Bedford, Bedfordshire

St. Paul's Church, Bedford, Bedfordshire

A church already existed at Bedford by 1066 which was run by a group of canons. Bedford is a natural crossing point over the River Great Ouse and as such has been occupied since prehistoric times.

As is often the case nothing has survived of this early church and the oldest surviving sections of today’s church – chiefly the south porch – dates from the early 1200s. During the 15th Century the whole church was greatly changed with the addition of the north aisle, rebuilding of the nave and south aisle and the addition in 1416 of the Trinity Chapel. The whole church was also re-roofed in this period and it seems likely that a new tower would have been built on (although this was subsequently removed).

In 1656 John Bunyan, Bedfordshire’s favourite son, preached at St. Paul’s Church and almost a century late in 1758 John Wesley preached the Assize Sermon here.

Between 1865 and 1868 the tower and its spire were completely rebuilt and the Chancel roof raised and painted. Early in the 20th Century G.F. Bodley worked on the Rood Loft and in 1908 the Trinity Chapel was restored (i.e. rebuilt) by C.E. Mallows.

During World War II St. Paul’s was used by the BBC for broadcasting the Daily Service and both Archbishops of York and Canterbury as well as Roman Catholic Cardinal Hinsley all preached here.

Today, St. Paul’s sits at the historic heart of Bedford, a town that hides its most attractive aspect from the casual visitor but holds more rewards than you might expect.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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