Bledlow Churches

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The Church of The Holy Trinity consists of a Chancel 31ft x 16ft-6in, a Nave 44ft-11in x  15ft-11in, North and South Aisles respectively 8ft-9½in and 10ft-10in wide, a Western Tower 13ft-6in x 13ft-4in, and a South Porch.

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There is evidence of the existence at the East End of the present North Aisle of a late 12th century Transept, parts of its North and East Walls remaining; to the East of it there seems to have been a Chapel, entered through an Archway, the South Respond of which is still in position.  At this time the Church was probably Cruciform in Plan, consisting of a Chancel, Central Tower, Transepts, and a Nave about 30ft x 14ft, the Western Wall of which coincided with the position of the East Wall of the Present Tower.  During the course of the 13th Century, almost the whole Structure was Rebuilt, the 1st work undertaken being the North Arcade and Aisle of the Nave.  The South Arcade and Aisle were probably added immediately afterwards, the Central Tower being destroyed and a new Tower begun at the West.  Towards the end of the 13th century the Chancel was rebuilt and enlarged to its present size, and the present Tower was completed, the Aisles being extended to its Western Wall.  After this, there were no further additions to the Plan except that of a South Porch in the 14th century, but windows were inserted at various points.  The old High-Pitched Roof was removed, probably at a late date, and the existing Roof substituted for it.  The present Clearstory windows appear to be completely modern, but the Walls in which they are inserted belong to the 13th century, and the windows themselves may have had prototypes of that date.  On the North side one of the Buttresses rests upon a large Denner Hill Stone, but whether this existed in the original Building or was placed there during the Scott restoration is unknown (1877 Sir Gilbert Scott).

The East window of the Chancel is of 13th century date and consists of 3 Shafted Lancets with an internal reveal, the Shafts having moulded circular Capitals and Bases. The Lancets are of 2 chamfered Orders, and Stilted.  In the North and South walls are small Niches, with trefoiled Heads, of 15th-century date, though much restored.  That to the south is a Piscina, and the other now contains the Brass of William Herne, Priest, 1525. Of the 3 windows in this Wall, the Eastern is a single trefoiled Light and the 2nd of 2 trefoiled Lights with a 6-foil over, both probably of the date of the wall.  That to the West is continued as a recess below its sill, and pierced for a low side window.  A scroll-moulded String runs along the Wall and is broken downwards just West of the middle window, at which point is inserted a Crocketed and Finialled Pinnacle of a later date.  The Westernmost window of the South Wall is of the same general design and date as the middle window of the North but differs in having a moulded Rear Arch and Shafted Jambs to its inner reveal, with circular moulded Capitals and Bases.  Further to the East is a window of 2 trefoiled Lights with a Quatrefoil over, of somewhat earlier type than the others, and between the windows is a blocked Priest’s Door, which is hidden by the Organ, but externally is of 18th-century date, with White Marble Shafted Jambs and moulded 2-centred Head of poor imitation Gothic detail.  Below the window, there is the same String-course as on the North, with an inserted Pinnacle opposite to that in the North Wall.  Their intention is not clear, as they are so near to the West of the Chancel.

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The Chancel Arch is of mid-13th-century date, of rather blunt 2-centred form and 2 Square Orders, with a plain roll Label on the Westside. Just above the haunches of the Arch are 2 early 15th-century Head Corbels as supports to a Rood Beam which ran across the top of the Arch, the Label being cut away to allow for this.  At the Spring the Label is also cut away to allow for the Rood Loft, here supported upon plainer Corbels.  The Jambs of the Arch are plain, with a stopped chamfer, and the inner Order is supported on moulded half-octagonal Capitals with Corbels under, carved into a Face.

