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A picture of Church of St Mary the Virgin (St Neots)
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Mainly late 15th century, with north wall of chancel 13th and east wall of
north chapel 14th. Originally the churchyard surrounded the church on all sides.
Over the south porch is Dove Chamber, named after the Rev. Dove rector from
1617-1622, and contained a small library of early theological books, reached by
narrow winding stairs, it also contains a 16th century chest.
The large west end doors were apparently installed so that the old town fire
engine could be kept there. The building was also regularly used for the
meetings of the local people with rights to the commons, as ordered by the act
Standing on high ground it normally escapes flooding, but had a depth of 2
foot of water inside during the flood of this year. This must have caused damage
and from 1844 there is a record of work being undertaken on the body of the
Restoration of the church began on the north porch, originally brick it was
replaced with a new stone porch. Soil to a depth of 3 feet was removed from the
north side of the church, and windows were re-glazed as required. New finials
were put on the roof. Inside the wall on the north side had its plaster removed,
and the revealed stone was re-pointed.
The south porch was restored; it is believed that 2 sundials shown on a
painting of 1812, placed just under the roof apex were destroyed during this
time. Inside more plaster was removed form the walls, windows which had been
blocked had the masonry removed and were re-glazed. Additional land was
purchased on the north-west of the church by subscription.
Floors were lowered and new seats and pulpit were put in
The gallery was removed, the organ that was sited on the gallery was
re-located to the Jesus Chapel
A note in the register entered by Rev. J Green refers to a break in of the
church during the night of 22nd July 1848, when burglars made off with the iron
bound chest containing the parish Register Books. The chest was recovered the
next day from the Brook, still with its contents although the books were damaged
by water, and all had to be re-bound, some are now in a very delicate state.
During this period gas was installed supplying the first artificial heat, and
also replacing the oil lamps used for lighting.
A new organ was installed at a cost of £530 plus the old organ given in part
East wall of the chancel was faced with ashlar and its windows renewed
Chancel seats were made
Around this time a new alter table was given by Rev. Meade, who inadvisedly
donated an old one of circa 1600 which had been stored in the Dove Chamber over
the south porch, to the village of Offord Darcy. Upset at its removal Mr Charles
Rowley arranged for its return, and it now used as a communion table.
Pinnacles of the tower were renewed
The sanctus bell-cote was restored and the vestry enlarged
Chancel roof completely restored
The eight large bells were all recast. The seven smaller bells were also
recast and re-hung in a steel frame.
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