Chelveston-cum-Caldecott Parish Council

Serving the people of Chelveston-cum-Caldecott

Clerk: Mr Mark Hunter
Ashbury, Caldecott
Northamptonshire NN9 6AR

Tel: 01933 626039

St John the Baptist Church

The Church viewed from Bidwell Lane.

The Church viewed from Bidwell Lane.

The Parish

The Ecclesiastical Parish was joined with that of Higham Ferrers until 1927, when it was joined with Newton Bromswold Parish. This continued for 40 years until 1967, when it was split again and rejoined with Higham Ferrers Parish.

The Church

The Church largely dates back to 13th century (1220 - 1250), with additions in the 14th & 15th centuries (the porch has a datestone of 1685). The octagonal stone font is 13th century, whilst the oak pulpit is in memory of Jane Harriet Wise (1829 - 1908). Restored and extended in 1849 at an estimated cost of £726, the Church is now a grade II* listed building.

The church is set back from the Caldecott Road and sits within the churchyard, which is still open for burials and internment of ashes. The Friends of St John the Baptist Church supports the maintenance of the fabric of the church and churchyard.

Amongst the items in the church is copy of the "Book of Governors", a gift from the 305th Bomb Group Memorial Association on their 50th Anniversary visit in 1992.

In the last century, electricity arrived during 1951-2, the Lady Chapel was restored in 1967 and a water supply was laid in to provide a servery area for functions in 2004. A toilet was also installed at that time.

A sound system was introduced in 2014 and a new all weather path was installed in 2019. A new water supply and broadband fibre were laid in as part of the path works.

The Organ

The organ was installed by Percy George Phipps (1872 - 1953) of Oxford in 1909. The Phipps organ company was founded in 1907, so this could be one of his early commissions. The business was continued by his sons until 1962.

  • The Organs of Chelveston Church. (PDF, 724 Kb)

    An article on the organs and the restoration of the present organ in St John the Baptists Church, by Tina and David Hackett of Chelveston.

The Chancel

Plaques on the wall of the chancel include a Lord of the Manor Sir Edward Cromwell Disbrowe (1790-1851), his land agent Andrew Leighton (1794-1868), and James Moyes Gray (1837 - 1901), land agent to Mrs Wise.

James Moyes Gray is buried in Markinch, Fife. His brother Thomas Malcolm Gray (-1905) was a Honorary Sheriff of Fife.

The Tower

The 60ft high tower on the north side of the church contains 5 bells in a wooden frame which have not been ringable since the 1970's. The clock was installed in 1867 for £86. At the base of the tower is a memorial to the 305th Bombardment Group that flew out of RAF Chelveston from 1942-45.

The Bells






Bell Founder

1 (Treble)

Approx. 1 cwt




Thomas Eayre of Kettering


Approx. 2.5 cwt




Henry Penn of Peterborough


Just over 5 cwt




Robert Taylor and Sons of St Neots


7 cwt




Robert Taylor and Sons of St Neots

5 (Tenor)

8 cwt




Henry Penn of Peterborough

Henry Penn (1685-1729) served his apprenticeship under his uncle Henry Bagley at the bell foundry at Ecton. He moved to Peterborough and established his own bell foundry at Rivergate, to the south of the Cathedral precincts. In 1709, at the age of 24, he won the contract to cast a set of 10 bells for the Cathedral. He died in 1729, aged 44, having cast some 250 bells for approx. 100 churches and country houses in the surrounding counties.

Thomas (I) Eayre (1691 - 1757) was a bell founder and clockmaker in Kettering. His foundry was established around 1717, and located in Wadcraft Lane, Kettering, with over 200 bells cast. His son, Thomas (II) Eayre, succeeded him in the business after his death, but unfortunately went bankrupt in 1762, with no further bells being cast under the name of "Thomas Eayre". Joseph Eayre (1707 - 1770), the youngest brother of Thomas (I), who had established a bell foundry in Priory Lane, St Neots in 1735, took over the Kettering bell foundry.

Thomas (I) Eayre and Henry Penn appear to have competed for work, until Henry's death in 1729. One might speculate that as Henry had installed the Tenor and 2nd Bell in 1727, had he lived longer he would have been the favourite to install the Treble in St John's in 1744.

Robert Taylor (1759 - 1830) was apprenticed to Edward Arnold, who succeeded Joseph Eayre at the St Neots bell foundry when he died in 1770. Edward may have been a cousin or nephew of Joseph, and was a brewer as well as a clock and watchmaker. In 1778 he opened another bell foundry in Leicester and sold the St Neots business to Robert.

Robert originally rented the Priory Lane premises from Edward, but in 1789 Robert set up a new bell foundry in Cambridge Street, St Neots. Robert cast at least 29 bells at this site, before the premises were destroyed by fire in 1821. The 3rd and 4th bells of St John's would have been cast there.

Robert's son, John (1797–1858), started the well known bell foundry at Loughborough in 1839.

In May 2012 an electronic carillon bell sound system was installed, which can be heard using the YouTube link below.


The priest is the Rev Louise Bishop (from July 2023).

The Churchwardens are Arthur Wright and Andrew Wager.

A sung communion service is held at 9:00 on Sundays.