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St Mary, Old Linslade, Buckinghamshire

(51°55′56″N, 0°40′40″W)
Old Linslade
SP 910 268
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Buckinghamshire
now Bedfordshire
  • Ron Baxter
10 August 2008

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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.


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches




The font has been included in a group of 22 (according to Pevsner) centred on Aylesbury, of which thirteen (not all complete) are in Buckinghamshire. These are at Aylesbury, Bledlow, Buckland, Chearsley, Chenies, Great Kimble, Great Missenden, Linslade, Little Missenden, Monks Risborough, Pitstone, Weston Turville and Wing. Of these the finest are at Aylesbury, Chenies, Great Kimble, Great Missenden (base only), Weston Turville and Wing (base only). Others in the group have shallower or less complex carving, while a further three in the county, at Ludgershall, Saunderton and Haddenham, are less adept copies of the design. Outside Buckinghamshire there are related fonts at Duston and Eydon in Northants, and at Barton-le-Clay, Dunstable, Flitwick and Houghton Regis in Bedfordshire. These fonts are normally dated late in the 12thc, c.1170-90. Thurlby suggests, on the basis of comparisons of foliage forms on the Aylesbury and Weston Turville fonts with sculpture at St Alban’s Abbey dating from the abbacy of Simon (1167-83), and on the resemblance between these fonts and liturgical chalices, that the sculptors were copying St Albans metalwork, perhaps of the kind produced by one Master Baldwin according to an account by Matthew Paris. The Linslade font bowl shares the general form of this group, in that it is cauldron-shaped and has a deep and elaborately carved upper rim, but is unique in having a plain bowl rather than the usual fluted one. The decoration of the rim is also unusual; the only other font in the group with dragons is the crudely-carved Haddenham font, considered by the present author to be earlier and unrelated to the Aylesbury group. Dragons similar to those on the Old Linslade font may be seen on capitals at Newton Longville and Lathbury, both nearby, and the font may be attributed to the same high-quality, late-12thc workshop. VCH dates the font to the 13thc.


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.