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All Saints Church, Leighton Buzzard

A church has stood on this site for about 1000 years. The present building was constructed in the early 13th. Century. It is interesting to reflect on the huge size of the church, built in what must have been little more than a large village, clustered around a bridge over the river, an important crossing place on routes east to west. When the church was built Leighton was in the Diocese of Lincoln, having been previously under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Dorchester [on Thames]. Ancient tradition has it St. Hugh of Lincoln visited this area on one of his many tours around his See and ordered this church to replace an earlier building on this site.
The Church and its lands were given to a Prebendary, an officer of Lincoln Cathedral, whose task it would have been to keep an eye on the parish. This man was Theobald de Busar, and from his name Leighton became Leighton de Busar [and latterly Leighton Buzzard] to distinguish it from Leighton Bromswold in the same diocese. There is still a Prebendal stall in Lincoln Cathedral for Leighton Buzzard, though we passed from Lincoln to Ely Diocese in 1837 and then to St Albans in 1914.

Interesting things to look for on a visit:-
Externally:
You can not miss the 190ft. spire pointing our eyes to heaven.
The great West Door with its hinges by Thomas of Leighton, a famous 13th. Century ironsmith who made the iron grill on the tomb of Queen Eleanor in Westminster Abbey.
The numerous gargoyles [15th.century] and a number of sundials.

Internally:
The magnificent roofs with the decorated angels and saints.
The font from an earlier church [early 13th.century]. The metal plug is dated 1630.
The Kempe windows. We are fortunate to have as many in the one building. They date from late 19th. Early 20th.centuries. There are 12 at lower levels and 16 in the Clerestory.
The 13th.century eagle lectern .. a particular treasure because of its age.
The late 14th.century misericords in the chancel [possibly from St.Albans Abbey].
The Bodley Reredos at the High Altar.
The pulpit made of  red cedar, given in 1638 by Edward Wilkes, a local benefactor.
The “Simon and Nellie” carving on the wall of the South Transept - said to explain the origin of the Simnel [Sim-Nell] Cake. Numerous other graffiti can be found on the piers of the Tower and in the Nave.

After a serious fire in 1985 much restoration took place. This also involved new vestries, a small chapel dedicated to St. Hugh created from the old upstairs priests’ vestry, [a small window here contains fragments of medieval stained glass found when restoring a window in the Nave], a meeting room called the Good Samaritan Room after the large window depicting that story which fills one wall, a Parish Office, a new Harrison organ and bells to replace those destroyed by the fire, a new stone Tower altar made from local Totternhoe stone, and a popular Coffee Shop which is open to the general public on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 10am to 3.30pm.

 

Detail from the Misericords… possibly King Offa, founder of the Abbey at St. Albans.