17 November 2022

An Old Rectory and a former
Congregational chapel on
Great Linford’s High Street

The Old Rectory in Great Linford dates from the late 16th or early 17th century (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

Following a photo-shoot in Great Linford Park last Saturday, Charlotte and I took a morning stroll through the village.

We have been in Great Linford frequently this year, visiting the park and its sculptures, Saint Andrew’s Church and its churchyard, the arts centre and the almshouses which have been earmarked for renovation and restoration, for walks along the canal banks, and for lunch or dinner in the Black Horse.

However, this was the first time I had strolled through the village and its High Street. It was a sleepy Saturday morning as we strolled through along Great Linford’s High Street, which has pretty cottages, many dating back to the late 16th or early 17th century, a pub, the Nag’s Head, a former Congregational Chapel and a school, but no shops.

Two buildings with church links in the past attracted my attention that morning: the Old Rectory and the former Congregational Chapel.

The Old Rectory is close to the gates of Great Linford Park, near the old manor house and to the south-east of Saint Andrew’s Church. This is a stone building, built mainly at the close of the 16th century and in the early 17th century, although there seems to be work from a century earlier in the south-east wing and much of the building was altered in the late 19th century.

This is a U-shaped two-storey house built of stone, with an old tile roof, four ornamental brick chimney stacks, and two hipped three-light dormer windows dating from the 17th century.

The centre part of the east front has three bays, with casement windows. that have leaded glazing. The central six-panel oak door is in an older moulded frame in an arched stone porch, all within a 19th century gabled timber porch. There is a late 16th-century four-light window beside the porch.

The north projecting gabled wing has a three-light leaded attic casement over a 19th century two-storey canted bay window. The south wing was rebuilt in the 19th century in the Tudor manner.

Inside, the house has chamfered beams, some panelling dating from ca 1600, and an altered early l8th century oak staircase with turned balusters and a moulded handrail.

The house was extensively and sympathetically renovated, extended and rebuilt in the Arts and Crafts style in 1876-1878 by the Stony Stratford architect Edward Swinfen Harris (1841-1924), whose works, mainly in the Arts and Crafts style, can be seen throughout the area. Further extensions were carried out in the Edwardian era.

The house now has four reception rooms and six bedrooms and stands on two acres of mature grounds, including a former orchard. It has been on the market twice in recent years, with asking prices of £1.6 million and £1.75 million.

The former Congregational Chapel on Great Linford’s High Street is now a private house (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Further south, on the west side of Great Linford’s High Street, the former Congregational Chapel dates from 1833.

By the early 19th century, there were several dissenting meetings in the parish, usually hosted in family homes.

Congregational services were held in a cottage in Great Linford until George Osborne offered a site and financed building the Independent or Congregational Chapel in 1833.

The date stone ‘Chapel 1833’ on the former Congregational Chapel in Great Linford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

George Osbourn (1776-1857) was a ‘woolstapler’ who lived in Newport Pagnell and owned property and land in several locations in Great Linford. His will was witnessed by WR Bull, a leading Congregationalist in Newport Pagnell.

The Revd Henry Hughes was the curate in Great Linford when the Congregational Chapel was built in 1833. A year later, in 1834, he wrote a pastoral letter to the residents of Great Linford, warning them against attending the new chapel, pleading with them not ‘to forsake the communion of a church in whose privileges your forefathers rejoiced.’ He said this would ‘be a grievous sin and one for which you will have to answer to God.’

By 1851, out of a parish population of 486, 81 people were attending the Independent or Congregational Chapel in Great Linford on Sunday evenings. The chapel also ran a Sunday School catering for up to 60 children, and a short-lived day school. It was also a venue for a variety of meetings and activities, including meetings of the temperance movement.

The chapel was renovated in 1906, with interior alterations, new seating and lighting, reglazed and windows, and reopened on 25 August 1906.

I am not sure when the Congregational Chapel closed for worship. Today, it is a private house, but the exterior fabric of the building retains its original character and its prominent date stone, inscribed ‘Chapel 1833’, can still be seen from the High Street.

A pretty cottage on the High Street in Great Linford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Praying in Ordinary Time with USPG:
Thursday 17 November 2022

The first window at the east end of the north wall in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford, is by NHJ Westlake, in memory of the Revd John William Spark (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

The Calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship today (17 November 2022) remembers Saint Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln (1200), with a Lesser Festival.

Saint Hugh of Lincoln was born in Avalon in Burgundy in 1140 and made his first profession with the Augustinian canons. When he was 25, he became a monk at the Carthusian Grande Chartreuse. He was invited by Henry II ca 1175 to become prior of the Charterhouse foundation at Witham in Somerset, badly in need of reform.

In 1186, Hugh was persuaded to Bishop of Lincoln, then the largest diocese in England, then including the present Diocese of Oxford, including Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. He brought huge energy to the diocese and, together with discerning appointments to key posts, he revived the Lincoln schools, repaired and enlarged the cathedral, visited the see extensively, drew together the clergy to meet in synod and generally brought an efficiency and stability to the Church that was to be much emulated.

