St John The Evangelist Church


Moggerhanger was originally a manor and hamlet in the parish of Blunham. From the early eighteenth century separate churchwardens were appointed for the villages of Blunham and Moggerhanger and the two settlements always had distinct identities. By 1851 the population of Moggerhanger represented over forty per cent of the entire parish and there was a need for an additional church.

In 1859 Elizabeth Dawkins of Moggerhanger House offered to build a church at Moggerhanger in memory of her husband the Reverend Edward Henry Dawkins who had died the year before. William Slater of London was appointed as architect and Conquest of Kempston as the builder. Later that same year Mrs Elizabeth Dawkins laid the first stone of the new church on 19 September 1859. The customary ceremony was well-attended and Mrs Dawkins made a short address but emphatic.

The church was built in the Norman style using Kempston stone elegantly varied with a red sandstone from the quarries at Silsoe. It consists of a nave and aisles with a western entrance and a south door. There is a crossing tower with a pyramid roof, a north aisle extending to form a vestry on the north side of the tower (later converted to an organ chamber) and an apsidal chancel. The pillars are of Ancaster stone carved with capitals. The arcades are of the same material intermixed with Harlestone stone. The roof is open and constructed of oak grown on the Moggerhanger Estate. The apse is more highly decorated than the rest of the church and now contains the mausoleum in which the Reverend Edward Henry Dawkins and his wife, Elizabeth who died in 1863, are buried. In front of the altar is a slab of Derbyshire marble inlaid with a floriated cross of brass with an inscription detailing the purpose for which the church was erected. The Church has a single bell for calling the villagers to church. It weighs 2 cwt 3 qrs 7lbs and was manufactured by Mears of London in 1860. The original church furnishings included:

  • a carved circular stone font
  • a Bevington organ given by Col. Thornton of St. John’s House
  • the plate
  • three stained glass windows in the apse by Clayton and Bell in memory of the Dawkins, depicting the Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension
  • the pulpit
  • the lectern

The Church was consecrated by the Bishop of Lincoln on 30 July 1860. Two months later, on 30 October 1860, the it was completed and Moggerhanger became a separate ecclesiastical parish.

Later, alterations to the building include the creation of a new organ chamber on the north side of the crossing in 1887 to 1888 designed by Carpenter & Ingelow, with the replacement organ made by Richardson & Sons of London and Manchester in 1889. The erection of the chancel screen, designed by A. Needham Wilson, was dedicated in 1912. Above the organ is a screen that was fitted to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra bearing the inscription ER 1902 AR. Further stained glass windows were installed between 1881 and 1920. Those of 1881-6 being made by Mayer & Co. of Munich, those of 1891-1900 by Hardman of Birmingham and the west windows of 1909 and 1913 by Powell of White Friars.

(Moggerhanger 1777-1977 H.S. Brown/Beds Historical Record Society Publication Beds County Council Archives)

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