A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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ST. PAUL'S WALDEN
Waldene (xi cent.); Walden (xiii cent.); Abbot's Walden or Walden Abbatis (xv and xvi cent.); Powles Walden or Pawles Walden (xvi cent.).
The parish of St. Paul's Walden lies on a tableland some 400 ft. high, being a spur of the Chilterns. The valley of the River Mimram runs through it from north-west to south-east. The church and some halfdozen cottages stand in the north. Stagenhoe Park is in the west of the parish and The Bury lies to the south; both have wooded parks, and there are large beechwoods. A long shady road, 1 mile in length, leads down from here to the hamlet of Whitwell, with its population of 600 people. Its situation along the valley of the river is very pretty, but the village itself is unpleasing, being a long row of houses, which are, for the most part, poor. The old Tannery house must be excepted. It is a good brick house, with panelling inside, and two good Adams' mantelpieces. Tanning used to be an industry here, but it was given up some thirty-five years ago. Straw-plaiting also was once an industry. Now, however, the people have to depend on agriculture and water-cress growing. There are small beds by the riverside, and an osier-bed plantation along the eastern boundary of Hoo Park.
There is no railway passing through the parish, and the nearest station is about four and a half miles away at Knebworth, on the Great Northern Railway. The road from St. Paul's Walden to Codicote joins that passing through Bendish and Whitwell, hamlets on the west and south-west of St. Paul's Walden, at a point south-east of Whitwell. There used to be a mission room at Bendish, but service is now held in a cottage. There are a few old halftimber and brick cottages, and a farm-house in which it is said Bunyan used to preach.
In 1905 the parish included 2,334 acres of arable land, 1,059 acres of permanent grass, and 581 acres of woodland. (fn. 1) The chief crops are wheat, oats, barley, and turnips, and the soil is clay with flints.
Roman coins have been found at Whitwell.
Place names taken from court rolls and elsewhere are Smartnolclose, Venegles, Kyngeslond, Salowecroft, Aley Green, Wisegrove Corner, le Croke Close, Kengley Close, Croend, Lyefields, Ninewells bridge, Hitchwood Close, le Marrion, Burton Lane, Niger Close, Hartmings, Burgswick, Winchcroft, Newsey, Burtry Close, Pantile Close, and Hacklegate; and in a will of 1513 reference is made to a tenement in Whittewell Street opposite le Holmes next the Cross and a close next Romers brigge. (fn. 2)
Ethelred, procurator of Mercia, granted land in ABBOTS WALDEN or ST. PAUL'S WALDEN in 888 to his servant Wulfgar, (fn. 3) who later granted this land to the abbey of St. Albans. (fn. 4) At the time of the Domesday Survey this manor was part of the demesne of the abbey of St. Albans, (fn. 5) and it was confirmed to the monastery by King John. (fn. 6) It does not seem to have been subinfeudated at any time. The abbey acquired more land in Abbots Walden during the later part of the thirteenth century from Agnes widow of Hugh Marshal, and Matilda his daughter. (fn. 7)
Abbot Geoffrey (1119–46) assigned to the kitchen of the monastery all the cheeses from Walden, and Codicote and Walden had between them to supply fifty hens and one pig at Christmas, and a thousand eggs and one pig at Easter. These were distributed between the two cellarers. (fn. 8) The manor with two mills was mortgaged by Abbot Hugh (1308–26) for ten years to Master William Legat. (fn. 9)
Like many other tenants of the abbey, the inhabitants of Abbots Walden extorted a charter of liberties from the abbot at the time of Wat Tyler's rebellion, (fn. 10) and at about the same time, some of the tenants, pretending that they were relations of a certain John Biker, who had been hanged during a recent insurrection in St. Albans, demanded a sum of money from the abbot, and when he refused to pay they burnt many of the abbey farms, that of Walden being among them. The cowhouse was completely demolished, but the rest of the manorhouse was saved. (fn. 11) A little later a large barn was built at Abbots Walden to accommodate the tithes of the refectorar. (fn. 12)
At the time of the Dissolution (1539) the farm of the manor of Waldenbury was in lease for thirty-one years to Richard Sturmyns in right of Agnes his wife, daughter and heir of Thomas Hethe. (fn. 13) In 1544 the manor was granted in exchange for other manors to the dean and chapter of St. Paul's, London. (fn. 14) From that time the name of the manor was changed to St. Paul's Walden, and it has remained in the possession of the dean and chapter of St. Paul's till the present time, except for a short interval during the Commonwealth, when the chapter lands were confiscated. The mansion house of this manor was sold in 1649 to Martin Noel, of London. (fn. 15) The manor was sold at the same date to Thomas Matthews and Augustine Garland, (fn. 16) and in 1652 Augustine Garland and Thomas Aleyn sold it to George Younge. (fn. 17)
The manor-house of St. Paul's Walden or the Bury seems to have been sold by the dean and chapter, for at the beginning of the eighteenth century it belonged to Edward Gilbert, (fn. 18) and from him it came to his daughter Mary, who brought it by marriage to George Bowes. Their daughter Mary Eleanor married John Lyon, earl of Strathmore, (fn. 19) from whom it has descended to the present earl. A court leet has been held every May up to 1905.
