Upper Dean. CHURCH : ALL SAINTS

(ALSO KNOWN AS ALL HALLOWS..)

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Easly summer 2016 and a rare trip over the border in to Bedfordshire. I hardly ever get in to this county and it was great to visit some new places. The forecast had not been great, with a cloudy afternoon forecast, but the sun came out and stayed out. It was shirt sleeve weather and David and myself saw some lovely churches, enjoyed the warmth met some very pleasant people. This is why we enjoy doing what we do.
Having said that we only just sneaked a little over the border, with the Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire borders just a little way away. Kimbiolton, of which the church features on this site, is only three miles or so away to the east with Graffham Water a little further in the same direction. Bedford is 14 miles off to the north.
The church of All Saints, is alo known as All Hallows, and this caused me some confusion as I put this page together. The church stands in well maintained grounds, surrounded by some delightful old buildings. The church consists of west tower, nave, north and south aisles, north and south chapels and chancel. As we were taking photographs of the exterior a couple came through walking their dog. No distrust here, as we were to find in the Cambridgeshire Fens a few weeks later. 'Have you seen the Green Man' the man asked. No we replied. There then followd an unofficial tour of the church. Their love of the building was easy to see and the time that they gave to us was appreciated very much.
When North was compiling his list of the church bells on Bedfordshire in the late Victorian era, he made mention of the state of the tower, as you will see later if you read down. It appears as if things were still in a poor state in 1912 when A History Of The County Of Bedfordshire was published. It says there "At the present day for want of money the whole is slowly falling to decay, the walls bare of plaster and green with damp from leaking roofs, and the beautiful carvings of the roofs threatening to fall. The mediaeval seats remain, in great part much in need of repair, and the floors are broken and uneven, patched with rough stone, in places showing the ground beneath" Not so now thankfully with things seemingly being in good order.
The oldest part of the present structure in the chancel arch, which dates from the 13th century. The bulk of the church dates from the 14th century, with much being rebuilt during the 15th century, at which point the nave walls were rebuilt, the clerestory added and all parts of the church re-roofed except the chancel. The 14th century tower is three stage, with the lower stage accounting for roughly half of the total height. The tower is buttressed up to the top of the lower stage. There is a church clock on the west side of the tower. Finely carved gargoyles surround the tower, including a very fine water carrier, and a string of smaller, bizarrely carved, heads runs under the parapet between the gargoyles. On the top of the tower is a very small spire.
Five bells hang here. The first of the ring is modern, being cast by Taylor of Loughborough in 1966. The others though are all of historic interest. The second and fifth of the ring were each cast by Hugh Watts I, from his foundry at Leicester. The first is inscribed 'WATTES MADE ME 1603'. The fifth is an alphabet bell, which has the letters A to T with the date of 1610 at the end.
The third of the ring is of real interest, being cast as far back as 1490 by Richard Mellors. Mellors was an interesting character, being a man of some wealth, and he was Mayor of Nottingham in 1506. This bell is inscribed 'CELORUM XPE PLACEAT TIBI REX SONUS IST' This translates as 'O Christ King of Heaven may this sound please thee'.
The fourth of the ring is dated 1677 and was cast by Tobias Norris III of the Stamford bellfoundry. Interesting to see one of Norris' bells as far away as this. North's Victorian study of the church bells in Bedfordshire actually makes no mention of the bell from Mellors, but does go on to say that the tower at All Saints, at the time of his study, was in a very dangerous state.
Moving inside, there is a real sense of history here. Carved angels with outstretched wings run the length of the nave. As mentioned earlier, this church was in a poor state of repair back in history and this is evident with damage to some of the angels. One angel is pretty weathered, one has a withered wing and more than one might have had a wing replaced. This 15th century roof though is exquisite. Some angels are playing musical instruments, some carry crosses with others being displayed with instruments of the crucifiction.
The ceiling bosses and wooden framework around the nave are also elaborately carved and up there is a carving of a green man, foliage growing out of his mouth, which the friendly local was keen to point out.
The nave is of four bays and the box pews are medieval. A monument is curiously placed on the wall to the north side of the chancel arch, too high to read the inscription. The chancel itself is small and plain, with some Victorian patterned glass in the small east window. There are north and south chapels either side of the chancel. In the south chapel is a brass of a priest, dressed in long flowing gown with hands raised in prayer. A scroll rising from the Priest's head reads 'MISERERE MEI DEUS SECUMDUM MAGNAM MISERICORDIAM TUAM' which translates as 'Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy'.
The font consists of an octagonal bowl on an octagonal stem, decorated with leaf designs. This dates from the 14th century. Considerably more modern is a delightful stained glass window depicting St Francis Of Assisi, who is kneeling, hands raised in blessing, surrounded by animals. St Francis is often depicted with stigmata, wounds on hands, feet and side, which mirror the wounds of Christ on the cross. St Francis was the first stigmatic recorded in Christian history. The image of St Francis here though is without stigmata.
The church grounds are large and well maintained, with a large number of Georgian graves, but in fairness there was little of any real interest to make note of.
A very lovely church. We spent an enjoyable time here before moving off to neighbouring Shelton, where we found another open and beautiful church, with some gloriously out of true windows and a very angry horse in a field nearby.

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