The Nave

Once inside, the nave is seen to be high and spacious. It has an aisle down each side and these north and south aisles are separated from the main body of the nave by lofty arches. The nave was the “public” part of the church and would not originally have been crammed full of pews but would have served as a large open hall where villagers and children would have roamed about quite freely, holding meetings and conducting business or even just seeking shelter from storms. The later formality of the 16th century, the Puritan movement, and of course Victorian ideas have all served to inhibit the use of our churches for anything but a few hours each Sunday.

The nave however still played an important part in ecclesiastical ceremony in early English churches. Processions went round and through it, christenings were (and still are) conducted there and minor masses and confessions were heard there. The location of such focal points in the nave of Buckden church is still to be seen in the remains of two 15th century piscina or stone sinks where holy vessels were washed, so arranged that the water ran out into the consecrated ground of the churchyard. One is to be found in the wall of the south aisle and the remains of a second are in the eastern end of the north aisle. Also at this point is an aumbry or cupboard in the form of a square recess in the wall, probably used for holding a chalice. Minor altars would have stood at these points and in fact an altar still stands at the end of the south aisle at Buckden. Such altars were often assigned to ancient Guilds or Chantries existing in the parish.

The stone dressings surrounding what was originally a north door are clearly to be seen in the wall of the north aisle although the original opening is now covered over. This door would have given direct access from the grounds of Buckden Palace and no doubt served as an entrance to the church for the Bishop’s staff when his Lordship was not in residence and the private chapel of the palace was not in use. The bricked up remains now sadly symbolise the division between the faiths of the Roman Catholic palace and the Protestant parish church. (Fortunately now no longer the case in Buckden).

The font is a 15th century octagonal limestone bowl having a blank shield carved on each face and with a lead inner lining. It stands on a modern stem and base. The pulpit is a later addition, being substantially 17th century and having the elegance and style of that period. It is octagonal in form with ornately carved mouldings.

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