Great Brington, St Mary's Church
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Tombs of the Spencer family of Althorp
The Spencer Chapel
Nineteen generations of Spencers are now interred in the Spencer Chapel, the earliest being that of John Spencer himself, with his wife, who lie beneath an ornate canopy. Nearby is the tomb of another Sir John Spencer (d. 1586), designed by the sculptor Jasper Hollemans. Also by Hollemans is the tomb of Robert, the 1st Baron Spencer (d. 1599). Beneath the east window is the tomb of Sir William Spencer (d. 1532), who lies on a plain tomb chest decorated with quatrefoils. Another highlight is the memorial to John Spencer (d. 1783), sculpted by Jospeh Nollekens from white marble. Pevsner called the Spencer Chapel 'one of the great storehouses of costly and self-confident monuments of the 16thc., 17thc. and 18thc.'
The church underwent a final restoration at the hands of Edward Blore in 1846. Blore was a firm friend of Lord Althorp, son of Lord Spencer, and Althorp had helped get Blore the contract to finish Buckingham Palace after John Nash was dismissed, and Blore was a natural choice for the family when they decided to restore the family tombs at Great Brington.
The Diana Burial Theory
Not all the, er, rather odd theories surrounding Princess Diana relate to the circumstances of her death. Persistent rumours - unsubstantiated I hasten to add - relate to her burial. The official version is that Princess Di was buried on an island in Althorp park, and visitors to Althorp flock here each summer to see the island site. However, there is another version of the princess's burial which suggests that she was secretely cremated and her ashes interred in the family chapel at Great Brington church.
Conspiracy theorists point to an area of wet concrete that appeared in the chapel at the time of Diana's burial, and a siting of smoke from the chimney of a local crematorium in the middle of the night. The crematorium rejects the sighting, and one simple explanation for the concrete is that the original plans were for her to be buried with her ancestors, then the Earl changed his mind and the island plan was selected instead. Even local people are divided over which version of the story is true, but in the end St Mary's is worth visiting in its own right, irrespective of which particular Spencers are buried here!
Just west of the church is a worn and weathered preaching cross set upon a stepped pedestal base. The cross dates to about 1300.
About Great Brington
Address: Great Brington, Northamptonshire, England, NN7 4JB
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: Great Brington is immediately west of Althorp Park, 5 miles north west of Northampton
Website: Great Brington
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Althorp - 0.9 miles (Historic House)
Haddonstone Show Gardens - 1.8 miles (Garden)
Holdenby House Gardens - 2.5 miles (Garden)
Holdenby, All Saints Church - 2.5 miles (Historic Church)
Coton Manor Gardens - 4.1 miles (Garden)
Upton, St Michael's Church - 4.5 miles (Historic Church)
Cottesbrooke, All Saints Church - 5.9 miles (Historic Church)
Northampton, St Peter's Church - 6 miles (Historic Church)
Nearest Accommodation to Great Brington:
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