The church at Little Staughton has close
ties with the church in the neighbouring village of
Bolnhurst. Bolnhurst is situated about seven miles out
of Bedford on the road to Kimbolton (B660). The church
is located away from the village on the road to Thurleigh.
Its isolated position is the result of the medieval
village of Bolnhurst being wiped out by the Black Death
The church is dedicated to St Dunstan
who was a major figure in religious life at the end
of the 10th century being Bishop of Worcester and London
before becoming Archbishop of Canterbury in 960. He
died in 988 and became one of England's most popular
saints. The dedication of the church to St Dunstan is
probably the result of the manor of Bolnhurst being
held until the Dissolution by the monastery of Thorney
with which St Dunstan was closely connected.
Entry to the church is by the south porch.
Like that at Little Staughton, its stone benches are
well worn. The inner doorway is elaborate with pinnacled
buttresses on either side. There are stone carved faces
on either side of door. The wooden door is old and has
a good drop handle.
Passing through the door into the nave,
which dates from 15th century, one sees a church which
makes an interesting comparison with that of Little
Staughton. The walls of St Dunstan's are stone with
all plasterwork removed apart from one portion opposite
the door on the north wall. On this portion is a medieval
wall painting of St Christopher and the Christ Child,
the top of which was unfortunately damaged in 1660 when
the nave roof was repaired. Although the painting has
faded over the years, it provides an interesting illustration
of the sort of paintings which would have covered the
walls of all medieval churches.
There are also a number of Victorian
and later stain glass windows including a fine East
Window which is a memorial to Sarah Josephine Wade Gery
whose husband was vicar of the parish.
On the north wall to the east of the
wall painting is the War Memorial which bears the following
Ronald M D Harvey
William H Harper
Harold J Hawkins
Charles F Parrott
Norman C Steward
Alec A Whitmore
Further details can be obtained from:
If one looks to the east, one sees another marked difference
from Little Staughton; St Dunstan's managed to retain
its 15th century chancel screen and holes on the top
of the screen show that carved figures of the Crucifixon
would have stood there. Some of the nave pews are also
thought to be 15th century. As one approaches the chancel
one passes the 17th century pulpit on the north side.
Like the church at Little Staughton a window has been
placed in the wall to give light to the pulpit. On the
south-east side of the nave is a large imposing marble
monument to Sir John Francklin 1707 and on the opposite
side of the window is a smaller similar to Dame Dorothy
Francklin 1727. The Francklin family came from Yorkshire
but had associations with Bolnhurst from 1483 until
Passing through the screen into the chancel,
one finds handsome choir stalls. These however are a
19th century addition and are likely to acquired from
some church on the continent probably by the Reverend
F M Harvey who, whilst he was Rector, spent a lot amount
of his own money on the church. Under the south-east
window of the chancel is a plain stone seat or sedila
which would have been used by priests during services.
A little beyond is a piscine with two trefoiled arches
and a central shaft of Purbeck marble with a drain on
one side only, the other being used to hold the cruets.
On the south side is the organ, with painted doors covering
the pipes, which was made by Bryceson Bros and Morten.
The organ case was designed by Rev F H Sutton, the younger
brother of Sir John Sutton the author of "A Short
Account of Organs built in England" and is described
as "Medieval Gothic". It was originally purchased
in 1873 by the Rev William Airy, Rector of Keysoe from
1836-1974 for use in St Mary's Church Keysoe but passed
to St Dunstan's Bolnhurst in 1908. The original specification
(Medieval Gothic Organ
from designs by Revd F H Sutton, Theddingworth Rugby.)
Open Diapason Bass (12 pipes) Open Diapason (from tc),
Viola (tc) Dulciana (CC) and Principal (CC), one octave
For further information, see Research
Notes, BIOS Reporter April 2002 Vol XXVI No 2.
At the west end of the nave is a plain
octagonal font with a Jacobean cover.
The tower is 15th century and about half
way up the stairs is a priest's room. The tower has
a ring of four bells which were re-hung by Alfred Bowell
of Ipswich in 1907.
Treble: Recast by Alfred Bowell
2 and 3 were made by John Dier in 1587
Tenor: Inscribed "Praise the