BedfordshireNORTHILLStMaryVirgin(christinejohnstoneCC-BY-SA2.0)1 ChristineJohnstone

St Mary the Virgin

Started around 1330, nestling in the pretty village of Northill, St Mary's is a delightful Bedfordshire church, well worth a visit.

Northill, Bedfordshire

Opening times

Daily 10.30am to 2.30pm but may be longer in the summer months.


Ickwell Road
SG18 9AA

The church was built between 1330 and 1370, and has a number of fine features:

As with many other medieval churches there are gargoyles and demons as water spouts to protect the church against devils. The main outside walls show where the Black Death interfered with the building in the mid 14th century, when many Master Masons perished.

The clock on the tower was made by Thomas Tompion who was born in Ickwell in 1639, and considered by many to be the father of English clockmaking. The room above the porch was added in 1489, as a Chantry dedicated to St Anne, later used as a school room until 1859, and now the church museum.

There are two beautiful stained glass panels made by John Oliver in 1664. These sit in front of two windows on the main South wall. Their installation was initiated by the Worshipful Company of Grocers to commemorate the restoration post civil war and they were endowed in the will of Lady Margaret Slaney who died in 1619.

Oak choir stalls from 1404, with misericords with simple fleur de lys, and look out for the carved faces on the arm rests!

The Great Tompion Chest in the chancel from 1663. A painting of Edward Fowler (1632-1714), who was a thorn in John Bunyan’s side. He later became Bishop of Gloucester, after being dismissed from Northill for absenteeism.

Dating from the 1860s onwards are: the Rose window on the north side (1862), the window above the altar (1880s), tower window (1864).

The Victorian chancel arch was rebuilt in 1862, bearing a Crucifix from Oberammergau installed in 1896. The pulpit first used in 1882. There is a brass tompion from HMS Iron Duke, Jellicoe’s flagship at the Battle of Rutland.

A Compton organ installed in 1923 above the chancel which has undergone several restorations in the last twenty years, and boasts an additional keyboard in the main body of the church. There is a full complement of six fully restored bells housed in the 72’ tower

  • Captivating architecture

  • Enchanting atmosphere

  • Famous connections

  • Magnificent memorials

  • Spectacular stained glass

  • Accessible toilets in church

  • Bus stop within 100m

  • Level access to the main areas

  • On street parking at church

  • Parking within 250m

  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

  • The Village School use the church on some occasions and it often hosts concerts.

  • Church of England

  • Partnership Grant, £2,500, 2015

  • Our Partnership Grants funded a range of repair projects, recommended by County Church Trusts, to help keep churches open.

  • Wolfson Fabric Repair Grant, £7,500, 2021

  • Reroofing of the north and south aisle adn south porch.

  • Heritage Stimulus Fund Grant, £98,558, 2021

  • Roof repairs

Contact information

Other nearby churches

St Leonard

Old Warden, Bedfordshire

St Leonard is a 12th century historic church containing unique carvings.

St Andrew

Biggleswade, Bedfordshire

St Andrew is built from ironstone with the exception of the west tower which is built from grey ashlar.