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Bedfordshire churches 1550-1914 - a general survey

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2023

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Summary

Churches remaining “unrestored” in appearance are to be seen at Chaigrave, Dean, Knotting, Odell, Shelton and Wymington (to name a few of the more rewarding examples in the County), but sadly the phrase “over restored” is all too common in the Bedfordshire volume of Dr. Nikolaus Pevsner’s Buildings of England series.

A brief general survey of post-Reformation church work in the County will be useful as an introduction to the subject. It seems sensible to frame the review round the work of architects - the designers of buildings and of furnishing schemes - who worked at different periods and in different styles. In this way, it is possible to view the changes in ecclesiastical taste in the County in their broader national context.

Post-Reformation church building to 1800

In general terms, church building activity came to an abrupt end at the time of the Reformation. There are, however, exceptions and recent studies in the neighbouring county of Huntingdonshire have demonstrated the extent of building work and improvements to churches into the seventeenth century. This may be untypical of the general picture, and Bedfordshire lacks any particularly distinguished examples of churches dating from the period between 1550 and 1800. Those mentioned below are all relatively minor when compared with the treasures in neighbouring counties, such as:

In Bedfordshire, Hulcote church was rebuilt by the Chemocke family in the late sixteenth century. It is gothic in form, but with a distinctly Renaissance feel. The tower at Blunham was rebuilt in 1583. At Odell there is a fine screen and ringing gallery of 1637 in the tower arch. At Campton, the north aisle dates from 1649. Whipsnade church was rebuilt in 1719. Melchboume has a seventeenthcentury porch brought, it is said, from Woodford in Northamptonshire. The body of the church was rebuilt in the classical style in about 1770. Shillington tower, destroyed in a storm in 1701, was rebuilt in brick in 1750. The 1783 black basalt Wedgwood font at Cardington - another formerly existed at Melchboume - is a particularly memorable example of eighteenth-century church furnishing. In every one of these cases the identity of the architect is unknown.

Type
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Bedfordshire Churches in the Nineteenth Century
Part 1 Parishes A to G
, pp. xl - 40
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
First published in: 2023

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