Greensand Stone
Photographic Competition
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Running through Bedfordshire is a unique geological feature that shows itself off in spectacular form here in Husborne Crawley. The feature is the Greensand Ridge and one of the wonders that has been produced from it is the stone from which St. James Church has been built.

In 1998 members of the Ampthill Camera Club held a photographic competition, the subject of which was St James Church. This beautiful photograph below highlights the wonderful colours produced by the greensand stone.

St. James is the only greensand church in Bedfordshire that is actually green. All the other churches along the Greensand Ridge are shades of brown - but not the magnificient technicolour of Crawley's church. This church is unique.

The name greensand was apparently coined in another part of the country where navvies building the railways cut through bright green sandstone. A mineral called glauconite causes the green but the rocks dug by the navvies went rusty brown as soon as they were exposed to the air. Not so Husborne Crawley - after hundreds of years exposed to the elements it is as bright as ever.

Like most of the churches along the Greensand Ridge it is built from local sandstone. It was constructed at a time when transporting heavy materials could only be done on primitive vehicles on rough tracks. As a result most churches were built from stone dug in the immediate vicinity.

The technicolor stone of St. James church
So where did the stone from Husborne Crawley come from?

The greensand rock used for building the church was laid down 120 million years ago - when Britain was where the Mediterranean is now and dinosaurs roamed the earth. Husborne Crawley was under a shallow sea with strong currents, similar to the English Channel today. For over 6 million years sands were laid down until the seas became deeper and clay and chalk were deposited over the sand.

The huge earth movements that formed the Alps about 23 million years ago reached us as ripples, forcing the rocks of Bedfordshire into gentle folds. A few million years of ice, snow and rain wearing away the surface, a few thousand years of human influence and we arrive at Husborne Crawley and its beautiful countryside as we see it today.

The Greensand Trust is a registered Charity and was set up to conserve the historic identity of the Greensand Ridge. For more information about the Sandstone Project contact (e-mail)