St Mary’s Church
The church in Bucknell dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary (of the Assumption) is believed to have been first built in the 12thcentury (in about 1140). A certificate of Bishop Roger de Clinton mentions the building of chapels throughout the county especially a line of such chapels (later parish churches) following the boundaries along the Teme valley e.g. Bedstone, Bucknell, Stowe and Llanfair Waterdine.
Bucknell today is part of a wider Benefice which, since 1991, has included Chapel Lawn, Llanfair Waterdine and Stowe, the vicar being based in Bucknell. In January 2012 this was extended to include Bedstone, Clungunford and Hopton Castle.
Before 1176 Andrew de Stainton, the then Lord of Bucknell gave the church to the Abbot and Convent of Wigmore Abbey. At that time he was charged with grave misdemeanours in King Henry II’s court so that he could no longer remain publicly in England. Andrew de Stainton came into the chapter of the Canons of Wigmore Abbey and, in the presence of Sir Walter Folioth, Archdeacon of Salop, gave them the church of Bucknell “in pure and perpetual alms“. The condition of the gift was that the Abbot and Convent of Wigmore should conceal and help the Lord of Bucknell until he could get out of the kingdom and into Scotland and care for his wife Maud de Portz until his return. This the Canons agreed to do and did.
The church is a building of stone, consisting of chancel, nave of three bays, north aisle, vestry, south porch and a western tower with a wooden spire containing a clock and three bells.
St Mary’s Bucknell Plan (1868-1870)
groundplan created by Thomas Nicholson (1823 – 1895 of Hereford)
The original Church, consisting of at least nave and chancel, was probably re-built in the 14th century. It was ‘restored’ in 1870 at a cost of £2000, when the high pews and the gallery were removed and the north aisle organ chamber and vestry added. The style may be described as Transitional, with a definite Byzantine effect here and there. This applies mainly to the Chancel and aisle arches with their carved capitals. The western bell turret was also rebuilt and surmounted by a slated spire.
The Tub Font Detail
The Font in the Church is rudely carved on the round basin with interlacing cords and a crudely carved mask. The face is thought by some to be Norman work but the interlacing earlier and Saxon. The base is modern and of Transitional form.
The south, east and west walls could be 14th century. The roof of both nave and chancel are old. The nave roof has five trusses, the central one having tie and collar beams, the others collars only. The chancel roof is similar but all the parts are smaller and the trusses have collars only.
On the sides of the nave are eight heads which look modern. An old tablet, no longer in existence, which used to be against the east wall of the nave on the left side of the arch, a record of which is in the British Library in London, stated the ‘new Communion Table’ was bought in 1681.
Near the organ on the north wall of the chancel is an arch which was a mediaeval Easter Sepulchre. Before the Reformation the Altar Crucifix was covered with a linen cloth on Good Friday and placed on the floor under the arch until the Easter Vigil to symbolise our Lord’s burial and Resurrection. In this Easter Sepulchre arch are now a stone credence table and above it is an Aumbry in which is reserved the Blessed Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood for the use of the sick. A light burns in front of the Aumbry to show the Presence of our Lord in His Sacrament. This Aumbry and light was erected in 1980 in memory of the late Captain P Eccles.
On the south wall of the chancel, but visible only from the outside, is a plain pointed priest’s doorway now blocked and a window near of two cupsed lights; these may date from the 14th or 15th centuries.
All other windows are modern, as are the south doorway and porch, also the high buttresses against the west wall. Below the old window in the chancel a sedile was built and a stone carved pulpit replaced the wooden one of 1661.
All the Stained Glass is modern!
The Registers date from 1598, The oldest is covered with a torn page from the Pre-Reformation Latin Missai or Altar Book.
The list of Vicars goes back to 1285 when the living was in the Patronage of the Abbot and Convent of Wigmore in Herefordshire. In 1762 the advowson was purchased under Dame Margaret Slaney’s Trust by the Worshipful Company of Grocers and today the Grocer’s Company exercise this patronage.
In 1991, the benefice of Bucknell with Buckton, Llanfair Waterdine and Stowe was united with that of Chapel Lawn to create the benefice of Bucknell with Chapel Lawn, Llanfair, Waterdine, and Stowe. The first incumbent was the Rector of Bucknell. The right of presentation to the new benefice is exercised jointly by The Earl of Powys, The Grocers’ Company, and Mr. J. Coltman Rogers.
In 2013 a ground source heat pump together with new radiators and roof insulation was installed – further information can be found on the Bucknell News page. The church is now warm all year round
In 2014 a new kitchinette and disabled toilet was installed bringing St Mary’s church right up to date. Additionally new interior glazed front doors which will eliminate draughts were also installed. Five years of planning and hard work have produced a church building with 21st century facilities but with its history recognised and respected. Further information may be found on this page.
Adjacent to the front porch is a Weeping Pear tree, known locally as the ‘Devil’s Pear Tree’.
The Bells & Clock
The bells hang in a timber structure which was built during the restoration of the Church in 1871 and is within the west end of the nave.
The clock in the middle level of this structure, is a two-train clock made or supplied by Bezant of Hereford dated 1870, and the enamelled dial on the exterior south face of the turret bears this name as well.
The three bells, hung in the upper part of the tower structure were exchanged in 1871 for 2 new bells cast by Mears and Stainbank of London. The details of the bells are as follows:
The three bells are chimed on Sunday for 45 minutes before the service, then the 1st and 2nd for 10 minutes; finally the 1st for 5 minutes.
List of Incumbents