During a recent sort-out of years of accumulated clutter in my study, I came accross some copies of historical newspaper cuttings that I was given some time ago by The Shefford History Group. One was about the re-opening of St Michael's Church after a major restoration completed in 1907.

I've included a transcript of the article below (from the Bedfordshire Express, dated 2nd March 1907) - no pictures unfortunately, nor is the journalist acknowledged. A remarkably detailed piece of journalism, made all the more impressive by the lack of technology available for recording such fine-grained detail at the time.


THE RE-OPENING SERVICE

ADDRESS BY THE BISHOP OF ELY

On Saturday, the Church of St Michael and All Angels, Shefford, was re-opened by the Bishop of Ely after having been restored, a very large number of parishioners and others attending.

The Church, which was formerly a Chapel-at-ease to Campton, but was separated about four years ago, is a plain stone structure with a perpendicular Western Tower, containing one bell.

The tower and part of the north aisle dated from the 14th century, but the rest of the Church was comparatively modern, it having been restored in a very careless manner in 1850. But little of the old structure except the walls and the tower remained after this time, and so poor was the workmanship that when the further restoration was suggested in the early months of last year the interior resembled a large barn, was very draughty and not weatherproof.

When the Rev. W.[R sic] K.Stuart was appointed to the living of the newly-constituted ecclesiastical parish some three years ago a restoration scheme was under consideration, but eventually it was abandoned, and it was not until last July that the scheme that was brought to so successful an end on Saturday, was taken in hand by the Vicar and Churchwardens. Messrs. Mallows and Grocock were consulted, and they submitted plans which met with approval, and the work was soon put in hand, appeals having in the meantime been made for subscriptions. This scheme involved provision of new inner roofs, re-seating throughout, the provision of new screens and altar and new heating apparatus, at a total cost of between £800 and £900. The pleasing appearance and comfort afforded fully justifies this outlay. The floor has been re-laid with wood blocks, the walls coloured in artistic shades of green and handsome panelled inner roofs of semi-circular span designed by the architect, put under the old roof. The seats of pine, are very comfortable and are well-planned, a north aisle having been added. In the centre aisle are two radiators, and around the building are hot water pipes, this part of the work having been carried out by Messrs. Kilpin and Billson. The sanctuary has been most tastefully fitted.

A new altar of fumed oak occupies the centre of the east end of the church, and on the north and south sides respectively, which has been re-decorated in keeping with the general scheme, and the choir vestry, both being separated by handsome screens of fumed oak of pleasing design. On either side in front of the altar are three new oak choir stalls, and to the south is a handsome oak pulpit with open-work panels, and approached by wooden steps from the back. The altar is furnished with a new brass cross and candlesticks. The church is well lighted by inverted incandescent gas lamps. Of the total amount required upwards of £500 has been collected by the Vicar and his helpers, entirely by subscriptions. Messrs. Page and Sons of Buckden, Hunts, were the builders.

The robed clergy clergy present at the service on Saturday included the Bishop of Ely, Archdeacon Bathurst, the Rev. J.Pycock (Rural Dean), the Rev. G.M.Osborn (Campton), the Rev. C.M.Greenstreet (Northill), the Rev. J.A. Guilleband (Southill), the Rev. R. Isherwood (Meppershall), the Rev. L.H.Postgate (Shillington), the Rev. W. Clark (Upper Stondon), the Rev T. Collison (Gravenhurst), the Rev. R.S.Bagshaw (Henlow), the Rev. G.J.Mayhew (Arlesey), the Rev. H.F.F.Williams (Silsoe), the Rev. W.C.Browne (Haynes), the Rev. A.D.Atkinson (Chaplain Three Counties' Asylum), and the Rev. A.E.Wanton (Holwell).

Archdeacon Bathurst and the Rev. J.Pycock read the lessons, and the prayers were intoned by the Vicar. Suitable hymns of thanksgiving were sung, and after the Bishop's address and blessing the Te Deum was sung as a psalm of thanksgiving.

Sermon By The Bishop

Preaching from the words "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's house" the Bishop said they were accustomed to remember them as they read them in the authorised version, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business." But the words as written in the revised version were very true, for it was the Saviour's meat and drink to accomplish His Father's work. The words were remarkable ones and were regarded as essential to the Law of Jesus Christ: in them He spoke of his heavenly Father and Mother and proclaimed what was the best law and habit of His life. His Father's house was His earthly spiritual home: I sat daily in the temple preaching and teaching, but ye heard me not, but said: Depart. And now they had come into the house of their Father to re-dedicate it anew to His service and join together in prayers of thanksgiving. As the Bishop of the diocese, he rejoiced to meet them and join with them in those prayers for God's blessing for the future, and praise for His blessing in the past. He was going simply to remind them of the uses that they must put that parish church. They passed it in the street; it stood in the midst of their homes, yet separated from them to remind them in the cares and pleasures of daily life, preaching to them a silent sermon. They entered by the font, and every time they came in it should remind them that by baptism they were made the children of God, dedicated to God because redeemed by the precious sacrifice of Christ. That church bore some of the characteristics of those in which Christ worshipped, for they read that. He preached and read in the synagogue of of His native town. They came to the lectern, the place where the Bible was read, the Bible which gave them the record of God's revelation of the earlist ages. Did they remember how when the Saviour read read that book and explained its meaning all the eyes of those in the synagogue were rivetted upon Him? So might they learn day by day, and especially on Sundays, as they listened to the appointed lessons. They had in those lessons the greatest and grandest portions of the Bible. But they must make the habit of the church the habit of the home, and read their bibles there. They would find much in them which they could not understand, but they also find much that would make them wise unto salvation. There were the ancient collects which had been on the lips of the members of the Church for centuries. He knew it was difficult to throw their hearts into them sometimes and really pray them, and now as they heard them in that renovated church let them pray that they might really pray them. Then there was the pulpit where was proclaimed to the God's news of reconciliation; and that was a grand doctrine. There they knew they were to serve God with their minds and intelligence, as well as with their hearts, and that true belief must bear fruit in a true life.