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The Nave is of 4-Bays, and though the South Arcade is a trifle later than the North, the detail throughout is the same.  The Arches are 2-centred, of 2 square Orders, with a plain roll Label towards the Nave. The Columns are round, with circular moulded Bases on square Plinths, and Bell-shaped Capitals enriched with beautiful cinquefoiled and trefoiled Leaves in relief, and with octagonal Abaci square edged above.  The Capitals are all of the same general style, but in some,the leaves lie close to the Bell and in others are undercut.  There are no Responds, but the Arches at the ends of the Arcades spring from Corbels with semi-octagonal Capitals.  The Corbels on the North are plain, but on the south are Foliated in the same way as the Capitals.

The Clearstory windows are modern, of 3 trefoiled Lights under a flat Lintel, but the openings are Old.  They are 6 in number, 3 on either side of the Nave.

In the external angle between the North Aisle and Chancel is the South Respond of a 12th-century opening to a Chapel East of the Transept of the earlier Church, with a chamfered and beaded Abacus. The Arch has completely disappeared, but a straight joint in the East Wall of the Aisle on the outside suggests the line of the North Wall of this Chapel, while a partly built-up recess on the inside is evidently the opening from the Transept to the Chapel. In this recess has been inserted a late 14th-century window of 2 trefoiled lights, with a square Head and trefoiled Spandrels. To the North of this window is a rich but mutilated canopied Niche of early 15th-century date. In the North Wall are 3 two-light windows. The 1st and last are of similar design and date to the South-East window in the Chancel. Between them is a mid-14th-century window of 2 trefoiled Lights with flowing Tracery and a Quatrefoil over. A little West of this is a small North Doorway of early 13th-century date, with a semicircular head of one square Order and rather roughly-moulded Abaci. At the West end of the Aisle is a half-Arch Buttressing the East Tower Arch, so much restored as to appear modern.

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The South Aisle has a blocked East window, which was apparently a late insertion; externally the Wall has been refaced. At the East end of the South Wall is a Piscina with a plain 2-centred chamfered Head, and in the same wall are 3 windows. The 1st from the East is a very fine example of early-14thcentury date. It is of 4 lancet Lights, with trefoiled subheads and oval Quatrefoils in the Lancets, the Jambs, Head, Mullions, and Tracery being moulded internally and externally, and there is an external Label. Partly under it is a mid-14th-century Tomb Recess with Jambs and a low pointed Arch of 2 wave-moulded Orders. The 2nd window is of the same design and date as the window opposite to it in the North Aisle. The South door, immediately West of this window, is of the same date as the Arcade, with a 2-centred Head of 3 moulded Orders, the inner being continuous and the outer pair resting upon detached circular shafts with moulded Capitals and Bases. The 3rd window is of 2 uncusped Lights, much restored, and is a 13th-century opening. At the West end of the original Aisle is a half-Arch similar to that on the North, but all of late-13th-century date. It is of 2 chamfered Orders and springs from a carved Corbel Capital.

The Tower is of 2 Stages, with a plain coped Parapet resting on a fine Corbel Table with Grotesque and Mask Corbels. The Belfry openings, 4 in number, are of 2 uncusped Lancet Lights with a Quatrefoil over, set in a moulded reveal with a 2-centred head and a Scroll Label. In the 2nd Stage are 3 small Lancets of 2 chamfered Orders, and on the East Face appears the steep weathering of the 13thcentury Roof, the Ridge of which reaches to the Sill of the Belfry Openings. In the North, South, and East Walls of the Ground Stage of the Tower are Arches opening respectively into prolongations of the Aisles and to the Nave. These Arches are of 2 chamfered Orders, the outer continuous and the inner resting upon half-octagonal Pilasters with moulded Capitals and Bases. The West window in this Stage is of 2 cinquefoiled Lights, with cusped Tracery over; the cusping has been mutilated, but the window is apparently of 14th-century date. The West Door, of somewhat later date, has continuous wave-mouldings of 2 Orders, with an external Label.

The part of the North Aisle flanking the Tower is lit by a small 14th-century trefoiled Light in the West Wall. The corresponding space on the South of the Tower is used as a Baptistery and is lit on the South by a modern window of 2 trefoiled Lights, and on the West by a small, much-restored round-headed window of doubtful date.

