All Saints is a substantial church in an expanding village, cruciform, with a substantial aisled nave and transepts. When you see a church with a central tower, it is usually a good bet that its core is Norman; your suspicion is confirmed when you see the early 12th c. round-headed window in the tower, just above the S transept. The belfry stage and broach spire were added in the 13th c. – the nail-head decoration of the belfry windows is a give-away. The body of the church now is the result of rebuilding in the 14th and 15th c. (which is when the chancel dates from) – this rebuilding has obscured signs of the earlier church on the site. Inside the spacious interior, two of the windows have fragments of 15th c. glass, said to have come from Fotheringhay (ND Nov. 2015) as well as more recent work by Kempe (look for the S. aisle window of 1904 bearing his wheatsheaf motif).

The church building is not perhaps the reason to come to King’s Cliffe. At the NE corner of the chancel, there is a large table tomb, in the shape of a writing-desk. It commemorates someone born in the parish who returned to die here. William Law was born to an established local family in 1686, going to Emmanuel College Cambridge in 1705 and becoming a fellow in 1711. However, in 1714 he felt that his allegiance to the Stuarts prevented him from taking the oath of allegiance to the Hanoverian monarch, George I, so he lost his fellowship. He spent some years in London, acting as a spiritual guide to many, including John and Charles Wesley, but eventually went home to King’s Cliffe, spending the last 20 years of his life there, dying in 1761. A man of integrity and deep spirituality, his greatest written work (1729) is A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, which influenced people like Samuel Johnson and William Wilberforce, and is still valued today.


Map Reference: TL006970

Simon Cotton