Peter Withers

St. Peter and St. Paul in Newport Pagnell

If it was not for the imposing tower of the parish church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Newport Pagnell, it would be easy to miss this historic building, set back behind shops and houses.

A picture of St Peter & St Paul, High Street

However, when viewed from Tickford Bridge, known locally as the Iron Bridge, the grandness of the church and grounds can be fully appreciated.

Built on the highest ground in the town, the site has been both castle and a church since Norman times and, like most churches, has been rebuilt and added to over the centuries. In the 11th century, a wealthy Lord of the Manor, Fulk Pagnell, added his name to the town of Newport and founded a priory in the nearby village of Tickford, giving the church to the prior and monks. The Priory was dissolved by Thomas Wolsey in 1524 and became the property of Christchurch College, Oxford. The church used to have a central tower which was replaced by the current tower, built between 1542 and 1548. The tower houses 10 bells and a clock. The oldest bell was cast in 1671 and the other 9 from 1749 onwards.

The present church organ was built in 1867 and has 2,500 pipes- all of which play a note! The church exterior shows many differences in stonework, due to the various times of restoration and the church pathway is made from tombstones taken from the churchyard in the 1960’s. Also in the church grounds are 7 Almshouses, built around 1760 by John Revis, a wealthy London apothecary, whose family came from Newport. They were to house 4 men and 3 women who had to be unmarried and receiving no poor relief from the parish. These were refurbished and made into 4 dwellings in 1971.

Continue down into the old cemetery and you will find “The Battery”, a raised area on which guns were placed during the Civil War. Being situated in the angle between the rivers Ouze and Ouzel (or Lovat) it was of strategic importance and hence why Newport was so well defended at that time. Go and look for yourself at this beautiful church, that has stood for over 600 years and marvel at all it offers to the people of Newport Pagnell and beyond.

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