St. Mary's Church - Clophill

Faint lights have been seen glowing in the deserted church and black mists hanging around the tower
A hooded figure of a monk has been seen
A vanishing white horse has been seen in the lane
Local inhabitants believe that the site is haunted by a ghost called Sophia. A visitor and his wife photographed the church and discovered a figure in the church window clad in white and looking down the nave. They were shocked when they realised that the window is nearly two metres above the floor of the nave.
Black magic is reputed to have been practiced here
People have reported catching images on film when no one has been present
  Clophill (“tree-stump hill”) is first recorded in the doomsday survey when the manor of Clophill was assessed at 5 hides and of Cainhoe 4 hides.  But Clophills origins are far earlier, with the first recorded settlement, a wattle and daub hut, excavated in 1973 and dated around 500 BC.

The Old Parish Church, dates from the 15th century and probably marks the location of the first settlement. The village of Clophill originally surrounded the church until the Black Death of 1349 killed most of the villagers and wiped out Cainhoe.  Also recorded in 1376 that ten houses in Clophill stand empty as a result of the Black Death.  The village was then burnt to the ground and rebuilt down the bottom of the hill where it now stands.

First mention of a church on this ground was in 1140 and 1146 when it states that the church of Clophill with two virgates of land was given to Beaulieu Priory by Robert de Albini.
The Albini name traces back to Nigel de Aubigny or de Albini and is the only one of that name entered in Domesday.  It states they own the land of Cainho ( Cainhoe) which incorporated also Clophill.
Robert de Albini belonged to The Order of the  Knights Templar and it is probable that the land he gave for the use of Beauliey Priory in Clophill was used for the Leper Hospital that is believed to have also been on this ground.
The church is perpendicular in style. The nave is unusual in that it contains just two windows, one north, one south.  The walls of the nave are older than the tower. It was originally planned to enlarge the church but when the rector fell ill and died in 1843 the new rector decided it would be better to build a new church at a more convenient site in the village.  The new church was consecrated in 1848 and the old church had its chancel removed and was then used as a mortuary chapel for the grave yard.
The churchyard possessed the unenviable reputation of being the haunt of body snatchers, and human many human bones have been dug up in fields of Brickwall Farm.
In 1963 one of the stone box graves was opened and the bones of Jenny Humberstone, an apothecary's wife who had died of small pox in the 1770's, were scattered about in what is generally considered to be a crude attempt at black magic.  It took six burly policemen to put the lid back on the grave.  More graves were similarly desecrated in 1969 and 1975.  This has given the church the sinister reputation for dealings with the occult.  The gravestones were removed from the graves and placed around the edges of the cemetery and the ground leveled to conceal the graves.
List of Vicars of the Old Church
Ralph de..Bedford... - 1235 [Chaplain; patron Beauchamp Priory]
G......... - 1245 [Chaplain]
John de Kinebawton - 20 Dec 1274 [priest; on resignation of Geoffrey]
John de Sancto Neoto - 20 Oct 1321 [priest; on death of John de Kymbarton]
Hugh de Midleton Erneys - 6 Jul 1349 [priest; on death of John]
Ralph atte Halle
John Grene - 26 Jan 1369 [Vicar of Amwell [Hertfordshire], London Diocese; by exchange with Ralph atte Halle]
William Waleman - 15 Jan 1382 [priest; on derath of John Grene]
John Wyltonshurst - 18 Nov 1388 [priest; on resignation of William Walman, exchanged to be Vicar of Astwood [Buckinghamshire] where Wyltonshurst had been since 12 Aug 1385]
Richard Maddeley - 6 Oct 1389 [of Choulsbury; exchanged with John Wyltonshurst]
Richard Taillour
Ralph Geruays - 17 Sep 1395 [priest; on resignation of Richard Taillour, exchanged to Rollesham Chantry]
Thomas Wryght - 7 Jun 1421 [priest; vacant]
Thomas Agley - 3 Nov 1433 [priest; vacant]


List of Rectors of the Old Church

John Mylleward;
John Caller - 9 Jan 1455 [Chaplain; on death of John Mylleward, "late Rector"]

Alexander Robynson - 20 Feb 1505 [priest; on death of John Caller]
Thomas Tavernar - 3 Apr 1536 [Chaplain; on death of Alexander Robynson]
William Bolton - 10 May 1539 [clerk; on death of Thomas Taverner;]
Cuthbert Wytham - 20 Nov 1551
Edmund Harris - 31 Oct 1582 [clerk; vacant; by death of Cuthbert Witham]
John Broune - 1 Aug 1570 [1590?] [clerk; on cessation of last Rector; presented 29 Jul on petition of Mr.Nudygate]
Edward Marbury AM - 24 Nov 1610 [clerk; Trinity College, Cambridge; presented on death of last Rector by Keeper of the Great Seal on recommendation of Dominic Fenton]
Bartholomew Andrews MA - 9 Nov 1610
William Norman - 15 Dec 1619 [patron George Winstanley; will dated 27 Jul, proved 2 Oct 1650; to be buried in midst of chancel]
Nathaniel Cole AM - 15 Nov 1651 - [Queen's College, Cambridge; died 26 Jun 1662; will dated 18 Jun, proved 3 Jul 1662; to be buried in chancel]
Edmund Bagshaw AM - 30 Sep 1660 [clerk; on death of Nathaniel Cole]

William Berkley - 12 Jan 1664 [clerk; on death of Edmund Bagshaw; a non-juror]
(Henry Hill BA - 16 Feb 1685 [ordained priest; curate]
Charles Fletcher AM - 28 Jul 1690 [clerk; on deprivation of William Berkley under an Act for abrogating the oath of Supremacy; died 13, buried 18 Dec 1753, aged 87; Rector for 63 years] 

Charles Smith BA - 24 Dec 1749 [Caius College, Cambridge; ordained deacon, curate]
Ezekiel Rouse MA - 24 Apr 1754 [on death of Charles Fletcher; died 27 Feb 1792, aged 84; Rector for 57 years]
William Rouse MA - 24 Jul 1792 [on death of Ezekiel Rouse; died 18 Nov 1792, aged 58]
Ezekiel Rouse MA - 30 Mar 1793 [on death of William Rouse; died 13 Apr 1799, aged 60]

William Pierce Nethersole LL.B - 10 Jul 1799 [on death of Ezekiel Rouse; died 6 Dec 1843, aged 87; married Sophia Hagar of Ampthill on 6 Nov 1800]
John Mendham MA - 14 Mar 1844 [on death of William Pierce Nethersole


















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