Skip Navigation

Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Home > Community Histories > Flitton > James Sawyer

James Sawyer

It is always nice to have people contribute to these Community Archive pages. the following article is by Margaret Butt and first appeared in the Flitton Parish Newsletter.


This was written in the front of the Baptism Register 1896 by Rev James Sawyer: "It may interest my successors to know that the organ standing in the chancel was formerly a barrel organ to play 32 tunes, the last time it was used was in the service held on the Queen’s Jubilee June 1887 when the Old Hundredth was sung to it. In the Autumn of the same year by the proceeds of a Bazaar held in the Vicarage garden, a manual was put in the organ and a 100 new pipes added to those of the old organ which was all preserved at a cost of £50. Pedals were added later at a cost of £20.In 1891 the high boxes of the aisles were removed and pitch pine seats erected in their place and the floor paved with wood [by workmen of the village] at a cost of £64. Earl Cowper spent on the exterior of the church at this time a sum of £200. In 1893 by consent of the wardens, Messrs Osborn and Elmore, the gallery at the West End was removed with the hoarding that had entirely filled the West Arch, admitting the light of the west window and windows close to the font. The Vestry which had been placed near the pulpit obscuring the light of the N.E. window was moved to the N.W. corner of the church and a small new window made to light it. In 1894, new seats were erected at the West end of the church to correspond with the aisles- about £500 was spent in the exterior and interior of this church of which Earl Cowper gave £280 and the remainder was raised by friends and parishioners".

The Rev Sawyer died in 1906 aged 63 years. He had been vicar of the parish for 23 years from 1883, and was well liked by parishioners and the local clergy . He had been ill for some time and died at Virginia Water [Surrey] where he was trying to recover from bronchitis. The service was conducted by Rev Hastings Evered, the curate, who lived at the schoolhouse in Greenfield. Miss Ellen Sawyer had lived with her brother at the Vicarage and was very involved in village life and charitable works. She was presented with a cheque of £10 as a leaving present, and she bought a painting of the Old Vicarage by Sylvester Stannard.

In 1907, it was proposed that a fund be started to erect a memorial stained glass window at the east end of the chancel in memory of Rev Sawyer.The 19th century stained glass had come from Silsoe church – presumably when the chancel was altered by the mausoleum. Later that year, a bronze tablet was placed on the chancel wall, also in memory of him. It was erected by his Brother Clergy in Affectionate Memory – a fitting tribute to him. By May 1908, the memorial window fund had reached £57.1s.0d and a design had been suggested.
However, relations of Lord Lucas, the church patron, objected to the new window and Miss Sawyer suggested that a lych gate be erected with the fund money. The gate with stone pillars was erected at the entrance to the churchyard and a dedication service was held on June 24th 1909 which is Saintt John the Baptist’s Day. It was conducted by the Right Rev Bishop Hodges with the Rural Dean and many local clergy present. Sadly, the new vicar, Rev John Draper was ill and was not there. The day was wet so the church hall was used for tea and a bazaar rather than the Vicarage gardens. Apart from one gatepost, nothing of this gate survives.

The window now at the east end came from Silsoe church when they had a new stained glass window put in.