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Cardington Vicars

Cardington church from south-east March 2007
Cardington church from the south-east March 2007


The advowson of Saint Mary’s Church, Cardington was held by Newnham Priory from about 1166 until the priory was dissolved by King Henry VIII (1509-1547). In 1546 the advowson was granted to Trinity College, Cambridge, which owned it until 1902. It was then purchased by Samuel Whitbread.

At the time of writing [2011] Cardington does not have its own incumbent but since 2004 has formed part of the Elstow Team Ministry, along with Bedford, Saint Michael and All Angels and Elstow.

The church interior looking east on Christmas Eve 2010
The church interior looking east on Christmas Eve 2010

List of Vicars

The following list of Vicars of Cardington is as complete as historical survival allows:

  • John: 1227;
  • Reginald de Wrestlingworth, chaplain: 1228;
  • Walter de Swaneburn, chaplain: 1229;
  • William de Rowell, chaplain: 1242;
  • Robert de [...]: 1249;
  • Henry de Estrqa, priest, on the death of Robert: 20th April 1272;
  • Fulco, priest, on the death of Henry: 27th March 1274;
  • Nicholas de Penington, subdeacon: 23rd September 1284;
  • John de Barton, chaplain, on the death of Nicholas: 14th January 1291;
  • Robert de Newton, chaplain, on the death of John de Barton: 9th April 1311;
  • Thomas King, priest;  on resignation of Robert: 9th December 1349;
  • Henry Wakerle, of Wodeford, priest, on the resignation of Thomas: 24th October 1352;
  • Ralph Bereford, priest;  on the resignation of Henry Wakerle, who exchanged to Edyweston Rectory: 21st June 1364;
  • Robert Newman;
  • Thomas Andrew, Rector of Ruspane, on exchange with Robert Newman: 9th June 1376;
  • William Palmer;
  • William de Berkelowe, Rector of Southaningfeld [South Hanningfield, Essex], diocese of London, on exchange with William Palmer: 6th October 1385;
  • William Bachelor, Vicar of Granchester, diocese of Ely; on exchange with William Berklowe: 20th April 1396;
  • William Heyne of Coupull [Cople], living vacant: 2nd February 1411;
  • Robert Simound, chaplain, on the resignation of William Heyne: 28th August 1415;
  • Augustine Luce, priest, on the resignation of Robert Skynglee, who exchanged to Rokelyng vicarage, London diocese: 16th November 1438;
  • Robert Grene, priest;
  • Richard Fylle, priest, on the resignation of Robert Grene, who exchanged to Clothall Rectory [Hertfordshire]: 15th June 1446;
  • Thomas Barbour, priest; on death of Richard Fylle: 31st October 1455;
  • Thomas Horne, chaplain, living vacant: 19th April 1457;
  • John Tapett;
  • Nicholas Ardewyk, priest, on the resignation of John Tapett: 28th February 1461;
  • John Janyn, on death of Nicholas Hardwyk: 23rd May 1472;
  • John Crosse, on death of John Janyn: 9th November 1472;
  • Thomas Hunt;
  • John Hechynson, on death of Thomas Hunt, 27th January 1479;
  • Thomas Dykenson, on death of John Hutchynson, 18th January 1516;
  • John Deane, clerk, on the death of Thomas Dikkinson: 17th June 1546;
  • George Butnam: 15th October 1552;
  • John Parrett : 9th July 1554
  • John Palmer;
  • Thomas Page, clerk; on death of John Palmer: 29th May 1560;
  • John Williams, clerk; on the cessation of Thomas Page: 1563;
  • Thomas Sutton, clerk, on the resignation of John Williams: 18th March 1566;
  • Richard Rayner, clerk: 20th March 1572;
  • Thomas Watts, M. A., buried 29th June 1610: 14th July 1574;
  • William Chantrell, M. A.: 1st December 1610;
  • Thomas Watson, married Maria Brett, 25th June 1615; 18th November 1614;
  • Thomas White: 1634;
  • William Millington: 1662;
  • John Eaton: 1664;
  • Joseph Gascoigne: 1670;
  • Heritagius Badcock, M. A., living vacant; he was ordained priest on 8th August 1661 by the Bishop of Dublin. Buried, 10 Feb 1689: 9th May 1677;
  • Devereux Spenser, B. A., living vacant, buried 11th February 1700: 17th March 1689;
  • Hugh Charles Hare, B. A., on death of Devereux Spenser: 30th June 1701;
  • Thomas Rowell, priested by the Bishop of Lincoln. 18th March 1709: 11th May 1709;
  • Barwell Collins, B. A., on the death of Thomas Rowell: 2nd September 1713;
  • Samuel Brooke, M. A., on the death of Barwell Collins: 16th July 1743;
  • Richard Brooke, M. A., on the cessation of Samuel Brook; 28th April 1744;
  • John Pemberton, clerk, on the death of John Betts: 27th September 1745;
  • Robert Wilan,  M. A., on the death of John Pemberton: 9th July 1776;
  • Frogmore Cumming, M. A., on the death of Robert Willan: 26th July 1796;
  • Richard Ward, M. A., on the death of Frogmere Cumming: 22nd August 1826;
  • Charles French Bromhead, M. A., on the resignation of Richard Ward: 13th June 1829;
  • Maurice Farrell, curate: 1851;
  • Edward John Hillier, M. A., on the death of C. French Bromhead: 9th February 1856;
  • Walter Sydney Champion Seccombe : May 1907
  • Ernest Henry Fry: May 1945
  • Frederick Norman Robathan: 1959
  • Arthur Edward Main: 1963
  • Peter Alfred Tubbs: 1969
  • J. Kenneth Dixon: 1985
  • Nigel Paul Morrell: 1995, resigned 2003

