The Bouverie Connection
The parish church of St Edmund, Hardingstone, has a long association with Delapré Abbey from its links to the earliest community of Cluniac nuns to the generous support of its 19th century Bouverie benefactors.
Following the dissolution of nunnery of St. Mary de la Pre in 1538, St Edmund’s would become closely connected to the new families of Delapré - first the Tates and then the Bouveries.
The connection with the Bouveries began in 1764 when Edward Bouverie, second son of Viscount Folkestone, purchased Delapre Abbey and along with lands inherited from his mother's family - the Clarkes - established his country estate.
The Bouverie family have left their mark on the church. A lead cast inscription in the south aisle roof reads ‘The Honourable Edward Bouverie Esq. 1764’ and a major restoration in 1868-69, largely paid for by General Everard Bouverie, rearranged the church ‘according to modern needs’. The Bouveries had exclusive use of the chancel until Mary Bouverie, Delapré’s last owner, invited the choir to sit there in 1907.
Bouverie memorials are located throughout the church with the Rysbrack monument on the north wall of the chancel in memory of the grandfather and mother Edward, first Bouverie owner of Delapré. There are family tablets on both the north and south chancel walls as well as hatchments for General Bouverie and his father, Edward Bouverie II. The oval tablets on the north wall remember those Bouveries buried in the vault under the chancel whilst those on the south wall are for those buried in the vault in the churchyard.
The relationship between the Bouveries and St. Edmund's and its vicars was not alway harmonious - in 1859 General Bouverie erected a tablet and hatchment without the vicar’s permission and it exacerbated the bad relations between the vicar and his parishioners, resulting in a court case when the vicar was accused of assaulting a churchwarden!
You can learn more about the Bouveries and the history of Delapre Abbey by visiting the historic house - find out more on the website - delapreabbey.org