Restoration Story Continued

Pioneer Door


Once the trust was formed this group met to formulate how it could best help trustees to meet the target set for it. Many of those who set out on this road have since left the area or have sadly passed on but it would be grossly unfair not to recognise the input of each of the committee over the years. At the first meeting a most significant suggestion of holding a flower festival sent tremors through the committee bearing in mind the size of the building. It could not possibly have been envisaged where this suggestion would eventually lead the group to achievements acclaimed throughout the UK as unique. This singular thought resulted in a run of five bi-ennial flower and costume festivals ( 1983 themed “Flower & Art Festival – 1985 themed” Heritage Flower Festival”- 1987 themed “Monarchs in Bloom”- 1989 themed “By Royal Appointment” and 1991 themed “Passport to the World” that brought tens of thousands of visitors pouring through the doors of Holy Sepulchre Church. The combination of Marjorie Garrett’s flower arranging team and Pat Kightley’s amazing Kings & Queens of England costumary eventually brought Their Royal Highnesses The Prince & Princess of Wales to view “By Royal Appointment” on the 8th June 1989 with 15,000 visitors and the sum of £86,000into trust funds.

Many other equally worthwhile fund raising activities took place.The group began to expand the use of the world famous “Round” for the presentation of concerts. The first concert was given by The Vogue Singers in 1982 and has continued to the present day, a total of 168  by the end of 2016.  All groups from schools to local bands to the present day level of  Royal Corps of Music military bands and orchestras and top Royal Air Force Bands often returning for the enjoyment  of helping the trust and to realise the pleasure of performing in the amazing acoustics of the spectacular medieval setting 1100AD. To the present day a total of 21 Military Bands have performed in the spectacular medieval setting.


It is possibly not generally known of the deep gratitude that the trustees have for the support given by The Royal Pioneer Corps, The Royal Pioneer Corps Association and The Northamptonshire Regiment Association. Not given to seeking publicity, those above have been involved in the long restoration programme from day one. Northampton will long remember the parades for Royal visits, whilst the trustees enjoyed the assistance with security, the magnificence of the silver displays, fanfares, provision of a new door to the upper level, donations, contributions to the restoration of the Regimental Chapel and not least of all the work of the secretariat under the late Major Bill Elliott RPC.


The trust has been most fortunate to have attracted perhaps more than its fair share of official  royal visits over the term of restoration. For this we have to thank especially former Lords Lieutenant Col. Chandos-Pole and Sir John Lowther, who, through their Queen’s appointment, have endeavoured to respond to the needs of this famous church. The trust has enjoyed the patronage of  HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester for her support, Their Royal Highnesses The Prince & Princess of Wales on the occasion of Northampton’s 800th Charter anniversary and the festival “By Royal Appointment” and HRH The Duke of Gloucester on the occasion of the appeal  re-launch and the dedication of the Pioneer Disabilty door at the upper level. His Royal Highness again visited the Church on the occasion of completion of all five phases of works and gave his admiration for the completed task.  HRH Princess Alice also graciously opened two other festivals. Exclusive photography can be seen on the Looking Back  page .

(dedication to St George)
Now rededicated as ‘The Soldiers’ Chapel.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Northampton, has been regimental church for the Northamptonshire Regiment and was the scene of an impressive ceremony on Sunday 30th May 1921,when this chapel, the memorial of the county regiment, as well as the memorial of the parish, was unveiled and dedicated.

The unveiling ceremony was performed by Lord Horne GCB KCMC whilst the Ven F.G. Sandford MA Archdeacon of Doncaster, cousin of  Vicar Keysall (the incumbane of the time) dedicated the memorial chapel to St. George.

General Horne unveiled the entrance to the chapel declaring “To the Glory of God and in memory of the officers ,warrant officers, NCOs and men of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th Battalions of the Northamptonshire Regiment and also of this parish and congregation who gave their lives for King, for country, for cause during the Great War”.

This past 95 years has seen many thousands of visitors to the chapel, seeking moments of quiet thoughts in respect to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Latterly, visitors from around the world have been able to view the two primary standards of the regiment encased in sealed cabinets and lit by cold cathode ray lights to enhance the investment by the Regiment in it’s history.

Other standards that once hung in the chancel in the care of the church council, have now been laid to rest in a casket placed beneath an inscribed tablet central before the altar.

Another important ceremony took place on Sunday 26th July 2009 when, on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Talavera, the Northamptonshire Regiment Association held a special service to celebrate the Association’s work in the area as it is reorganised as the Northampton Branch of the wider Royal Anglian Regiment Association.

Many special  occasions at Holy Sepulchre have been given global attention since the commencement of this latest restoration phase that began in February 1982. Perhaps none have had more significance than the visit on Monday 12 April 2010 when H.R.H. Duke of Gloucester visited to inspect the completed exterior work to Northampton's national Grade 1 listed building and again gave his admiring approval.

Later additions to the Soldiers’Chapel include a Poppy from the 2014 Tower of  London Commemorations  and the laid up 2nd Battalion Royal Anglican Colour (previously Northamptonshire Regiment) adding to the extensive memorials on display.

As a footnote to this story, two stalwart supporters of the Congregation Group of the trust, who played important parts in the formation of the fund-raising activities are now sadly deceased. Both of these ladies left legacies that have enabled the trustees to fund the final pieces of the re-instatement jigsaw of work phases. An amazing and fitting co-incidence.

This Article was last updated February 2017.