatrefoils set into it; these are said to have come from the old Billing Hall, demolished 1776. The W tower is of 3 stages without setbacks and diagonal buttresses on the lower two stages. The W window is a lancet with a trefoil-headed slit above it. The upper part of the tower was rebuilt after the fall of the spire in 1759, and the parapet has Elizabethan balustrade panels like those in the nave clerestory.
The church is plastered and painted with exposed stone dressings. The roofs are ceiled throughout. The late C13 or early C14 chancel arch is of two orders, the outer continuous, the inner on polygonal half-shafts. The chancel E window has shafted jambs. The N chancel chapel opens to the chancel through a two bay arcade of 1867. Flanking the arcade are two C15 windows opening internally, and above the arcade are dwarf shafts of 1867 for an intended C19 vault or roof. The late C17 N chancel chapel is dominated by the monument to Henry, 7th Earl of Thomond. There are two burial vaults below the chapel, one for the Thomonds, the other for Elwes family, later lords of the manor. The chapel opens to the N aisle through an arch of 1867. The nave has 4-bay N and S arcades, with the western bays on both sides narrower than those to the east. Breaks in the masonry above the central pier on each side indicate where the early nave was lengthened westwards. On the N the central pier has a round shaft and a square capital with late C12 leaf forms. The eastern and western piers and responds of the N arcade are early C14 moulded capitals, and all of the N arcade arches were also rebuilt in the early C14. The S arcade piers are a consistent design of c1275 with clustered shafts. The hood mould on the S has some nailhead decoration, perhaps a remnant of an earlier arcade on this side. The N aisle was rebuilt after 1759, but the rere-arch of the N aisle W window is medieval. The S aisle has at the E end a reredos of c1400. C14 tower arch of three orders, the outer dying into the walls, the inner on polygonal responds.
Reredos of c1400 in the S aisle E wall, with a tall, ogee-headed central recess flanked by two smaller ogee recesses, said to once have had a painted inscription in the central recess. Octagonal C15 font with panelled sides and stem and a moulded top. C19 timber chancel screen in a Perpendicular style. C19 timber traceried pulpit on a carved stone wineglass stem. Some C19 glass, including W window by Powell of 1870. Large monument of 1700 in N chapel to Henry, 7th Earl of Thomond d. 1691 and his countess by Bushnell, described by Pevsner as 'shockingly inept'; it is nevertheless of great interest as a late and strange work by an important mason-sculptor. Caroline Elwes, d.1812 by Flaxman and Robert Elwes, d.1852 by Weekes. Also several C19 brass tablets to members of the Elwes family and in the chancel a brass for Justinian Bracegirdle, d.1625, with a rhyming inscription.
The church stands near the site of the demolished Billing Hall, rebuilt in 1776, when adjacent cottages were cleared away to improve the setting of the Hall. A priest is recorded at Billing in 1086, but it is unclear if this refers to Great Billing church or to All Saints, Little Billing church which has a C11 font. Great Billing church was certainly in existence by the mid C12, when it was given to Leicester abbey. A nave occupying the eastern bays of the present nave was extended westwards in the later C12 when the N aisle was added or extended. The tower is probably contemporary in origin. The chancel was rebuilt in the C13, and the S aisle was added or rebuilt in the late C13. In the early C14 the N aisle was remodelled, as were the chancel and tower arches. The S aisle was rebuilt c1400. The N chapel was added in the late C17 and there was some work on the chancel at this time. The spire fell in 1759, and the N aisle, nave clerestory and tower top were subsequently rebuilt. The S aisle windows were also redone at this time, and the S porch was added or rebuilt. The church was refenestrated in the C19, and the chancel and N chapel were restored by E F Law in 1867.
Pevsner, N., Buildings of England, Northamptonshire (1972), 347
RCHME Northamptonshire V (1985), 219-23
VCH Northamptonshire IV (1937), 69-73
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
The church of St Andrew, Great Billing, is designated at Grade I for the following principal reasons:
* Parish church begun early C12 or earlier, exhibiting an interesting and unusual range of fabric phases including both medieval and post-medieval work.
* Interesting C18 phase, including the Thomond chapel.
* Monuments of interest by Bushnell and Flaxman
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.