Linslade is on the eastern edge of the traditional county of Buckinghamshire, some 9 miles S of Milton Keynes. The modern town of Linslade forms a single conurbation with Leighton Buzzard (Beds); the two being divided by the river Ouzel which forms the traditional border between Bedfordshire to the E and Buckinghamshire to the W. In 1965 Linslade was moved to the administrative county of Bedfordshire, and in the following year the towns of Leighton Buzzard and Linslade were amalgamated for local government purposes. Old Linslade is a mile to the N of the centre of modern Linslade, and consists only of the church and the hall, immediately to the E. The hamlet is on higher ground overlooking the floodplain of the Ouzel, close to the Grand Union canal that runs alongside it.
St Mary’s consists of a nave with a S porch, chancel and W tower. The nave is early-12thc, with traces of original masonry visible and the original chancel arch remaining (much restored). The chancel is of c1300 (N window, piscina), and the 15thc tower has diagonal W buttresses, a tall polygonal NE stair turret and battlements to tower and turret. The nave doorways (N blocked) and most of the nave windows were also replaced at this time, while the chancel was apparently remodelled and given a new E window in the early 16thc. Construction is of dark brown ironstone with yellow limestone dressings. In the chancel is an unusual early-13thc stone seat with arms. The font is of the late-12thc, related to the Aylesbury group.
Before the Conquest the manor of Linslade was held by Alwin, a man of Queen Edith, and by 1086 it was held by Hugh de Beauchamp, being assessed at 15 hides. In the later 12thc grants were made at Linslade by Simon de Beauchamp, probably Hugh’s great grandson according to VCH. Simon’s son William granted half of the manor to Nichole Benet, but by 1251 the whole was held by William de Beauchamp. Nichole Benet had apparently entered into some arrangement with the Prior of Newnham, but an inquiry in 1262 resolved the ownership in favour of John de Beauchamp, William’s brother and heir. He died at the Battle of Evesham in 1265, the estate passing to his three sisters with the eldest, Maud, receiving most of Linslade. She was married to Roger de Mowbray, but he died in 1266 although they had a son, Roger, who was a minor. Her second husband Roger l’Estraunge held the manor until his death in 1311, when John de Mowbray, son of Roger, succeeded. In 1316 he made a life grant of the manor to William de Braose, and in 1322, after the battle of Boroughbridge, he was hanged. His son, another John de Mowbray, was restored to his father’s lands in 1327. Maud de Mowbray’s two sisters, Beatrice and Ela, also inherited land in Linslade in 1265. Beatrice’s second husband William de Monchesney was named as a joint holder of the vill in 1284-85, but at his death his holding passed to the daughter of Beatrice’s first marriage to Thomas fizOtho. This was Maud, wife of John de Botetourt, but by 1346 John and Maud’s holding had passed to John de Patishull, a descendant of the third heiress, Ela. The later history of this divided manor will be found in VCH.
The church was given to Chicksands priory by Simon de Beauchamp before 1198-99. It is rarely used for services, being well outside the modern town. Thechurch o fSt Barnabas was built in 1849 in a more central location, and in 1869 five of St Mary’s bells were removed to the new church.
At W end of nave towards the N, a cauldron-shaped bowl supported on a plain octagonal shaft, with a waterholding octagonal base and a plain octagonal plinth. Only the bowl is original. The bowl is quite plain except for a deep upper rim decorated in relief with a design of beasts, composite monsters and foliage scrolls. To the N are a pair of affronted walking dragons, facing one another across a palmette form of seven lobes; the lowest pair curved downwards and formed of leaves decorated with drill-holes, above them is a pair of stems ending in round fruits, and a similar fruited stem forms the vertical central lobe. To either side of this is a spade-shaped leaf form. The L dragon of the pair has a human head, and both have smooth bodies with long curved necks, a pair of clawed feet and folded wings. Their tails metamorphose into double scrolled stems with fleshy leaves. On the S face is a pair of walking quadrupeds, again affronted and facing one another across a vertical leaf-form that is basically a palmette with a central stem decorated with a row of nailhead and to either side two pairs of leaves, curving upwards and downwards. The L beast is lion-like, although its head is eroded away; the R beast is a winged griffin. Again their tails metamorphose into double scrolled stems with fleshy leaves. These two pairs of beasts occupy the entire decorated rim.
The bowl is of clunch, lined with lead and has suffered considerable damage. There are inserted rim repairs occupying most of the SW quadrant, and at the NE and E. Other inserted repairs involve the replacement of the front part of the body of the lion and a patch in the undecorated lower part of the bowl at the E. To the W of the bowl is a network of cracks repaired with lead.
|Ext. diameter of bowl at rim||0.72m|
|Height of bowl||0.40m|
|Int. diameter of bowl at rim||0.49m|
|Overall height of font||0.89m|
N. Pevsner, Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire.London 1960, 188.
N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire.London 1960, 2nd ed. 1994.
RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Buckingham. Volume 2 (north). London 1913, 173.
Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire. III (1925), 387-91.