© Kevin Quick
reproduced by kind permission of the photographer
Willen Church, St Mary Magdalene, (near Milton Keynes, just off Junction 14 of M1) was built for Dr Richard Busby, Head Master of Westminster School for over 50 years, who also paid for the church. It is not in original condition; in the 19th century an apse was added to the nave, and the cupola was removed from the tower. Hooke's original intention was for a simple nave and a decorative tower; to some extent this intention has been reversed.
Extracts from Hooke's Diary.
1678 September 26th Dr. Busby about Church. November 22nd. all day about Dr. Busbys module of a church. November 2nd. Dind with Busby sbewd draught. December 10th. Drew ground plat for Dr. Busbys church December 11th. to Dr. Busby, dind with him, gave him. . . another designe. for church.
1679 March 13th. Agreed with Bates For Dr. Busby for 35 sh per Square for framing, raising rales, scaffold for roof. 15 sIl pr Square for bricketting, finding all but boords.-With mason for 10d superficial all without walls. March 25th. Dind with Dr. Busby Dr. Pell Smethwick Horn Bates agreed about Country Church.Dr. Busby gave me 5 G[uineas]. April 14th. Drew mouldings for Dr. Busby. April 15th. With Dr. Busby, good wine bad, lie changed his mind to cover with lead.
There are similar entries throughout the year, and then comes Hooke’s visit to the work.
1680 Monday May 3rd. To George Aldersgate Street 4 in the morn. Coach to Barnet change horses. To St. Albans. At Dunstable dined arid changed horses. At Newport Pagnell by 5, viewd church and steeple. May 4th, To Welling. Measured church. Dind at Mr. Stevensons, Dr, Atterbury, Plucknet, Bates, Horn, Tufnell. Suppd at Swan in Newport Pagnell, Slept well. May 5th. By horse to Dunstable by 7 ½ in morn thence by coach to London at 6 p.m. May 6th. Dind with Dr. Busby, from him 5 Guinnys. July 23rd. At Dr. Busbys, be desired me to agree with a plaisterer and he would stand to the agreement. October 6th. Dind with Dr. Busby, he signd to Glasier,
This is the last entry of any importance. The existing plaister ceiling bears the date 1680. In 1862 an apse was added to the East end, but apart from this addition the building is almost exactlv as Hooke left it. The fittings are principally of late seventeenth century date.
In February 1690 Hooke writes 'He [Dr Busby] left me full power to agree for Almshouses at Wellin', but no trace of these can be found.
The following link courtesy of Peter Loud