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All Saints' Church
All Saints' Church Northampton.JPG
All Saints' Church, Northampton
Country United Kingdom
Denomination Church of England
Churchmanship Anglo-Catholic
Dedication All Saints
Diocese Peterborough
Province Canterbury
Bishop(s) The Rt Revd Norman Banks (AEO)
Rector Fr Oliver Coss SSC
Organist(s) Jem Lowther, Laurence Caldecote
Churchwarden(s) Alison Mills and Richard Lambert

All Saints' Church, Northampton is a Church of England parish church in the centre of Northampton. The current church was largely built after a fire and was consecrated in 1680. It is a Grade I listed building.


Simon de Senlis' church of All Hallows, Northampton, England, lasted with medieval alterations until 20 September 1675 when much of the old town was destroyed by the Great Fire of Northampton. The fire began in St Mary's Street, near the castle, and the inhabitants fled to the Market Square, but then were forced to evacuate, leaving the buildings to burn, including All Hallows:

"All Hallows Bells jangled their last and doleful Knell, presently after the Chimes had gone Twelve in a more pleasant Tune: And soon after the wind which did flie swifter than Horsemen, carried the Fire near the Dern-Gate, at least half a Mile from the place where it began, and into St Giles-street in the East, and consumed every house therein, save one, whose end-Walls were higher than the Roof, and by them preserved."

The new church

All Saints' Church, Northampton interior
All Saints' interior

After the fire, Charles II gave a thousand tons of timber for the rebuilding of All Hallows' Church, and one tenth of the money collected for the rebuilding of the town was allocated to the rebuilding of All Hallows', under the management of the King's Lynn architect, Henry Bell. Bell was resident in Northampton at the time, and he set to rebuild the church in a manner similar to Sir Christopher Wren's designs.

The central medieval tower survived the fire, as did the crypt. The new church of All Saints' was built east of the tower in an almost square plan, with a chancel to the east and a north and south narthex flanking the tower.

Visitors enter the church through the existing tower into a barrel vaulted nave. At the centre is a dome, supported on four Ionic columns, which is lit by a lantern above. The barrel vault extends into the aisles from the dome in a Greek-cross form, leaving four flat ceilings in the corners of the church. The church is well lit by plain glass windows in the aisles and originally there was a large east window in the chancel, that is now covered by a reredos. The plasterwork ceiling is finely decorated, and the barrel vaults are lit by elliptical windows.

Present day

Al Saints sits in the Catholic tradition of the Church of England. The parochial church council passed Resolutions A, B and C in 1993, after the Church of England voted to allow the ordination of women to the priesthood. As the parish rejects the ordination of women, it received alternative episcopal oversight from the Bishop of Richborough (currently Norman Banks).

All Saints' is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm throughout the year, with extended opening on days with choral services.


Charles II Northampton
A statue of King Charles II by John Hunt was erected on the portico parapet of the rebuilt church in 1712

Built in the style of Christopher Wren's London churches rebuilt after the Great Fire of London, it has in the past been mistakenly attributed to him. The rebuilding of the city churches was initiated by financing of the Rebuilding of London Act 1670. Wren, as Surveyor General of the King's Works, undertook the operation, and one of his first London churches was St Mary-at-Hill.

The interior space of St Mary-at-Hill is roughly square in plan, and of a similar size to All Saints'. To the west is the tower, again flanked by a north and south narthex. Wren spanned the square space by a barrel vault in a Greek-cross plan, with a dome at the centre, supported on four columns. If Henry Bell drew his inspiration from any one of Wren's churches, this would be the one. The barrel-vaulting though in All Saints' is much flatter than in St Mary-at-Hill, which has semi-circular vaulting. The dome in All Saints' is more hemi-spherical, and the columns at St Mary-at-Hill are Corinthian with fluting. The Mayoral Seat dominates the pews on the south side, and in the north aisle there is a Consistory Court. Icons of Saint Peter and Saint Katharine are situated at the east end before the steps in to the Quire, and these were painted for the church in 2001 to reflect the parish boundaries, which include the site of St Katharine's Church (demolished) and St Peter's Church.

