Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Date first listed:
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Central Bedfordshire (Unitary Authority)
Marston Moretaine
National Grid Reference:
SP 99618 41153




GV I Parish Church. Earlier C14 and C15 with some C19 reworkings; chancel restored in 1873 by Sir Gilbert Scott. The earlier work of the chancel and vestry is of coursed ironstone with ashlar dressings. Later work (nave and side aisles) is predominantly coursed limestone rubble with a scattering of ironstone, also with ashlar dressings.

PLAN: The church consists of a nave with six bay arcade, a chancel with chapel to the south and vestry with priests room above to the north. There are porches to both north and south to the third bay from the west.

EXTERIOR: All parts have crenellated parapets. The chancel has pointed-arched windows, that to the east end with five lights and rectilinear tracery; to the south are two windows with three lights each, and to the north one with three lights. Immediately to the east of the north window is a pointed-arched door. There is a stair turret with slit windows at second and third stage in the corner between the chancel and vestry, immediately to the north of which is a door to the vestry. The east elevation of the vestry to the north of the east chancel window has a two light square-headed window to the ground floor and small single light to the upper floor; the north elevation has small single light to each floor.

The north and south aisles both have three Tudor arched windows each, the two outer with three lights, the central window with four; the south elevation has an additional similar three light window to the chapel south of the chancel. The chapel also has a similar window at its east end. The clerestory has five three light Tudor arched windows to both north and south. The pointed arched door of the south porch is blocked, as is the Tudor arched west door. The north porch has later pinnacles to the corners. There is a hexagonal belcote above the east gable of the nave.

INTERIOR: The door from the porch into the church has a Tudor arch with hood-mould over, with carved decoration in the spandrels. The door from the south porch is similar, with shield bosses as terminals to the hood mould.

The six bay arcade has slender moulded pillars and moulded pointed arches; the end bay to the west is slightly narrower than the other five. At the west end of both north and south aisles modern wooden panelled screens enclose, respectively, a meeting room and kitchen area. The nave roof is decorated with carved angels and bosses. Above the pointed chancel arch is a doom painting. On the north side of the arch is the door to the rood staircase; the upper door, access to the rood, is blocked. A squint through or into the staircase has a quatrefoil opening on the nave side and a pointed opening on the chancel side.

The chancel has a decorated tiled floor, laid on either side of centrally placed memorials in Purbeck Marble to members of the Snagge family. The reredos takes the form of a painted tryptich depicting the birth, crucifixion and resurrection. In the south wall are three stained glass windows dated 1898 in the style of Edward Burne-Jones. To the north of the altar is a floor brass memorial to Thomas Reynes and his wife, immediately above which is a squint between the vestry and chancel. The altar table and rails were designed by Sir Gilbert Scott.

From the north side of the chancel a pointed arched door gives access to the vestry, which has a rib vaulted roof rising from pilasters. There is a piscina in the south wall; in the west wall is a door leading to the stair turret. Above the vestry is the priest's room, the south wall of which contains a blind arcade of three arches. The one closest to the door contains a recess with a hole in the sill that runs through the wall to the head of the door to the chancel. Across the north-east corner of the room is a large fireplace. The stair turret rises to a door to the roof.

To the south of the chancel is a small chapel separated from the south aisle by a late C15 screen with delicate tracery to the heads of panels and openings. At the east end of the chapel is a stone altar tomb to Sir John Reynes. On the north wall is a wall painting of a text from the First Book of Samuel, and a painting of the Snagge family arms. The organ fills the arch between chancel and chapel, to the east of which are two squints. Against the south wall is the Snagge Memorial, a tomb in red-veined alabaster, with the reclining effigies of Thomas Snagge and his wife under a canopy supported on five Ionic columns.

The east wall of the north aisle has part of dado of a former rood screen, with four painted panels of prophets. The stone font, in the centre towards the west end of the nave, is octagonal with carved panels.

HISTORY: The chancel contains the earliest fabric in the church, and dates to the early C14. In the mid C15 the nave was built, and the chancel altered, probably by Thomas Reynes, son of Jane, the last of the Morteyne family who had held the manor of Marston since the late C11. The Morteyne family may be associated with the scheduled C14 moated site and Grade II* listed Moat Farm to the north west; the scheduling also includes medieval settlement earthworks. The manor passed to the Snagge family in the C16 or C17, and both the Reynes and Snagges are represented in the church by memorials and coats of arms.

In 1873 the church was extensively restored under the direction of Sir Gilbert Scott, including a new tiled chancel floor, and altar table and rails designed by Scott. The Rector's daughter, Elizabeth Tylecote, was responsible for painting the reredos, and for repainting the ceiling bosses, shields and angels

SOURCES: Kempton, J, The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Marston Morteyne, Guide Book (2004) Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England. Bedfordshire and the County of Huntingdon and Peterborough (1968)

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The Church of St Mary the Virgin is designated at Grade I for the following principal reasons: * The church contains extensive medieval fabric. * Its interior is of exceptional interest for its medieval fabric, unusual features and detail, its devotional paintings and painted inscriptions and its fine memorials. * The late C19 reworking of the chancel by Sir Gilbert Scott is of high quality design and craftsmanship. * It has group value with other surviving elements of medieval Marston Mortaine, including the Grade II* listed Moreteyne Manor, the scheduled moat and medieval settlement earthworks, and the detached church tower listed at Grade I.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 03 Jul 2002
Reference: IOE01/06153/33
Rights: Copyright IoE Clive Jones. Source Historic England Archive
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