St Michaels and All Angels Millbrook and St Lawrence Steppingley
St Michael's and All Angels, Millbrook
The first prominent building that is noticed from each of the approach roads into the small Bedfordshire Village of Millbrook, is its church, standing proudly above the village the Greensand Ridge. This overlooks what is reputed to be John Bunyan’s inspiration for “The Valley of the Shadow of Death” in his Pilgrim’s Progress. The church stands three hundred and sixty feet above sea level. From its tower there is an extensive view across Bedfordshire. Tradition has it that on a clear day the Wash can be seen in the distance. This may well have been so in the time when the church was built, before housing and vegetation had sprung up! The present church was built over a long period of time in the fifteenth century. There was probably a stone church on this site about the late eleventh or early twelfth century, as the early years of recorded history of Millbrook church follows closely that of Ampthill church where signs of an earlier church have been found.
Taken from ‘A brief history for the visitor to Millbrook Church’ written by Elisabeth Roberts.
St Lawrence, Steppingley
St Lawrence Church 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 halfway 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.
Taken from http://pages.123-reg.co.uk/indi1-628805/steppingleyvillageassociation/id2.html