St Paul's Church, Bedford

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St. Paul's Church
St. Paul's Church, Bedford
Country England
Denomination Church of England
Dedication Saint Paul
Status Parish church
Functional status Active
Deanery Bedford
Archdeaconry Bedford
Diocese St Albans
Province Canterbury
Canon(s) John Pedlar
Organist/Director of music Ian Runnells

St Paul's Church is a Church of England parish church located on St Paul's Square in the town centre of Bedford, Bedfordshire, England.


Originally constructed in the early 13th century, the present church building has undergone numerous alterations, extensions, rebuilds and restorations since this time. An Early English south porch does survive from the original 13th century structure however, and records trace the existence of a previous Collegiate church on this site as far back as 1066. The Trinity Chapel of the church was first constructed in 1416, with maintenance of the chapel entrusted to the Holy Brotherhood of the Trinity. The church has long standing connections with Sir William Harpur and Dame Alice Harper, and the Trinity Chapel holds brasses of the couple. Sir William was the Lord Mayor of the City of London in 1562, and his Harpur Trust (which has a long history of operating independent schools in Bedford) has donated many of the stained glass windows in the church. Other improvements in the 15th century included Misericords in the chancel and two additional porches. The Trinity Chapel was used as an Archdeacon’s Court after the English Reformation.[1]

On May 23, 1656, John Bunyan, the Christian preacher and author of "The Pilgrim's Progress", preached at St. Paul's. John Wesley, the Anglican cleric and Christian theologian (also one of the founders of Methodism) preached the Assize Sermon at the church on 10 March 1758. During the 19th century St Paul’s became an Anglo-Catholic church of the Church of England, where it remains. As a result, the Sisters of Saint Etheldreda began to be associated with the parish from 1869. Architectural work to the church in the 19th century includes the tower and spire, transepts, choir stalls, chancel and chancel roof.[1]

Early 20th century work to the church includes the Rood screen (designed by George Frederick Bodley), the English Altar and altar rails (designed by the Bromsgrove Guild), and restoration work to the Trinity Chapel (instituted by C. E. Mallows). Many live broadcasts took place from the church between 1941 and the end of World War II. On one event, a joint mass was celebrated by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, but throughout the period Daily Services were broadcast regularly from the church by the BBC. The church was also home to a service officiated by Roman Catholic Cardinal Arthur Hinsley. Later in the 20th century, from the mid-1970s to 1982, the church was restored and otherwise improved.


The church has had a ring of bells for centuries. Currently there are twelve bells, hung for English-style change ringing. The majority of the bells were cast in 1896–7 to form a new ring of ten to replace the eight that had been in the church since around 1744, one of these original bells was retained as the ninth of the new ten, but was recast in 1945. The bells had been taken out of the tower during the Second World War, in case the church was damaged by bombing (ringing of church bells was forbidden for much of the war, reserved as an alarm in case of invasion), and were rehung in 1945. In 1977, two new bells were added, to give the present twelve, these marked the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II.[2][3]

The church today[edit]

St Paul's is a busy and active Anglican Parish in the heart of Bedford. The Church is part of the Bedford Council of Faiths and has many links to other churches and community groups.

Sunday Services 8.00 a.m Said Eucharist (Common Worship Order 2) 10.15 a.m Sung Eucharist (Common Worship Order 1), (Choral first Sunday of the month) 6.30 p.m Evensong (1st Sunday – Taizé/Iona worship), (2nd and 4th Sundays – Choral), (3rd Sunday – Informal Worship)

Weekday Services Monday: 7.30 a.m. Eucharist 8.00 a.m. Morning Prayer Tuesday: 9.00 a.m. Morning Prayer 7.00 p.m. Eucharist 3rd Tuesday - Walsingham Cell 4th Tuesday – With laying on of hands for healing Wednesday: 9.00 a.m. Morning Prayer Noon Eucharist Thursday: 7.30 a.m. Eucharist 8.00 a.m. Morning Prayer Friday: 9.00 a.m. Morning Prayer 9.30 a.m. Eucharist Saturday: 9.00 a.m. Morning Prayer 9.30 a.m. Eucharist

Evening prayer at 5.00 p.m. daily. The church opens every day for private prayer from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.[4]


St Paul's Church has organised a regular Tuesday lunchtime concert series since the late 1980s. Originally the concerts were for showcasing performances from local schools, however this has changed over time, and now individuals, group performers and local schools feature in the concert series at the church.[5]


  1. ^ a b "'Brief History of St Paul's'". Retrieved 2012-08-06. 
  2. ^ "Bedford—S Paul". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. 22 October 2008. Retrieved 5 June 2009. 
  3. ^ "The Bells". Parish website. Retrieved 5 June 2009. 
  4. ^ "'Services'". Retrieved 2012-08-06. 
  5. ^ "'Lunchtime Concerts'". Retrieved 2012-08-06. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°08′07″N 0°28′03″W / 52.1354°N 0.4674°W / 52.1354; -0.4674