The font May 2010
The font May 2010


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 non-residency and the general state of the church in the parish. At this date it was common for a rector or vicar to not live in the parish he nominally served, often because he had more than one, as was the case with Rev. Barwell Collins of Cardington and Great Barford. In these cases a curate was usually employed to undertake the incumbent’s parochial duties for him. In the case of Cardington this did not happen because Great Barford was close enough to serve both parishes.

The returns for Cardington are as follows:

  • 1706: of 140 families in the parish 42 were nonconformists, “most of the Independent perswasion [sic], and have 2 Meeting-houses in the Parish”. The living was worth £32 per annum.
  • 1709: “None Un-baptized come to Church, but severall [sic] not Confirmed. Communicants about 100, of which but 40 received at Easter last. Severall of age never communicate at all”.
  • 1712: The Vicar lives in the Parish, but not in the Vicarage House. None unbaptized come to Church. 3 adults Baptized since my last Visitation. Several not Confirmed. Prayers only once every lord’s day. The other time the Vicar supplies Great Barford … Communions 4 times a year. About 40 receive”.
  • 1717: “I do not reside in the Parish but at Great Barford, which Cure I Likewise serve”. “No unbaptized Person comes to Church, but many do who are not confirmed, as I verily Believe. I have not baptized any Adults since the Time specifyd [sic]”. “Publick [sic] Service is read in the Church once every lord’s day, my Duty in the other parish not allowing of more, but that no part of the service may be wholly omitted in either of the parishes, I perform it interchangeably Morning and Evening in each Parish”. “The Sacrament is administer’d four times in a Year. The Number of Communicants is commonly about thirty or forty. I do not know how many did Communicate at Easter, nor can I inform your Lordship what Number of Communicants there are in the Parish”.
  • 1720: “I do not reside here, but at Great Barford where I also officiate. The Reason of my non-Residence is the want of a House, the Vicarage being too small for my Family”. “The service is publickly [sic] perform’d in this church once every Lord’s Day alternately i.e. one Lords Day in the Morning the next in the Afternoon. The reason why it is not twice perform’d  is the smallness of the Living, which will not aford [sic] a Subsistence without another Cure”. “The sacrament of the Lords Supper is constantly administer’d four times a Year in this church. What Number these is in the parish capable of communicating I can’t yet tell, but about 30 usually receive”.

The pulpit May 2010
The pulpit May 2010

Ecclesiastical Census

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. The return for Cardington church was made by the curate, Maurice Farrell, who noted the following pieces of information:

  • Sittings: 230 Free, 150 Other;
  • General Congregation: 103 morning, 70 evening;
  • Sunday Scholars: 45 morning, 32 evening
  • Total attendance: 148 morning; 102 evening.