Riversmeet Benefice

Click here to edit subtitle

These are the documents to support Blunham church's application to install live-streaming equipment

Form 4A (Rule 6.2)

Public Notice (general form)

In the Consistory Court of the Diocese of St Albans In the parish of Blunham

Church of Blunham, St Edmund or St James

NOTICE IS GIVEN that we are applying to the Consistory Court of the diocese for permission to carry out the following:

(Describe the works or other proposals in the same way as in the faculty petition)

Installation of live streaming equipment in the church as well as a broadband connection via underground cables from the drive to the south of the south porch.

Copies of the relevant plans and documents may be examined at IN CHURCH and on a publicly accessible website at riversmeetbenefice.co.uk

(If changes to a church are proposed, a copy of the petition and of any designs, plans, photographs and other documents that were submitted with it must be displayed in the church or at another place where they may be conveniently inspected by the public. If the petition is submitted through an online system, those documents must also be publicly available for inspection online.)


(Each petitioner to give name and office held in block capitals)


Date 12/10/2021

If you wish to object to any of the works or proposals you should send a letter or email stating the grounds of your objection to The Diocesan Registrar at Winckworth Sherwood LLP, Minerva House, 5

Montague Close, London, SE1 9BB or by email to stalbansregistry@wslaw.co.uk

so that your letter reaches the registrar not later than Thursday 11 November 2021 A letter of objection must include your name and address and state whether you live in the parish and/or your name is entered on the church electoral roll of the parish or any other basis on which you have an interest in the matter.


This is the Statement of Significance which describes the church building.

Statement of Significance Church of St Edmund or St James, Blunham

A Statement of Architectural and Historical Significance prepared by the Late Mr Richard Allen for Blunham PCC, December 1998 (copies of the material referred to by Mr David Baker, viz. VCH (Victoria County History), Pevsner and Pickford were made available to the PCC Committee at that time, with later amendments by Churchwardens and Church Council.

This document is in support of the application for permission to install live-streaming equipment inside the church

Part 1 Setting and Environment

Blunham Parish Church occupies what is still the centre of a long straggling village. Its bulk dominates ‘The Square’ and it has a public house and thatched cottages at its feet. However, because it is closely bordered by the River Ivel to the east and hemmed in by the Railway embankment to the south and the Hill to the west, it is difficult to get a view of the church in the village itself.

The WI surveyed the churchyard in 1978 and a copy of the list of extant grave inscriptions is in the County Record Office. Between the south wall of the church and the boundary wall are three ‘table top’ tombs and the Thornton Mausoleum, which contains the remains of those members of the family who are commemorated in the chancel. At the southeast corner of the churchyard are the tombs of Dr Mountain and his family.

During the time before Richard Allen ceased to be Churchwarden (1988) he discussed the Thornton Mausoleum with Mrs Thornton, the widow of the last male Thornton of this line. As a family, they had no funds to maintain the mausoleum. Subsequently it was listed in 1986 by Mid Bedfordshire District Council under the Town and Country Planning Act and also the Ancient Monuments Act.

As to the ecology of the churchyard it is important to keep in mind that the Parish Council maintains it. A certain rare kind of saxifrage grows in 2 or 3 places; these areas are demarcated so that they are not mown when the plant is in flower.


Facts known are included in the 3 works mentioned above and in the Church History. Major gaps in knowledge are

(i) The appearance of the Church before the Reformation.

(ii) The appearance of the Church before the Restoration of 1862.

(iii) The Late Richard Allen searched the Ely Diocesan records in the Cambridge University Library and was unable to find the faculty details for the 1862 work or any drawings, prints or paintings of the church before that work was carried out.

The most detailed architectural study of the church is in the VCH but even that does not explain the appearance of the outside of the north east corner. Clearly a lot of rebuilding has taken place here and it would be worthwhile to have this part of the church re-examined sometime by an architect or archaeologist. Richard Allen wondered whether a two storey vestry could have been there, giving access to the rood over the ‘North Chapel’

The 1862 restoration aimed to provide a building for the performance of Sung Matins with choir and organ (installed later) for a congregation of about 200. The South Chapel became the vestry and the organ mostly occupied the North Chapel.

It would seem that the north side of the church was more heavily restored, included the addition of the porch; the north porch is clearly a well built 19th century representation of an ancient porch, while the south porch has the air of being the real thing and traces of the past. That may have been because the south side was traditionally the Moggerhanger-side and those inhabitants were responsible for the upkeep of the South Porch but by that time Moggerhanger was becoming a separate parish with its own church (built 1860-1).