The manor of STAGENHOE (Stagenhou xi cent.; Stagenho, Stagho, xiii cent.; Stattenho, xv cent.; Stangno, Stagnowe, Stagnall, xvi cent.), consisting of one hide, was held before the Norman Conquest by Turbern a man of King Edward, and he could sell it. After the Conquest it was given to Ranulph brother of Ilger and William held it of him. (fn. 20) Nothing more is known of the descent of this manor until the middle of the thirteenth century, when it occurs as a knight's fee held of the manor of Weston next Baldock, (fn. 21) which belonged to the Earls Marshal. The overlordship descended with that manor till 1339, when on the death of Thomas de Brotherton, earl of Norfolk, this fee was assigned to his daughter Alice the wife of Edward Montagu, the manor of Weston falling to the share of his other daughter, Margaret wife of John de Segrave. (fn. 22) Edward and Alice had an only daughter Joan who married William Ufford, earl of Suffolk, and died without issue. (fn. 23) This fee subsequently seems to have passed to the abbots of St. Albans, of whom it was held in 1485. (fn. 24)
The manor was held in 1245–6 by Simon Fitz Simon, (fn. 25) probably a son of Simon Fitz Simon who held land in Hertfordshire in 1198–9, and died about 1215; (fn. 26) and free warren was granted to Simon in 1253. (fn. 27) Simon son of Simon de Hout in 1258 gave an undertaking to Sir Peter de Montfort under forfeiture of 600 marks that he would deliver to him possession of his lands in the manor of Stag. (fn. 28) In 1253 and 1268–9 grants of free warren in Stagenhoe were made to the knights of the Temple, (fn. 29) but it is possible that these grants referred to the demesne land of their manor of Chelles in Bengeo. Simon Fitz Simon's heir was John de Verdun, (fn. 30) and in 1306–7 one fee in Stagenhoe was held by Thomas de Verdun son of John, (fn. 31) who died seised of the manor of Stagenhoe in 1315, (fn. 32) leaving John his son and heir, a minor. John held one fee in Stagenhoe in 1339, and it was then valued at 100s. yearly. (fn. 33) John de Verdun settled this manor in 1350–1 upon Edmund de Verdun, probably his son, and Joan his wife, and their heirs of the body, with remainder in default to the heirs of John. (fn. 34) It afterwards came into the Pilkington family by the marriage of Margaret daughter and heir of John de Verdun, probably sister of Edmund, with Sir John Pilkington. (fn. 35) In 1399–1400 Sir John Pilkington and Margery his wife settled the manor upon themselves for life with remainder to their son Edmund for life and to the heirs of Margery. (fn. 36) She had previously married Hugh Bradshawe, by whom she had a son William, whose daughter Elizabeth, wife of Sir Richard Harrington, was Margery's heir. (fn. 37) In 1430 this manor was settled on Edmund Pilkington and his heirs male, with remainders to Elizabeth Harrington, and Sir John Pilkington another son of Margery. (fn. 38) It afterwards came to Thomas Pilkington son of Edmund, who settled it in 1459–60 upon himself in tail, with remainder to Roger his brother and others. (fn. 39) Thomas was attainted in 1485, and his lands were forfeited to the Crown. (fn. 40) This manor was granted in 1489 to Thomas earl of Derby and his heirs male. (fn. 41) He was succeeded in 1504 by his grandson Thomas, son of George Stanley, Lord Le Strange. (fn. 42) Thomas died in 1521, leaving his son Edward a minor, to whom livery of the manor was made in 1530–1. (fn. 43) He died in 1572, when it came to his son Henry, (fn. 44) on whose death in 1593 it passed to his son Ferdinand, who died without heirs in 1594. (fn. 45) The reversion, which belonged to the queen, had already been granted in 1582 to William Godfrey or Cowper and his heirs. (fn. 46) William sold the manor in 1595 to Richard Hale, (fn. 47) who died seised of it in 1621, leaving