Hugh also showed compassion for the poor and the oppressed, ensuring that sufferers of leprosy were cared for and that Jews were not persecuted. He both supported his monarch and also held out against any royal measures he felt to be extreme, yet managing not to make an enemy of the king. He died in London on this day in the year 1200.

Saint Hugh of Lincoln once refused to pay taxes for a war against France. So, the topic in the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship Monthly Prayers later today be military funding (8 pn UK time, 9 pm Europe, 4 pm Atlantic, 3 pm Eastern. Before this day gets busy, I am taking some time this morning for reading, prayer and reflection.

Throughout this week, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, One of the readings for the morning;

2, A reflection on the stained glass windows in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary, ‘Pray with the World Church.’

Moses and the Burning Bush, depicted in the first window on the north wall in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Luke 19: 11-28 (NRSVA):

11 As they were listening to this, he went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12 So he said, ‘A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. 13 He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, “Do business with these until I come back.” 14 But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, “We do not want this man to rule over us.” 15 When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading. 16 The first came forward and said, “Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds.” 17 He said to him, “Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.” 18Then the second came, saying, “Lord, your pound has made five pounds.” 19 He said to him, “And you, rule over five cities.” 20 Then the other came, saying, “Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth, 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.” 22 He said to him, “I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money into the bank? Then when I returned, I could have collected it with interest.” 24 He said to the bystanders, “Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds.” 25 (And they said to him, “Lord, he has ten pounds!”) 26 “I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them – bring them here and slaughter them in my presence”.’

28 After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

The Annunciation depicted in the first window in the north wall in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Stained-glass windows in Stony Stratford, 5:

Throughout this week, I am reflecting each morning on the stained glass windows in the Church of Saint Mary and Saint Giles, Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire.

The 12 windows in Saint Mary and Saint Giles include a two-light window at the west end by Charles Eamer Kempe, depicting three archangels; a set of three windows in the south gallery, among them important work by John Groome Howe of the Hardman studios; two separate windows in the south gallery that appear to include fragments from an earlier window; and six windows – three below the gallery on the south wall and three below the gallery on the north wall – by NHJ Westlake of Lavers & Westlake.

The first window at the east end of the North Wall in Saint Mary and Saint Giles is dated 1889. It is by Nathaniel Westlake and was commissioned by the Stony Stratford architect Edward Swinfen Harris (1841-1924), whose works, mainly in the Arts and Crafts style, can be seen throughout the town.

This window is in memory of the Revd John William Spark, who was the assistant curate in Stony Stratford for six years.

This window is of three eyelets and depicts:

1, Moses and the Burning Bush;

2, The Annunciation;

3, The Expulsion from Eden.

The Revd John William Spark was born in 1858, the son of Peter Spark, a farmer of Meldreth, near Whittlesford, Cambridgeshire, and later of Babraham. John Spark was educated at Saint John’s College, Oxford (BA 1880, MA 1885), and was an assistant curate in Stony Stratford for six years. He left £50 in his will towards providing better vestry accommodation, and this money formed the nucleus of a fund for building the new vestries.

This window is one of two in the church in Spark’s memory. Each panel in this window depicts an angel speaking the word of God.

The first two panels offer images of listening to the message of God: Moses listens to the word of God, depicted as an angel in the Burning Bush; the Virgin Mary listens to the annunciation of the Gospel by the Archangel Gabriel; and an angel tells Adam and Eve to leave the Garden of Eden.

The depiction of the expulsion of Adam and Eve may seem an unusual image in a memorial window. However, it may indicate the early departure of a man who had arrived in a parish he could have expected to be a new Eden, only to be taken away at an early stage.

The Expulsion from Eden … a panel in the first window on the north wall in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

The Collect:

O God,
who endowed your servant Hugh
with a wise and cheerful boldness
and taught him to commend to earthly rulers
the discipline of a holy life:
give us grace like him to be bold in the service of the gospel,
putting our confidence in Christ alone,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Post Communion Prayer:

God, shepherd of your people,
whose servant Hugh revealed the loving service of Christ
in his ministry as a pastor of your people:
by this eucharist in which we share
awaken within us the love of Christ
and keep us faithful to our Christian calling;
through him who laid down his life for us,
but is alive and reigns with you, now and for ever.

The theme in the USPG Prayer Diary this week is ‘Living Together in Peace.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday, describing the work of PROCMURA, the Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa. USPG has provided an annual grant to PROCMURA since it started in 1959.

The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today in these words:

We give thanks for religious studies and religious education teachers, who work to improve young people’s understanding of a diverse range of religions and cultures.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

A window depicting Saint Hugh of Lincoln and Saint Frideswide of Oxford in Saint Mary’s Church, Shenley Church End (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org