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List of Stanbridge Vicars

Stanbridge church from the south March 2008
Stanbridge church from the south March 2008

Stanbridge was part of the ecclesiastical parish of Leighton Buzzard until 1735 when it became a separate benefice, though administered by a curate and still part of the peculiar of Leighton Buzzard; the benefice did not become a vicarage until 1866. The following list of curates and, from 1866, vicars, is as complete as sources allow. The patron of the living was always the Vicar of Leighton Buzzard. Since 1923 Tilsworth and Stanbridge have shared an incumbent, with Totternhoe also being included from 1978. This grouping is now [2008] part of the North Chilterns Group Ministry, itself established in 1982. Each parish retains its own identity with its own parochial church council and churchwardens, however.

The parish banner December 2008
The parish banner December 2008

  • Edward Hall, curate - 1709;
  • Christopher Ellershaw MA - 5 Mar 1798 [licensed curate];
  • Gregory Edward Whyley MA - 7 May 1844 [licensed to parish church];
  • Thomas Green MA - 8 Jun 1871 [on death of Gregory Edward Whyley];
  • Walter St.John Lindars - Jan 1923;
  • Edward Reinagle Souper - Oct 1927;
  • George Stanley Richard Dale - Jan 1939;
  • Michael Joseph Shiner - 1956;
  • Robert Clifford Butler - 1963
  • Michael Reginald Abbott - 1973;
  • Derek Edward Cook - 1978;
  • Peter Christie Holland - 1989;
  • D.Janet R.Spicer - 2002

 The pulpit December 2008
The pulpit December 2008

Volume 81 published by the Bedfordshire Historical Records Society (2002) is devoted to returns made during episcopal visitations to the county by the Bishop of Lincoln in the early 18th century, edited by former County Archivist Patricia Bell. It throws some interesting light on the general state of the church in the parish. The first return, 1706, is made under Leighton Buzzard and states: "In the chappell of Billington divine Service and Sermon are used every Lord's day…in the chappell of Stanbridge the same, and the whole profits of that hamlet allowed for it by the Vicar of Leighton, to a neighbouring Minister" perhaps this was the Curate of Tilsworth, Valentine Cressy. In 1709 Edward Hall was named as Curate of Stanbridge and the number of communicants was given as twenty, of who mfourteen had received communion the previous Easter.

 Detail of the Crucifixion December 2008
Detail of the Crucifixion December 2008

In 1717 a separate return was made for Stanbridge, the Vicar of Leighton Buzzard reporting: "I reside in the Vicarage house belonging to the Mother Church  [i.e. Leighton Buzzard] and supply the Chapell by myself or Curate…I have, duly qualifyd…Services Every other Sunday. The distance and the Profits not enabling me to get the Chapell oftner supplyd…Sacrament Four times [per annum]. But the number of communicants is very few, seldom exceeding twelve. the number at Easter last".  No return for Stanbridge was made in 1720.

The font December 2008
The font December 2008

On Sunday 30th March 1851 a census of all churches, chapels and preaching-houses of every denomination was undertaken in England and Wales. The local results were published by Bedfordshire Historical Records Society in 1975 as Volume 54, edited by D.W.Bushby. Interestingly the census was not undertaken in Stanbridge and the return for the church was made by Richard Doggett "Registrar" of the Leighton Buzzard District on 5th October 1851. On that day 60 people attended in the afternoon, with a further 35 Sunday Scholars. Doggett noted that there was seating accommodation for 180 and that the average attendance for the previous twelve months had been 40, with 35 Sunday Scholars, in the mornings, 60, with 35 Sunday Scholars, in the afternoon and 70 in a mixed congregation in the evenings. Doggett explained: "The Duty is performed once a day either in the morning or afternoon - but during the Summer Months the Duty is performed every alternate Sunday - Morning and Evening".

The church utility room December 2008
The church utility room December 2008