Hughenden, Buckinghamshire – St Michael and All Angels

On Friday 17 August 2019 we drove out of High Wycombe and spent the morning at Hughenden, the National Trust property which was the home of Benjamin Disraeli. Julie enjoyed the author links – although neither of us (and most of the visitors) have never read anything by Disraeli. There was a good exhibition upstairs about his life, politics and relationship with Queen Victoria. The best bit was the exhibition about the house in WW2 – bomber command had done all their map work there. The NT didn’t know this until they heard a visitor talking to his grandchild in 2004 about his time working there, then they managed to find out a lot more. I love maps! It was raining by the time we’d done the house, so we had lunch and left the gardens for another day.

The Parish church of St Michael and All Angels, Hughenden, is at the entrance to the Park – SU 864954. The church advertises itself as ’The Church in the Park.’ Very posh website – https://hughendenparishchurch.org.uk/ – on the evangelical end of the church – there must be a PhD in church websites and their relationship with what we used to call ’churchmanship.’ At least this one includes ‘history’ – excellent photos at https://hughendenparishchurch.org.uk/History. They like their advertising, and had a good board full of photos of a lively church. They also had a banner reminding people that the church is not owned by the National Trust. Good leaflets too.

The original church was built by Geoffrey de Clinton between 1100 and 1135. In 1870 it was in a very bad state of repair, and the Vicar Canon Blagden, with the help of his father-in-law James Searight, raised most of the money and rebuilt it. I wonder how much time and energy Disraeli put into it.

It is a very Victorian church. The font is Early English, probably from the original church, found and returned. The key is old too – apparently the ring would stand in if a couple couldn’t afford a wedding ring – that’s not a story I’ve ever heard before.

There is a selection of effigies in the North Chapel. I didn’t work out which one was which  – indeed, I’m not sure anyone is very sure which is which.  It is suggested that they were put there by a local nouveau riche one trying to produce a pedigree. I like that idea!

The Chancel may be the oldest part of the church, but it is the most Victorian. Various items in the church were paid for by the Hughenden Memorial Fund, in memory of Benjamin Disraeli. The mural scheme depicts the Christ Child on Mary’s lap. Look at Joseph’s expression, and that of the camel. The memorial to Disraeli was installed by Queen Victoria – apparently it is the only memorial installed in an English church by a reigning monarch. She also allowed his Garter insignia to be moved here from Windsor too, and allowed him to be buried here rather than in Westminster Abbey. Her Prime Minister was her favourite – he knew how to flatter her!

The pulpit is a memorial to James Searight – lots of angels and archangels – rather delicately done. One nice piece of stained glass too.

We must return to Hughenden when the sun is shining.

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