A Short History of Badby and St. Mary's Church

The Village Of Badby

Badby with Newnham were thought to belong to Croyland Abbey from 726 AD and passed to Evesham Abbey, ratified by King Canute in 1018 AD. Badby is listed in the Domesday book. After Evesham Abbey was dissolved by King Henry VIII in 1539, the manor was granted to Sir Edmund & Ursula Knightley of Fawsley and the rectorship to Christ Church Oxford.

The Church of St. Mary The Virgin

The main structure of this Church of St Mary the Virgin is a Grade 2* listed building which dates from the early 14th century. The clerestory was added in the 15th century. The tower was rebuilt in the early 18th century. There was a very major restoration in the late 19th century. A kitchen and toilet were added as a ‘north porch’ in the late 20th century. In 2018 the timber floors were repaired, the porch floor was sloped and a rear platform installed replacing fixed pews at the rear of the church and with a further internal slope making the church fully accessible.

Features to look out for are:

The Chancel

  • The wide chancel arch.
  • The unusual step down to the chancel.
  • The first world war memorial window at the west of the south side.
  • The double sedilia (stone seats) and piscina (wash basin) south of the altar.
  • The 17th century altar rails.
  • Metal text panels each side of the east window.
  • The 1995 aumbry and perpetual light.

The Vestry

The vestry and organ chamber was built in 1880-1. A small organ made by Atterton was housed here from 1894 until replaced by a high quality electronic organ in 1996.  A screen into the chancel with adjustable louvres hides the many loudspeakers for the current organ.

North Aisle 

·     Small piscina built into the half pillar.

  • Disused aumbry in the north wall, or may have held the holy relics, found buried nearby.
  • A tall scooped recess or niche, for a statue, probably destroyed 1547-53.

—  The above indicate the presence of an earlier chapel in this location.

  • Ball flower decoration around the top of the eastern and western half pillars.
  • East end side window glass was reformed in 1982 and shows the coats of arms of Evesham Abbey and the King in 15th century stained glass.  At the top the initials TN refer to Thomas Newbold, Abbot of Evesham from 1491 to 1514.

The Nave

          • The west arch into the tower was constructed in 1880 to replace a low semi-circular one.
          • The glazed screen was fitted in 1933.
          • The magnificent clerestory windows were added above the arches in the 15th century.
          • The octagonal timber free-standing pulpit is 17th century.

The South Aisle

  • The east end window has ‘stem and leaf’ tracery. The glass is dated 1881.
  • The east end side window replaced a smaller one in the mid-19th century.
  • The font pedestal is 15th century. The top stone bowl was fitted in 1881.
  • The font was moved to its present position from 25 ft further west in 2018. Its Victorian one-step high plinth and step was discarded.
  • Charity trust boards hang on the wall.

The Porch

—    Built straight on to burials in the 16th century. Excavations of its floor to form a slope in 2018 found remains of 17 skeletons in three levels.

—   Two previous large floor stone slabs were moved to the churchyard to the east of the porch in 2018, being too deep to refit.

The Tower

  • The tower was rebuilt in 1707-9 after the original fell down in 1705 after many warnings.
  • The height from its base to the top of the pinnacles is 72 feet.
  • Its solid floor is over 6 feet above the nave floor.
  • The west window, with its tracery in two planes, replaced a smaller window in 1888. It is a memorial to Major John Francis Green.

The Bells

Five bells were hung in 1709 in a new oak frame placed diagonally in the tower. This rotted and a completely new steel and iron frame with a new extra bell were provided by John Taylor of Loughborough in 1931-2. The outcome was a very fine sounding ring of six bells. The 4th bell became cracked in its crown. The Whitechapel Bell Foundry recast it and it was dedicated by the vicar on Easter Sunday 2000.

  • The Treble weighs 297 kg, and was cast at Loughborough in 1931
  • No. 2 weighs   389 kg cast at Leicester in 1623
  • No. 3 weighs  440 kg cast at Leicester in 1623
  • No. 4 weighs   535 kg cast at Whitechapel in 2000
  • No. 5 weighs   679 kg cast at Leicester in 1623
  • Tenor weighs 711 kg cast at Oxford in 1822.  Sounds the note E (657 Hz)

The bells are rung in the full-circle English manner, with practices every Wednesday.

The Clock

The clock was made in 1780 but installed here in 1822 and drives the one clock face. It is now electrically wound. Since July 2007, the ‘Westminster’ quarter chimes are radio-controlled and independent of the clock. The hours strike on the fifth bell.

The Outside

—  A new soak away drain was formed in the east-gate path in 2018 to improve drainage.

—  The churchyard was closed for burials in 1886. The replacement cemetery is accessed by the right hand lane off the sharp corner at the bottom of Brookside Lane (east of the church) 

—  A large tomb for the Watkins family of Badby House (now Badby Park) who funded much of the Victorian reconstruction, is just south east of the chancel.

—  A group of three chest tombs and another large stone tomb near the east gate path are separately listed as grade 2 ‘buildings’.

—  The replacement nave gable cross was fitted in 2001 to mark the Millennium


The first Rector of Badby with Newnham, appointed by the crown in the mid-13th century, was Henry de Cokenato, although there is a reference in a charter to a chaplain of Badby earlier in that century.  From 1285 appointments were made by Evesham Abbey. In 1343, the first vicar was Reginald Musard.  After the dissolution of the abbey, from 1597 appointments were made by Christ Church Oxford. Since 1919, appointments have been made by the Bishop of Peterborough:

  • 1919 Hubert Ralph Cornish
  • 1935 Leonard Henry Hayden Green
  • 1951 Charles Frederick Witham
  • 1971 Roy Wilfred Dooley who was additionally priest in charge of Fawsley from 1982 until he died in 1989

Then the United Benefice of Badby with Newnham and Charwelton with Fawsley and Preston Capes was formed. The Rector of these "Knightley Parishes" lived at Badby Vicarage except Sue Faulkner who lived with her husband at Silverstone Rectory. The Rectors have been:

  • 1991 Stephen Paul Adams
  • 1998 Michael David Petitt
  • 2010 - 2019 Susan Ann Faulkner

“A History of Badby Church" – third edition published in 2018 after the major restoration and re-ordering work, A5 size, 48 pages including 23 pictures is available price £3, from the Church in aid of church restoration funds.     The work and publication were generously part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

GHP updated 31/12/2019

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