The South Porch has a wide outer Arch of 2 moulded Orders, of good 14th-century detail, and the Porch has Stone Benches on the East and West, and at the North-East a small square Holy Water Stone.

The Font is of late 12th-century date, of local type, with a circular scalloped bowl on a square base formed like an inverted cushion Capital and ornamented with foliage in lunette panels, and the short stem is Circular, with Cable mouldings. The Roofs throughout are very plain, of low Pitch, covered with Lead, and may possibly be of 15th-century date. There are no Pews, the Nave and Aisles being filled with Chairs, and the Chancel Stalls, Rood Screen, and Pulpit are modern. At the east end of the South Aisle is a 17th-century Altar Table and a late carved wood Eagle Lectern. In the same place is preserved a curious 18th-century carved wooden Candle and Candlestick. The Candle is painted, and the Candlestick with its Clawed Foot and the Candle-flame are Gilt.

The Brass already referred to in the Chancel bears the Figure of a Priest in Mass Vestments and the Inscription:
‘Hic jacet dñs Willm Herñ in artibus baculari’ nuper vicarius istius ecclie qui obiit anno dni millmo quingetesimo xxv. cuius aĩe propicietur deus amen.’

There are considerable traces of Painting throughout the Church. Over the Chancel Arch was a painting of the Doom, and on the walls of the Nave are traces of an early vine design and a masonry Pattern. On the North Wall of the North Aisle is a large figure of St Christopher. There is very little painted glass, but the Quatrefoil in the head of the window to the South-West in the Chancel is complete in 14th century glass of conventional design.

The Tower contains 5 Bells, the Treble dated 1636, and the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th 1683, the last bearing the inscription ‘Richard Keene cast this Ring.‘ The 5th was cast by W & J Taylor in 1842.

The Church Plate comprises an Elizabethan Cup of 1569; a Salver, the gift of John Cross in 1693, hallmarked for 1689; a small standing Paten of which the date letter is almost illegible, but appears to be that for 1668; a Flagon inscribed as the gift of John Blankes in 1672, and hall-marked for the same date; and a plated Cup.

The 1st book of the Registers contains all entries between 1592 and 1706 except in the case of Burials, which run to 1705. The 2nd contains all entries between 1707 and 1755 excepting marriages, which run to 1752. A 3rd Book has Marriages between 1754 and 1787; a 4th Baptisms and Burials between 1756 and 1812, and a 5th Marriages between 1787 and 1812.

The Church of St Paul, Bledlow Ridge, is built of Flint with Bath Stone dressings in the 13th-century style. It consists of Chancel and Nave with South Porch and Western Bell-Turret containing one Bell. It was consecrated in 1868, but the register dates from 1861.

Advowson
The Church of the Holy Spirit is mentioned in 1284, and the same invocation appears in James Fresel’s Will in 1341, but at the present day it has been changed to the Church of the Holy Trinity. It was Granted to the Abbey of Grestein in Normandy in the time of Robert Count of Mortain.  As Lord of the Manor of Bledlow he granted certain Tithes from his demesne lands to the abbey, then the patron of the church. The English possessions of this house were held by the Prior of Wilmington, and were Seized by Edward III as part of the temporalities of an Alien House before 1338 during the French War.  The Abbot of Grestein, however, in 1358 or 1359 Granted to John Taleworth, Burgess of Wycombe, and his heirs an Annuity of £50 and the Advowson of Bledlow Church.  This Grant can only have been enjoyed for a short time, if indeed at all, since in 1361 Edward III granted the Church to the Free Chapel of St Stephen, Westminster. The Vicarage was Ordained in 1405 under Bishop Repingdon, and appropriated to St Stephen’s.

After the Dissolution of the Free Chapel the Rectory and Advowson of the Church were granted to Thomas East and Henry Hoblethorne, since which time the Advowson has always been held by the lay Rectors.

