Magdalen Tower Stony Stratford

Magdalen Tower

The church of St. Mary Magdalen, in Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire, dates from as early as the 13th Century. It has seen the Plague, Medieval Fayres and Civil War. It was destroyed by fire in 1742. The fire originated in the Bull Hotel, having been started by a maid who had scorched some sheets – she heard her mistress approaching and quickly pushed the sheets up the chimney and out of view. The sheet caught alight and the ensuing fire went on to destroy much of the east side of Stony Stratford (and some of the west) including 146 houses, several famous inns and the Mary Magdalen Church of which only the tower now still stands.  Total damage was estimated at £22,000.​

Intertwined with tower are the people of the town who once worshiped in the church or are buried nearby, along with kings and queens who have passed by, the maid who sealed its fate and the ‘Dragon’ of Whaddon who tried to save it. The church was named after Mary Magdalen, a sometime maligned character whose own name means tower. The Tower is embellished by local folk lore and its image is carried on in local institutes, but its detailed history is vague. There is no certainty of how the church would have looked although it was said it was one of the finest in the county. Uncommonly it was one of two churches in the town, a statement of power or control by the opposing Parishes and their Lords. Perhaps this competition led to its down fall, or perhaps there was no need for two churches.  Whatever the truth the tower remains, and this project has helped it stand over both the town and within people’s minds.


To find out more visit our project website

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