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Church of St Thomas

A Grade II* Listed Building in Simpson, Milton Keynes

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Latitude: 52.0172 / 52°1'1"N

Longitude: -0.7142 / 0°42'51"W

OS Eastings: 488333

OS Northings: 236199

OS Grid: SP883361

Mapcode National: GBR D0K.D89

Mapcode Global: VHDT7.KKSG

Entry Name: Church of St Thomas

Listing Date: 28 June 1954

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1160223

English Heritage Legacy ID: 45432

Location: Simpson and Ashland, Milton Keynes, MK6

County: Milton Keynes

Civil Parish: Simpson and Ashland

Built-Up Area: Milton Keynes

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Woughton

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

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Milton Keynes

Listing Text


Crossing tower is late C13 or earlier, the rest of the building was rebuilt c.1330-40. It was restored in 1873, 1892 by J O Scott and again in 1904-5, also to designs by Scott.

Stone rubble with stone dressings, some repairs in brick. Tiled and slated roofs.

Cruciform, with central tower, chancel, N and S transepts, unaisled nave and S porch.

A cruciform church with a tall, slender central tower which retains the scars of earlier, very steeply pitched roofs on its E and W faces. The tower has an embattled parapet, rebuilt in the C19, and two light late C14 bell openings. There are small, rectangular openings below the roof scars on E and W, possibly inserted after the roofs were lowered. The rest of the church is largely C14 in appearance, but has been heavily restored and partially rebuilt. The chancel has a large 3-light E window with Decorated-style tracery, wholly rebuilt in 1904, and renewed 2-light Decorated N and S windows. There is a large, square headed window on the chancel S, blocked in brick, and a blocked pointed headed window and a blocked door in the chancel N wall. The scar of the roof of a former N vestry is visible against the E wall of the N transept. The C15 door to the former vestry survives. The transepts have Decorated N and S windows, that on the S wholly renewed, and curious small blocked openings, apparently formerly squints providing a view into the transepts from the outside. There is a large, blocked, probably C15 window in the S transept W wall. The nave has renewed C14 windows with intersecting tracery, and a large C15-style W window, almost renewed. The S porch has a C15 or C16 outer arch and C14 S door with continuous mouldings and an ogee hood-mould with head stops and foliate finial.

Wide, unaisled nave. In the NE corner is an unusual early C20 timber stair rising from the former rood loft door and running up to a door to the tower ringing chamber. The central tower has pointed arches of two orders in each face. The outer orders are continuously chamfered, and the inner orders stand on half-round attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases, probably C13. The tower is noticeably narrower than the nave, transepts and chancel, and in the nave the W tower arch is flanked by doors into the transepts with shallow relieving arches over pointed heads on shafted jambs. Both transepts are now closed to the tower by timber screens; that to the N has been divided into toilets and service facilities, but retains an early C15 E door to the former vestry and a small, blocked opening of the late C15 or early C16 that was formerly an external squint. The entrance to the former rood stair is from the N transept and remains in use as access to the ringing chamber. The S transept has a similar blocked opening, and part of the jamb of a blocked window is visible in the W wall. The chancel floor has been significantly raised, and only the upper part of the former chancel N door is now visible.

Font, plain round tub shape with a stepped base, C12 or C13. The cover is probably C17 and has a turned post and shaped brackets. C14 piscina with a trefoiled head in the N transept, cinquefoiled piscina in the S transept, and a piscina in the chancel partially blocked by the raised floor. Square aumbry with rebate for a door in chancel N wall. Unusual and interesting royal arms of 1742 painted directly onto the plaster over the chancel arch; the outer GR2 was changed to ER2 in 1953 for the Coronation of Elizabeth II. Some C19 and early C20 glass, the most notable a figure of St Nicholas in the NE nave window. E window of 1921 by Powell and Sons.

In the chancel, a group of monuments to the Hanmer family. The most notable are Job Hanmer, d. 1738, an architectural wall tablet by Bayliss; and Sir Walden Hanmer, d.1789, by John Bacon, a large monument with a white marble mourning figure of Justice in a roundel and an achievement of arms against a black obelisk; white marble base with fluted columns. Also in the chancel, loose within the former piscina, a broken round headstone for William Gale, d.1638 (an early example of such).

C15 nave roof with hammer beam trusses at the E and W ends and three intermediate trusses with arched braces to the collars. The lower edges of the beams are moulded, but the upper parts are rough and unshaped. Windbraces in two tiers. Transept roofs of the C17, with plain trusses and reused beams. Chancel roof is C19, with short king posts and moulded ribs dividing boarded panels with simple painted decoration.

Simpson is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, but the church is not recorded. The first mention of the church is in the early C13, and the earliest surviving fabric is the late C13 tower arches, although the font is probably significantly earlier. The church was wholly rebuilt around the tower in the second quarter of the C14, and there were further works in the late middle ages including reroofing the nave, building the S porch and the former N vestry, now demolished. There was additional work in the C17, when the transepts were reroofed and the font cover made. The church was restored in stages in the late C19 and early C20. Work included underpinning the tower, restoring the transepts and rebuilding the chancel roof in 1873; the E wall of the chancel was wholly rebuilt in 1904; the S transept S window was entirely renewed in 1999. The church was amalgamated with four others, not all Anglican, to form the Woughton Ecumenical parish in 1977.

Pevsner, N and Williamson, E., Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire (1994),549
Castle, S., Ecumenical Church of St Thomas the Apostle, Simpson, Buckinghamshire: A Brief History and guide (2007)
RCHME: Buckinghamshire II (1913), 261-3

The church of St Thomas, Simpson, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Cruciform parish church, with slender C13 tower and wide nave, transepts and chancel of the C14, retaining much medieval fabric.
* It possesses interesting fittings, such as the C13 font with C17 cover, and monuments.
* Its unusual C15 nave roof is of particular note.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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