William his son and heir. (fn. 48) The manor had however been settled by Richard on Rose, wife of William, and after her husband's death in 1633 she held the manor for life. (fn. 49) She outlived her two elder sons, William and Rowland, (fn. 50) and on her death the manor passed to her youngest son John, who died in 1672, (fn. 51) leaving issue a daughter, Rose, wife of Sir John Austen. (fn. 52) From Sir John and Rose the manor came to their son Sir Robert Austen, (fn. 53) who sold it in 1703, with the park of Stagenhoe, to Robert Heysham of London. (fn. 54) Robert died in 1722, leaving one son, Robert, aged ten at the time of his father's death. (fn. 55) He died unmarried in 1734, and bequeathed the estate to his kinsman, Giles Thornton, on condition of his taking the additional name of Heysham. (fn. 56) The mansion which had been built in 1650 or 1660 was burnt down in 1737, and was rebuilt about 1740. (fn. 57) On the death of Giles in 1767 the manor came to his son Robert Thornton Heysham, who was succeeded in 1781 by his son Robert. (fn. 58) In 1810 William Thomson and Ann his wife conveyed it to Robert John Harper, (fn. 59) but this conveyance was probably made for a settlement, for in 1833 Robert Heysham and Sarah his wife conveyed the manor to Richard Sparkes, (fn. 60) who may have been a trustee for Captain Arthur Duncombe, who sold this manor in 1843 to Henry Rogers. (fn. 61) Henry died in 1866, (fn. 62) and was succeeded by his son Henry, who sold the manor about 1869 to James, fourteenth earl of Caithness, (fn. 63) whose trustees sold it about seventeen years ago to Mr. William B. Hawkins, the present possessor.
The manor of HOO, WALDEN HOO, KIMPTON HOO or HOOBURY was apparently held by Eustace de Hoo, who held land called Hou in 1190, and successfully proved his claim against Baldwin de Bolon. (fn. 64) In the second or third decade of the thirteenth century William, abbot of St. Albans, granted to Richard del Hoo licence to have an oratory in his court' del Ho' for the celebration of mass and the hours. The chaplain was to be obedient to the archdeacon of St. Albans, and to swear fealty to the church of St. Alban and the vicar of Walden, and all oblations were to go to Walden. Baptisms, marriages and the eucharist were not to be celebrated there except in cases of urgent necessity. For this licence Richard promised to give annually six candles for the high altar at St. Albans. (fn. 65) Richard de Plomer and Mabel his wife, in 1278–9, conveyed land in Walden and Kimpton to Philip del Hoo, (fn. 66) and in 1289 John de Hoo sought to recover land in Walden and Kimpton which had been taken into the king's hands by reason of John's default against Christiana, the wife of Philip de Hoo. (fn. 67) John seems to have been succeeded about 1318 by William, (fn. 68) and in 1340–1 land and a mill in Abbots Walden and Kimpton were settled on William de Hoo for life, with remainder to his son William and Petronilla his wife, daughter of Thomas Aylmar, and to his younger sons John and Philip. (fn. 69) In 1438 Edward atte Hoo of Abbots Walden left money for the fabric of the church of Kimpton, and his 'nepotes' Thomas, John, and Stephen were his executors. (fn. 70) Edward probably did not hold the manor, for William, the son mentioned in the above settlement, seems to have been succeeded by his son Thomas, who died in 1480. (fn. 71) His wife Joan survived him and is mentioned in 1489. (fn. 72) The manor of Hoobury came on the death of Thomas to his son Thomas, who settled it upon his wife Maud Bardolf. After his death in 1516, (fn. 73) Maud married Thomas Blake, who had some difficulty in getting his estate in the manor from the trustees of the settlement on Maud, and from Joan, his wife's mother-in-law. (fn. 74) From Maud and Thomas Blake the manor came to Thomas