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Shefford Church Repairs and additions

south window in nave detail of sleeping disciple January 2008
South window in nave detail of sleeping disciple January 2008

Former County Archivist Chris Pickford recounts the history of Saint Michael and All Angels, so far as it is known in Bedfordshire Historical Records Society Volume 79 of 2000: Bedfordshire Churches in the 19th Century: S to Y".

 nave looking east January 2008
Nave looking east January 2008

In 1807 a faculty was obtained to enlarge the building which seems to have been virtually rebuilt on site the following year after which the only medieval fabric to remain was the tower. An interesting feature of the rebuilding was the dismantlement of the north porch and its replacement by a fire engine house [P70/5/1a]. The chapel was also re-seated at a cost of £338 and this was increased six years later. However, Shefford was growing quickly and by the 1820s the chapel was too small. Thus in 1822 the Rector of Campton purchased an adjoining house and garden to enlarge the building. The south aisle, now the nave, was added to the designs of John Austin and the chapel reopened on 26th October 1823.

 north aisle second window detail of baptism January 2008
North aisle second window detail of baptism January 2008

Further ground was purchased in 1847 to extend the chapel further [P70/5/2], an appeal being launched five years later for money to add an extension to the east end. Building work began late in 1852 and completed the following year, the architects are not known but may either have been Wing and Jackson of Bedford or a Mr.Parker.

 church interior in 1907 before alterations Z96-2
Church interior in 1907 before alterations [Z96/2]

An organ was installed in 1862 and a stained glass window installed in the south aisle in memory of Sir George Osborn of Chicksands in the early 1890s. In 1894 Archdeacon Bathurst noted cracks and other defects and fund raising began in 1896. A gallery under the tower was removed in 1901 and the organ and pulpit moved in 1902. The following year the chapel became a church when Shefford became a separate ecclesiastical parish. The church was restored between 1906 and 1907 to the plans of Mallows and Grocock. The building had a new roof, new floor, new seating and new sanctuary furnishings. The church now had, in effect, two naves, which the Archdeacon considered: "unsatisfactory, ecclesiastically" [ABE3] he also noted that the tower was still in need of repair. It was eventually restored only in 1928 by Professor Albert Richardson under the incumbency of G.H.Strange, who oversaw a number of improvements. Most interesting, perhaps, was the replacement of the original iron columns between the two naves, which had led commentators to describe the interior of the building as being "railway station Gothic". These were replaced in 1933 by the current brick arcade. Between 1931 and 1937 three stained glass windows by Warren Wilson were installed - one in the east window and two in the north wall.

 north aisle second window detail of Jesus in the temple January 2008
North aisle second window detail of Jesus in the temple January 2008

Shefford church today, with its pink roof and largely clear windows is a light, warm building. It is open throughout the week and used for a variety of community activities as well as services.

 pink roof of nave January 2008
Pink roof of nave January 2008