Upper Dean, All Hallows
All Hallows, Dean, is a beautiful Grade 1 listed church of high archaeological, architectural and historical significance.
The present building is largely thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The chancel arch dates from the thirteenth century. The aisles and west tower date from the fourteenth century, but the aisles were rebuilt, a south porch added, and a clerestorey and new roof added over a raised nave arcade in the fifteenth century. By the end of the Middle Ages the church had largely acquired its present external form. There has been little Victorian intervention.
The church is notable for the quality and extent of its carpentry and medieval and later furnishings, including a rood screen and pulpit.
Important medieval fabric includes carved stonework (including a fine tomb recess in the north aisle), timber roofs (the nave and aisles in particular) and screens in the chancel arch and in front of the side chapels.
The survival of a largely complete set of late-medieval benches in the nave and aisles is highly unusual.
The church community at All Hallows has struggled to maintain the church because of large bat roosts. Recently, the church was unofficially closed.
All Hallows joined the project at the behest of the Archdeacon of Bedford and St Alban’s Diocese, due to the impact of the bats. The project trialled conservation cleaning techniques for the wood and stonework and funded a deep clean.
Little was known about Dean’s bats, so the project engaged Bernwood Ecology to carry out an in-depth bat survey in the summer of 2021, leading to a bat management plan. Bedfordshire Bat Group were closely involved in helping the church. The survey showed that Natterer's bats, pipistrelles and Brown long-eared bats use the church, and that mitigation is challenging. The PCC considered installing fabric sails to catch the droppings and urine, a relatively low impact and cost solution.