An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1910.
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52. GREAT GADDESDEN.
(O.S. 6 in. (a)xxvi. S.E. (b)xxxiii. N.E.)
a (1). Parish Church of St. John the Baptist, stands in the middle of the village, about 3 miles N.W. of Hemel Hempstead. The building is coated with plaster, except the tower, where the flint rubble walling is exposed, and the N. chapel, which is of brick; the quoins of the chancel and the short flat buttresses on the E. wall are of Roman brick. The roofs of the chancel and chapel are tiled, the other roofs are of low pitch and leaded. The E. wall of the Chancel is of early 12th-century date; its side walls and the E. wall of the Nave, which is 3 ft. 6 in. thick, may also retain contemporary masonry; the plan of both chancel and nave is probably of that date. The South Aisle was built c. 1230, and a North Aisle was added in the 14th century. The South Porch is of the 15th century, but some 13th-century stonework is re-used in it. The nave clearstorey and the West Tower were added in the 15th century, and the North Chapel was built in 1730 as a memorial chapel of the Halsey family. The tower was almost entirely re-built and the chancel restored in the 19th century.
The church is especially interesting on account of the Roman brick quoins and shallow buttresses on the E. wall of the chancel, and the carved 13th-century capitals of the S. arcade of the nave.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (23 ft. by 16 ft.) has an E. window of 14th-century type, but only a few stones in the jambs are old. Below the sill outside are parts of the jambs of an earlier window in Roman brick. In the N. wall a modern arcade opens into the chapel, and in the S. wall is a small 13th-century lancet window, restored externally, and a 15th-century window of two cinque-foiled lights, set low in the wall. The chancel arch is of the 13th century, and has two chamfered orders with moulded labels and capitals. The lower part of the inner order of the jambs has been cut away to make a wider opening. The Nave (42 ft. by 22 ft.) is of four bays; the N. arcade has pointed arches of two orders with a moulded label, and octagonal shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the S. arcade is similar, but has 13th-century capitals with carved foliage, and the octagonal moulded bases, if contemporary, are unusual. The 15th-century windows of the clearstorey, four on the N. and three on the S., are of three cinque-foiled lights under square heads. In the S.E. corner of the nave is the upper doorway of the rood-loft. The North Aisle has an E. window of c. 1280 with two uncusped lights and a trefoil over them, now unglazed and opening into the chapel. The two N. windows have modern stonework, and under the easternmost is a blocked doorway. The W. window, of c. 1500, has two trefoiled lights under a four-centred head. The South Aisle has a three-light E. window with modern stonework, and two 15th-century S. windows each of two cinque-foiled lights; near the W. end is an early 14th-century window of two lights, with a quatrefoil in the head, and a moulded label; the 15th-century S. doorway has a moulded four-centred head and modern jambs; the moulded rear arch is of the 13th century, and is probably in situ. The South Porch has an outer arch with continuous mouldings; in each side wall is a single trefoiled light of the 15th century, with a square head, and a 13th-century rear arch, which probably belonged to an earlier porch. The Roofs of the nave, aisles and porch are of the 15th century, that of the nave being low pitched, with moulded timbers, carved bosses, and tenons for carved figures, now missing.
Fittings—Bells: five; four of 1662 and one of 1723, all by Chandler. Bracket: at N.E. end of S. aisle, for image, with traces of colour, 15th-century. Brasses and Indents: in the chancel, of William Croke, 1506, his wife, three shields, indents of three children and a fourth shield: near the N. doorway, figure of woman, c. 1520, with indents of husband, children and inscription: in the N. aisle, two slabs with indents. Chests: two, in the tower, one cut out of a solid log. Communion Tables: at E. end, 17th-century: in the tower, 17th-century. Monuments and Floor Slabs: in the N. chapel, mural tablet to William and Letitia Halsey, 1637 and 1649, erected in 1650, alabaster and marble: on S. wall of chancel, of Sir John Halsey, 1670: in chancel floor, several 17th-century slabs to members of the Halsey family. Piscinae: in S. wall of chancel, late 14th-century, basin partly broken: in the S. aisle, 15th-century. Plate: includes cup of 1637. Miscellanea: in the N. chapel, part of stone base, early 12th-century, possibly belonging to original nave. Under E. window of chancel, outside, stone with IHS cut twice on it.
Condition—Fairly good; the external plaster is scaling off in places and some of the stone in the windows is decaying.
b(2). Gaddesden Hall, on the W. bank of the river Gade, about ½ mile S.E. of the church, is a two-storeyed house, with an attic in the S. wing, and is of late 16th or early 17th-century date. The walls are of flint and brick; the roofs are tiled. The plan is L-shaped and the wings face approximately E. and S., the main entrance being on the N. side of the S. wing; a small original staircase and a modern drawing-room project on the S. face of this wing, which retains the original flint and brickwork; part of the N. wall is of 2 in. bricks on a flint base, the rest is of modern brick; the W. end is built of a mixture of flint, conglomerate and a little Totternhoe stone, with quoins and a central strip of 2 in. bricks. Of the E. wing only the S. end and a large chimney stack on the E. face are of original brickwork; the stack has a moulded brick plinth and two square shafts, set diagonally, with ovolo moulded caps. Over the staircase on the S. front are three diagonal chimney-shafts, apparently of old brick, but of later date than the others. All the windows are modern. The interior has been altered, but retains two wide fireplaces; one, now partly filled in, has moulded stone jambs, a four-centred arch, and a square head; two large moulded beams in the kitchen may indicate that it was part of the original hall; the oak boards in the floors and some timbers in the walls of the upper storey and attic are also original.
Condition—Good; much altered.
a(3). Cottages, at Waterend, about ½ mile S.E. of the church, are built of brick and timber, and have tiled roofs. They are of late 17th-century date, though much restored. One cottage, near the post-office, has an original chimney stack of thin bricks, with a moulded cap.
b(4). Cottages, at Waterend Moor, a mile S.E. of the church, are probably of late 17th-century date, but have been restored. They are built of brick and timber, and the front of one cottage is covered with rough-cast. The roofs are tiled, and the chimney stacks are of brick. Only one cottage retains the original casements with diamond pattern glazing.
a(5). Tumulus, near Golden Parsonage.
a(6). Line of Entrenchment, N.W. of tumulus, a ditch about 340 ft. long and 50 ft. wide.