St Michael and All Angels Church Bugbrooke
The church is now part of the Junction 16 Benefice, comprising the parishes of Bugbrooke, Harpole, Kislingbury and Rothersthorpe, in the County of Northamptonshire, close to Junction 16 of the M1 motorway. The Benefice is in the Diocese of Peterborough.
The Priest in charge is
The Revd Stephen French
The Benefice Office in the Sunday School is open most weekday
mornings (except Thursdays) between 9am and 11.30am. The phone number is
01604 830373 and there is an answer phone so you can leave a message and someone
will get back to you.
The first documentary evidence for the existence of Bugbrooke is the Domesday Book of 1086, but there is no reference to there being a church then. The first record that suggests that there was a church is when a Rector was instituted in 1220, and this conforms with the architectural evidence. The 750th anniversary of the founding of a church in Bugbrooke was celebrated in 1970.
Originally the church was dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady, later to become St Mary's. It was not until the 19th century that the dedication of St Michael and All Angels was established
The church is build of marlstone, a form of sandstone interspersed with ironstone. It would have looked quite different then with the stone walls covered with brightly coloured paintings on plaster illustrating the scriptures. These would have been whitewashed later as a consequence of the Reformation, and the plaster finally removed during the early twentieth century. (Some surviving fragments of such decoration are found in the church at Ashby St Ledgers). Statues would have been found in abundance, but these also fell victim to the iconoclasts of the Reformation, or if they survived that, of Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth.
Nave and Aisles
The original church was built over an extended period, and this can be seen in the changes of style that vary
according to the fashion and the expertise of the craftsmen available at the time. The church, consisted of a broad nave of four bays together with the chancel. An aisle was added to the south side of the nave about 1225. The south aisle piers are round and it is suggested that they may have been reused from another building as they are out of proportion with the arches they support. One of the arch capitals is a finished example of the stonemasonís work, but its neighbour has only a marked out version of the same design. This is the oldest visible part of the building. The arcade leans outwards, suggesting that the original roof was very heavy. The steep line of the original nave roof, can be seen on the tower wall from the outside, and on the inner west wall of the nave. The north aisle was built about 50 years later. Note that the piers are octagonal and are more evenly spaced than those on the south aisle. The north choir aisle, now the Lady Chapel, was built afterwards as an extension east-wards of the north aisle. The aisle to the south of the choir was added in the late 19th century. The tower arch was built in the early 1300s. The walls of the ringing chamber are 6 feet thick. Note the tablet for bell ringers discovered under the plaster early this century.
The seating arrangements have changed during the life of the church. In 1828 the nave was furnished with box pews, which were rented by those who could afford them and wooden benches at the back for those who could not. The chancel was empty except for two box pews for the Rector and his household. The plan on the right shows the before and after arrangement, and shows clearly the 4 pillars which supported the west gallery, with the stairs to gain access. This arrangement lasted until the Victorian restoration of 1890-91.New pews were built and the pulpit installed in the 1890s.
A new north porch replaced a badly built Victorian one in 1998.
This was probably always the same size as it is now. The chancel arch was built around 1270. The roof was designed by E de Wilde Holding, who masterminded the 1890s restoration. The east window is also his.
Screens and Font
The chancel screen and font were made about the same time, but it is hard to date them. They are in perpendicular style, which typified architecture from 1335 to 1530. The screen would have looked even more magnificent in the 16th century when it would have been brightly painted and with much gilding. Although the bottom panels were replaced in the Victorian restoration, the original uprights and carving remain. . Originally the screen would probably have had a large crucifix in the centre, and access to the screen would have been by stairs at the right, which can be seen from the nave.
Further restoration was carried out in the early twentieth century, with a screen to the Lady Chapel being made using fragments from an earlier one, as well as the replacement of the oak roof in the nave and aisles. The belfry screen, which is dedicated to a former Rector, Charles Harrison, was installed in 1978.
Tower and Bells
The tower was built in the 14th century of marlstone and ironstone in strips. The pinnacles were added about 1890 and the spire is octagonal. There is a peal of five bells. The oldest bell bears the inscription 'God save our Queen and her preserve 1599'. The tenor bell was cast in 1695 and its inscription includes the words 'I to the church the living call and to the Grave doe summon all'. The others were made in 1863, 1868 and 1813(re-cast 1931).
Today we naturally associate music and worship, but that was not always the tradition. However music had come to Bugbrooke church by 1723. The evidence for the West gallery can still be seen on the walls today. Here musicians and singers would sit during services and lead the congregation in the hymns. It is probable that the musicians would have been the same ones to play for secular occasions too, and quite often they used the same tunes for both occasions, but with different words! The gallery and its musicians were superseded by the installation of an organ in 1875. A contemporary account of the impact of the changing musical fashion is to be found in Thomas Hardy's Under the Greenwood Tree, and makes interesting reading. The organ was built by Bishop and Son of London in 1844, was moved from St Peter in the East, Oxford to Bugbrooke in 1879. The font now occupies the original position of the organ, and it was moved first to the Lady Chapel and then in 1911 re-sited in its present position.
The parish records of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials are continuous since 1556, and are available to study at Northamptonshire County Record Office.
Compiled from A Brief History and Architectural Description of the Parish Church of St. Michael and All Angels at Bugbrooke in the Diocese of Peterborough, written by David Peet, and Bugbrooke 2000BC to 2000AD an Illustrated history- ancient and modern - Bugbrooke History Society
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