Hoo, son of Maud by her first husband. (fn. 75) This Thomas died in 1551, (fn. 76) and was succeeded by a son of the same name who in 1572 conveyed the manor to Nicholas Brockett and Edward Boughton, probably for a settlement on his marriage with Lucy daughter of John Brockett. (fn. 77) In 1581 Thomas Hoo and Lucy his wife conveyed the manor to Thomas their son, (fn. 78) who was succeeded by his son William, on whose death in 1636 the manor came to his son Thomas. (fn. 79) A settlement of the manor was made in the following year, (fn. 80) and Thomas died in 1650. His only son Thomas had predeceased his father in 1642, and left no issue, so the manor came to Susan daughter of Thomas, and wife of Jonathan Keate. (fn. 81) Susan died in 1673 and Sir Jonathan in 1700, when the manor came to his son Sir Gilbert Hoo Keate. (fn. 82) He died after five years' possession of the manor, and was succeeded by his son Sir Henry Hoo Keate, (fn. 83) who sold the manor in 1732 to Margaret Brand, widow of Thomas Brand. (fn. 84) She was succeeded by her son Thomas, on whose death in 1770 the manor came to his son Thomas. He married Gertrude sister and heir of Charles Trevor Roper, Lord Dacre, and on his death in 1794 the Hoo came to his son Thomas Brand, Lord Dacre. He dying without heirs in 1851 was succeeded by his brother Henry Otway, who assumed the surname Trevor in accordance with the will of John Viscount Hampden. (fn. 85) The manor of Hoo has since descended with the title of Lord Dacre to the present Viscount Hampden. The house is at present occupied by Mr. Godfrey Walter. (fn. 86)
BENDISH (Beandisc, Benedis, xi cent.) was given to the abbey of St. Albans by Had and Christiana his wife. (fn. 87) At the time of Domesday Survey it lay in the half hundred of Hitchin, (fn. 88) and was probably placed shortly afterwards in the abbot's hundred of Cashio. There is no evidence that there was ever a manor here, and Bendish is now a hamlet in the parish of St. Paul's Walden.
The manor of LEGGATS or HOWENDEN was held of the abbots of St. Albans. (fn. 89) At the beginning of the fourteenth century the manor of Walden was mortgaged to William Legat (fn. 90) by the abbot of St. Albans, and Robert Legat of Abbots Walden is mentioned in 1340. (fn. 91)
Hugh Legat, a Benedictine monk who flourished at the beginning of the fifteenth century, was probably related to the Legats of Abbots Walden. He was brought up in the monastery school at St. Albans, and continued his studies at Gloucester Hall, Oxford, where the abbey of St. Albans had a house for its own scholars. He became prior of Redbourn, but was relieved of this office in 1427 and sent to the cell of Tynemouth.
The manor of Leggats, which had formerly been held by Thomas Legat, was granted in 1430 by Matthew Bepset, John Spygon, and John Mordone to John abbot of St. Albans, (fn. 92) who spent £35 in repairs there. (fn. 93) In 1429–30 a master of the works of the abbey of St. Albans was instituted, and among other things a rent from this manor was assigned to him. (fn. 94) In the middle of the fifteenth century the abbot of St. Albans obtained a discharge of a quit-rent paid to the manor of Bushey in Kimpton from the manor of Leggats. (fn. 95) In 1531 the manor was leased for twenty-four years to Thomas Skipwith. (fn. 96) At the Dissolution (1539) it came with the manor of Abbots Walden to the crown and was granted with that manor in 1544 under the name of a farm or capital messuage called 'Legattes or Howenden' to the dean and chapter of St. Paul's. (fn. 97) It was leased by the dean to Nathaniel Younge, who died in 1691, leaving Joseph his son and heir, (fn. 98) and in 1716 John Younge held 4 acres of land in the demesne of the manor of Leggats. (fn. 99) The site of the manor is probably Leggats End to the west of Hoo Park.
