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Saint Marys Luton Church Architecture

Saint Mary's in 1805 [X254/88/170]
Saint Mary's in 1805 [X254/88/170]

Saint Mary's appears as the one building of any age or any great architectural merit in an area of Luton which has seen more than its share of modern development. The building consists of a west tower, chancel, nave (of five bays), north and south aisles with north and south porches attached, north and south transepts, two chapels (the Hoo chapel east of the south transept and the Wenlock chapel east of the north transept) and a north vestry. A feature of the exterior is the chequer work of flint with a contrasting stone, a feature of the north Chilterns which can also be seen at Houghton Regis and Totternhoe, for example.

 The Wenlock Chapel in 1805 X254-88-171
The Wenlock Chapel in 1805 [X254/88/171]

Sir Nikolaus Pevsner in the Bedfordshire volume of his Buildings of England series described the oldest part of the surviving building as being the arch from the south aisle to the south transept which he dated to about 1190, the arch from the north aisle to the north transept being about forty years later. This, of course, implies that the nave, from which the aisles and transepts spring, must be of at least the same age or older. He dated the chancel to the 13th century and to the early 14th century the tower, west window, nave arch and crossing and two bays between the north transept and Wenlock Chapel. Pevsner dates the two bays between the south transept and Hoo Chapel to the later 14th century along with the Easter Sepulchre in the chancel, west windows of the aisles, a piscina in the south aisle and the vestry. The exterior of the building along with most of the windows is Perpendicular in style and so dates to the late 14th century or to the 15th century. A chantry chapel to Richard Barnard, vicar between 1477 and 1492 which lies opposite the Wenlock Chapel is clearly late 15th or early 16th century.

Saint Mary's from the south September 2009
Saint Mary's from the south September 2009