Woodford Halse Archive

St Mary’s West Face Top
St Mary’s West Face Top

Woodford Buildings

St Mary’s

The Northampton Herald of November, 1878, reporting the re-opening of the church after renovation, said “That the north aisle was leaning so much that with its arcade it had to be pulled down and rebuilt”. “The tower was in a ruinous state.” And it was the tower that hastened the restoration.

The vicar at that time was the Reverend Harry Holdsworth Minchin, he came to the parish in 1867 and there is no doubt that he found the church in bad condition, as by 1871 he called a Vestry Meeting to see what should be done about it. Two of the lay rectors were present, Sir Henry Dryden and Mr. George Hitchcock, and when it was agreed that steps should be taken for the restoration of the whole church, they both promised to repair the chancel in the same style as the rest of the church. The meeting agreed that the vicar and churchwardens should have a survey made and a report drawn up for consideration at a later meeting. This was done and in January, 1872, the Vestry met to consider the report, they decided to accept it and to set up a committee with the object of raising £3,000 over the next five years and to direct restoration when it commenced.

Meeting followed meeting, means of raising money were discussed and reports showed that money was slow in coming in. In January, 1876, it was reported that £1,574-1-2d. had been received and a further £1,984-18-8d. promised. On 5th December that year, it was reported that old cracks in the tower had widened and a new crack had appeared on the north side, the vicar and churchwardens inspected the tower, and finding the report true, sent post-haste for the architect, Mr. Hartshorne of London. He came on the 7th and he recommended that the tower be lowered to the belfry windows and the bells removed. It was decided that the work be done and tenders were invited.

Two were received, one from Mr. Kerod of Byfield in the sum of £30, and one from Messrs Bason and Coy of Woodford, in the sum of £27-10-0d. Two members of the committee receiving the tenders, Messrs Bromley and Daniels, evidently thought the work was not necessary, as they offered to be responsible for £50 each, if the tower fell within five years and in consequence of this, it was proposed to postpone the work sine die. In point of fact, they bet the vicar the tower would not fall down within five years.

However, it appears that after this meeting the vicar, on his own initiative, invited tenders for the complete renovation of the church, for, at a meeting of the Vestry on the 29th November 1877, it was agreed that the tender of Messrs Wall and Hook in the sum of £2,803-12-0 be accepted, this tender included £65 for warming the church. Subscriptions towards the renovation amounted to £2,419-12-0d, old lead to be salvaged, was estimated to be worth £150 making a total of £2,560-12-0d. Of this sum, £101 had been given especially for an organ, so really there was that much less for the building fund. The lay rectors had agreed to repair the chancel at a cost of £550.

By kind permission of Woodford Halse Archive