Chetwode, St Mary & St Nicholas (c) John Salmon
Chetwode, St Mary & St Nicholas

In 1244 Sir Ralphe de Norwich founded an Augustinian priory at Chetwode, four miles from Buckingham. At that time there was already a parish church here, dedicated to St Martin, though there was not much in the way of a village beyond a few scattered farms.

In 1480 the priory was disbanded, and the priory church became the parish church, as St Martin's had fallen into disrepair. The current building is really only the chancel of the priory church.

The church is composed of just a nave, chancel, west tower, and north chapel. The exterior is humble, even plain, but the interior is a delightful mix of medieval features with later Elizabethan and 17th-century furnishings.

The core of the architecture is superb Early English work, particularly the three sets of stepped lancets in the chancel. Also in the chancel is a linked sedilia and piscina, ornamented by Norman-style dogtooth moulding. In an interesting twist, the central arch of the sedilia has been converted into a doorway.

The north chapel was converted in the 17th century into the manor pew, with wooden panelling and a fireplace to keep the squire's family warm through the coldest sermons!

Perhaps the best feature at Chetwode is the medieval stained glass. There are fragments of 13th and 14th-century glass in the chancel and under the tower. There is also a painted wooden triptych dated to 1696, and near the organ is a grave slab from about 1350, carved with a foliated cross.