James Fresel in 1341 bequeathed £20 for covering the Chapel of St Margaret at Bledlow with Lead, and various smaller sums for the maintenance of Lights there in the Church of Bledlow.  No further mention of this Chapel is found, but in 1590 a Chapel at Bledlow Ridge, with a Close called the ‘Chappel Yard,’ was Granted to ‘Fishing Grantees,’ so that apparently it had fallen into disuse before that date.  No mention of it occurs in the Buckinghamshire Chantry Certificates, so that it was apparently not merely a Chantry Chapel. A Chapel was built in 1834 for the inhabitants of the Hamlet of Bledlow Ridge. It was formed into the separate Ecclesiastical Parish of St Paul’s, and was endowed out of the Common Fund in 1868 and 1870.  The living is a Vicarage in the Gift of the Peache Trustees.

There are 2 Wesleyan Chapels in the Parish, one at Bledlow and the other at Bledlow Ridge.

Charities
In 1618 Henry East by his Will, proved in the Archdeaconry Court of Buckingham, charged his Tenement and Close, called Picked Close, with an Annuity of 20s for 4 Poor Widows at Lady Day and Michaelmas. The Annuity is paid by Mrs Saunders of Maidenhead, the Owner of the Property charged, and 5s a year is given to each of 8 Poor Widows.
This Parish is entitled to share in Henry Smith’s General Charity. In 1906 the sum of £9 was allotted from the Thurlaston Estate, Leicestershire, and applied in the distribution of 17 pairs of Blankets.
In 1671 John Blanks by will demised certain lands in the Parish, the Rents after payment of 10s to the Vicar for a Sermon on 27 December yearly, and 2s 6d to the Parish Clerk, to be distributed in Bread. The Property now consists of 3a or 38p, known as Ford’s Close, let at £4 10s. a year, and 2a 1r 17p adjoining the Workhouse School Gardens, known as the Poor’s Piece, let to 22 Allotment holders, producing £7 3s a year. The Distribution in Bread is made in conjunction with the income of Edmund Slaughter’s Charity mentioned below.
In 1672 Margaret Babham by Will directed that £100 should be laid out in Land, and that out of the profits 40s a year should be applied in providing 2 Poor Men and 2 Poor Women with coats to be marked with her initials M & B, and 10s to the Vicar for a Sermon on the Anniversary of her Burial, 30 April 1672 (old style) and 2s to the Parish Clerk for keeping her Tomb clean. The principal sum became a charge on a Farm in the Parish known as Sand-pit Farm, now belonging to Mr R White, who pays the fixed sum of £2 12s a year. By an order of the Charity Commissioners made under the Local Government Act, 1894, the Endowments of this and the preceding Charity for Ecclesiastical purposes were separated from the Charities for the Poor, and Trustees appointed for their respective administration. In 1905 the sum of 40s was applied in the distribution of Flannel to 12 Poor people, chiefly Women.
In 1831 Edmund Slaughter by his Will, proved in the PCC on the 26 July, directed his Executors to invest £100 in the Public Funds, the income to be applied in the Distribution of Bread. The Trust Fund consists of £119 6s 8d Consols, with the Official Trustees, and the annual dividends, amounting to £2 19s 8d, were in 1906 applied, with the net income of John Blanks’ Charity mentioned above, in the Distribution of 639 Loaves.
Charity of Elizabeth Eustace.—See under Princes Risborough. The sum of £1 3s is received yearly from the Trustees, of which £1 is applied in the Distribution of 4 Sheets at 5s each, and 1s. is retained by each of the 3 Local Trustees in pursuance of the directions in the Deed.
The Coal Charity, otherwise the Poor’s Land, consists of about 26 acres, including 5 Cottages known as the Colony Cottages, awarded to the Poor in 1812 under the Bledlow Inclosure Act, producing about £30 a year. In 1906 a Distribution of 30 tons of Coal was made.