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All Saints, Risely, Bedfordshire

(52°15′19″N, 0°28′45″W)
TL 039 630
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Bedfordshire
now Bedfordshire
  • Hazel Gardiner

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Feature Sets

The church has a chancel with S chapel, nave with N aisle and S porch, and W tower. 11thc. and 12thc. evidence is found in the S aisle and S chapel. The arcade is late 12thc.- early 13thc., the chancel is 14thc. and the nave, W tower and S porch 15thc. A footnote in Pevsner mentions a fragment of 'Saxo-Norman' arch in the E wall of the S chapel.


The Domesday Survey does not mention a church at Risely, but records that the following held land there: the Bishop of Coutances, the Bishop of Lincoln, Hugh de Beauchamp, Osbern son of Richard and David of Argenton.

When the Bishop of Coutances died, his land reverted to the crown and was awarded some time later to Alice de Clermont. She granted the advowson of the church to the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, a grant confirmed by King John in 1199, and they held this until the Dissolution.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration


The structure of the church is complicated as the original nave and chancel became the S aisle and S chapel of the present building. A N aisle was added to the original nave in the late 12thc., the chancel was rebuilt in the 13thc. and a N chapel was added to the chancel in the 14thc. In the 15thc. the N aisle was rebuilt and widened and became the nave and the N chapel became the chancel. Also in the 15thc. the W tower was built, walls were altered and the S porch was built.

The earliest masonry of the church is in the S wall of the S aisle, and Hare records the presence of a blocked, early, round-headed window here, obscured by the porch.

Hare measured the reset fragment (7.5" x 3.5 " x 3") in the E wall of the S chapel but was doubtful whether it was part of a Saxo-Norman arch.

Domesday Book: Bedfordshire, Ed. J. Morris, Chichester, 1977, 3, 7; 4, 3; 23, 2 and 25; 44, 2; 50, 1.
The Victoria County History: A History of the County of Bedford, London, 1912, 3:160-61.
M. Hare, 'Anglo Saxon Work at Carlton and other Bedfordshire Churches', Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal, 6, 1971, 37-38.
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Bedfordshire and the County of Huntingdon and Peterborough, London, 1968, 137.