The United Benefice of
St Mary's, Henlow, and St Andrew's, Langford

A Brief History of St Mary's, Henlow

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St Mary's Church, March 2011 Plaque at St Mary's commemorating John and Joan Tilley and their daughter Elizabeth, wife of John Howland: pilgrims to America on The Mayflower in 1620 The Organ at St Mary's, Henlow

A Brief History of St Mary's, Henlow

The earliest building consisted of just a Nave and Chancel, thought to have been built in the 11th or early 12th century. In the 13th century two low roofed aisles were added and the Nave lengthened westwards. The South aisle was built first with the North aisle following some years later. Late in the 14th century the Chancel was lengthened. Towards the end of the 15th Century the massive tower was built, the clerestory constructed and the upper part of the North Aisle rebuilt. Soon after the chancel arch was widened and the South aisle extended. Later the aisle roofs were raised enclosing the clerestory windows within the church. The vestry/organ chamber is a late Victorian addition.

A Charter of King John in 1199 confirms the earlier gift of the manor and church of Henlow to Lanthony Priory near Gloucester who provided clergy for the church until the Dissolution, the Prior of Lanthony having a house and a small community of priests in what is now part of Henlow Grange. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 the Crown became the Patron, responsible for the appointment of incumbents to this day.

A plaque in the South Aisle, dedicated in 1989, commemorates Elizabeth, daughter of John and Joan Tilley, who was baptised here in 1607. All three were pilgrims to America on the Mayflower in 1620.

During 1994 the choir vestry screen was enlarged and crowned by a screen of glass. A floor and staircase were inserted and other facilities installed.

Henlow was originally in the Diocese of Lincoln. In 1838 it was moved to the Ely Diocese and was again transferred, in 1914, to the new Diocese of St Albans.

In 1997 the Parishes of Henlow and Langford were brought together as a United Benefice, served by one incumbent.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author from A Guide to the Parish Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Henlow by James E. Burgess

St Mary's Church, June 2014



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