Old St Mary's Church
It is likely that there has been been a church in Clophill since Saxon times. Clophill was an established community at the time of the Domesday Book (1086). Vicars served the church and the chapel of Cainhoe Castle from Beadlow Priory. The first named vicar was 'Robery, priest of Clophill', documented in 1145.
The Old Church itself was built in the 15th Century, built the right way round contrary to belief, serving the village for almost 400 years.
The chancel was given new pews in 1802 and a number of other improvements followed, including a new pulpit and desk in 1805, a west gallery in 1814, a new east end to the chancel in 1819 and new tables of the ten commandments in 1820. By 1826 it seems that consideration was being given to enlarging the church and these resurfaced in 1839, transepts north and south being considered; however, the rector was ill and plans shelved (he died in 1843). The new rector decided that a new church altogether should be built at a more convenient site in the village.
Earl de Grey of Wrest Park, the Patron, and the then Rector, Rev. John Mendham, decided to build a new church in the village. It then served as a Mortuary Chapel for the burial ground for a further century, which involved removing the galleries and pulling down the chancel, re-erecting the 1819 east window in the east wall.
Sir Stephen Glynne in 1854 noted that the old church was "A poor, small church on top of a very high hill, having only a nave & Tower, the Chancel having been destroyed, & the Church is apparently now wholly abandoned". Further repairs to the old building were carried out in 1901 but in 1956 the lead was stolen from the roof, accelerating its decay to the state it is in today. That decade, the Parochial Church Council voted to 'preserve what we can of the old church within the parish church'.
List of Vicars
- Ralph de..... - 1235 [capellanus; patron Beauchamp Priory];- G..... - 1245 [capellanus];- John de Kinebawton - 20 Dec 1274 [priest; on resignation of Geoffrey];- John de Sancto Neoto - 20 Oct 1321 [priest; on death of John de Kymbarton];- Hugh de Midleton Erneys - 6 Jul 1349 [priest; on death of John];- Ralph atte Halle;- John Grene - 26 Jan 1369 [Vicar of Amwell [Hertfordshire], London Diocese; by exchange with Ralph atte Halle];- William Waleman - 15 Jan 1382 [priest; on derath of John Grene];- John Wyltonshurst - 18 Nov 1388 [priest; on resignation of William Walman, exchanged to be Vicar of Astwood [Buckinghamshire] where Wyltonshurst had been since 12 Aug 1385];- Richard Maddeley - 6 Oct 1389 [of Choulsbury; exchanged with John Wyltonshurst];- Richard Taillour;- Ralph Geruays - 17 Sep 1395 [priest; on resignation of Richard Taillour, exchanged to Rollesham Chantry];- Thomas Wryght - 7 Jun 1421 [priest; vacant];- Thomas Agley - 3 Nov 1433 [priest; vacant];
List of Rectors
- John Mylleward;- John Caller - 9 Jan 1455 [capellanus; on death of John Mylleward, "late Rector"];- Alexander Robynson - 20 Feb 1505 [priest; on death of John Caller];- Thomas Tavernar - 3 Apr 1536 [capellanus; on death of Alexander Robynson];- William Bolton - 10 May 1539 [clerk; on death of Thomas Taverner;];- Cuthbert Wytham - 20 Nov 1551;- Edmund Harris - 31 Oct 1582 [clerk; vacant; by death of Cuthbert Witham];- John Broune - 1 Aug 1570 [1590?] [clerk; on cessation of last Rector; presented 29 Jul on petition of Mr.Nudygate];- Edward Marbury AM - 24 Nov 1610 [clerk; Trinity College, Cambridge; presented on death of last Rector by Keeper of the Great Seal on recommendation of Dominic Fenton];- Bartholomew Andrews MA - 9 Nov 1610;- William Norman - 15 Dec 1619 [patron George Winstanley; will dated 27 Jul, proved 2 Oct 1650; to be buried in midst of chancel];- Nathaniel Cole AM - 15 Nov 1651 - [Queen's College, Cambridge; died 26 Jun 1662; will dated 18 Jun, proved 3 Jul 1662; to be buried in chancel];- Edmund Bagshaw AM - 30 Sep 1660 [clerk; on death of Nathaniel Cole];- William Berkley - 12 Jan 1664 [clerk; on death of Edmund Bagshaw; a non-juror];- (Henry Hill BA - 16 Feb 1685 [ordained priest; curate];- Charles Fletcher AM - 28 Jul 1690 [clerk; on deprivation of William Berkley under an Act for abrogating the oath of Supremacy; died 13, buried 18 Dec 1753, aged 87; Rector for 63 years];- (Charles Smith BA - 24 Dec 1749 [Caius College, Cambridge; ordained deacon, curate];- Ezekiel Rouse MA - 24 Apr 1754 [on death of Charles Fletcher; died 27 Feb 1792, aged 84; Rector for 57 years];- William Rouse MA - 24 Jul 1792 [on death of Ezekiel Rouse; died 18 Nov 1792, aged 58];- Ezekiel Rouse MA - 30 Mar 1793 [on death of William Rouse; died 13 Apr 1799, aged 60];- William Pierce Nethersole LL.B - 10 Jul 1799 [on death of Ezekiel Rouse; died 6 Dec 1843, aged 87; married Sophia Hagar of Ampthill on 6 Nov 1800];- John Mendham MA - 14 Mar 1844 [on death of William Pierce Nethersole];
(Information kindly provided by St. Mary's Church and Bedfordshire Community Archives)