The rebuilt church of All Saints' was consecrated and opened in 1680. In 1701, a large portico was added to the west end, in front of the narthex, very much in the style of the Inigo Jones portico added to Old St Paul's Cathedral in the 1630s. The All Saints' portico was added as a memorial to Charles II's contribution to the rebuilding of the church after the fire, and a statue of him was erected above the portico, dressed in a Roman tunic. At 12:00pm on Oak Apple Day each year, the choir sings a Latin hymn to Charles II from the roof as the statue is wreathed in oak leaves by the Mayor of Northampton; a similar ceremony takes place on Ascension Day at 7:00am.

The church building underwent some restoration in the 1970s under the direction of the Vicar at the time, Rev. Victor Mallan.

In 2006, the present Chancel Organ was installed (replacing the previous instrument from 1981 which had come to the end of its useful life) to accompany the choirs. Alongside this, a new ring of 10 bells in the key of E, replacing a heavier ring of 8 bells which dated from 1782, and which, by all accounts, weren't very easy to ring. In 2008, the Narthex, Sacristy and lavatories were refurbished. A privately leased coffee shop (All Saints' Bistro) operates from its north and south areas, and on the space under the portico. The north end of the coffee shop is named the John Clare Lounge, after the poet who sat outside this space, composing his poems.


Complete Choirs
The choirs of All Saints' Church

The choir of All Saints' Church was formed in the 1100s for the old church of All Hallows', lost in 1675. There are currently three groups which make up the choirs: the Boys Choir, the Girls Choir and the Choral Scholars and Lay Clerks. The boys choir ranges in age from 7 to 15, and the girls from 8 to 18. The lower parts consist of Choral Scholars with an age range of 15 to 18, some having previously sung in the treble line, and Lay Clerks.

These choirs sing at 5 choral services a week: Mass on Sundays mornings at 10.30am (Boys or Girls and Choral Scholars/Lay Clerks), and Evensong on Mondays (Girls), Wednesdays (Boys) and Thursdays (Girls), all at 6.00pm, and Compline (Choral Scholars/Lay Clerks) on Fridays, at 7.30pm. The Music Department is led by the Director of Music, and supported by the Assistant Organist, and Organ Scholar.

Over the years, the choir has toured extensively to the US, France, Canada, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Poland. They have sung in many cathedrals including Chester Cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, York Minster, Ely Cathedral, Lichfield Cathedral, Gloucester Cathedral, Peterborough Cathedral, St Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin as well as the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace, St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, and King's College Chapel, Cambridge.

In recent years, they have performed in concert with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Henryk Wieniawski Orchestra of Lublin, members of Queens' Park Sinfonia, Fiori Musicali, and the Stephen Petronio Company in a performance of Rufus Wainwright's Bloom. They gave their first full performance of Handel's Messiah in 2008, and in recent years have given concert performances of Monteverdi's Vespers, J. S. Bach's Cantata Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140, Haydn's Nelson Mass, Vaughan Williams' "Five mystical songs", Britten's "War Requiem", "Friday Afternoons" and "Ceremony of Carols", and Requiems by Bednall, Duruflé, Fauré and Rutter. In March 2010 they performed J. S. Bach's St Matthew Passion alongside the Northampton Bach Choir and the period orchestra Charivari Agréable, and the Choral Scholars and Lay Clerks's joined the Northampton Bach Choir to perform Rachmaninoff's Vespers in November 2010. In January 2011, they sang again alongside the Northampton Bach Choir and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance of Requiem (Fauré) and Handel's Zadok the Priest; in March 2011 they gave a concert performance of Franz Schubert's choral works with the Tyburn String Quartet; in July 2012 they gave a concert performance of the Coronation and Sparrow Masses by Mozart. In February 2014 they performed Mozart's Requiem with the Northampton Bach Choir and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and in December 2015 they performed a Christmas concert with the Northampton Symphony Orchestra, including the première performance of a number of carols by Dan Forrest, Jr., whose music has been championed by the choir.

