A brief guide to the Parish Church of St Blaise, Milton

The Chancel

The chancel of the 14th century church began at the step in the Nave, the present chancel steps being the deacon’s and sub-deacon’s steps in the original pre-reformation Sanctuary. The present Chancel dates from 1851. At that time it was divided from the Nave by wide ugly stone balustrades, which were removed in 1955.

Below the chancel steps is the Barrett Vault, built in 1769. Here a unique burial took place in 1781, that of the Roman Catholic Titular Bishop of London and Salisbury (Richard Challoner). The burial service used was that of the Church of England and was conducted by the Rector, who in the Register describes the Bishop as “a very pious and good man, of great learning and extensive abilities” – no mean tribute in those days when feelings ran high between Roman Catholics and members of the Church of England. In 1946 the Bishop’s coffin was removed for reburial at Westminster Cathedral.

A piece of marble in the floor in front of the western sections of the choir stalls, and showing on either side of the carpet, is where the Altar stood before the present sanctuary was built.

The choir stalls

The over large Victorian stalls were refashioned in 1966 by Fredrick Etchells, the architect. Care was taken that all the extra oak used was 100 years old; for instance, the board used for the southern half of the floor of the western section of the trebles stall on the north side was a century old shelf in a farm-house. The front linen-fold panels were carved out of plain pew-ends from Eton Parish Church. Each of the poppy-heads is also hand carved; the four make a set, but each is intentionally slightly different.

The windows

The window in the south wall was re-leaded in 1959 at the same time as the windows in the Nave. One of the Flemish glass fragments shows Abbot Egelsinus. He was Abbot of St Augustine’s Canterbury under Edward the Confessor, and may have had some connections with the Abbey at Abingdon (whose Abbot was once responsible for the services at Milton). Notice too the delightful squirrel eating a nut.

The east window is the work of Michael O’Connor in 1851; each scene has been inspired by the work of a famous artist. Four of the pictures that were the inspiration for this window are in the National Gallery in London.

The altar

In the centre of the top of the Altar a piece of olive wood from Jerusalem is inlaid. The retable has recently been re-built, and the Victorian tiles restored. Note the old panels with gold leaf lettering of the time of Queen Anne on the east wall. Notice also the fine lettering on the plaster walls.

The candelabrum

The candelabrum is one of our prized possessions. It dates from the middle of the 17th century. Two missing sconces were replaced in 1949. At one time it was in use at New College, Oxford and bears the inscription saying that Henry Nobes, Senior Steward of the College, presented it. How it came to this church is unknown.

The organ

The present electronic organ was installed in 2004 and is a Sonata by Wyvern. This replaced the pipe organ, which had been unusable for many years. The pipe organ had been made by Phipps of Oxford as a chamber organ and came to the church second-hand. It was the gift of Sir Mortimer and Lady Singer in 1926. The organ had a fine oak case with gold tracery, which has been reused to make the screen in the north aisle and the retable.

The screen between the chancel and vestry

Messrs. Jones and Willis of London made this as a reredos in 1905. It was lowered and simplified in 1958.  It was used in Milton as a reredos until 2004 when the pipe organ was removed. It was then repositioned to form a screen between the chancel and the newly formed vestry.

The crypt

Under the Chancel is a Crypt where the wife of Henry Woodyer, the architect who rebuilt most of the Church, lies buried. Cremated remains are also buried in this Crypt, in niches in the east wall. This is said to be the first Parish Church in England to be allowed to do this.