The manor of BRADWAY (Bradweye, xii cent.; Bradweie, Bradewei, xiii cent.) in Abbots Walden (fn. 100) was given to the monastery of St. Albans by Emma de Bradeweye and her son Hugh early in the twelfth century. (fn. 101) The abbey had already acquired some land here by exchange with Geoffrey de Mappeham at the beginning of the same century, (fn. 102) and two-thirds of the tithes from the demesne of St. Albans in Bradway, and two-thirds of the wheat of Roger de Limes in Bradway had been granted to the hospital of St. Julian at the time of its foundation. (fn. 103) By an undated charter Richard del Hoo granted to St. Albans for the maintenance of six candles at the shrine of St. Alban, 2s. yearly which was of Roger Prest, which Thomas de Bradeweye held of Richard in Bradway. (fn. 104) The manor was confirmed to the abbey by Henry II and John, (fn. 105) and in 1303 it consisted of a sixth part of a knight's fee, and is said to have been held of the king in chief. (fn. 106) The manor-house of Bradway was repaired by Abbot Michael (1335–49), and he retired there in consequence of the great resort of visitors to his manor-house of Tyttenhanger. (fn. 107) He also built a chapel there, which is perhaps identical with the chapel of St. Clement which existed at Abbots Walden in the sixteenth century. (fn. 108)
Under the succeeding abbot this manor-house was allowed to fall into decay, (fn. 109) and Bradway dis appeared as a manor. There is no trace of its site, and some authorities have identified it with the hamlet of Broadway in the parish of North-church. (fn. 110) There is, however, no reason to suppose that the abbots of St. Albans ever held land in Northchurch, and Bradway is distinctly stated to be in the parish of Abbots Walden, and lay in the hundred of Cashio. (fn. 111)
There were two mills at Abbots Walden at the time of the Domesday Survey, belonging to the abbot and convent of St. Albans. (fn. 112) A water-mill in Abbots Walden, called Walden Mill or Whytwell Mill, was leased by the abbot in 1538 for forty-one years to Thomas Venters, with two meadows, and all suit of multure, &c., belonging to the mill. Thomas was to hold it for a rent of 5 marks per annum paid to the sub-cellarer and was to keep the mill and water gates in repair. For this purpose he could take sufficient timber in the manor of Walden. He also had to keep two swans called 'Broude Swaynes' in the river there for the use of the abbot, and could have two cart-loads of firewood yearly at his own cost and carriage. (fn. 113) This lease was afterwards cancelled, and a new lease of the mill made to William Reade in 1567. (fn. 114) The mill was leased by the dean and chapter of St. Paul's, London, in 1595 to John Prentice for the term of his life and the lives of his daughters Susan and Anne. (fn. 115) It was afterwards leased to Mary Hoo, and was sold in 1649 to Martin Noel. (fn. 116) This mill still survives as a corn mill at Whitwell on the River Mimram, and is now in the possession of the earl of Strathmore, to whose ancestor it was probably sold with the Bury. (fn. 117) The other mill, which was called Pann Mill, has disappeared, but the site is marked by the mill dam.
