Our History

Our beautiful church has a very interesting history - Nothing is known of the first church to be built in Milton Keynes, but it seems possible that it was in the vicinity of the Saxon burial ground discovered in 1992 close to the old Rectory.

 

The earliest known church in the present location on the opposite side of Willen Road from the Rectory, dates from about 1200. Most of the glebe land owned by the church was on the east side of the road adjacent to the Rectory, so it seems possible that the ancient church was there, although of course we cannot be certain.

 

Of the church built in about 1200, very little remains except the chancel arch which has handsome late Norman / Early English capitals. The present structure dates from an extensive rebuilding undertaken in about 1330 by the lord of the manor Philip de Aylesbury.

It would seem that he was a man of considerable means because the church he built has expensive detailing in the masonry which would more often have been found in much more important buildings. It has a very unconventional layout with the chancel arch off-centre from the nave. We cannot be certain why this was done, but it seems possible that the earlier (1200) church had a north aisle with an arcade of pillars, and when the rebuild was done it was decided to incorporate the aisle into the nave.

 

In any event it enabled Philip de Aylesbury (or more likely his immediate heirs) to build a large chantry chapel to the north of the Chancel where masses could be said for the repose of his soul. The tracery of the windows and many other features make All Saints a very good example of a church of the decorated period.

More on All Saints History

As in all English parishes, Henry VIII forced the end of Roman Catholicism by declaring himself head of the Church of England, and there followed a rather troubled period in which Protestantism strove to establish itself. Finally, the defeat of Charles I and his beheading brought about the Commonwealth when strict Protestant views were held. During this period, at Milton Keynes, Louis Atterbury was appointed as Rector. He was something of a ‘Vicar of Bray' and managed to retain his post when the monarchy was restored. His son, Francis Atterbury, was to become Bishop of Rochester until his Royalist and pro Catholic views forced him to flee abroad to the Low Countries. Meanwhile, his father came to an unhappy end as he was drowned in Broughton Brook when returning from consulting his lawyers about a land dispute with the Lord of the Manor.

 

At the end of the seventeenth century, Dr. William Wootton (or Wotton) was Rector. He was a man of considerable means and academic ability, and it was he who built the ‘Queen Anne' rectory, pulling down the one in which Atterbury had lived. The Rectory was to become something of a millstone round the necks of subsequent Rectors and only those with private means could afford to run it. One such was the Honourable Wingfield Stratford Wykeham Twisleton Fiennes, who was Rector from 1880 to 1910. He was the fourth son of the 16th Baron Saye and Sele. He seems to have looked after his flock well, but never lost the aristocratic touch! His great, great, great grandsons are the actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes.

As a result of the burden imposed by the rectory and the poor stipend of the parish priest in the 1950s, the living was combined with that of Broughton in the hope that the combined stipends would be enough, but this proved not to be the case and the rectory was sold off in 1961; after that time the Rector lived at the new rectory at Broughton. By 1982 the general lack of clergy forced another merger with Wavendon which had already taken in the parish of Walton. The combined parishes of Milton Keynes, Broughton, Wavendon and Walton became known as Walton Parish which was to form the basis of the Ecumenical Partnership of Walton as we know it today.

 

To see more on the history of our beautiful and historic church visit the Two Villages Archive Trust website by clicking here.