Medieval churches in North Bedfordshire

Visit led by Aymeric Jenkins on 16 April 2016

By Alan Dorman

In response to the favourable feedback from Aymeric Jenkins’s talk on local medieval churches and the visit led by him to churches in the St Albans area, this further visit was arranged to five Medieval churches in North Bedfordshire. The group arrived in cars at the first church on a cold wet morning and much appreciated the coffee and biscuits kindly provided by the parishioners.

St Mary's, Stevington

Photo:St Mary's, Stevington

St Mary's, Stevington

A Dorman, 2016

Photo:Carved pew end, St Mary's, Stevington

Carved pew end, St Mary's, Stevington

The Anglo-Saxon church was built c.900 in frontier land as re-conquest of the Danelaw developed. All except the lower level of the tower and parts of the nave was rebuilt between c.1300 and C15.

Unusual Tudor finials decorate several pew ends. Like medieval pilgrims, we visited the Holy Well.

St Mary's, Felmersham

Photo:West front of St Mary's, Felmersham

West front of St Mary's, Felmersham

A Dorman, 2016

Photo:Millennium window, St Mary's, Felmersham

Millennium window, St Mary's, Felmersham

The magnificent west facade is a delight. How does a small community of 800 have one of the finest Early English churches? Perhaps the monks of Lenton Priory built it with the intention of creating a monastic settlement. The noble central tower resting on fine moulded arches and piers suggests it was destined for a greater purpose. While most churches have additions over time, if one excludes the porch, the floorplan is as laid out in 1220. Inside a fine medieval oak screen survives and the new millennium window helps draw your attention to its Lancet form.

St Lawrence, Wymington

Photo:St Lawrence, Wymington

St Lawrence, Wymington

A Dorman, 2016

Photo:Reredos, St Lawrence, Wymington

Reredos, St Lawrence, Wymington

John Curteys, whose tomb is in the chancel, funded this unusually late Decorated style church built c.1377. The brass of Sir Thomas Brounflet is a rare example depicting complete knight armour. A C15 Doom wall painting faces the nave on the chancel arch. The reredos in the sanctuary is probably medieval with five modern figures by Comper in the niches.


 

During the course of the morning the rain ceased and the clouds rolled back. The adventurous strode through long wet grass to reach vantage points for viewing the church exteriors while others strolled along the paths studying the detail of the structures. For lunch we stopped off at the Bedford Arms in Souldrop to enjoy a hearty meal while lively conversations emanated from around the tables.

Aymeric identified the various medieval styles from C10 Saxon to C15 Gothic and maintained our attention all day when pointing out notable features and artefacts. Those on the previous trip welcomed the opportunity to help consolidate their knowledge of the church styles. We are grateful to him for increasing our understanding and to all those involved in arranging a very pleasant outing.

St Mary's, Yelden

Photo:St Mary's, Yeldon

St Mary's, Yeldon

R Ross, April 2016

Photo:Font, with perpendicular wooden cover

Font, with perpendicular wooden cover

A Dorman, 2016

While the church is mainly of the early C14 Decorated period, the stone floor in the nave is the oldest feature with Norman origins c.1175. Notable early English features also survive. The church, sited on a mound, gives the tower a commanding position over its surroundings. The octagonal font on a stone pedestal along with the Perpendicular wooden cover is c. 1500.

St Mary's, Marston Moreteyne

Photo:St Mary's, Marston Moreteyne

St Mary's, Marston Moreteyne

A Dorman, 2016

Photo:Detail of brass effigies

Detail of brass effigies

A Dorman, 2016

The C15 Perpendicular church is probably on the site of an earlier Anglo Saxon one. It has two unusual features. One is the detached tower and the other is the ‘squints’ or apertures between the Reynes chapel and the chancel. Colourful tales give explanations for these but the truth remains open to conjecture. A Doom wall painting is preserved in the Nave and there are some elegant brasses.


The £10 fee per head enabled us to make a donation to each church and a small surplus for the Society. The trip was admirably organised by Society member Hester Gabbutt with help from Committee member Margaret Pratt.

This page was added by Rosemary Ross on 10/01/2017.

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