History of St. Lawrence Church

St Lawrence, Steppingley



St Lawrence Church was rebuilt in 1860 on the site of an earlier church, which collapsed when repairs were undertaken to rectify an outward leaning wall. The old church was once described as the 'the smallest church in Bedfordshire' by the Gentleman's Magazine, 1849 and the oldest parts of the building, the Norman nave, probably dated from the twelfth century and the chancel from the thirteenth century. However the only portion to have been preserved is part of the sedilia or piscina, which now forms the niche in the sacristy of the present building. The new church was designed by the architect, Henry Clutton, who also designed the Romanesque church at Woburn, and the rebuilding was financed by the Duke of Bedford and the Rector. Built of local red-brown sandstone excavated at Green End, Maulden, it is an example of the Early Decorated and Perpendicular styles of the fourteenth century architecture. It consists of a chancel, nave, vestry, north aisle and a western tower containing 4 bells. The broad and regular tower is supported by buttresses, which terminate halfway up each wall. An embattled newel-turret rises above the tower and below the embattlements are four gargoyles, one at each corner. St Lawrence Church was restored in 1912 by the Duke of Bedford K.G. at a cost of £1000 and in the course of excavations in the chancel, 531 English and Scotch silver coins of 13th century were found. It is thought that these were offerings of patients of a former rector, John de Schorne, who acquired fame for his healing powers. A popular myth credited him with conjuring the devil into a boot and keeping him there under a restraining hand that allowed only his head to emerge. The register of the church dates from 1562 but not continuous until after 1647.

Taken from http://pages.123-reg.co.uk/indi1-628805/steppingleyvillageassociation/id2.html