The Boys Choir in the quire

The liturgical repertoire is wide and varied: Masses by Palestrina (Missa Brevis), Haydn (St Nicholas, Little Organ), Langlais (Messe solennelle, Missa in simplicitate, Missa Dona nobis pacem), Mozart (Coronation, Sparrow, in D, in F), Schubert (in G), and Vierne (Messe solennelle), sit alongside the more familiar 'Anglican repertoire' settings of Batten Short Service, Darke in a, E, and F, Jackson in G, Leighton in D, Stanford in C/F, and Merberke and other Plainsong-based settings. During the week, Evensong canticles sung are: Bairstow in E-flat, Caldecote in C, Dyson in c, Hurford in A, Long in F, Stanford in D, Thiman in G, Watson in E-flat, as well other Plainsong-based settings, in both English and Latin.

All choristers have access to theory lessons and, if they wish, individual vocal tuition with a professional choral-singing teacher. This allows the Music Department's continued commitment to providing the choristers with the widest possible musical education.

They have a considerable catalogue of recordings: all three choirs recorded a disc of their commissions – Omnes Sancti – in St Mary's Church, Wellingborough in July 2010; in 2011 all three choirs recorded their fourth CD of Christmas carols, Carol of Joy, and in 2012 the girls' released Notre Père, featuring French music for upper voices. In April 2014 they joined the Northampton Bach Choir to record their fifth new carol disc Be Merry! featuring a wide selection of sacred and secular carols with piano accompaniment from the United States and Canada. There are two CDs available of the West Organ, one of three organs in the building.

All Saints' has produced many successful musicians, including Lay Clerks and Organists who hold or recently held positions at Blackburn Cathedral, Birmingham Cathedral, Grosvenor Chapel, Mayfair, Guildford Cathedral, Nativity Cathedral, Bethlehem PA, Magdalen College, Oxford, New College, Oxford, Peterborough Cathedral, Robinson College, Cambridge, St Albans Cathedral, St Paul's Cathedral, St George's Chapel, Windsor, The Royal Academy of Music, The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, The Royal College of Music, Wells Cathedral and York Minster.

Commissioning of new music

The choirs of All Saints have a diverse repertoire and since 2002, have commissioned new works for choir and organ.[neutrality is disputed] On 22 November 2013, they gave the first performance of their 2013 commission, a Festival Anthem by Jonathan Dove lasting nearly twenty minutes. In 2014 a competition was held to compose an anthem to mark the sesquicentennial anniversary of the death of the poet John Clare, and in 2015 Paul Spicer was commissioned to write the first carol commission since Sir Richard Rodney Bennett's ("The Holly and the Ivy" and "The Shepherd's Carol") in 2010.

2015: The All Saints' Carol, SATB a capella, Paul Spicer

2014: With a glorious eye, SATB+org, Ivan Božičević

  • 2014: Bring all Heaven before mine eyes, SATB+org, Francis Jackson
  • 2014: A Song to David, SATB+org, Anthony Fort
  • 2014: Preces & Responses, SSS a capella, Ashley Grote
  • 2014: A Prayer of Saint Julian of Norwich, SSS+Jazz Trio, Robert Busiakiewicz
  • 2014: In the Cross of Christ I glory, SS+org, Tim Noon
  • 2014: Cantare amantis est, SATB+org, Bruce Neswick

2013: Out of the Whirlwind, A solo, STB verses, SATB+(2)org, Jonathan Dove

  • 2013: Missa Placare Christe servulis, SS+org, Adrian Self
  • 2013: Three Anthems (Hymn to Saint Katharine) SATB+org, (Formam Columbae Caelitus) SATB+org, (When morning gilds the skies) S+org, Laurence Caldecote
  • 2013: Hymn to Saint Joseph, SATB+org, Vernon Hoyle
  • 2013: The Lord's Prayer, ATB a capella, Robert McCormick (for extant setting of Preces & Responses)
  • 2013: The All Saints' Service, ATB+org, Andrew Parnell

2012: Magnificat and Nunc dimittis (Third Service), S+org, Michael Finnissy

  • 2012: Three short motets (Lov og tak og evig ære ske dig, Skriv dig, Jesus, på mit hjerte, Som hønen klukker mindelig), S+org, Adrian Self
  • 2012: Preces & Responses, S+org, Ronald Watson
  • 2012: O sing unto the Lord a new song, SATB+org, Malcolm Archer
  • 2012: Holy is the true light, S+org, Vernon Hoyle
  • 2012: Nunc dimittis, SSA a capella, Robert Rice