The post 1862 appearance of the interior has been preserved in a number of photographs, the last of which were probably taken in 1943 by Mr Collard of Bedford as a record in case of wartime destruction. (Photocopies of the originals, which are held by the Council for the Care of Churches, have been deposited in the Country Record Office).

The arrival after the end of the Second World War of a new incumbent, The Revd T C Teape-Fugard (1946-1953), led to some internal reordering for which faculties were obtained. The North Aisle became a war memorial, called St George’s Chapel; the vestry, which was moved to the west end of the South Aisle, became the Lady Chapel (the texts over the entrance to the former vestry and the Bell Tower were obliterated).

A faculty was granted to convert the Lady Chapel into a vestry, by installing a timber partition with glass doors. This partition supports a glass memorial screen depicting a prayer of John Donne.

The vestry was previously located at the west end of the south aisle. This has now become a kitchenette with a disabled toilet.

Research by Miss P Bell, County Archivist, led to the discovery that there had existed in Blunham a Guild of the Holy Trinity and that its guild house had been marketed since 1908 at least as “The Old Manor House”. The guild had its own priest and chapel. We do not know where the chapel was. However, the upper part of the South Porch could be reached through a door (now blocked up) in the south wall of the South Aisle and this ‘parvise’ could have been the guild priest’s lodging. Also, Pevsner thinks that the stone screen between the south choir stalls and the south chapel must have belonged to a monument or a chantry chapel. The dedication of the North Chapel is unknown.

The interior of the church is dominated by the woodwork of the 1862 restoration. However, the remaining 17th Century woodwork, pulpit, back pews and screen to the tower are in good condition.

With the exception of the pews to the west of the main door, the seating dates from the Victorian period. The pews are characteristic of those found within the Diocese, with rectangular bench ends with carved top rails and supporting buttresses. These pews are of good quality and represent the ecclesiastical tastes of the nineteenth century.

In his report, Dr Charles Tracey states that the pews were probably made up at the time of the 1862 re-pewing.

These pews consist of seven rows either side of the Nave Aisle and three rows in the North Aisle, four having been removed at some earlier date. The Log Book, which dates back to 1961, shows no mention of the removal of these pews from the area in the North Aisle which is now used as a Children's play area. A faculty was granted in 2017 to permanently remove the seven shorter rows in the South Aisle and replace the pew platform with an oak floor, level with the tiled floor. In May 2006 following the installation of the new heating system, permission was granted to remove and dispose of three pews from the 1862 restoration which were stored in the area around the font; we can probably assume that these were the pews that were removed from the North Aisle. At the same time a pew was also removed from the rear of the chancel on the south side and moved to the base of the tower as this was restricting the heat flow from the new radiator; this was granted under an archdeacon’s letter of authority dated 18th May 2006.

The chancel still bears a great resemblance to the photograph of page 135 of Pevsner. The high altar has been replaced by a table which we have recently discovered dates back to the 16th or 17th century. The rest of the woodwork was a gift from Lady Lucas solicited by Teape-Fugard) and more in scale with the choir stalls. The altar furnishings etc date from the incumbency of Revd D K Williams (1981-1986). In the Lady Chapel the altar rails are out of keeping with the other church furnishings. This chapel is currently being converted back into a vestry.


Although the de Grey family of Wrest Park were lords of the manor until 1908 and their descendants were patrons until 1921; the visible sign of their association with Blunham are few. Dominating the west wall over the screen to the tower are the arms of the first and last Duke of Kent of that creation which are much larger than the royal arms of Queen Victoria beneath them.

The most important memento of the de Greys is a tomb of Lady Susanna Longueville in the south wall of the sanctuary. Bosses in the roof of the chancel that may represent other associations are barely visible to the naked eye; others have disappeared.

The association most often recalled at the present time is with John Donne but again there are no visible signs of the association. A faculty has been granted to install a memorial window at the entrance to the new vestry in the south aisle which will celebrate this connection. Work is currently under way. Perhaps surprisingly, no publicity has been given to the church’s association with George Joye (Rector 1549-1554), son of the soil, born in Renhold, who was an important figure in the English Reformation.

