The History of Our Church
GREAT HAMPDEN CHURCH was originally built many centuries ago, located for the convenience of the Lord of the Manor. The present building is a mix of structural and repair works carried out over many centuries – and each year further costly maintenance and repair works are needed.
THE CHANCEL was rebuilt in the 15th century. The sanctuary contains two chairs and an oak altar dating from the 17th century. A 15th century piscina remains on the South side. The chancel floor levels were raised in 1870 and typical Victorian encaustic tiles were introduced into the red floor bricks. The chancel contains many fine Hampden family monuments. Whilst it is not known exactly where, it is probable that John Hampden the Patriot, cousin of Oliver Cromwell, is buried in the chancel.
THE NAVE is separated from the North aisle by a mid-14th century decorated arcade and from the South aisle by an arcade of a slightly later date. The roof of the nave was the subject of desperately-needed major restoration work in 2000 – only made possible by many generous donations from trusts and individuals. There are 14 medieval oak pews dating from the early 16th century. The Lord of the Manor’s box pew, replaced by 4 modern pews, was in an area to the front of the South seating block.
In THE NORTH AISLE the entrance doorway is from the 14th century. At the west end is the decorated font (14th – 15th century).
The doorway in THE SOUTH AISLE is from the 13th century. There is a mid-14th century piscina with cinquefoil head, basin and shelf.
THE SOUTH PORCH is a feature of special interest with a holy water stoup east of the inner doorway (late 15th or early 16th century). The outer archway is similar to the North door and also of mid-14th century date. The floor is of late 16th or early 17th century. The roof is of 15th century, with wind-braces, moulded wall plates, square stylised flowers and two Queen-post trusses, and was partly restored in 2000.
The lower part of THE TOWER has two early English lancets of the late 13th century. The upper part is of the 15th century. Three new bells were cast by Ellis Knight of Reading in 1625 and were probably made at John Hampden’s expense. Two still survive and are rung (with a ‘new’ third) each Sunday.