Chenies, St Michael's Church
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: 16th century Bedford Chapel
I mentioned the font earlier. This is a quite lovely Norman piece of work, in the so-called 'Aylesbury style', which is commonly found in Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, and Bedfordshire. It is circular, in the shape of a truncated chalice, set upon a square base. The bowl is beautifully carved with foliage decoration.
The main historic interest of the church is the north or Bedford Chapel, erected in 1556 by Anne, Countess of Bedford, to fulfill her husband's will. The chapel is not normally open to the public, but visitors to the church can get a good view of the interior through a screen. The contents of the Bedford Chapel were described by architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner as the greatest collection of funerary monuments in an English parish church.
The chapel is stunning, an ornate reminder of the wealth and influence of the Russell family, Dukes of Bedford. The floor is of black and white marble, complemented by a roof in fanciful hammerbeam style. On the wall of the chapel is a charming dedication tablet that comemorates the founding of the chapel in these words:
Anno Dni 1556: Thys chappel ys built by Anne Countysse of Bedforde, wyfe to John Erle of Bedford, according to ye last wyll of the said Erle.
At the west end of the chapel - and practiacally filling it - is the grandiose tomb of the 1st Duke of Bedford (d. 1700). The remainder of the chapel is filled to overflowing with monuments to members of the Russell family over the course of four centuries. Among the tombs on view are the 2nd Duke and Duchess, the 2nd Earl (d. 1585), and Earl Russell, the Victorian Prime Minister, to name just a few. Not all of the tombs are to members of the Russell family, however; the oldest monuments are late 14th centtury unfinished effigies to Sir John Cheyne and his wife.
Also in the chapel are a pair of 16th century wooden carvings brought from France, and carved wooden angels with shields bearing the Russell coat of arms. There are four funeral helms mounted on the wall of the chapel.
About Chenies, St Michael's Church
Address: Latimer Road, Chenies, Buckinghamshire, England, WD3 6ER
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: Off the A404 just west of Chorleywood, in the grounds of Chenies Manor
Website: Chenies, St Michael's Church
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Chenies Manor House - 0 miles (Historic House)
Chiltern Open Air Museum - 3 miles (Museum)
John Milton's Cottage - 3.5 miles (Historic Building)
Amersham Museum - 3.7 miles (Museum)
Jordans, Friends' Meeting House - 5.3 miles (Historic Church)
Little Missenden, St John's Church - 5.8 miles (Historic Church)
Berkhamsted Castle - 6.2 miles (Castle)
Oxhey Chapel - 6.8 miles (Historic Church)
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