There has been a church on this site since the days of William the Conqueror, over the centuries it has been changed, added to and renovated. What is there now is a breathtaking example of nearly 1,000 years of history.
Tower Tours of Old St Mary's Church
St. Mary’s old church is a Grade II* listed building and a scheduled ancient monument, first listed in 1961 and formerly called the Old Parish Church but later re-listed under the name of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin.
The church site is believed to date from the 10th century, when the structure would have been a barn-like building with thick walls and high slatted windows. At this time churches were often built on high ground to the north of a settlement. It was probably re-built c.1350 in the Perpendicular style, the fabric being mostly of coarse ironstone rubble with ashlar dressings. The large perpendicular windows were added into the nave c.1450.
The nave walls are older than the tower. Improvements were made in the early 19th century, with a west gallery added in 1814 and a new east end to the chancel in 1819.
By the 1820s the population of Clophill parish had outgrown the church and plans were made to enlarge it however these came to nothing, partly as a consequence of the rector falling ill: he died in 1843 and a new rector was appointed, who opted to relocate the church to the village centre. A new church was built (1848–1849) with the old one functioning, for a while, as a mortuary chapel for the graveyard which remained in use. Some items were removed at this time for inclusion in the new church. The graveyard adjacent to the old church site is still in use today.
In the mid 20th century the roof lead was stolen from the old church and it began to fall into a ruinous state. Deterioration continued until Clophill Heritage Trust restored it in 2014.
Book a tour of old St Mary's church with one of our guides, complete with a trip up the tower & it's spectacular views.