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A history of The Lee Old Church
 Part 3: the architecture
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Architectural Points of Interest
The Old Church is of early English Gothic design as indicated by the lancet windows. old church This sharp knife shape first appeared in the mid12th Century, superseding the Norman or Romanesque round arch.  The windows are made of the chalky local stone Clunch which is still used today. The walls of rubble are rendered outside except for the West face which shows flintwork.

The History of Buckingham (1831) describes the Church:
“The Chapel stands in a spacious cemetery (contiguous to which is a meadow nearly surrounded by woods) and consists of a nave and chancel about 40 feet long, capable of containing about 100 persons, and having on the gable at the west end a small wooden turret, supporting a little spire."

  • Consecration Cross. The coloured circular feature marking the place of the act of consecration is west of the main doorway.
  • 13th Century Glass in upper part of the east window showing the Crucifixion and the figures of St Mary and St John. 
  • The unusual Puritan window contains Art Nouveau design and was originally made for Little Hampden Church, hence the central figure.  It was placed here in 1902 when rejected by Little Hampden because it included the figure of Cromwell.
  • Piscina, or niche bowl for washing vessels, near the east end of the south wall adjoins the Sedile or priest's seat.
  • Near these is a Springer stone of an arch finely carved in angelic form, perhaps part of a window elsewhere.  The battlemented string courses above the north and south walls are also of uncertain origin but may have supported a screen.
  • Ironwork.  Remains of ancient window ironwork are seen in hinge bases beside lowside windows in the north and south walls.  The window in the south side also has the remains of an outside grille.  In the north wall between the first and second windows is a small rectangular Recess.  Perhaps for alms or an alms dish.
  • Font.  The mediaeval basin with original staple holes securing the lid, now has an oak cover made from 17th century floorboards from nearby Hawthorn Farm and a rose knob carved from wood from the ancient churchyard Yew. The staple holes would have been part of a mediaeval anti-witch device.
  • Commandments Board.  High on the west wall is an 18th century triple frame inscribed with the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Creed. 

  • On the outside of the south wall, near the porch, Mass clocks (sundials for telling the time for Mass), although the gnomons are missing.  The numbers on one of them are inscribed in the wrong positions.
  • Wall Paintings. These are described on the ‘bats’ in the Church.  The earliest work uncovered is 14th century (earlier traces underneath cannot be revealed yet).  Painting continued for at least four hundred years.  Restoration is now complete as far as possible.  The two principal works are the Weighing of Souls on the west wall (south part) and St Christopher carrying the Christ Child on the north wall facing the door.  Roses are seen in many places; Tudor roses above the Sedile and the south door.
  • The Porch appears to have been added in the 18th century.
  • Originally there were three Bells made by MICHAEL DE WYMBIS in about 1290. The remaining bell of this group now hangs at the top of the new church. To mark the 'Millenium', the roof of the old church was extended westwards forming a canopy to house a 'new' bell weighing one cwt. It came from a church in Kent which had been severely damaged in the 1987 great storm.
  • Memorials.  Two families are commemorated:
The HAWTHORNES date from the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1

The PLAISTOWES owned the Manor from the 17th century and members of the family survive in the area.

The Georgian tablets are particularly interesting.  The Latin inscription on that to Thomas Plaistowe on the south wall was popular at the time,

‘What you are I was, what you look upon you will be.
stained glass
The Puritan Window

font
The font

bell
The remaining bell
(now in the Parish Church of St John the Baptist)

Plaistowe memorial Memorial to the Plaistowes
History continued

This information is based on a talk given to The Lee Old Church Trust by John Glanfield and on a leaflet produced by the Trust.
Photographs appear by permission of The Lee Newsletter and The Chiltern Society
Photgraphic Group.
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Your comments and feedback are welcome, please contact: colin@thelee.org.uk