The church was built during the period May 1823 to May 1825 as a chapel of ease attached to the Parish Church of St Mary, Princes Risborough. The cost of building was financed partly by a grant of £460 from the Society for Promoting the Enlargement and Building of Churches and Chapels, and partly by a public appeal which raised some £2,200. The appeal was organised by the Reverend Richard Meade, Rector of Horsenden and Perpetual Curate of Princes Risborough, and advertised in the following terms:
The upper hamlet of the extensive parish of Princes Risborough consists of three populous villages, Speen, Lacey Green and Loosley Row, lying above the lckneld Way, and situate upon the summit of the Chiltern Hills. They contain together upwards of 800 inhabitants who, for the most part, are precluded from any convenient opportunity of attending Divine Worship according to the Rites of the Church of England by reason of their remote situation, being from three to five miles distant from the Pariah Church, to which the young, the aged and the infirm can but seldom resort.
To remedy this inconvenience a plan was arranged by the incumbent of the parish to build and endow a church, or a parochial chapel, for this district, by the voluntary contributions of the Nobility, Clergy and Gentry, by Parochial Collections, and small donations of devoutly disposed and benevolent persons; as the population consisting chiefly of rack renters and labourers was unable to defray the expense or contribute much towards accomplishing this Christian and charitable undertaking for the advancement of true religion and godliness.
Subscription lists were opened at six addresses in London, including Hatchard's Bookshop in Piccadilly, and addresses in Aylesbury, Buckingham, Oxford, Cambridge, Banbury and Windsor. There were some 300 benefactors in all, including many Nobility, Clergy and Gentry - particular contributors were Lord Grenville and Sir Robert Peel (both Prime Ministers), the Duke of Bedford,, the Duke of Portland, the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, and the Oxford colleges of All Souls, Balliol, New and Magdalen.
The original Trustees of the chapel were:
- The Hon. and Rt. Revd. The Lord Bishop of Lincoln
- The Rt. Hon. Lord George Henry Cavendish
- John Grubb Esq., Lord of the Manor of Horsenden
- Sir Scrope Bernard Morland, MP for Aylesbury
- Sir William Lawrence Young, MP for High Wycombe
- Sir George Nayler, Garter King of Arms
- The Ven Luke Heslop, Archdeacon of Buckingham
- The Revd. Richard London, Prebendary of St. Paul's, London
- The Revd. Richard Meade, Minister of Princes Risborough
- Abraham Welland Esq., Southborough Lodge, Kent
- John Norris Esq., Hughenden House
The church building was designed by John Norris PSA ofHughenden House, and it was constructed in traditional Chiltero flint, with squared stones at the angles, by Richard Jordan, of Aroersham, and the architect was J Chadley.lt was originally a simple cruciform building consisting only of the present nave and two transepts. In addition to the existing West gallery, there were galleries along the south wall and in the south transept. The Hon George Pelham, Lord Bishop of Lincoln, consecrated the new church on the morning of July 3 1825. There was also an evening service on the same day, at which the preacher was The- Revd. Richard London, Prebendary of S.Paul's Cathedral, and 19 babies and young children were baptised.
Extensive alterations took place in 1871 when the polygonal Chancel, designed by J P Seddon, was added. At this time two of the galleries were removed since they were considered to be 'obstructing the architectural proportions of the church'. Features of the building are the Armorial Window in the North Transept (see below), the hammer beam roof of the Nave, the painted Chancel ceiling, the Sanctuary floor tiles, the Samuel Green organ (see below), and the large Georgian windows.
The Lady Chapel: In the original 1825 building the South Transept contained pews facing into the body of the church. There was also a gallery, which was removed in the 1871 alterations. The transept was first set up as a chapel in 1927. By 1980 'the chapel and its furnishings had fallen into some disrepair. Since then it has been completely redecorated and refurnished. The chairs were made locally in Stokenchurch. The chapel is in regular use for small services.
The Armorial Window: The window was constructed in 1825 by Thomas Hills of Chelsea at a cost of £153-9-0d and it is a particularly fine example of enamelled glass. Originally the East Window, it was moved to its present position in the North Transept in 1871 when the Chancel was added. The panes depict the coats of arms of benefactors who contributed to the fund to build the church. A number had local connections and the Hampden arms, for example, appear in the two lowermost panes. A possible explanation for the commissioning of such a fine window for the original chapel is provided by the fact that one of the Trustees in 1825 was Sir George Nayler, the Garter King of Arms' and, as such, the principal heraldic officer in England, after the Earl Marshal. Sir George Nayler was a resident of Bradenham House. On an adjacent wall is a hatchment depicting the arms of Sir William Young (1806-42), who was MP for High Wycombe, owner of a 100 acre estate in Lacey Green and one of the original Trustees. The arms also appear in the Armorial Window. On the roof supports are twelve heraldic shields, which again depict the arms of benefactors, three of the arms being already represented in the Armorial Window.
The floor of the church was renewed in 1993. It had not been renewed for over 100 years and the, last time it had been done was inscribed on the reverse side of one of the boards which had been signed by the carpenter. This time a 'time capsule' has been placed under the floor. The initials along the edge of the floor record the names of some who contributed towards its cost.
The Samuel Green Organ: The organ is a 1792 example of the work of the well-known 18th Century organ builder Samuel Green, who was also responsible for the 1783 organ in High Wycombe Parish Church, and the 1790 organ in St.George's Chapel, Windsor. The instrument is a 'drawer' chamber organ intended originally, not for a church, but for a drawing room. Although it has been augmented in more recent times it is one of the relatively few Samuel Green organs whose original condition is still recognisable. In 1992 the bicentenary of the organ was celebrated with a dramatic and musical pageant performed by members of the congregation and choir and written by the incumbent's wife, Elizabeth Hale.
The Upper Room:In 1994 the Gallery was turned into the 'Upper Room with a glazed screen dividing it from the nave of the church. This was done in order to provide the congregation with a meeting place for teaching and socialising. The work was carried out by the firm of Mabbitt from Essex, which is renowned for its work in Westminster Abbey, S.Margaret's Westminster, and the Palace of Westminister and many stately homes throughout England. This was completed in July 1994 and dedicated at an evening service on July 3 (the anniversary of the consecration of the church) by The Venerable John Morrison, the Archdeacon of Buckingham.
The parish of Lacey Green was formed on August 1851 out of part of the parish of Princes Risborough. S.John's continued to be known as a parochial chapel until 1868 when it officially became a church by direction of the Bishop of Oxford. At the same time the title of the minister was changed from Perpetual Curate to Vicar.
The association of Lacey Green with the Diocese of Oxford began in 1845 when the entire county of Buckingham was transferred from the Diocese of Lincoln to the newly extended Diocese of Oxford.
VICARS OF LACEY GREEN
|1825 – 1826||Richard Meade|
|1826 - 1844||Charles E Hughes|
|1844 - 1848||Charles London|
|1848 - 1880||William T Burgess|
|1880 - 1898||William Kelly|
|1898 - 1922||William Robson|
|1922 - 1929||Richard Gee|
|1929 - 1934||Oscar C Moreton|
|1934 - 1939||Richard T Sharp|
|1939 - 1958||John K Steward|
|1958 - 1961||Stanley Keene|
|1961 - 1981||Bernard P Houghton|
|1981 - 1983||Peter Viney|
|1983 - 1990||Raymond Maynard|
|1990 - 1995||Peter R L Hale|
|1996 – 2002||Richard D. S. Caink|
|2002 - 2013||Denise Critchell|
|2014 - present||Rev. Canon Tony Bundock|