2011: Messe pour Saint-Sulpice, S+SATB+(2)org, David Briggs

  • 2011: Ecce sacerdos magnus, SSATB John Caldwell
  • 2011: O Jesu, blessèd Lord, to Thee (O Jesu! søde Jesu, dig), S+org, Humphrey Clucas
  • 2011: Sussex Carol, SATB+org, Alan Spedding after an incomplete score by Trevor Hold
  • 2011: God be in my head, SATB+org, Philip Moore

2010: Two Carols (The Holly and the Ivy; The Shepherd's Carol), SATB (with divisions), Sir Richard Rodney Bennett

  • 2010: Jubilate Deo in E, SATB+org, Gordon Lawson
  • 2010: Two Benediction Hymns (O salutaris hostia; Tantum ergo), S+org, Norman Caplin
  • 2010: Dei virgo Catharina, S+org, George Haynes
  • 2010: Rhapsody, org, Gordon Lawson

2009: Ave Maria, SATB+org, James MacMillan

Premièring James MacMillan in St George's Chapel, Windsor
The choirs of All Saints' Church premièring James MacMillan in St George's Chapel, Windsor
  • 2009: Little Mass of All Saints, SS+org; Ave verum Corpus, SS+org; Preces & Responses, SS+org, Adrian Self
  • 2009: Man be merry, SATB, Barry Ferguson
  • 2009: Magnificat and Nunc dimittis (The Northampton Service), SS+org, Gordon Lawson
  • 2009: Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous, SS+org, Andrew Bryden

2008: The Passion according to Saint Matthew, S+SATB+(2)org, David Bednall

  • 2008: O soft self-wounding Pelican! S+pf/org, Stephen Hough
  • 2008: Prelude and fugue on 'Kingsfold', org, Richard White
  • 2008: Make here a little quiet, SATB; Magnificat and Nunc dimittis (The All Saints' Service), S+org, Barry Ferguson

2007: Two anthems (Ecce sacerdos magnus, SSAATTBB; O living bread, SATB+org) Ian Colson

  • 2007: Fünf geistliche Lieder, SSS+org, Lee Dunleavy

2006: O praise God in his holiness, SATB+org, David Bednall

  • 2006: Berceuse, org, David Briggs
  • 2006: Quam Dilecta, SSSAA, Simon Whiteley

2005: Missa 'Omnes Sancti', SATB+(2)org, Malcolm Archer

  • 2005: Dominus illuminatio mea, SATTBB+org, Matthew Martin

2004: For Remembrance, SATTB, Robert Walker

2003: Two anthems (Drop, drop, slow tears; The Bethlehem Star), SATB+org, Robert Walker

2002: O where can I go from your spirit?, SATB+org, Malcolm Archer

  • 1998: Father, we thank Thee, S+org, David Sanger
  • 1996: Bread of the World, SATB+org, John Hoyle
  • 1995: The Song of Saint Francis, SS+rock band, Kendal Kirkland
  • 1993: May the road rise up to meet you, SATB+org, Russell Jackson
  • 1844: Psalm 150 (O praise God in his holiness), SATB+org, Charles McKorkell


The church has 6 instruments: 3 pipe organs, and 3 pianos:

Built by J. W. Walker & Sons Ltd in 1982/3, using 6 ranks of pipes from the previous organ by William Hill & Sons 1872/1884/Brindley & Foster 1912/1926, and the front part of the main case is from an instrument by Thomas Swarbrick, c.1730. All pipes are metal unless otherwise stated. See


8 Orchestral Trumpet [Copper]
8 Echo Trumpet [Harmonic]
16 Bassoon
V Furniture
1.3/5 Tierce
2 Octavin [Harmonic]
2.2/3 Nazard [Tapered]
4 Wald Flute [Wood]
4 Principal
8 Tapered Flute
8 Voix Celeste AA
8 Viola da Gamba [Haskelled bass octave]


4 Clarion
8 Trumpet
V Mounted Cornet (TG#)
III Acuta 26.29.33
IV Grave Mixture
2 Super Octave
4 Octave [basses in facade]
8 Chimney Flute
8 Open Diapason [basses in facade]
16 Quintaton [bottom octave wood]


