When I began making handmade fountain and rollerball pens, I had to come up with individual names for the separate designs that I decided to make.
As I live in a rural area of Bedfordshire in England, I thought I would name the pens after Villages and Hamlets from around the County.
The Steppingley R Rollerball was inspired by the Village of Steppingley in the Heart of Bedfordshire situated only a few miles from where I live.
|Steppingley R Rollerball with Black Titanium appointments and a Bocote Wooden Body|
Probably the most famous resident of the village was one of the early rectors, John Schorne, who took up office in 1273 (it has been said that the French Horn pub was named after him). He became well known as a healer and was credited with having imprisoned the devil, or demon of pain, in an old boot. He moved to North Marston church in 1283 and when he died North Marston became a place of pilgrimage. Small models of Schorne holding a boot with the devil’s head poking out were sold as pilgrim tokens and this is believed to have been the inspiration for the Jack-in-the-Box, so popular in Victorian times. John Schorne’s remains lie in St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
In the late medieval period the poor quality agricultural land was emparked for hunting and timber production. Beckerings Park lay in the northwest of the parish and Steppingley Park occupied most of the south of the parish. Routes running through the parish were redirected around the parks, restricting further growth of the village.
In the sixteenth century, Beckerings became one of the local deer parks providing entertainment for King Henry VIII. Timber from the park and other parts of Steppingley became the most important element in the village economy at this time and much of it was used to build ships for the navy. Two hundred year’s later, Steppingley was one of a group of parishes in the area with a high proportion of pasture land producing dairy products for the growing London market, which brought a measure of prosperity to the village and an increase in population. Steppingley Kiln (where Kiln Farm stands today) was producing bricks for the local gentry and provided the materials for the Earl of Ossory’s Ampthill Great House in 1762-64.
In 1839 the 7th Duke of Bedford purchased almost all of the parish that he didn’t already own and began a programme of improvements. Hedges were removed to make larger fields, the Church, farm buildings and cottages were rebuilt. A few older buildings survive, but most of Steppingley was created between 1840 and 1872.
Today the village retains much of this character and the conservation status helps to preserve this.
St Lawrence Church at Steppingley was rebuilt in 1860 on the site of an earlier church, which collapsed when repairs were undertaken to rectify an outward leaning wall. The old church was once described as the 'the smallest church in Bedfordshire' by the Gentleman's Magazine, 1849 and the oldest parts of the building, the Norman nave, probably dated from the twelfth century and the chancel from the thirteenth century. However the only portion to have been preserved is part of the sedilia or piscina, which now forms the niche in the sacristy of the present building.
The new church was designed by the architect, Henry Clutton, who also designed the Romanesque church at Woburn, and the rebuilding was financed by the Duke of Bedford and the rector. Built of local red-brown sandstone excavated at Green End, Maulden, it is an example of the Early Decorated and Perpendicular styles of the fourteenth century architecture.
It consists of a chancel, nave, vestry, north aisle and a western tower containing 4 bells. The broad and regular tower is supported by buttresses which terminate half-way up each wall. An embattled newel-turret rises above the tower and below the embattlements are four gargoyles, one at each corner.
St Lawrence Church was restored in 1912 by the Duke of Bedford K.G. at a cost of £1000 and in the course of excavations in the chancel, 531 English and Scotch silver coins of 13th century were found. It is thought that these were offerings of patients of a former rector, John de Schorne, who acquired fame for his healing powers. A popular myth credited him with conjuring the devil into a boot and keeping him there under a restraining hand that allowed only his head to emerge.
The register of the church dates from 1562 but not continuous until after 1647.
Extracts taken from the Steppingley Parish Web Site where more details of the village and amenities are available.