Church History

Holy Cross church at Bury was originally built about the year 1100. The only bits of that original church are the Norman arches at the east and west end of the present church. (Red on the plan).

Later, bits were added on. The north aisle, added to make more room sometime in the 13th Century had to be rebuilt about a century later because the foundations were defective. Today’s churchwardens have a lot in common with their counterparts from 600 to 7oo years ago.

Planning permission was a strange concept in the Middle Ages we can see this best from the outside of the church. In 1550 or thereabouts they decided to shorten the chancel. Their new end wall happened to be at the mid-point of a window. Today we can see the remaining halves peeking round a buttress. The best view is from the footpath to the porch from the church hall.

A significant addition to the church was made around 1490. A chapel was built at the west end of the church attached to the tower. Medieval records speak of the church of Our Lady. Sometimes it is called Our Lady at Redybone (Redebourne) and once as the Chapel of St Mary at Hepmangrove. Nobody knows what happened to it but if you go round to the west end of the tower you can see the niches, which would have been the east end of the chapel. We don’t know, but similar Lady Chapels of the time had a statue of Mary the virgin on the right and St John on the left hand side. The mystery is, why has it gone?

Inside the church you can find fragments of the original mediaeval glass in the windows.

Near the north door there is an 11th century font. It was originally a square block of stone with some kind of scrollwork carved on its sides. It isn’t known when or why but the corners were cut off to make it an octagonal font.

A treasure of the church is a rare 14th century lectern. A striking feature of the lectern is a ‘Green Man’ with foliage telling of renewal and re-birth issuing from his mouth.. One side of the lectern is a carving of oak leaves and acorns reminding us of a similar message from the Trinity.

It is unlikely that you will be able to see the bells but there is a ring of three. They are:

The Treble.

Bears the inscription ‘C and G Mears founders London 1853’ and weighs 3cwt 2qrs 23lbs.

It was cast at Whitechapel.

The Second.

A Royal Bell, it bears the inscription ‘Ave Maria’ with a portrait of a Queens head between ‘Ave’ and ‘Maria’. It is one of only 142 bells of 65,821 bells in England and Wales. The bell weighs 4cwt and it was possibly made by John and William Rofford © 1380 and cast at Toddington in Bedfordshire.


Bears the inscription ‘Charles Newman made mee 1700. W. Baker T. Robinson’ and weighs 5cwt approximately.

Author: Bill Thompson

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