Wednesday, 11 May 2022

A rich architectural heritage
to explore in Newport Pagnell

No 38 High Street, a timber-framed building dating from the early 1600s, is one of the oldest buildings in Newport Pagnell (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

During my all but too brief to Newport Pagnell last week, I was interested in a number of churches and buildings in the town, including the Parish Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, the iron bridge at Tickford, Tickford Abbey and the site of the former Tickford Priory, and the United Reformed Church in the town, with a continuous link to one of the oldest ‘dissenter’ or ‘non-conformist’ congregations in England.

But Newport Pagnell has a rich heritage of many buildings that challenge the image of Milton Keynes as a brash and modern town.

The most picturesque of these must be No 38 High Street, on a prominent site in the High Town. This building dates from the early 1600s and is one of the oldest buildings in Newport Pagnell.

This three-storey buildings with an attic is built of timber frame and plaster. It has two box dormers, sash windows with moulded wooden frames and an interesting 19th double fronted shop front with a central entrance, Other features include the tiled roof, the dentilled cornices and the tall brick chimney stack.

It was a bank holiday Monday, so I did not get inside the shop front, but I understand the interior details include a fine early l7th staircase from the first floor up. But the old timber framing that can be seen today was only exposed in recent years after it had been covered for many years by heavy rendering.

For many years, the Vintage Emporium was an antique dealer’s premises, and in the past the shop belonging to Austin family and then for many years to the Clare family.

The Methodist Church in Newport Pagnell dates from 1815 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Further along High Street, the home of the Town Council almost hides away the Methodist Church, which is tucked away in its own courtyard and memorial gardens.

The Methodist Church in Newport Pagnell was built in 1815 and it is typical of chapel architecture of the period – strong and severe, but with a touch of elegance about the frontage.

John Wesley is said to have passed through Newtown Pagnell on his horse, probably on his way to Stony Stratford where he preached during a number.

The Dolphin Inn dates from the 16th century (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Nearby, the 16th century Dolphin Inn is one the town’s ancient inns.

Some of the other early pubs in Newport Pagnell that I probably need to get to know include the Coachmakers’ Arms at No 117 High Street. This is an early l7th century half-timber, brick and stone inn with tiled roofs.

The former Vicarage at No 32 St John Street (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

On the way to Tickford Bridge, I also noticed No 32 St John Street, an ancient stone house that was the Vicarage in Newport Pagnell until 1875.

At the rear of this house there is medieval stone wall that was once part of a Tudor building.

Queen Anne’s Hospital dates from 1615 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Next door, the former almshouses were known as Queen Anne’s Hospital. This is the fourth such premises on the site, with the original building dating from the 13th century.

A plaque above one of the windows is dated 1615 and recalls that the hospital was dedicated to the people of the town by Queen Anne, wife of James I.

The Pin-Petch Restaurant at No 13 High Street recalls Odell’s Victorian ironmongers’ shop (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Near the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, in the High Street, the Pin-Petch Restaurant at No 13 High Street is an early Victorian building, dating from ca 1850, with a bow-style or rounded corner entrance framed by Corinthian-style pilasters.

For over 150 years, this was an ironmongers’ shop and workshops run by the Odell family until it closed in 1991. Ever since it has been a restaurant but it is an early Grade 2 listed Victorian building and it remains a reminder of olden days before large commercial stores.

An ancient well was found in the old shop and it retains several other unusual features. The old front step has worn after a century and a half of use and the entrance doors are curved. These were once covered with other solid mourning doors that were used during funerals in the parish church.

The Coachmakers’ Arms is an early l7th century half-timber inn (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

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