There has been a Christian presence in Taplow since the 7th century and a Norman church was built next to Taplow Court at the top of Berry Hill. The Old Churchyard containing a Saxon mound of archaeological significance (‘Teppa’s mound’) remains and is occasionally used for open-air services. The Norman church was pulled down in the 1820s and a new church built on the present site in the village a few years later. Bucks Religious Census of 1851, published Bucks Record Society Vol 27 records that the new church was ‘Consecrated Sept 1829’. In 1865, the chancel was added at the east end; then in 1911/12 the rest of the church was substantially rebuilt with the copper spire added to the tower. The site of the original church is still accessible, in the grounds of Taplow Court, where a cross and some grave stones remain. Also on this site is a Saxon burial mound where a rich horde of artefacts was excavated, now in the British Museum. Other artefacts from the old church were brought to our church including brass plaques and other brasses which are popular for brass rubbing. Close to the original site is Bapsey Pool where Birinus, Bishop of Dorchester, baptised converts in the year 635.
The foundation stone on the NE corner of the chancel reads: “To the glory of Almighty God, this stone was laid on July 6 1911 by Elizabeth Grenfell, Revnd. F.G.A.Phillips, Rector, C.S.Grenfell, O.P.Serocold: Wdns.
C.H.F.Prynne Archt : Honour & Sns. Blds.”
St Nicolas’ church was built to accommodate around 300 people. We include below some background by Keith Thomas about the clock in our tower.
The clock dates from about 1900 and was built by J.B.Joyce & Co. Ltd. of Whitchurch Shropshire. The makers name is on the frame in gilt lettering. The mechanism is housed in an open wooden frame and is itself on a cast iron flat bed frame. It has a double three legged escapement with four wheels in both going and striking trains. It has only one face on the west side of the tower which has Roman numerals at 5 minute intervals, sub marks at one minute interval and two gilded hands. It has an hourly chime with a striker on the main bell. The Clock was wound by Huygens endless train with an 8 day going period. The old pulley weights and the winding handle are still in the clock room! The winding was electrified in 1988/89, with a part donation from the Taplow and Hitcham Recreation Ground Association. Clock automatic winding mechanism was installed by Gillet & Johnson.
WINDING OF THE CLOCK
(and other historical anecdotes!)
Although of little historical value I thought it may be interesting to mention that I (Keith Thomas) used to wind the clock twice a week for many years during the middle nineteen eighties up to when it was electrified. It was wound on Sundays, when at church anyway and Wednesdays when I had to make a special trip. The information above (from the NADFAS church recorders survey) about the clock having an 8 day going is interesting because it was well known that one winding definitely did not last a week! In the last couple of years before it was electrified Revd. Jonathan Meryick (vicar of Taplow at the time) took over the Wednesday winding whilst I continued on the Sunday, thankfully saving me a journey! Previous to me taking over this onerous task Thomas Williams did it for about 12 years before it became too difficult for him. Thomas lived in the village at the Old Farmhouse next to the school. He is now buried in the churchyard with his mother. Their grave is in the corner formed by the chancel and the Lady Chapel, RIP Thomas.
Before Thomas the clock was wound by our last full-time verger Bert Fowler, also for many years, until it became too much for him! Bert lived in Pax Cottage on the green with his wife Gertie. Bert was verger and sexton and Gertie was sacristan. In later years Bert’s eyesite was fading and he had great difficulty marking graves on the rather diagrammatical plan and it really became almost illegible (I took over the plan and some of the burial of ashes from Bert along with Gertie’s sacristan duties). Bert (burial) and Gertie (ashes) are both interred in the ‘new’ churchyard to the north. RIP Bert & Gertie, dear friends.
Keith Thomas July 2007