An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1910.
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(O.S. xxvii. N.W.)
(1). Parish Church of St. Leonard, stands in the middle of the village. It is built of flint rubble with stone dressings, and is patched with brick; the roofs are covered with tiles and lead. The West Tower is of c. 1120, and possibly some of the masonry of the Chancel may be of that date. The foundations of the side walls of the contemporary Nave were found in the W. bays during repairs, and showed that the internal width was not altered when the North and South Aisles and the present arcades were built in the 13th century. Three of the responds of the arcades differ from the other work in having distinct diagonal tooling, which suggests that preparations were made for arcades during the 12th century, even if they were not actually built until later. The tower arch was under-built in the second half of the 13th century. The chancel was remodelled c. 1330–40, when the E. end was probably re-built, and the North Vestry added; the N. aisle may also have been re-built in the 14th century; in 1332 Sir William de la Zouche founded a chantry, possibly at the altar in the N. aisle, as the N.E. window of the aisle is of that date. The clearstorey of the nave, the upper stage of the tower, with spire, and the rood-loft stairs were built in the 15th century; the North and South Porches were added probably about the same time, and the E. arch of the N. arcade widened. Later work consists only of repairs, and the church has been recently restored.
The building is of especial interest as giving evidence of a large village church of the 12th century, and on account of the detail of the 13th-century arcades.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (31 ft. by 16½ ft.) has, in the N. wall, a 13th-century lancet, and a modern doorway into the vestry; the E. window and the two S. windows have modern tracery copied from 14th-century work, and in the S. wall is also a priest's doorway with modern stonework outside; the 14th-century chancel arch is of two chamfered orders. The Vestry (16 ft. by 9 ft.) has, on the ground floor, a narrow square-headed light of the 14th century on the E., and two on the N., with a fireplace between them; in the S.W. angle is a curved recess containing a spiral iron staircase. Only the stone corbels remain of the floor of the upper storey. The Nave (67 ft. by 21 ft.) has N. and S. arcades of six bays, with pointed arches of two hollow chamfered orders, octagonal shafts, foliated capitals and moulded bases; the arches have labels on the side facing the nave, and also on the side towards the aisle in the two eastern bays of the N. arcade; the N.E. respond was re-built when the easternmost arch of the arcade was widened; the other responds have slender detached shafts, but that on the N.W. has a wooden shaft and a capital made up with plaster. The 15th-century clearstorey windows, four on each side, are of two cinque-foiled lights with square heads. The North Aisle (10½ ft. wide) has a 15th-century E. window of two cinque-foiled lights, and in the N. wall are two similar windows, in addition to the 14th-century window, and a plain 15th-century doorway. The South Aisle (9 ft. wide) has, in the S. wall, a 15th-century window of three cinque-foiled lights, restored, and two windows which have been entirely renewed. The West Tower (17 ft. square) is of two stages, with a plain parapet and a small leaded spire. Under the large round-headed arch, opening into the nave, is a pointed arch of late 13th-century date, with a chamfered label. The W. doorway and the two-light window above it were inserted in the 15th century. High up in the first stage are traces of round-headed 12th-century windows of two lights, blocked in the 15th century to strengthen the wall when the second stage was added, which has square-headed windows of two cinque-foiled lights in each face. The original stair-turret, with a round-headed doorway, is at the S.E. angle. The North and South Porches have been much restored, but the outer doorway of the S. porch is of the 15th century. The Roof of the nave is of the 15th century though restored, and rests on carved stone corbels; the roof of the chancel is also old.
Fittings—Bells: six; five by Chandler, 1664, the sixth, 1729. Bracket: near N.E. corner of N. aisle, for image. Brasses and Indents: in chancel, of John Oudeby, rector, 1414, in processional vestments, over his head small canopy, indent of Virgin and Child, round it three brass shields, inscription, and indents of two more shields: figure of unknown man, his wife, and four children, probably 15th-century, indents of shield and inscription: slab with indents of figure and inscription. Communion Table and Rails: 17th-century. Font: 15th-century, restored and re-tooled. Monuments: in third bay of N. arcade, altar tomb with effigies of a man and his wife, under crocketted canopy, probably c. 1420: on chancel wall, of Sir Bartholomew Fouke, 1604, kneeling figure, alabaster and marble: on shafts of nave arcade, three incised inscriptions record burial places of John Pace, 1596; Ffrauncys Cordell, 1597; John Grigge, 1598. Painting: on E. wall of N. aisle, over bracket for image, figure of the Virgin, defaced: over E. window of N. aisle, traces of black-letter inscription to memory of a parish clerk, 1604: on arches of N. arcade, traces of painted decoration; colour on two easternmost arches, restored. Piscinae: in chancel, 14th-century, restored: in E. respond of N. arcade, trefoiled recess: in W. wall of vestry, basin only. Plate: includes unmarked cup and paten, 17th-century, flagon, 1690: pewter flagon dated 1675. Recess: in N. wall of chancel, near E. end, large, shallow, with moulded jambs and arch. Screen: across the chancel, 15th-century, with modern beam instead of original vaulted loft, rood also modern. Seating: W. end of S. aisle, oak, possibly 14th-century. Sedilia: in chancel, single, cinque-foiled, 14th-century; W. of it, wider cinque-foiled recess for two seats. Miscellanea: on S. jamb of tower arch, is scratched a consecration cross, recently painted.
Condition—Good, owing to recent extensive repairs, but some of the stonework is still in a state of decay.
(2). Almshouses, N. of the church, built by Thomas Saunders, of Beechwood, in 1669, form a rectangular building of red brick with gabled ends; the roof is tiled. The two chimney stacks have square shafts set diagonally. There are four plain windows of two lights in the front, and four round-headed doorways, over two of which are circular panels of stone with defaced carving.