8 Orchestral Trumpet [Copper]
8 Cremona
IV Sharp Mixture
1.1/3 Larigot
2 Principal
4 Spindle Flute
4 Prestant [basses in facade]
8 Stopped Diapason [Wood]


8 Trumpet [Copper]
16 Trombone [Wood]
IV Mixture
4 Tenor Octave
8 Gedackt [Wood]
8 Octave
10.2/3 Quint [Wood]
16 Bourdon [Wood]
16 Violone

Built by Alfred Monk, rebuilt by Hill, Norman & Beard in 1939 originally for St Andrew's 'Scotch' Church Bournemouth, it was removed in 2004 and moved to All Saints' with new ranks by Kenneth Tickell, who installed it in 2006. The Mixtures are 3 ranks from CC and 4 ranks from TC up. See


8 West Orchestral Trumpet
8 Cornopean
16 Contra Fagotto [1/2 length bass]
8 Oboe
III-IV Mixture 15.19.22
4 Lieblich Flute
4 Principal
8 Rohr Gedackt
8 Voix Celestes TC
8 Gamba
8 Violin Diapason


8 Tromba (from Choir)
III-IV Mixture 19.22.26
2 Fifteenth
4 Open Flute
4 Principal
8 Clarabella [Wood]
8 Dulciana
8 Open Diapason


8 West Orchestral Trumpet
8 Tromba (enclosed)
8 Clarinet
2 Piccolo
4 Wald Flute [wood]
8 Lieblich Gedackt [Wood Bass]
8 Viola da Gamba
8 Viole d'Orchestre


8 Tromba (from Choir)
16 Trombone [Full length]
8 Bass Flute [Wood]
8 Octave Wood (from Open Wood) [Wood]
16 Echo Bourdon [Wood]
16 Sub Bass [Wood]
16 Violone
16 Open Wood [Wood]

MEMORIAL CHAPEL ORGAN Built by J. W. Walker & Sons Ltd in 1983, and consists of 2 ranks (Gedackt and Diapason)

Both the top octave of the Fifteenth 2 and the bottom octave of the Open Diapason 8 are taken from the Gedackt rank. C13 to E29 of the Open Diapason are in the facade. All pipes are zinc/plain metal. See


2 Piccolo B
2 Fifteenth A/B
2.2/3 Nazard B
4 Gedackt Flute B
4 Principal A
8 Gedackt B
8 Open Diapason A/B


4 Octave Flute B
8 Flute B
16 Bourdon B

There is a model B Bechstein grand piano in the Song School, and an identical model B Bechstein grand piano in the South Aisle (the latter was owned by the late Sir Clifford Curzon). A D'Almaine baby grand piano resides in the Choir Robing Room.

Directors of Music

  • 2015–pres: Jem Lowther
  • 2006–2014: Lee Dunleavy
  • 2002–2006: Edward Whiting
  • 1998–2001: Simon Johnson
  • 1993–1998: Richard Tanner
  • 1991–1993: Russell Jackson
  • 1981–1991: Ian Clarke
  • 1973–1981: Jeremy Suter
  • 1972–1973: Gary Sieling
  • 1962–1972: Graham Mayo
  • 1960–1962: George Millar
  • 1920–1960: Ralph Richardson Jones
  • 1914–1920: Albert Charles Tysoe
  • 1898–1914: Brook Sampson
  • 1878–1898: Ebenezer Law
  • 1836–1878: Charles McKorkell
  • 1774–1836: John Barrett
  • 1743–1774: William Barrett
  • 1706–1743: Mr Morris
  • Mid–C.16th: William Cockin

Assistant Organists

  • 2018–pres: Laurence Caldecote
  • 2014-2015: Charlie Newsome-Hubbard
  • 2013-2014: Hilary Punnett
  • 1992–2013: Roger Palmer
  • 1992-2013: Ron Gates

Organ Scholars

  • 2018-pres: Matthew Foster
  • 2008-2010: Chon-Meng Lam
  • 2007-2008: Adam Dickson
  • 2005-2007: George Haynes
  • 2004-2006: Stephen Meakins
  • Daniel Turner
  • Richard Pinel
  • Magnus Williamson
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