We use cookies to improve your experience, some are essential for the operation of this site.

Holy Trinity, Bledlow, Buckinghamshire

(51°42′44″N, 0°52′31″W)
SP 778 021
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Buckinghamshire
now Buckinghamshire
  • Ron Baxter

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=4714.

Find out how to cite the CRSBI website here.


Bledlow is a village on the northern edge of the Chiltern Hills, in the east of south Buckinghamshire. The village is two miles SW of Princes Risborough and a half mile east of the Oxfordshire border. The church stands in the centre of the village. Holy Trinity has an aisled nave with a S porch, a chancel and a W tower. The nave is 4 bays long, with 13thc. arcades with stiff-leaf capitals indicating an early-13thc. date for the aisles. A scar against the E tower wall indicates an earlier roof that was much steeper. The clerestorey windows are three-light, trefoil-headed bar-traceried openings under square heads, and appear to date from the later 13thc. Both aisles have been extended westwards alongside the tower. The N aisle contains a reset 12thc. doorway, indicating the original date of the unaisled nave. The aisle windows are a mixture of geometric and flowing tracery on the N and geometrical and Perpendicular on the S; both the W aisle windows are early 13thc., contemporary with the arcades, but they may have been reset when the aisles were lengthened. The chancel arch is contemporary with the arcades too, but the original, short chancel was 12thc. (indicated by the arch of the former priest's doorway in the S wall). It was lengthened eastwards and refenestrated in the 13thc. The church was reseated and restored by G. G. Scott in 1875–77, and repaired in 1961–62 by H. J. Stribling of Slough, and in 1967 and 1975–76 by Roiser and Whitestone, architects of Cheltenham. At the W end of the N aisle is a display of loose stones, some Romanesque, that were found in the wall of the tower. The font is also 12thc., and belongs with the Aylesbury group.


Bledlow was held by the Count of Mortain himself in 1086. It was assessed at 30 hides with woodland for 1000 pigs and meadow for 18 plough-teams. There was a mill there rendering 24 summae (packhorse loads) of malt. The manor was held by Eadmaer Atule, a thegn of King Edward, before the Conquest. Robert of Mortain granted the church to the abbey of Grestain in Normandy, and the administration of the endowment was granted to Wilmington Priory (Sussex). On the forfeiture of the Mortain lands in 1104, the manor was held directly from the Crown by knights' service (as was also the case with Wing). Alien priories in French hands were confiscated by Edward III during the Hundred Years' War, and the church of Bledlow was given to the royal college of St Stephen's Chapel in the Palace of Westminster in 1351/60, and the royal college still held land there in 1535. The parish of Bledlow was amalgamated with Saunderton and Horsenden in 1973, and in 1998 the joint parish became part of the Risborough Team Ministry. This consists of four parishes: Princes Risborough with Ilmer; Monks Risborough with Owlswick; Lacey Green with Speen and Loosely Row; and Bledlow with Saunderton and Horsenden.


Exterior Features



Loose Sculpture


The font belongs to 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, Great Kimble 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. Bledlow font is a simplified version of that at Great Kimble, carved in lower relief and with simpler plant forms. In this it is related to Monk's Risborough (which has lost its original base). The Bledlow font is interesting in being unfinished; the vegetal motifs on the W face of the base being roughed out only. Of the loose stones, the two shaft sections and the voussoir (2, 3 and 6) are from a doorway, and the window head (5) from a window of the same campaign assumed to date from c.1130–50. The font bowl fragment (4), if that is indeed what it is, might well date from the same period, but it is surprising that it was replaced so soon after its manufacture. The simple corbel could be of the same date or later, and the plain doorway is dated to the very end of the 12thc. by its impost profile.

Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire. II (1908), 247–53.
K. Goodearl, The Aylesbury fonts (web resource: http://www.petergoodearl.co.uk/ken/aylesburyfonts/index.htm)
M. Thurlby, "Fluted and Chalice-Shaped: The Aylesbury Group of Fonts", Country Life, CLXXI, 1982, 228–29.
M. Thurlby, "The Place of St Albans in Regional Sculpture and Architecture in the Second Half of the Twelfth Century." in M. Henig & P. Lindley (ed.), Alban and St Albans. Roman and Medieval Architecture, Art and Archaeology. (British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions XXIV). Leeds 2001, 162–75.
RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Buckingham. Volume 1 (south). London 1912.
P. Smith, Holy Trinity Church, Bledlow, Buckinghamshire, church guide 2006.
N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire. London 1960, 2nd ed. 1994, 180–82.