In 1479 a dispute arose between John Finche of le Mereplace and the tenants of Walden as to whether a pond called le Merepond next the highway was the severalty of John or common of the tenants. The dispute was submitted to the abbot of St. Albans, who decided in favour of John. (fn. 118) At a court of the dean and chapter held in 1672 it was presented that there was a custom that every tenant was able at his free will to cut down and sell any trees growing as well upon his land held by copy of court roll as upon freehold land of the manor, and every tenant might pull down his house without forfeiture. According to the custom of the manor, le Bury at St. Paul's Walden was the place where the court ought to be held and there the jury were to dine and deliver their verdict. (fn. 119) There was also a custom that when a tenant died, his heir was to have the best beast, and the lord the second best by way of heriot. The cottagers usually paid money instead of a beast or chattel as heriot. (fn. 120)
In 1712 the land and house of John Reed were converted into a workhouse. (fn. 121)
The church of ALL SAINTS has a chancel with north vestry and south chapel, a nave 54 ft. 9 in. long by 20 ft. wide, with south aisle 12 ft. 4 in. wide, and south porch, and a west tower. It is built of flint rubble with ashlar dressings, the chancel and chapel being plastered, all walls being finished with embattled parapets. The nave roof is slated, and hipped at the east, while the south chapel and aisle have flat-pitched lead roofs, and the chancel is tiled. The early history of the building is not now to be traced, as the oldest existing feature is the window in the south aisle of the nave, west of the doorway, which dates from about the year 1300. But the irregularity in the position of the tower, its axis being noticeably south of that of the nave, suggests certain developments. The north wall of the nave is probably older than its windows, which date from c. 1320, while the south arcade is about contemporary with them, and the tower, which now contains no features older than the first half of the fourteenth century, may be on the lines or contain masonry of an older tower, and may have been set out on the original centre line of the nave, before it was altered by the building of the south arcade a little within the line of the former south wall. If the window already referred to in the south aisle is in position, it establishes the former existence of a south arcade older than that which now stands, and the rather unusual width of the aisle, 12 ft. 4 in., points to the fact that the former arcade was set on the line of the old south wall of the nave, and outside that of the present arcade.
The south chapel was added to the chancel early in the sixteenth century, and the chancel itself was entirely recast in the eighteenth, all traces of former detail being then destroyed or covered up. It has a large round-headed east window, which is blocked and does not show on the inside, the only light coming from two smaller round-headed windows on the north. The chancel is divided into three bays, separated by pilasters from which spring semicircular plastered arches, coffered on the soffit, the surface of the arched plaster ceiling between the arches being treated with moulded plaster panels and modelled ornament at the centre and angles of each bay. The walls are panelled in wood painted white, and at the east end is a tall reredos with a round-headed central recess flanked by Corinthian pilasters, and over the recess a pediment inclosing a book inscribed [I kaini diathiki] and surmounted by a burning heart. On either side of the central pediment are smaller pediments at a lower level, with elaborate finials and cherubs' heads. The north vestry is entered from the middle bay of the chancel.
The chancel is closed at the west by a wooden screen of the same date as the reredos, and a very fine example of its kind. It stands in the chancel arch, the outer order of which is pointed, and probably of fourteenth-century date, while the inner order ranges with the plaster ceiling of the chancel, replacing the destroyed inner order of the fourteenth-century arch. The screen has a central and two side openings divided by fluted Corinthian pillars with richly-carved entablatures, from which spring round-headed arches. Over the central arch, which is wider than the others, is a pediment inclosing the sacred monogram, and over the side arches are curved brackets, the whole being finished with richly-modelled finials like those on the reredos. The screen is enriched with carved ornament, and the soffits of the arches are panelled, and the workmanship throughout is exceedingly good. The pulpit, in the south-east angle of the nave, is modern and designed to harmonize with the screen, with a well-designed carved cornice and angle pilasters.
The nave has a south arcade of five bays, with octagonal shafts, moulded capitals and bases, and pointed arches of two chamfered orders with a label, c. 1320. In the east bay are marks of a parclose screen. In the north wall are three widely-splayed windows of about the same date, of two trefoiled lights with a flowing quatrefoiled opening in the head. The internal stonework of clunch is original, but externally all tracery, &c., is modern. Between the second and third windows from the east is a plain north doorway, probably co-eval with them, but with new stonework. The nave has a fifteenth-century clear-story with three square-headed windows a side, each of two cinquefoiled lights, the tracery being modern. There is a flat modern wooden ceiling panelled and painted, with the Passion emblems at the east, while at the west is to be seen the line of the former pitched roof, removed when the clearstory was built. Above the tower arch is a gallery set up in 1897.
