Harlington Church, Bedfordshire

There was a church at Herlingdone mentioned in the Domesday Book, probably a wooden construction with a thatched roof. This was rebuilt in the 14th Century in broadly the form of today’s St. Mary’s. The Canons of Dunstable appropriated the revenues of Harlington Church for their own coffers at Dunstable Priory.

In the 15th Century the Tower was added and the aisles were enlarged and the porch added to the south. The tower is faced with Northamptonshire ironstone, whereas the internal construction and the rest of the church is local Totternhoe Clunch. The bells at Harlington are amongst the most venerable in Bedfordshire, the seventh bell having been cast in 1440 and having an inscription (in Latin) saying “May John’s bell sound for many years”… a wish that has certainly been granted.

During the Counter-Reformation of Queen Mary’s reign some graffiti was added to a pillar facing the south aisle of the church. With the return to Protestantism in Elizabeth I’s reign much of the remaining colour was stripped from St. Mary’s Church. Any that was left was destroyed during the Commonwealth and a number of windows were actually bricked up.

The Victorians restored the church and installed the third of its four organs and early in the 20th Century more changes were made. In 1929 a stained glass window featuring Bedfordshire’s favourite son, John Bunyan, was installed and an altar table made from the Oak Tree from which Bunyan preached was added to the Chancel.

Harlington village is one of the more attractive in Bedfordshire and offers wide views down across the south of the county and the church is one of the more satisfying to visit.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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