ST. MARY'S CHURCH
Poor old Luton Church, the largest in Bedfordshire and
one of the most beautiful, is surrounded by some of the uglier excesses
of Luton’s post-War town planners. The first church here was
founded by King Athelstan in 931. The present building dates to 1121
when Robert, Earl of Gloucester endowed the land with a new structure.
The first Norman church had a central crossing tower
and was cruciform, but within 100 years it was too small and so aisles
were then added and the arches from the transepts are the earliest
stonework surviving today.
In the 14th Century the Church was heavily rebuilt, the
tower was moved to the west end of the Church and this appears to be
when the distinctive chequerboard patterning was added to the walls,
initially on the tower only. In the 15th Century another extensive
rebuilding was undertaken and the tower was brought up to its current
height. Inside the Someries Chapel was rebuilt and extended by Lord
In the 1860s restoration work began and at this time
the chequerboard stones were extended to other parts of the exterior.
Extensions added in 1968 also had this pattern added to help them blend
with the older work. The bells of the Church had been silent for some
28 years and were finally restored in time to chime the end of the
Armistice Day silence in 1999.
One of the best views of St. Mary’s Church can be
had from the rooftop car park of the adjacent shopping centre.
Photo - Andrew J. Müller
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