St Mary’s Church, Northill, Beds, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member bill&ben
N 52° 06.319 W 000° 19.401
30U E 683305 N 5776131
Quick Description: The 14th Century Parish Church, St Mary’s, Northill
Location: Eastern England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 11/12/2009 9:41:10 AM
Waymark Code: WM7N7F
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Dorcadion Team
Views: 2

Long Description:
The church is of 14th century date - the earliest part, the nave, dating to between 1325 and 1350. The chancel may be late 14th century or may date to 1404 when the church became collegiate. The college was created by the executors of Sir John and Sir Reginald de Trailly and was intended to pray for their souls. The college contained four fellows (all clergymen) who elected a master, who was always the rector. The college was dissolved in 1547 as part of Henry VIII's dissolution of religious bodies in the wake of his break with Rome and his need to raise money. The church still contains some stalls in the chancel which were created whilst the college was in existence.

Northill has a very full set of churchwardens' accounts dating from 1561 and they note that the rood loft was dismantled in 1563. In 1637 the bell frame was restored, paid for by a levy on inhabitants on the parish, including Ickwell, Caldecote and the smaller hamlets. The Grocer's Company of London purchased the patronage of the living in the 1660s and one of their first acts, in 1662, was to restore the chancel, installing a three light east window. They also provided the parish bier (1663) and chest (1663) and popular history credits them with commissioning the church clock from Thomas Tompion in the same year; however, the clock is first recorded in 1706 when the church terrier notes that it was "set up". The Grocer's Company gave a new silver flagon to the church in 1696 and a set of fire buckets. In the next century the Company painted the windows in the chancel in 1760 and repaired the chancel roof.

At the end of the 18th century the tower was repaired as it was found to be: "cracked from the top to the ground three sides of the square". Many repairs and alterations were carried out in the 19th century: seating and window repairs in 1825, the bells were re-hung in 1827, the medieval font was replaced by a modern one in 1828, the roof was re-covered in 1832-1833 and yet another new font provided in 1858. It was in this year that Rev.Arthur Sidney Pott, who had the church at Upper Caldecote built, became rector. He commissioned architect Henry Woodyer of Guildford [Surrey] to restore the fabric of Northill church in 1862. The chancel arch was rebuilt, new roof and floor for the chancel were provided and a stone reredos. A vestry and organ chamber were also added to the church, the nave was re-seated and the tower restored, the latter involving removing a brick wall built across the internal opening of the tower in the repair work of 1796, taking off the spire and adding a new stair turret. The church was reopened in 1863.

A gale in 1873 necessitated further repairs to the church and a new pulpit was installed in 1882, by architect Arthur W.Blomfield. Clayton & Bell installed stained glass in the windows in the west end of the church in the 1870s and the east window was installed in 1885, the glass installed by the Grocers' Company in 1664 (which had been altered in the 1862 restoration) being removed to the south aisle. Later work in the church included re-hanging the bells in 1896, repairing the organ in 1897, installing the Harvey memorial window the same year, building the Astell memorial chapel in 1904, installing the Leatham memorial window in the same year, installing a new organ in 1921 and restoring the tower again, by Ampthill architect Professor Albert E.Richardson, in 1932.

St Mary’s has several claims to fame. Notably the tower contains a peel of bells including the oldest bell in Bedfordshire - 'Gabriel'. The church also has a famous one handed clock made by Thomas Tompion. Northill parish church is the only church in Bedfordshire which contains a large number of fourteenth century line impressed tiles in situ. They are laid in the pavement in the vestry.

Source : (visit link)
Building Materials: Stone

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Recent Visits/Logs:
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Norfolk12 visited St Mary’s Church, Northill, Beds, UK 7/30/2011 Norfolk12 visited it