St Michael the Archangel

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 History of our Church & Parish

Ancient History & Background

Much of the following information was obtained from "The Story of Shefford", written by Peter Harwood and Published by Shefford Town Council, a copy of which is available in the local history/ reference section of Shefford Library.

You may be forgiven for thinking that as Shefford isn't mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1086 it doesn't have much of a history. In fact, archeological remains have shown that there has been an established community of sorts at Shefford since early Roman times (1st century AD).

The story of St. Michael and All Angels Church starts in 1312, when the rights to hold a fair in Shefford were granted to Campton Manor by Royal consent. At this time, Shefford was still in the "Clifton Hundreds" and was part of the Manor and Parish of Campton which in turn belonged to Chicksands Priory.

Fairs provided a valuable source of trade, much like markets but on a larger scale with craftsmen and traders traveling great distances to attend. Fairs usually coincided with the celebration of local Saints days, and as Shefford fair occurs at Michaelmas*, it is clear that a connection with St. Michael was already established at this time.

This points to the existence of a small Church in Shefford in the early 14th century (1312), dedicated to St Michael, built as a Chapel of Ease to Campton church and administered by the Monks of Chicksands Priory.

1828 - 1958

The following information is taken from "A History of St. Michael and All Angels Shefford, published by Graham Cumming Ltd, The Church Publishers, Ramsgate". A copy is available in the local history/ reference section of Shefford Library.

The Parish Church was formerly a Chapel of Ease to Campton. It is referred to as "The Chapel" in old documents / registers / Churchwarden's accounts.

The original building is said to date back to the 14th century, consisting of a Nave and Tower. The base of the present Tower preserves a little of the ancient building, the Tower Arch being the oldest part.

1828 - North wall of nave restored

1847 - Land acquired on south side of church

Interior view of St Michaels showing the original cast iron pillars1850 - Second Nave added (the roof between the original and the new was then supported on cast iron pillars, as shown in this photograph). The style of the architecture used, later disparagingly referred to as "Railway Station Gothic" by Rev D.J Lawrence, was said to have posed problems for congregations wishing to make a more "worthy" house of God. The two-Nave design is very unusual in England, though it is quite common in North Wales.

1903 - (October 23rd) Ecclesiastical Parish of Shefford formed (out of the parishes of Campton, Clifton, and Southill) by an Order In Council

1904 - First Vicar appointed; Rev W K Stuart (formerly Curate of Harpenden)

1904 - Gallery under Tower removed, and Organ removed from body of Nave to East End.

1907 - Church re-roofed

1909 - (July 11th) Rev C.E.Meadows appointed as Vicar

1912 - (January) The Old School Room purchased as a Church Room

1913 - (April 16th) Rev E.Dakin appointed as Vicar

1913 - £100 raised for restoration of the tower. Abandoned due to First World War. Ivy was removed from the Tower and the South Window was shored up for safety

1920 - (December 8th) Rev G.H.Strange appointed as Vicar

1922 - New Organ installed at a cost of £850. It was dedicated by Bishop Newnham (formerly Bishop of Saskatchewan, USA). £150 was given by the Carnegie Trustees, the balance of £700 was raised by the Parish.

Click to se larger image1925 - Land and premises on South and East sides of Church purchased. New Heating Chamber constructed. East wall of Church underpinned

In 1928 the original cast iron pillars were replaced with the "Arches" we see today1928 - Repairs carried out on tower, and arches built between the two Naves, replacing the cast iron pillars of the 1850 extension (under advice by Professor Richardson)

1934 - (December 17th) Rev Eric Whitworth appointed as Vicar

1945 - Rev E.C Laidley appointed as Vicar

1955 - (April 2nd) Rev D.J Lawrence appointed as Vicar (also inducted as Rector of Campton)

1958 - Rewiring and installation of new lighting.

1958 to Today...

This section is still under construction - if you have any photographs or stories that we could use, please contact our webteam, thank you.

1987 - October 9th,10th,11th: Flower Festival "A Harvest of Nature and Craft".

A beatiful photograph of the interior of St Michaels during the 1987 flower festival was recently lent to us by Jean Odell.

Click on the image for a closer look...

2002 - St Michael's website launched - "History In The Making" begins...

2003

2004 - (10th May) Rev John Harper collated and inducted as the new incumbent (Rector of St Mary's Meppershall and Vicar) of St Michael and All Angels Shefford).

History In The Making

We produce large amounts of information for our Parish and Benefice, both online and in print. The History In The Making project aims to archive most of this information and make it available as a searchable resource online:

Recent History

Our "History In The Making" project is designed to provide a fine grained historical archive of the events and activities of our Parish and Benefice by systematically archiving the contents of our website:

 



St Michael & All Angels Parish Church • High Street • Shefford • Bedfordshire • SG17 5DD • UK
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