From the outside St Mary’s nestles into the top of the hill and looks quite small. This hides a noble and lofty 13th century interior, complete with Crusader tomb. In the 1920’s a naughty churchwarden excavated the North wall and found this amazing construction behind the plaster — a sacrament chapel, or anchorite’s chamber, perhaps.
John Boughton, churchwarden, has special place in my heart and my prayers for various reasons.
- John’s the longest serving Churchwarden in Bucks — over 50 years — from a family who have farmed near the Church and provided churchwardens for 500 years.
- John made my crook, pride of a hundred primary school assemblies, and faithful companion on my travels.
- John has just made a new Bishop’s Chair in Ashendon Church, to replace one that was stolen a while ago. It fits immaculately into St Mary’s, localised by a Buckinghamshire chained swan panel on the front.
In a society that by and large is going gaga and losing its grip on corporate memory, I am still deeply moved to minister in places with this kind of resonance and continuous tradition of prayer, craftsmanship and service. I don’t suppose our forebears were any better or worse Christians than us — equally confused, compromised, fearful and stumbling. Yet they made it through the Danish wars and the Black Death — perhaps, in God’s mercy, we’ll make through the summer!