Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

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

Bedford (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TL 07627 51011




C13 arch to S chapel, C15 tower, S porch, chancel and nave. In 1955-6 a new nave and chancel involved demolition of the existing N aisle and were added to the medieval building, thus turning the old nave into a S aisle. This new work was designed by Felix J. Lander.

MATERIALS: Semi-coursed rubble to the medieval work. The new nave/chancel are of brick which is faced with stone from the old aisle. Roof materials not visible but believed to be lead on the medieval parts (tiles on the porch).

PLAN: Modern nave and chancel (in one), with the medieval W tower, nave, chancel, S chapel and porch remaining to the S. A one-storey vestry/kitchen and toilet block wraps round the E end of the new chancel in an L-shape.

EXTERIOR: The medieval church has a Perpendicular W tower of typical design, including W doorway, a three-light W window under a four-centred arch, and belfry windows with standard two-light design. The parapet is embattled. The S elevation has a porch with a heavy battlemented parapet. To its E there is a small, one-bay chapel. The medieval aisle, chapel, nave and chancel all have plain parapets. There is a variety of fenestration, all with typical Perpendicular forms such as two-light square-headed in the chancel S wall, three-light with panelled tracery for the E window, and three-light with more florid tracery in the chapel S window. The nave has a clerestory with plain, square-headed two-light windows. The new nave and chancel are of six bays with two-light Perpendicular-style windows reused from the old aisle beneath tall rectangular clerestory openings of extreme simplicity. The new chancel E window is of four-lights with sparse detailing in a mid-C20 reinterpretation of a C15 window. At the W end, high up, is an emblem of St Mary with a pair of wings (from the Annunciation) and a sword-pierced heart (from Simeon's prophecy).

INTERIOR: The dominant space now is the 1950s extension forming an airy rectangular volume with clean, simple lines and bright lighting. On its N wall the reused two-light windows are set under plain pointed arches no doubt intended to mirror the arcading to the old nave. The old clerestory is preserved unglazed and above it are larger, completely plain two-light mullioned windows. The roof trusses appear to be of shallow pitched reinforced concrete. The walls are plastered and whitened as are those of the old part of the building, other than the chancel which has been stripped of its plaster. The old four-bay arcade between the two principal parts has moulded arches and both round and octagonal piers. The oldest part of the building is the arch to the S chapel and has semi-circular responds. The chancel arch has a double-chamfered arch which dies into the responds. Over the nave is a cambered tie-beam roof with probably late medieval timbers while the chancel has a plain tie-beam roof of 1876. The flooring is of red and black Victorian quarry tiles in the nave, wood-blocks in the chancel, and beige tiles in the extension.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: Beside the entrance to the S doorway is a C14 effigy of a female mounted into the wall. The S door itself has late-medieval woodwork and strap hinges. Inside, the plain circular font is of rather indeterminate date but is probably of the C13 or C14. In the chancel there is a stepped, drop-sill double sedilia which is integral with an angle piscina. There are two brasses: a priest, Richard Ffysher (d 1507), and a kneeling figure of Robert Hatley (d 1585). In the chancel there is a good wall tablet to Benjamin Haselden (d 1676) with attractive black and white marble detailing and a scrolled pediment on top. In the new nave a W gallery houses a modern organ. The Victorian pine seating has typical square ends with buttress detailing. A royal arms in the nave bears two dates 1838 and 1875. The windows of the old aisle were incorporated into the extension. The stained glass in the chapel E window is by Marion Grant, c1949.

HISTORY: The names of vicars are recorded from the early C13 but no part of the church is that early, the fabric having been erected in the later C13 and the C15. The Dukes of Bedford has been patrons of the church since the 1750's. Important changes took place in the C19. A short lead-covered spire was removed in 1853 and the main restoration took place in 1859-60 under James Horsford of Bedford who rebuilt and enlarged the N aisle, re-sorted the chancel and reseated the building. Further and, seemingly, more extensive work took place in the chancel in 1876 when it was reroofed. In 1898 an organ chamber and vestry were built on the N of the chancel for which the architect was Lacy W Ridge of London. After the incorporation of Goldington into the borough of Bedford and the consequent considerable expansion of housing, the church was first restored in 1948-9 and was then enlarged in 1955-6 under a faculty from the previous year. The foundation stone was laid by the Duchess of Bedford on 7 July 1955 and the enlarged church was dedicated on 23 March 1957.

SOURCES: Chris Pickford (ed), Bedfordshire Churches in the Nineteenth Century: Part 1: Parishes A to G, 1994, pp 304-10. Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire and Peterborough, 1968, p 93. A History of the Church of St Mary the Virgin Goldington Bedford, 2006.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The church of St Mary the Virgin, Goldington, Bedford is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * It has extensive late medieval fabric dating from the C15. * It has a number of fittings of interest, including the C14 effigy. * The subtle Post-War extension is a careful addition and of interest in its own right, showing how a small village church was adopted to meet the needs of housing growth in Bedford.


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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: 05 Sep 1999
Reference: IOE01/00617/25
Rights: Copyright IoE Clive Jones. Source Historic England Archive
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