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John Martin Visits Little Staughton Church

The church from the south-west January 2017
The church from the south-west January 2017 (Copyright Brenda Foster)

John Martin was a London bookseller and later librarian at Woburn Abbey. Either side of 1850 he wrote articles on Bedfordshire churches for the Northampton Mercury. He was an opinionated high churchman and his articles are often excoriating, filled with sarcasm and pomposity in equal measure. His article on Little Staughton appeared on 11th December 1852.

The interior looking east - copyright All Saints Little Staughton
The interior looking east - copyright All Saints Little Staughton

"In the chancel are two lofty pews, but more decorously placed than usual. The timber roof remains, in very tolerable condition".

"The villagers were occupied, when we saw the church in destroying the "nasty" birds, who had taken possession of some of the decayed parts; thus neglect leads to cruelty".

Easter sepulchre - copyright All Saints Little Staughton
Easter sepulchre - copyright All Saints Little Staughton

"There is an altar monument, on which is placed a brass, which could never have formed part of it originally. The whitewash has been scraped from the canopy, but abounds in other parts".

Corbel 1 March 2017
A corbel March 2017

The nave has an open roof; there is a slight remnant of the screen, but very difficult to be seen, so oppressed is it with some barbarous modern work. Some curious stone brackets [corbels], stoves as usual, and a singing loft. A hideous square box, under the said loft, is, however, outdone by an enormous enclosure at the east end of the aisle. The belfry tower is in a most filthy state. Under the clerk's seat is a receptacle for stove brushes and other improprieties".

Corbel 5 March 2017
A bagpiper corbel March 2017

"The Squire's seat, a "huge cantle", flaming with scarlet and gold, elevated and o'ertopping all. If this and the other pews were properly arranged and reduced the necessity for the ugly loft would no longer exist".

"A portion of an ancient stone monument has been used to prevent the heat of the stove from setting fire to the pews".

"The font is not used; a basin serves ths purpose".

"The porch has its windows open, but the wicket denies admission; we were told the incumbent lived on the other side of the Natural school".

The south porch January 2017
The south porch January 2017 (Copyright Brenda Foster)