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Notes on sources: The sources - introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2023

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Summary

The Sources – Introduction

Bedfordshire churches on the eve of restoration are well documented in a number of sources. First, there are a great many pictures of churches by artists such as Thomas Fisher and George Shepherd dating from the early Cl9th. Secondly, there are the manuscript sources which describe the condition of church buildings and ornaments in the years leading up to “the age of restoration”.

These sources are described and discussed in detail below. In outline, however, they include the glebe terriers for 1822 which describe the plan of each church and list the ornaments and furnishings. As Archdeacon of Bedford from 1821 to 1844, Dr. Henry Kaye Bonney compiled two notebooks on the churches in his care. In the one, he made detailed architectural notes on each church and its fittings, and in the other he kept a record of the orders made at his archidiaconal visitations between 1823 and 1839. Another commentator was John Martin, the Librarian at Woburn Abbey, who using the signature W.A. wrote a series of pithy articles on Bedfordshire churches for the Northampton Mercury and Bedfordshire Times between 1845 and 1854. Lastly, there are the notebooks of Sir Stephen Glynne who visited over a third of the churches in the County between 1830 and 1870.

Together these sources provide a colourful image of the appearance, condition and atmosphere of Bedfordshire churches at a time when on the one hand they were nearer their mediaeval state than they are today but when on the other they were arguably in their greatest need of attention.

Glebe Terriers (extracts) 1822

After the Reformation, the ecclesiastical authorities became increasingly aware of the need to keep proper records of church possessions. The documents known as glebe terriers fulfil this purpose, and include terriers (recording property and endowments) and inventories (listing goods and chattels). The existence of such records helped to prevent the loss and misappropriation of church property.

Terriers had been compiled for purely parochial purposes in mediaeval times, but in compliance with an archiepiscopal order or canon of 1571 it became a requirement for copies of these documents to be lodged in diocesan registries for safe-keeping.

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Bedfordshire Churches in the Nineteenth Century
Part 1 Parishes A to G
, pp. 2 - 25
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
First published in: 2023

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