Bolas Magna, Great Bolas

St John the Baptist

St John the Baptist is set in our local village of Great Bolas, historically known as Bolas Magna. The term 'Bolas' means a site on a flood-plain and indeed, the village of Great Bolas is at the confluence of the rivers Tern and Meese.

The Church’s origins date back to the late 13th century, when a small church was built. The first recorded incumbent was Rev Alan-De-Newton from 1306. Unfortunately little is known of its history since then, but the records do show the names of the incumbents since then up to the present day.

The present chancel was built in the 1680’s and was inspired by the Rev John Tourneor – a small brass plaque near the altar celebrates his life. The rest of the church was built by his son, also John.

John (the 2nd) was also responsible for the rebuilding of the nave which started in the summer of 1726 and was finally completed in 1730. Its appearance has not altered greatly since then, ie the pews, the communion rails, as well as two collecting boxes all date back to the 17th century.

During this period, the church was decorated with the Hanoverian Royal Arms which is believed to have been carved sometime in the years between 1714–1801.

But the most notable resident of Great Bolas was a farmer’s daughter, Sarah Hoggins. She fell in love with a John Jones who worked for her father. They married at St John’s, only for Sarah to later find out that he was Lord Burleigh, the son of the Marquis of Exeter and already married! And so a bigamous marriage took place here in Great Bolas, however, she later became the Countess of Exeter.

Today, the church has a small, regular, attendance, an active PCC, and regular fund raising activities throughout the year. We are currently in the process of setting up a Friends of the Church group in the hope of attracting more interest in preserving our wonderful historic church.

Service times and more details at