The Church of St. Mary’s is a Grade II* listed stone building in the Transitional style, from Early English to Decorated; and consists of chancel, with south vestry, clerestoried nave of four bays, aisles, south porch and, until 1967, an embattled western tower, containing a clock and four bells.
The oldest part of the church is the main south doorway which dates from c 1195, and exhibits some good Norman work. This was the south doorway of an aisle-less 12th century church. There is also a smaller door of the same period, also on the south side. To this early building a south aisle was first added. Then early in the 14th century the nave was extended eastwards, a new chancel built, a north aisle was remodelled and extended.
Thus in the early 14th century the church took on substantially its present shape. The north aisle was built in 1850, at a cost of £600, this took the place of the one demolished at an earlier date. The organ was erected by subscription in 1876 at a cost of £150.
The tower was originally surmounted by a spire, but this fell in a storm in 1703 and was not rebuilt. The impressive Norman tower itself became unsafe and was demolished in September 1967 .
An image from the early 1900’s showing the Church of St Mary at Little Harrowden showing the church with it’s clock tower.
The tower was replaced by a single storey vestry with a glazed tower arch and bellcote at the apex, housing the smallest of the original four bells.
The lower part of the gothic tower arch has been filled with a high quality war-memorial oak screen which has the names of the men from the parishes of Great and Little Harrowden that were killed in the Great War. Brass plaques added to the screen have the names of those men that perished in World War 2.
The large segmented fanlight above the screen is now the position of the recently commissioned memorial window by Meg Lawrence. The window was paid for by local subscriptions and dedicated in Oct 2010 by Bishop Donald Allister .
More recently the church has seen the provision of kitchen and toilet facilities within the south-west comer of the south aisle. The church has since 1997 gone through a process of major repair and renovation. This included repairs to external stone work, the reopening of one of the clerestory windows, replacing the lead roof on the main and south aisles and the introduction of a gas fired heating system, and an audio system with hearing loop for those using hearing aids. A new energy efficient lighting scheme has been installed which provides levels of lighting in keeping with the church. Much of this work has been funded by villagers and friends through the work of the St. Mary’s Heritage Trust.
Serving as the only place of worship in a village with a population of some 1200 people, St. Mary’s has a seating capacity of approximately 120 with a mixture of early Victorian pine wood pews and removable chairs. The church is now warm and dry and safe from dry rot and is at the centre of village life not only for our worship and spiritual development but also as the venue for a wide variety of additional activities.
If you have any interesting history of the village such as maps, photo’s or information and would like to submit them to this page, email them to [email protected]