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Upper Gravenhurst Vicarage

The former vicarage shown in green on a map of Upper Gravenhurst in 1882
The former vicarage shown in green on a map of Upper Gravenhurst of 1882

Upper Gravenhurst was a chapelry of Shillington. That means it was not a parish in its own right and the church, which dates from the 12th century, was a chapel of ease, its clergy being supplied by Shillington. Upper Gravenhurst became a parish in its own right in the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603). There are no early mentions of a vicarage at Upper Gravenhurst. Usually the terrier of property of the Archdeaconry of Bedford dating to the first years of the 18th century would include a description of the vicarage and so that fact that it does not, probably means there was no such building. This is confirmed by the answer to a questionnaire sent out before a visitation to Bedfordshire by the Bishop of Lincoln in 1706: “It is neither Rectory of Vicarege, but the Major or better part of the Inhabitants nominate a Curate to be Licensed by the Bishop”. It seems as if there was a residence, though, because in 1717 the answer given before another visitation, by the minister, who was also Rector of Lower Gravenhurst was: “I reside in this Parish, in the House belonging to the Minister”.

A new vicarage was proposed in 1825 [L30/11/40/38]. This was built in the churchyard and in 1897 a faculty was issued to take it down [P17/2/4/1] because the vicar was also rector of Lower Gravenhurst and lived there. The faculty tells us: “the old Vicarage at Upper Gravenhurst is a timber and brick structure standing tight in the churchyard itself; part of the house was pulled down in the late vicar’s time and the remaining part is unsanitary, unsightly and unsafe; the Diocesan Surveyor has declared that it is past repair; that it is at present occupied as two cottages at a gross rental of £4/10/- per annum; that it would be for the benefit of the living if the cottages were taken down and removed and the materials sold and the proceeds applied towards the Dilapidation Fund, the site being left as part of the churchyard but not used as a burial ground”. The building is the one in green on the map of 1882 at the head of this page.

As most of the vicars were also rectors of Lower Gravenhurst it seems as if they continued to reside in the rectory there until it was sold in 1963. After that date the Vicar of Upper Gravenhurst was also Vicar of Shillington and so there was no need of a vicarage in Upper Gravenhurst.