In 1897, four Everton men took shelter from a storm in a lean to. It was struck by lightning. Two escaped unharmed but the other two were killed outright. What puzzled people were curious designs that looked like frost found imprinted on their bodies. A number of houses have been hit by lightning over the years. (Fowler, E.J. 'The History of Gamlingay,' Fowler Bros. Gamlingay, 1935,p. 14)
Disaster struck during a summer thunderstorm on the night of Sunday 16th June 1974. A tremendous thunderstorm came up and over the hill pushed by southwest winds rather than following the more usual northerly course up the valley of the River Ivel. Locals recall a tremendous bang but were unaware of the consequences until the next morning. A lightning bolt struck the 15th century church tower, passed through the west window, down the aisle and out of the east window above the altar. The church clock lay on the ground like a large dinner plate and pieces of stained glass were strewn everywhere amongst the rubble of the tower and broken gravestones. Services had to be held in the Village Hall until repairs had taken place. The upper stage of the tower had to be removed and a new roof constructed where the old bell chamber floor stood. A new parapet was added and to restore it to its original height four lighter stone weather vanes were erected at each corner with a flagpole in the middle. The beautiful windows had to be replaced and the church lost some of its original stained glass. The replacement East Window has a note etched on which states that “this is all that remains of the Astell Window“.
The 300 parishioners were faced with a bill of £30,000 for repairs. Two-thirds of the cost came from church insurance but the Parochial Church Council was left with the task of finding the rest. Whilst there was some opposition, the vicar, Rev. John R. Jackson, decided to sell four of the five bells to raise the money “leaving a solitary bell to do duty on solemn and festive occasions alike.“ Three were used as scrap metal and the fourth was returned to the Whitechapel foundry and sold to be hung in a church in Chicago. The Bell Fund still provides interest to this day. There were even plans to sell the Elizabethan chalice. The Ely Diocesan Board of Finance came up with £1,000 and an appeal committee including Mrs Joan Astell of Woodbury Hall and Mr Francis Pym MP of Everton Park was set up. Letters to the local papers and church publications brought in some donations and other events like a coffee evening at the Pym’s home, a sponsored ramble and morality play raised more. (BCRO. CRT 130 EVE/4; Pickford, C. (1984), pp.1093, 1095; Wymark, C. (1975), ‘Thunder Struck’, Bedfordshire Times, March 28th p.8; Conversation with Nancie Endersby, Everton)