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All Saints Mission Church Girtford

All Saints Mission Church about 1890 [X451/140]
All Saints Mission Church about 1890 [X451/140]

Girtford was first recorded in 1247 as a hamlet of Sandy. By the 19th century the population had grown sufficiently to make a church presence there desirable, rather than expecting people to walk to Saint Swinthun's in Sandy High Street.

Bedfordshire Historical Records Society Volume 80 of 2001 was the last in a series of books recording the history of the county's churches in the 19th century: Bedfordshire Churches in the 19th Century: Part IV Appendices and Index. The series was written by former County Archivist Chris Pickford and this volume included a short history of All Saints Mission Church.

John Richardson about 1910 [Z1306-99]
John Richardson about 1910 [Z1306/99]

The church was the creation of Rev. John Richardson, Rector of Sandy for 55 years (1858-1913). His curate, T. S. Hatfield, initiated open-air services at Girtford in 1883, going on to meet in temporary premises. This encouraged the need for a purpose-built church. The site in London Road was given by Lord of the Manor Francis Pym in 1884 and plans drawn up by architects Usher and Anthony of Bedford.

The foundation stone was laid in May 1885 and the church opened on 31st October, being licensed for worship from 17th November. It was a simple building of brick, with stone dressings and contained a nave, semi-circular chancel, north vestry and bellcote. the church was never licensed to conduct marriages and no one was ever buried there. The church was never a parish church but always a daughter church of the parish church of Sandy.

Electric light was installed in 1947 and an organ was donated in 1952. Repairs and redecoration were undertaken between 1960 and 1963. There was talk of closure in 1976 but the last service was not held until January 1981. Two months later the church was demolished and the site sold for housing. The lectern and the small bell were donated to Sandy church where they remain.

The site of the former Mission Church in London Road April 2010
The site of the former Mission Church in London Road April 2010

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has the following records for All Saints:

  • PM1/90: block plan for the proposed church: 1885;
  • P9/2/7/1: plans for the new church: 1885;
  • P9/28/3: mention of the opening of the chapel: 1885;
  • P9/2/7/2-6: papers concerning the chapel: 1885-1963;
  • P9/2/1/4: insurance policies with some details of the building: 1932-1948;
  • ABV45: letters about the disposal of the site: 1976