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New Saint Marys Church Woburn

New Saint Mary's from the south February 2007
New Saint Mary's from the south February 2007

Most of the structural history of the church can be found in detail in Bedfordshire Historical Record Society Volume number 79 of 2000 Bedfordshire Churches in the Nineteenth Century: Part III: Parishes S to Y, put together by former County Archivist Chris Pickford from numerous sources some held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service and some held elsewhere or published.

The south door March 2012
The south door March 2012

In 1864 Old Saint Mary’s in Woburn was pulled down, though the tower was left in place. It was intended to replace it with a new church on the same site. Embarrassingly, this proved impossible and the old church had to be more or less rebuilt, although on a smaller scale, to serve as a mortuary chapel for the churchyard. Meanwhile the Duke of Bedford’s favourite architect, Henry Clutton, designed a new church for a new site, in Park Street on the site of a pond. This fact is still evident in the bank and revetment between the church and Park Street

The bank and revetment south of the church March 2012
The bank and revetment south of the church March 2012

This new church was completed in 1868, a temporary church was used in the interim, which was dismantled and taken to Luton to serve as a temporary church whilst Saint Matthew’s in High Town was being built. Clutton based New Saint Mary’s on French Gothic architecture of the 12th century.

New Saint Marys about 1870 [Z50/135/62]
New Saint Mary's about 1870 [Z50/135/62]

The building is faced in ashlar with tiled roofs. It comprises a chancel, a north vestry, a nave, north and south aisles and a west tower. This was originally topped by a substantial pyramidal spire but this was removed in 1891-1892 as it was found to be unsafe. The chancel is the same height as the nave and there is a lavishly furnished baptistery and font. The church cost £25,000 and was consecrated on 23rd September 1868. It was legally confirmed as the parish church the following year.

The crypt July 2010
The crypt July 2010

The church has a crypt beneath which was originally intended as the burial place of the Dukes of Bedford and their family. In the event the dukes continued to use the ancient mausoleum at Chenies in Buckinghamshire. The crypt is now used by the church for events and meetings.

The hatch through which coffins would have been lowered into the crypt - July 2010
The hatch through which coffins would have been lowered into the crypt - July 2010

In 1894 the chancel east window was filled with stained glass by C. E. Kempe in memory of Francis, 10th Duke of Bedford. In 1902 choir stalls and a new pulpit were installed and two years later a new organ at the east end of the north aisle. In 1906 or 1907 the painting by Maratti from the old church was installed in the new one. A new ring of eight bells was dedicated in December 1910.

The interior looking east July 2010
The interior looking east July 2010