An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1910.
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18. BENGEO, Urban and Rural.
(O.S. 6 in. (a)xxi. S.E., (b)xxix. S.E.)
b(1). Church of St. Leonard, stands on low ground about 3/8 mile E. of the modern parish church and ½ mile N. of Hertford. It is built of flint rubble in courses 12 inches high, with quoins of clunch and Barnack stone, and is of early 12th-century date; the plan is complete and typical of that period; windows have been inserted in the 13th, late 14th, and 15th centuries, and an 18th-century porch has been added. The chancel arch is closed with boarding, and the chancel only is now used for church services.
The building is valuable as a typical example of the plan of a small 12th-century church: the remains of wall paintings of an early date, and the evidence of an anchorite's cell, are also of great interest.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (24 ft. by 19½ ft.) has a round apsidal E. end; the E. window is a 12th-century single light with a 13th-century outer square head and rebated jambs; on the N. side is another original single light, now blocked; below it are two rough holes, formerly opening into an anchorite's cell. On the S. side is a window of two lights; the E. inner jamb is probably of the 13th, and the rest of the window of the 15th century; the ledge is carried down to form a sedile. In the same wall are a 13th-century lancet, a blocked doorway, probably of the 15th century, and a 13th-century rectangular light. The chancel arch is of the 12th century, and has shafts on the side towards the nave with mutilated bases and carved capitals; the jambs have been partly hacked away. The Nave (44 ft. by 21 ft.) has a small N. window with 12th-century inner jambs, each of a single stone; the sill has been lowered, and the outside is of brick; the N. doorway is blocked. On the S. side is a square-headed window of late 14th-century date, the tracery repaired with cement; the second window has been restored and is coated outside with cement; the S. doorway has 12th-century imposts like those of the chancel arch, under a flat lintel of Barnack stone, and a semi-circular rear arch. In the W. wall is a 15th-century window repaired with cement. The Roof of the chancel is modern; that of the nave is probably old; over the W. end is a modern bell turret.
Fittings—Bell: one, dated 1636. Door: in the S. doorway, oak, probably 14th-century. Locker: in the chancel, a rough recess; probably used as a locker. Paintings: on the jambs of S.W. window in chancel, of two human figures almost obliterated; one appears to be a bishop: on the chancel walls, a red chequer pattern, palimpsest on a 13th-century masonry pattern: on the E. wall of the nave, part of a crowned figure and further traces of colour are visible. Piscinæ: in the chancel, remains of very small piscina: W. of it, a larger one with part of a coffin lid reversed to serve as a sill. Plate: includes a silver cup and paten of 1626. Tapestry: in nave, piece 8 ft. sq., representing a hunting scene, with unicorns, a lion and other animals, probably late 16th-century. Tiles: below communion table, 14th-century.
Condition—The chancel, restored in the 19th century, is in good condition: the nave requires repair to make it fit for use.
a(2). Homestead Moat, at Bengeo Temple. The main entrance is to the N.E. and there is an outer rampart along part of the S.W. arm.
a(3). St. Leonard's, formerly the Old Vicarage, S. of the Church of St. Leonard, is a timber-framed and plastered building of two storeys and an attic; the roofs are tiled. It was built on a rectangular plan, probably in the 17th century, but was much altered and repaired in the 19th century, when two wings were added. Two original chimney stacks remain, built of 17th-century thin bricks.
b(4). Revel's Hall, a farmhouse N.E. of St. Leonard's Church, is a timber-framed building of two storeys and an attic; it is of the 17th century, with a later addition on the S. front, which is gabled; the roof is tiled. One chimney stack is built of 17th-century thin bricks. The interior has been entirely altered and restored in the 18th and 19th centuries.
a(5). Chelsing, a farmhouse about 2¼ miles N. of Ware, W. of the main road, was built in the 17th century, but has been much altered. The ends of the house are of plastered timber, and contain one or two small, old window frames. A brick chimney stack is original. Inside the building are a few old floor joists.