St Paul's Church - St Paul's Square, Bedford, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 52° 08.135 W 000° 28.064
30U E 673301 N 5779142
Quick Description: St Paul's church is located on an island at the centre of St Paul's Square in Bedford. The church was originally built in the 13th century with alterations, extensions and rebuilds having been made.
Location: Eastern England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 2/29/2016 5:08:01 AM
Waymark Code: WMQKV6
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 1

Long Description:

The church of St Paul's is Grade I listed with the entry at the Historic England website telling us:

C14, steeple and transepts C19 (steeple rebuilt 1868 by Palgrave and Street). A few good brasses and monuments. John Wesley preached his "Great Assize" sermon here in 1758. The largest and most prominent church in Bedford.

Wikipedia has an article about St Paul's, Bedford that tells us:

St Paul's Church is a major Church of England parish church located on St Paul's Square in the town centre of the busy market and county town of Bedford, Bedfordshire, England. The large medieval and later church of cathedral proportions dominates the town, and exercises a ministry of welcome to thousands of visitors and pilgrims from far and wide each year.

Historically, St Paul’s played a key part in the life of the British nation as the home for the BBC’s daily worship during the Second World War and from which the Service for the National Day of Prayer in 1941 at which the Archbishop of Canterbury preached was broadcast to the UK and wider world. It is today the Civic Church of Bedford Borough and the County of Bedfordshire, as well as a focus for special commemorations and celebrations in the borough, county, region and wider community, as well as a central venue for concerts, recitals and exhibitions.

Originally constructed in the early 13th century, the present church building has undergone numerous alterations, extensions, rebuilds and restorations since this time. An Early English south porch does survive from the original 13th-century structure, however, and records trace the existence of a previous Collegiate church on this site as far back as 1066. The Trinity Chapel of the church was first constructed in 1416, with maintenance of the chapel entrusted to the Holy Brotherhood of the Trinity. The church has long standing connections with Sir William Harpur and Dame Alice Harper, and the Trinity Chapel holds brasses of the couple. Sir William was the Lord Mayor of the City of London in 1562, and his Harpur Trust (which has a long history of operating independent schools in Bedford) has donated many of the stained glass windows in the church. Other improvements in the 15th century included Misericords in the chancel and two additional porches. The Trinity Chapel was used as an Archdeacon’s Court after the English Reformation.

On May 23, 1656, John Bunyan, the Christian preacher and author of "The Pilgrim's Progress", preached at St. Paul's. John Wesley, the Anglican cleric and Christian theologian (also one of the founders of Methodism) preached the Assize Sermon at the church on 10 March 1758. During the 19th century St Paul’s became an Anglo-Catholic church of the Church of England, where it remains. As a result, the Sisters of Saint Etheldreda began to be associated with the parish from 1869. Architectural work to the church in the 19th century includes the tower and spire, transepts, choir stalls, chancel and chancel roof.

Early 20th-century work to the church includes the Rood screen (designed by George Frederick Bodley), the English Altar and altar rails (designed by the Bromsgrove Guild), and restoration work to the Trinity Chapel (instituted by C. E. Mallows). Many live broadcasts took place from the church between 1941 and the end of World War II. On one event, a joint mass was celebrated by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, but throughout the period Daily Services were broadcast regularly from the church by the BBC. The church was also home to a service officiated by Roman Catholic Cardinal Arthur Hinsley. Later in the 20th century, from the mid-1970s to 1982, the church was restored and otherwise improved.

The church has had a ring of bells for centuries. Currently there are twelve bells, hung for English-style change ringing. The majority of the bells were cast in 1896–7 to form a new ring of ten to replace the eight that had been in the church since around 1744, one of these original bells was retained as the ninth of the new ten, but was recast in 1945. The bells had been taken out of the tower during the Second World War, in case the church was damaged by bombing (ringing of church bells was forbidden for much of the war, reserved as an alarm in case of invasion), and were rehung in 1945. In 1977, two new bells were added, to give the present twelve, these marked the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II.

St Paul's Church has organised a regular Tuesday lunchtime concert series since the late 1980s. Originally the concerts were for showcasing performances from local schools, however this has changed over time, and now individuals, group performers from the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music and other conservatoires feature in the concert series at the church.

Building Materials: Stone

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