An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1910.
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11. AYOT ST. LAWRENCE.
(O.S. 6 in. xxviii. N.W.)
(1). Old Church of St. Lawrence, W. of the village, has flint rubble walls with stone dressings. Since the 18th century, when the new church was built, this building has fallen into disrepair. The Nave was built probably in the 12th century, and early in the 13th century a North Aisle with an arcade of two bays was added. The nave was partly, and the Chancel wholly re-built, and a North Chapel added, early in the 14th century. At the beginning of the 15th century the N. arcade was destroyed (one arch being re-set at the W. end of the chapel), the North West Tower was added and the aisle re-built a little further N., widening the nave.
The church is of considerable interest on account of its complex history and architectural detail.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (30½ ft. by 16½ ft.) has an early 14th-century moulded arch with shafted jambs, opening into the N. chapel. Only small fragments of the E. and S. walls remain. On the S.W. are the W. jambs of an internal wall recess and of a window set in it. The chancel arch has been destroyed, but the shafted jambs, of the same date as the arch of the chapel, remain. The North Chapel (30½ ft. by 14½ ft.) has an E. window of three lights, and two N. windows of two lights, with hollow moulded jambs; little of the tracery remains: in the S. wall an archway leads to the chancel, and, on the W., is the re-set arch of the 13th-century arcade; the responds are made up of circular shafts with foliate capitals, the arch is of two moulded orders, and is badly distorted: on the N.W. is a rough recess, with what appears to be a flue. The Nave (29 ft. by 18 ft.) has no structural division from the N. aisle, and the N.W. bay is covered by the tower. There are two windows in the S. wall and one in the W., all inserted in the 15th century; the tracery has been destroyed. The lower part of the internal jambs of the S. door is 12th-century work, but the rest is of the 14th century. On the W. is a blocked door. The Aisle (14 ft. by 15 ft.) has one 15th-century N. window, in which only part of the tracery remains. The Tower (12 ft. square) is of three stages, with embattled parapet: on the E. and S. two early 15th-century arches of three chamfered orders with shafted jambs, open into the aisle and the nave. On the N. is a small door and a window of two lights, both of early 15th-century date: on the W. is a blocked window, apparently the W. window of the former aisle, and on the S.W. are traces of a stair-turret now destroyed. The windows of the bell-chamber are also of early 15th-century date, and are much defaced. The Roofs no longer exist, except on the tower, which also retains an upper floor with moulded wall plates.
Fittings—Bracket: In the chapel, on N.E., for image, large, moulded. Brass-Indents: in the aisle, of a man and his wife, kneeling figures, three sons and five daughters. Font: octagonal, much broken, with a panelled bowl, early 15th-century. Image: over the N. jamb of the W. arch of the chapel, small defaced figure inserted in the wall. Monuments: in the tower, altar tomb, with a panelled side and defaced remains of effigies of a knight and lady, early 15th-century: in the blocked window of the tower, of Nicholas Bristow, 1626, with small kneeling effigies of alabaster, defaced. Piscina: in the chapel, on the S.E., ogee-headed, blocked. Plate: now in new church, includes cup of 1659 and paten of 1696.
Condition—Ruinous; the N. wall of the chancel is badly out of the perpendicular, and is partly supported by a clumsy brick buttress. The ivy is tearing the walls to pieces and the interior is entirely exposed to the weather.
(2). The Old Manor House, in a park near Ayot House, is a red brick, square building, probably of the 16th century. The lower part is practically all that remains of the original structure.
(3). The School House, opposite the ruins of the old church, is probably of the 17th century, and retains much of the original exposed timber work.
Condition—Good; has been enlarged and much repaired.
(4). The Post Office, E. of the village, is a 16th or 17th-century cottage of two storeys, the lower of brick, the upper of timber and plaster.
(5). The Old Rectory, opposite the old church, is modern, but contains, in a staircase window, three shields of early 17th-century glass said to have been removed from the old church; they are surrounded by foliage, etc., of 18th-century and modern glass. 1st shield, France modern quartering England, with a label of three points argent: 2nd shield, Bristow, ermine, a fesse between two bars sable with three crescents or thereon: the 3rd shield, Bristow impaling, quarterly 1 and 4, Bibbesworth, azure three eagles or, 2 and 3, Barley, ermine three bars wavy sable, in chief a pierced molet, quartering (?) Skipwith, gules three bars or, in chief a running greyhound argent.