The chapel south of the chancel formerly opened to it by an arcade of three bays with moulded fourcentred arches and clustered piers, now blocked by the eighteenth-century panelling, with a doorway to the chancel in the middle bay. On the west sides of the capitals of the two piers of the arcade are fluted shields, one blank and the other charged with a saltire. The chapel is lighted by square-headed windows, one of four lights on the east, and three of three lights on the south, all the lights having fourcentred heads, those in the east window being cinquefoiled. The south windows were probably of the same character, but have lost their cusps and show evidences of patching. The spandrels of the lights were carved externally, and plain within, but one stone in the east window has been reversed so that the carved spandrel shows on the inside, and in the south windows several heads have been renewed and altered. Between the first and second windows on the south is a small four-centred doorway. The ceiling of the chapel is modern, flat and panelled, like that of the nave, with IHS in a wreath on each panel. At the west, in a four-centred arch of the same date as the chapelry, and opening to the south aisle, is a wooden screen into which are worked parts of a fifteenth-century screen, the tracery in the heads of the openings and the cresting above being gilded.
In the south aisle of the nave are two three-light fifteenth-century windows, with cinquefoiled lights and tracery under a segmental head, and to the west of them a plain fourteenth-century south doorway, under a porch which is perhaps of the same date, with an outer arch of two continuous chamfered orders. West of the doorway is a fine three-light window, with trefoiled lights and geometrical tracery, c. 1300, having a well-moulded rear arch and label, (fn. 122) and in the west wall of the aisle is a blocked window of the same type as the two windows east of the south doorway. In the north-west angle of the aisle is a four-centred doorway leading to the stair at the southeast angle of the tower. The roof of the aisle is modern, with arched braces and open tracery in the spandrels.
The tower, which has an eastern arch of two moulded orders with stops at the springing, and halfoctagonal responds with moulded capitals and bases, is of three stages, with pairs of boldly-projecting buttresses at the western angles, and a vice at the southeast, which runs up to the full height of the tower and like it is finished with an embattled parapet. The belfry windows are of fifteenth-century style, of two cinquefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in the head, and in the second stage are plain uncusped lancet lights on the north, south, and west. Above the west lancet is a small cinquefoiled light. In the ground stage is a west window of a single trefoiled light, set to the south of the centre line of the wall, and rebated internally for a wooden shutter, the hanging-hooks of which still exist. The west doorway has an arch with two continuous hollow chamfers, and with the window is probably co-eval with the east arch of the tower. The reason for the position of the window is not clear, but the traces of the movable shutter suggest that this part of the tower was used as a living-room.
The fifteenth-century font is at the west end of the south aisle, and stands on a platform raised above the floor of the aisle. It has an octagonal embattled bowl, with a band of foliage at half-height, an octagonal shaft panelled on all but the north and south faces, and a moulded base. The nave is seated with chairs and has a wood-block floor, and from the ceiling are hung two brass chandeliers. Everything in the building is well kept, and the church is a model of cleanliness and order. In the north windows of the clearstory is some good modern heraldic glass, but there are no remains of old glazing.
At the west end of the nave is a fourteenthcentury floor slab with indents of two shields and an inscription round the edge 'Willem de . . . gist ici deu de sa alme eit merci,' and in the south chapel is a marble slab with the indents of an inscription-plate with a shield below. A mural monument at the west of the south chapel was set up by Mary Henn to her grandparents, Henry and Dorothy Stapleford, 1631 and 1620, and shows their two figures kneeling at a desk beneath a pediment, with a shield bearing gyronny argent and sable. At the west end of the south aisle is an altar tomb with a black marble slab to Peter Nicol, 1798, and in the churchyard are several broken mediaeval coffin-lids.
There are six bells, the first five of 1665, by Chandler of Drayton Parslow, and the tenor by John Briant of Hertford, 1814.
The plate consists of a modern chalice of mediaeval design, enriched with gems, a standing paten of 1680, a flagon of the same date, and a pewter almsdish.
