All Saints, Brixworth is a building of truly international importance. It has been described as the ‘finest seventh century building north of the alps’ – and its construction remains an enigma.
All Saints features a medieval annex to the 7th Century main fabric, known as the Lady Chapel – it is still used for early morning Sunday services. Sir John de Verdun (d1274) is thought to have been responsible for the building of the Verdun Chapel, and his tomb survives.
When in the fifteenth century the Harrington’s came into possession of the Manor of Brixworth, the church came under their control – and features in the lives of the Harringtons born in the village.
Sir Richard Harrington (born c.1399 – died 17 Aug 1462) marries the Verdun heiress to the Wolfage Manor estates, and adopts the White Lion Rampant from the Verdun line onto his livery, though he is buried up north in the Friary Church in Lancaster.
His son, Sir William (Born c. 1425 at Wolfage Manor – died 14 Aug 1488 aged ~63) is not recorded as buried in the Friary at Lancaster, and is suspected as being buried in All Saints, Brixworth. His son and heir Sir James Harrington was definitely entombed at All Saints, his will states this, and his tomb was recorded by Thomas of Guilsborough in the following century – though it does not seem to have survived the reformation.
Whilst the tomb of Sir James has not survived, the stained glass window does carry a connection to the Harringtons – the White Lion Rampant of the Verdun line is displayed on the east window above the Chapel Altar.
Some recent research supplied by Philip Beddows suggests a different theory for the adoption of the Chess Rook Gules on the Harrington Livery. Philip theorises that the silver lion rampant with the chess rook is from the arms of his wife’s ancestor, Sir Thomas de Verdon, who appeared with his brother Sir John de Verdon at the great Tournament gatherings at Stepney in 1308 and Dunstable in 1313. See from a transcription from the Battle Abbey Roll that appears on this webpage:
He seems to have been a man of great hospitality, for he left eighty dishes, seventy-five plates, forty saucers, and twelve cups, to treat his tenants at his coming over. In 1329 he settled Briclesworth in Northamptonshire on himself, for life, remainder to his son Thomas, and his heirs, remainder to John, his second son, and his heirs; and the year following he settled Brisingham in the same manner.
Thomas de Verdun was succeeded by his son John, then aged 16 or 17, who was returned as lord of the manor in 1316, and defended his right to view of frankpledge, free warren, market, fair, and other liberties in Brixworth in 1329. He also claimed exemption from suit at the hundred and county courts.
Sir John de Verdun appears to have died some time after 1370, being succeeded by his son Edmund, whose daughter and heir Margaret married first Sir William Bradshaw, and secondly Sir John Pilkington. She survived her second husband and died in 1436 holding the manor of Brixworth of the duchy of Lancaster. She was succeeded by her grand-daughter Elizabeth, wife of Sir Richard Harrington, of Westerley, Lancs., and daughter of Sir William Bradshaw, her son by her first marriage. By 1461 their son Sir William Harrington and Elizabeth his wife were in possession of the manor, and they in turn were succeeded some time before 1492 by their son Sir James Harrington. Sir James died on 26 June 1497 leaving the manor to his wife Isabel during her lifetime, with remainder equally among their daughters: Anne wife of Sir William Stanley, Isabel wife of John Tresham, Joan wife of Edmund Ashton, Catherine wife of William Myrfield, Agnes wife of Thomas Ashton, Elizabeth wife of John Lumley, Clemence wife of Henry Norrys, Alice wife of Ralph Standish, Margaret wife of Thomas Pilkington, and Eleanor Leicester.