The population of Wilby is about 620 people, a traditional village, there is also a small Park Homes estate for the over 40’s. There is a playing field with play equipment for younger children and football pitches. Two allotment sites can be found in the village, the larger of which is owned by St Mary the Virgin church.
Wilby has a farming community and there is a small number of businesses in the village, such as a car body repair workshop, accountant, hairdresser, beautician, two pubs and a working man’s club. There is no shop, but a Sainsbury’s store is just a few metres over the parish boundary on the edge of Wellingborough.
There is a local pre-school located in the pavilion on the playing field. The primary school is a Church of England VA school http://www.wilbyprimarynorthants.org/ and takes approximately 90 children.
The Parish Council has set up a village website Wilby Northants Website to keep residents up to date with all that is going on.
About St Mary the Virgin Church, Wilby
St Mary’s has been a symbol of stability and the Christian faith of the village for more than 800 years, sharing the love of God with the people of Wilby. Today, with a faithful congregation and thriving, adjoining it is still very much a focal point of the life of the village.
St Mary’s, Wilby, is a beautiful village church built with local pale limestone and deep brown ironstone, and stands within a most lovely churchyard. A lot of remodelling and refurbishment was done by the Victorians and the excellent organ and stained glass windows date from that time. However, some older fittings still exist such as the Jacobean pulpit, a 15th century screen, which now separates the bell tower from the nave, and the 12th century font. The shape of the tower and spire is unusual with a square base and octagonal spire.
From the general survey of 1085, the Doomsday Book states that “Wilby” was in the hands of Countess Judith, niece of William the Conqueror. Provision was made for the building of a new, more permanent church probably on the site of a previous wooden building built in this originally Danish settlement.
The Norman building was gradually rebuilt and improved with a north and south aisle and clerestory windows in the Early English style by the 14th Century. The simple stone font, lined with lead, probably belonged to the original church. In the 16th Century, there had been a Rood screen in the north aisle as well as before the High Altar which was an unusual feature. There are traces of the Rood loft stairs to be found behind the pulpit. The north aisle had to be demolished in 1839 as it was in very poor condition.
The tower and spire, in the Decorated Style is one of the most attractive in Northamptonshire. The tower is square at the base, then octagonal with a spire and a parapet of quatrefoils with corner pinnacles and miniature flying buttresses. There are some good gargoyles and corbels, though very weathered. The tower contains a peal of six bells which are rung on a regular basis.
The interior of the church, particularly the Chancel, was restored during Victorian times when the vestry and organ chamber were added and the stained glass windows inserted. The south aisle remains unchanged with traces of medieval glass to be found.
Notable Rectors include Andrew Perne (1625–1654) who accepted Presbyterianism in 1645 and preached twice before the Long Parliament and Thomas Percy (1756–1782) who later became Bishop of Dromore, County Down. Thomas Percy took great care of the Church registers and was responsible for rescuing parish records from 1562. He compiled “Reliques of Ancient English Poetry” and was a member of the Garrick Club.