This visual impact of this tiny church has little to do with the architecture, however. On entering your eyes are immediately drawn to the wall painting over the chancel arch. Although fragmentary, it is a nativity scene complete with the heads of an angel and a be-crowned king still clearly discernible. Above that are three large “IHC” monograms - the Greek letters iota-eta-sigma - the first three letters of the name Jesus in Greek. There are flamboyant sun and moon symbols and a cross. There are other fragments of painting around the church but the floor tiles of the chancel are the next things to grab the attention. In particular there is a wonderful four-deep group of tiles at the west end of the chancel where lions’ heads alternate with the arms of the Fettiplace family. The Fettiplace connections are, of course, even more in evidence through the funerary monuments.
John Fettiplace’s will of 22 August 1464 provided óG40 to repair the church, to build the wooden steeple and to build an enclosure around the tombs of his father and mother. There are a number of sixteenth century windows. Despite the church’s diminutive size, we can see the remains of a rood loft. It is a surprisingly long way forward of the chancel arch. One imagines that space for the congregation was not a great challenge here!
Every way you look at it, this is a real mongrel of a church. Just look at that south side: brickwork, white rendering, grey rendering, bare stone, timber steeple and tiled roof. There’s even a dormer window! Yet this tiny church will be appreciated by the true lover of the English country church for its quirks and foibles. Great Shefford Church is very near by with its rare Anglo-Saxon round tower and Norman font. Do visit both if you are in the area.