Then the whole church lead up to the Holy Table, where they received the symbols of the body and blood of Christ. They who were endeavouring to do God's will though conscious of many failures and many sins should frequently come there that they might draw nigh to Christ and live after His example and according to His will. And so, in that quiet season of Lent the re-opening of that Church should speak to them of a new spirit. Let them use that church as they had never used it before. There they would bring the joys and sorrows of their lives: the children who were to be received into the Kingdom of God; ther would come the bridegroom and the bride; and there they would bring those who God had called again to Himself. Make it your spiritual home, the preacher said in conclusion; it is your Father's house and here in an especial way God reveals Himself. Make that your habit and law which Christ made His habit and law from childhood to the end: I must be in my Father's house.

 

Originally Published: 2nd March 1907 in the Bedfordshire Express

 Uploaded to SM3A Website: 17/11/2019 (by Stephen Lines, SM3A Webmaster)

Source: (Copy of a press cutting donated by): The Shefford History Group

HLF Funded
A new activity leaflet for young visitors has been produced for us by by the children of Shefford Lower School.

This has been made possible by the generous support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Activities for Young Visitors
The front cover features a hand drawn picture of our Church, and a hand written message of welcome, ending with the delightful sentence "It [Shefford] is a joyful town full of friendly people". Couldn't have put it better ourselves!

Inside the leaflet is a 'Quick St Michael Quiz', an invitation to 'draw your favourite thing in the Church, then write down why', some questions to encourage a bit of exploration, and a word search. Continuing the exploration theme, the back cover has a list of things to find in the Church plus more opportunities to draw and answer questions about what they've discovered.

Copies of the leaflet are available free of charge in the church (you'll find them on the table in front of you as you enter). A great way to while away some time with your young ones on a wet day, and, if you time it right, you could enjoy some refreshments at one of our cafés (see What's On for details). A guide leaflet aimed at adult visitors is also available.

Source: Patricia Goulding

Published: 3rd November 2019

HLF Funded
Two new leaflets have been produced offering guided walks in and around Shefford.

These have been made possible by the generous support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

A Guided walk around the ecclesiastical buildings of Shefford
The first leaflet is entitled "A guided walk around the ecclesiastical buildings of Shefford".

Shefford is blessed with many listed and beautiful buildings. This walk focuses on the buildings with ecclesiastical connections.

At a leisurely pace it will take about 30 minutes to complete, and is flat and accessible.

Click here to view an on-line version of this walk, then follow it on your phone or tablet.

Rivers canal and MG Walk

The second leaflet is entitled "A guided walk around the Rivers, Canal, and Millennium Green of Shefford".

Shefford has three rivers (the Hiz, Hit and Ivel), a former Canal and many 'green' spaces. This walk will take about 45 minutes, but as it includes some steps and unfinished footpaths, sturdy footwear is advised, especially in damp or wet weather.

Click here to view an on-line version of this walk, then follow it on your phone or tablet.

Copies of both leaflets are available free of charge in the church (you'll find them on the table in front of you as you enter).

We would like to acknowledge the help and assistance given in the production of both of these leaflets from John Burgess MA, Tony Dawson, The Shefford History Group, and Karen Brammer (photography).

Source: Patricia Goulding

Published: 3rd November 2019

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HLF Funded
As part of our 2018/19 restoration project, we have produced a Guide Book and a Guide Leaflet, both of which are available free of charge to visitors to our beautifully restored Church.

However, we know that there are many people who are emotionally or historically connected with St Michael's that cannot call in to collect their copy, so we've included links below to allow them to share what we've achieved (just click on the images to download your copy):

 Guide Book

 Guide Leaflet
Published: 2nd November 2019

Source: Patricia Goulding


 

HLF Funded
Our 2018/19 restoration project had a major funding body - the Heritage Lottery Fund.

One of the things they required of us was that we undertook a number of heritage-based projects.

So, as part of that, a 'Restoration Video' has been produced by a local photographer and video artist, Karren Brammer, capturing some key people and moments in our journey.

 

Published 

Source: Patricia Goulding (Churchwarden)

No.

Nothing to do with the clocks going back (that's October!).

This is about how our restored clock mechanism was lifted back up into our (newly restored) tower.

The clock mechanism is the actual clock - the restored face that we've all seen proudly displaying 12 O'Clock for some time now, is just the 'display device'.

If you click on the link below, you can see how the clockmakers got the clock back where it belongs.

All of this work is being funded by the Robert Lucas Trust, for which we are immensley grateful. Shefford's very own Trust aims 'To assist the needy and organisations benefiting the public in the parish of Shefford, which also includes educational grants for university students'

Published: 5th August 2019

Source: Stephen Lines