[Transcribed and edited information from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868]
"COCKAYNE HATLEY, a parish in the hundred of Biggleswade, in the county of Bedford, 2¼ miles east of Potton, its post town and railway station, and 6 N.E. of Biggleswade. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Ely, value £151, in the patronage of the Rev. H. C. Cast. The church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is a handsome structure in the Norman style of architecture, with tower, and contains stained-glass windows. There are some small charities."
The church of John the Baptist, erected toward the close of the 14th century, is a building of rubble and sandstone, in the Decorated and Perpendicular styles, and was completely restored in the year 1803 by the liberality of the Rev. the Hon. Henry Cockayne Cust, rector from 1806, d. 1861, and ornamented with exquisite wood carving, brought chiefly from the Low Countries; it consists of chancel, clerestoried nave, aisles and western embattled tower of three stages, 66 feet in height, with battlements surmounted by pinnacles and containing 2 bells: in the nave is a piscina removed from the chancel: the chief feature of the chancel is the carved woodwork and stalls; the former, extending to nearly the whole length of the chancel, was brought from the Abbey of Alne, near Charleroi, destroyed by the French under General Charbonnais at the end of the last century, and displays sixteen carved medallions in oak, representing the busts, in alto-relievo, of some of the most distinguished of the later saints and writers of the Catholic church; the backs of the stalls, twenty-four in number, are ornamented with different patterns inlaid in black wood, and are all furnished with misereres; the date of the carving is precisely ascertained to have been 1689: the communion rail, purchased from a church at Malines in Flanders, and also of oak, consists of four compartments, with carved representations, in alto-relievo, typical of the Holy Sacrament; the chairs are facsimiles of the well-known Glastonbury chair, and were presented to the church by the brother and sons of the late incumbent : the stained east window represents passages in the life of Our Saviour: the two side windows of the chancel are filled with stained glass, representing the armorial bearings of the Clockayne and Gust families : the hexagonal carved pulpit, formerly belonging to the church of St. Andrew in Antwerp, and transferred here at the beginning of the present century, is a most exquisite piece of workmanship, in the Cinque Cento style, executed in 1559, and decorated with small figures, in basso-relievo, of the Four Evangelists, with their appropriate emblems; the sounding board of the original, with a figure of St. Andrew in basso-relievo, is now used as a front to the reading desk: the nave is separated from the tower by the organ loft, below which are large oak folding doors, pierced in a rich pattern: at the east end of the north aisle is a window containing old stained glass, representing four saints and Saxon monarchs; there is also some good screen work from the church of St. Bavon at Ghent, which has been re-arranged. The sliding panels seem to suggest its having been once used for confessional purposes : all the windows of both aisles as well as the west window are stained: there are four 16th century brasses to the Bryan and Cockayne families : a description of the church, written by Robert Needham Cust esg. and illustrated by the late rector's four daughters Anna Maria, Lucy, Eleanor,, and Georgina, has been privately printed : the church was thoroughly restored in 1889, by subscription: there are 200 sittings. The register dates from the year 1701. [Kelly's Directory - Bedfordshire - 1898]