There is no doubt that the correct dedication of the church is to St Edmund, King and Martyr. (See Pickford pages 136 and 137 and VCH page 231). The unsolved puzzle is who decided to introduce St James and when. Someone at present unidentified, writing after 1886, referred to St Edmund (St James) and the question must have arisen again with the result that at a PCC meeting on 15th July 1943, while the rest of the world was engaged in other matters, “Mrs Judd proposed and Mrs Kitchener seconded that the Magazine should bear the name of St James and not St Edmund. This was agreed by all”. It seems likely that other examples of this kind can be found in Bedfordshire. e.g. Husborne Crawley.

Blunham was in the diocese of Lincoln for centuries until it was transferred to Ely in the nineteenth century and again, later, to St Albans on the creation of that diocese. The laity does not seem to feel much attachment to their cathedral and there are no representations to the dioceses, ancient or modern, in the church. Only on the west wall of the old rectory are the arms of Ely displayed.

Part II

The proposal is to install live streaming equipment in the church, to enable us to reach a wider congregation

Note: This Statement of Significance was accepted by all PCC members via email 2 June 2021

This is the Statement of Need which explains why this application has been made. It was written while we were unable to worship in the church.

Statement of Need Church of St Edmund or St James, Blunham

This document is in support of the application for permission to install live-streaming equipment inside the church.

General information

According to the 2011 census, the parish of Blunham at that time had a population of 946. Currently we have 53 on the church’s electoral roll. Since the last census, three developments of private homes and affordable housing (approximately 160 properties) have been completed, which have added another 200 - 300 adults and children. A further small development is planned, and we would like to encourage new villagers to become part of the worshipping community.

Following the appointment and licensing of Revd Graham Buckle in October 2018, a new pattern of services has been established, giving us two services of Holy Communion, one of Morning Prayer and a Café Church service each month. However, the global COVID-19 pandemic meant that we had to close the church for much of 2020 and the early part of 2021, with services resuming at Easter 2021.

The church was previously kept open during daylight hours for visitors, but has had to remain locked since Easter 2020 with the exception of a one-hour period twice a week when the church has been open with supervision for private prayer.

Services provision has been via Zoom and these services have been very well supported. Recordings of these services were sent to a large contact group, with good viewing figures, meaning that we were reaching a much wider congregation. It has made us consider the importance of embracing technology to provide worship provision to those who may not be able to get to church.

Our congregation numbers have slowly risen, encouraged by the extensive programme of fundraising and social events that we carried out prior to the pandemic, and the village have been generous in their support over the last year when we have been unable to hold any events. Once restrictions allow we hope to resume fundraising activities, aided by the recent completion of kitchenette and toilet facilities.

The John Donne Church of England Primary School in the village has good links with the church, and prior to the pandemic a group of volunteers, led by the Reader, helped with monthly school assemblies. We have developed a very good relationship with the school. We are hoping that these school services will resume in September.

The church has very good acoustics and a baby grand piano. The building is used by the Bedford Sinfonia for their ‘Out and About’ concerts, which are well attended.

The Need

We are aware that there are members of the community who are unable to come to church for various reasons. The provision of live-streamed services during the pandemic was welcomed by all, who still felt they were part of the church family. Viewing figures made us realise that we were reaching a much wider audience, and were concerned that resuming church services without any online provision would mean we would lose this vital outreach.

Live streaming could also be beneficial for Baptisms, weddings and funerals.

Impact and Significance

The camera will be installed at the back of the church on the boarded top of the tower arch. It will be black to blend in with the boards and not be visible to the congregation during services. The laptop and screen used with the camera are portable and will be used by an operator sitting in the pews in front of the tower. They will be removed when not in use. 

The camera will have pre-set positions, such as the nave altar, the high altar, pulpit, lectern and east window. This last will be used during communion to avoid faces of the congregation being seen on camera. 

Note: This Statement of Significance was accepted by all PCC members via email 2 June 2021


This is a description of where the cables for the live-streaming will run. The photos of the church follow.

Route of the cable

Cable runs from Park Lane undertaken by Openreach

Line into south porch from junction box in Rectory driveway.

See photo 1

Cable runs in the church undertaken by BT

Line taken through the porch wall next to gas pipe, up to high level and following line of fixture for the anti-bird netting. Then running alongside existing wiring into the church, and terminating just inside the porch door.

See photos 2 -5

Novum Sound and Vision

Cables will follow existing wiring for CCTV cameras, and then along the sill of the west window, concealed above the WC cubicle, then dropping to sockets at floor level. From there to a sound box behind the pews at the back of the nave aisle and then to a camera positioned above the entrance to the tower.

See photos 6 - 9