St Nicholas village church gallery, Bedfordshire photography - Katey Jane Photography

St Nichols village church Swineshead Bedfordshire

The parish of Swineshead is recorded as Suineshefet (1086), Swynesheved (13th century), Swineshead (16th century). It was an exclave of the county of Huntingdonshire, and surrounded by Bedfordshire, until 1888 or 1896, when it was transferred to Bedfordshire. The parish was an exclave because it was within the great manor of Kimbolton, once the property of Harold, the last Saxon king of England, and part of this manor was held to be in Huntingdonshire though separated from the rest of the county by about half a mile at the nearest point. Thus although King Harold's lands were granted to different persons by William the Conqueror, Swineshead and Stonely both passed to Fitz-Piers and both remained in the county of Huntingdonshire. At the time of the Domesday survey, land in Kimbolton and in Swineshead was held by William de Warenne, and his influence may have been used to keep his property in the same county.

The Church of St Nicholas consists of a chancel, nave, north aisle with vestry, south aisle, west tower and south porch. The walls are coursed rubble with some pebble rubble, and with stone dressings. The roofs are covered with stone slates, tiles and lead. The church is not mentioned in the Domesday survey of 1086, but there was a rector here before 1271. The whole church seems to have been rebuilt during the 14th century, beginning with the chancel about 1330; about the same time, the south aisle and porch were built. The north aisle with the base of a tower at its west end followed about 10 years later, but the proposed tower was almost immediately abandoned in favour of one at the west end of the nave. Towards the end of the 15th century, a clerestory was added to the nave, a vestry was added at the east end of the north aisle, with a chamber above it, and a narrow slipway communicating with the chancel. At the same time the chancel arch was widened, rood-stairs built on the south side, and a rood-screen and loft erected. The nave roof was repaired in 1706 and in 1841. A general restoration seems to have occurred from 1847 to 1853. The tower and spire were again repaired in 1907.

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