The registers begin in 1558. Book i contains baptisms 1559–1653, burials 1558–1642, and marriages 1559–1652; Book ii, baptisms 1653–1747, burials 1653–1746, and marriages 1653–1748. Book iii has baptisms and burials 1748–99, and marriages 1748–53; Book iv, baptisms and burials 1799–1812, and Book v marriages 1754–1812. Book i has been recovered since the return of 1830, which made no mention of any book older than the present Book ii, which is the civil 'Parish Registers' Book of the Commonwealth continued as a church book. (fn. 123)
The church of Abbots Walden was probably granted to the monastery of St. Albans by Wulfgar with the manor, (fn. 124) and was confirmed to them by King John. (fn. 125) In 1188 the obventions from the church were assigned with the licence of Pope Clement III to the guests' prebend. (fn. 126) One mark per annum from the church of Walden was granted in 1194 to the church of St. Mary of Pré near St. Albans, (fn. 127) and in 1257 a pension of 40s. per annum paid by the vicar of Walden was assigned by the abbot to provide bread and ale for the monks and their guests. (fn. 128) Part of the tithes of Walden were assigned to the hospital of St. Julian, (fn. 129) and some seem to have belonged to the refectorar. (fn. 130) In 1513 the site of the rectory and the tithes were leased for thirty-one years to Thomas Blake, for a rent of £19 payable to the refectorar. (fn. 131) This lease was renewed in 1534, and Blake apparently transferred it to Thomas Hoo. (fn. 132) The rectory and advowson of the vicarage were granted in 1544 to the dean and chapter of St. Paul's, London, (fn. 133) and the patronage has been vested in them since. The lease of the rectory was renewed in 1621 to William Hoo for four lives, and he mortgaged it in 1623 to John Saunders, Richard Franklyn, and Richard Collett. (fn. 134) The rectory was sold with the Bury, and the great tithes are now received by the earl of Strathmore. (fn. 135)
There was a chapel of St. Clement at Abbots Walden, which was claimed in the middle of the sixteenth century by John Bentrys, footman 'to the Prince's Grace.' It consisted of a close and messuages and 3 acres of land lying in a field called Oldfield, and was held of the manor of Abbots Walden. The vicar of Abbots Walden claimed the premises as his glebe, and stated that it had been granted by the last abbot of St. Albans to Bentrys. (fn. 136) In 1614 this land was held by George Sturman, and was said to be concealed. (fn. 137) The lands belonging to the chapel were granted in 1621 to Sir Henry Spiller. (fn. 138)
Samuel Peachy, vicar of St. Paul's Walden, was ejected in 1662 for Nonconformity, but the Nonconformists seem to have still held their ground after his ejection. Robert Tory, an ejected minister, obtained a licence to preach as a Presbyterian minister in 1672, and at the same date a house in this parish was licensed as a meeting-place for Presbyterians. The hamlets of Bendish and Whitwell have been strongholds of Nonconformity from early times. A conventicle was held at Whitwell in 1669, a place of meeting was registered in 1693, and an Independent chapel seems to have been built about 1802. A new chapel was opened in 1883. There is also at Whitwell a chapel of the countess of Huntingdon's connexion dedicated in honour of St. Mary. Bendish seems to have had an Independent chapel as early as 1715, and in 1772 it was supplied from Luton once a month. There is now a Primitive Methodist chapel. (fn. 139)
This parish is entitled to benefit in Henry Smith's General Charity, founded in 1620, in respect of which the sum of £14 out of the rent of Whitehouse Farm, Tolleshunt D'Arcy, Essex, has for several years been allocated to it, and applied in the distribution of coats and blankets. In 1906 twenty coats and twenty-five blankets were distributed to poor men and women.
The Rev. Thomas Chapman of Stevenage, by his will, dated 8 March, 1668, devised certain messuages and lands in Stevenage, subject to the payment of £8 per annum, to buy cloth and bread for the poor of the parishes therein named (see parish of Stevenage), including the parish of St. Paul's Walden, to the value of £1 per annum. The property charged with the annuity appears to have been sold, and is difficult of identification, but two sums of 10s. each were formerly paid out of two pieces of land belonging to Mr. Robert Moulds and Mr. Joseph Moulden of Stevenage, but for some years have ceased to be paid.
Robert Fullwood, by will dated 10 March, 1837, bequeathed to the rector and churchwardens £100 to be invested and income applied at Christmas yearly for the use of poor widows, share and share alike. The legacy is represented by £112 19s. 10d. consols, with the official trustees, the income of which, amounting to £2 16s. 4d., was in 1906 distributed equally among twenty widows.