St Peter and St Paul, Preston Deanery

Preston – the ‘priests’ farm’ was also known formerly as Preston juxta Northampton and Preston Juxta Piddington. From about 1720 the current suffix was adopted, since the village had given its name to the local deanery, a division of the Diocese of Peterborough. It is first referred to in the Domesday Book (1086) as ‘Prestone’. In the 12th century it was owned by Gilbert and Michael de Preston. The Village appears to have always been small. Only six people are recorded here in the Domesday book and in the 10th century there were just 10 houses. Earthworks of the deserted village are visible south of the church.  Nothing is known for certain about the church before the 12th century when it was given to St Andrew’s Priory, Northampton by Gilbert de Preston. However archaeological work has uncovered a decorated horizontal string course running from the side walls round the inside of the chancel arch, dating from the 10th or early 11th century. Under the paint the south side revealed the carving of a snake with protruding tongue and the north side depicts two birds with outspread wings and fanned tails.   In the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I the church became very ruinous and during this time the chancel was used as a kennel for greyhounds and the tower was a pigeon loft. However, the church was restored in the 17th century and another major restoration took place in1901. The church was taken into the care of The Churches Conservation Trust in 1976.