Kempsford Church, Gloucestershire

The very large church at Kemspford seems to have an uneventful, even dull early history. We haven’t yet been able to discover much about it foundation. The Chancel was rebuilt by the Henry Plantagenet, Earl of Lancaster in 1331 in memory of his late wife. Disaster struck again a few years later when the Earl’s grandson drowned in the Thames and the Earl had new window inserted into the west end of the church. The boy’s father, Henry, later to be Earl of Derby and Duke of Lancaster left Kempsford never to return. As he left, his horse shed a shoe and the people of Kempsford nailed it to the door of the church in his memory where it remains to this day.

Henry became one of the key players in the Royal Court and after his death he left two daughters, one of whom was Blanche de Chaworth who married her cousin, John of Gaunt – one of the most powerful men in the country. Their son became Henry IV and it is thought that John, normally a builder of castles, erected the church tower in memory of Blanche in her home village.

Thus ends Kempsford’s brush with greatness and history. Today it is a sleepy town on the edge of Gloucestershire, with nice walks along the Thames and an unusually large church for such a little place.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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