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Clipstone Chapel

The red cross marks the approximate site of Clipstone chapel
The red cross marks the approximate site of Clipstone chapel

The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The entry for Clipstone chapel [HER 10796] states that a 13th century chapel may have existed in the hamlet before the one in Eggington was built.

The fuller version of the entry, available from the Historic Environment Officer notes Eggington antiquarian Frederick Gurney's research on the chapel: "F. G. Gurney had an interest in this chapel site and commented upon it in his notebooks: - in one he describes it as a church not a chapel at Clipstone and associates it with a field called Clipstone Wicks with the corner close opposite being Grove Piece. "In the Wicks, worked sandstones have been pretty often struck by the plough" [X325/62]. "The story of a church or chapel in the south-east corner of the field between the Leighton Road and Clipstone Brook. Corner called the Wicks, Clipstone Wicks or Chapel Wicks. Old people say some of its foundation stones of local sandstone are often struck in ploughing" he mentions the tradition from 1704 onwards (see below) [X325/160]".

"In a notebook of 1919 from a bundle of miscellaneous notebooks Gurney comments on the tradition of the supposed chapel at Clipstone and then on the 3rd June 1919 reports on some fieldwork: "Today I walked over the ploughed field in question (Chapel Wicks, Clipstone) and found that a spot about 40 yards from the corner and handpost is littered by many hundred fragments, large and small, of old tiles. They lie on a space of about 50 steps diameter thinning out towards the circumference, and none occur elsewhere in the field - may be destroyed barn or cottage. Few bricks, few small sandstone lumps etc." An added later note states that he found a window frame of the 17th century which suggested the building may have been a cottage".

"Another notebook from the same bundle included a loose sheet with a Gurney drawn sketch map of Eggington parish in  pre-inclosure times. He indicated the probable site of the chapel on the map and in the key commented - "Traditional site of ancient chapel of which I have found some traces. It may have been abandoned in favour of the present site in the 13th century. The sandstone basing of what was probably a wooden chapel is still turned up by the plough the roof, or part of it at least, was tiled. A piece of ornamental earthenware found here suggests XIIIth century work though possibly XIVth century". the map is dated 20th October 1921".

"Gurbey;s most exciting discover came in 1929 during his documentary researches on this occasion at Northampton Registry. He discovered a will of 1545 for William Andrewe of Clipstone. Amongst the bequests in one - "Item to the Chapel of Clepston 11 bushelles of malt". In the same document a bequest was also made to "Lenton Chapell. Gurney comments - "It confirms the stil lexisting tradition that there was a chapel at Clipstone, as well as at Eggignton. I will now make sure where the chapel stood but I think it was immediately below the ancient cottage built on crucks opposite Bachelar's Farm"".

The HER notes a will of Elizabeth Brothers, widow, of Eggington proved in 1537 whose bequests include: "to Clipson Chapell - iiis iiiid". the same will also mentions Eggington Chapel.

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1912 and quotes a dispute which arose over the Eggington Town Lands in 1704: “Valentine Cressy, a former curate, said that 8s. was deducted from the stipend of 20s. every Sunday that he omitted to serve the cure. Part of the profit of the Town Lands went toward the payment of the minister and part to the payment of the ‘Moldcatcher’ and ‘Heyward’ and one of the witnesses asserted that there was formerly a chapel at Clipson, a hamlet north of Eggington, which had been removed to the latter place”.

Volume 57 published by Bedfordshire Historical Record Society in 1978 has a reference to the chapel on page 18 stating that in 1277 chapels were recorded at Billington, “Clipson”, Eggington, Elindon [?] and Stanbridge.