BHO

Hemel Hempstead

Pages 109-111

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1910.

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58. HEMEL HEMPSTEAD.

(O.S. 6 in. (a)xxxiii. N.E., (b)xxxiii. S.E.)

Roman

b(1). Dwelling House, at Boxmoor (see also Bovingdon), N. of the London and North Western Railway line, in the station-master's garden, was partly opened in 1851.

ConditionNothing above ground.

Ecclesiastical

a(2). Parish Church of St. Mary, at the N. end of the town, is a large cruciform building of flint rubble with some Roman brick, and stone dressings; the roofs are covered with lead, except that of the chancel, which is tiled. The church was begun c. 1140, and finished about forty years later, except the South Porch, added in the 14th century, the North Porch in the 15th century, and the North Vestries in the 19th century. Windows and doorways have been inserted and restored at different times.

The building forms a valuable example of a cruciform parish church of the 12th century.

Architectural DescriptionThe Chancel (36 ft. by 16 ft.) is the earliest part of the building; the E. window was inserted in the 15th century, and is of three lights with tracery. In the N. wall is an original round-headed window of one light with zig-zag mouldings inside; the jambs outside have slender shafts. W. of this is a blocked 15th-century archway originally opening into the chamber on the N. side of the chancel. Further W., at the level of a former room over this chamber, there is a modern arch of 12th-century design. In the S. wall are two 14th-century windows of three lights, each with modern tracery; the internal splays have shafts with foliated capitals and the moulded rear arches are enriched with carving. The ceiling is vaulted in two bays, with stilted cross ribs. On the N. of the W. bay of the chancel, and contemporary with it, is a Chamber (13 ft. by 6 ft.) vaulted in two bays. It has in the E. wall a 14th-century, unglazed, loop light, with original stanchions, and below this is a doorway with a shouldered arch of about the same date. In the N. wall is a modern doorway, and in the W. wall is a 15th-century doorway into the N. transept. The Central Tower (16 ft. square) is of three stages with a parapet and a tall leaded spire, possibly of the 13th century. On each side of the ground stage are stilted semi-circular arches; the W. arch is enriched with zig-zag ornament on the side facing the nave; the piers have half round responds and angle shafts, with carved capitals. The second stage has two plain round-headed windows in each face, and the third stage has double round-headed windows with circular lights above them; near the angles are shallow niches with arched heads. The North Transept (22 ft. by 17 ft.), now an organ chamber, has a 15th-century N. window of three lights, with modern tracery. High up in the E. wall is a plain round-headed doorway which opened from the former upper room of the chamber into a loft or gallery. The South Transept (21 ft. by 17 ft.) has a 15th-century E. window of two lights, with a quatrefoil head; in the S. wall is a window of three lights of somewhat later date, much restored, and below this, on the W., is a 16th-century doorway, with modern external jambs. In the W. wall is a 12th-century window, with shafted jambs and a semi-circular arch enriched with zig-zag ornament. In the angle between the chancel and transept is a newel staircase of stone. The Nave (73 ft. by 19 ft.) is of six bays; the N. and S. arcades have round pillars with moulded bases, scalloped capitals and semi-circular arches of two orders, with a billet-moulded label continued as a string course across the W. end. The E. and W. arches of both arcades have zig-zag ornament. The clearstorey has, on each side, six round-headed windows, restored; the second window from the E. on the S. side is entirely new, and replaces a larger window inserted in the 15th century, of which the head remains; the clearstorey walls were raised about 2 ft. in the 15th century. In the W. wall of the nave is a large doorway of late 12th-century date, with a richly carved, semi-circular arch and modern detached shafts in the jambs; above it is a 15th-century traceried window of three lights, much restored. The North and South Aisles (each 9 ft. wide) have 15th-century windows of two lights, with tracery, all much restored, and in the S. wall are the sills of 12th-century windows. The N. wall may possibly have been re-built in the 15th century. The North Porch has a 15th-century inner doorway; the outer arch and windows are modern. The South Porch has an inner doorway of the 14th century. The outer arch is moulded, and in each side wall is a window of three trefoiled lights. The Roofs of the transepts are of the 15th century, with arched braces and traceried spandrels. The nave roof of the same date, but plainer, has traces of original painting.

FittingsBells: eight; 3rd by Chandler, 1688; 4th by Robert Oldfeild, 1633; 5th by John Dyer, c. 1590; 6th by Robert Mot, 1604; 7th by Robert Oldfeild, 1617. Brasses: at the W. end of the S. aisle, of Robert Albyn and his wife, late 14th-century, with incomplete inscription in French and two shields of arms. Chest: in the room over the N.W. vestry, medival, iron bound. Monuments: in N. transept, part of slab with arms of Combe impaling Freere, said to be to Ann, wife of Sir Richard Combe, 1658; in S. aisle, to Richard Combe, 1692, mural, black and white marble. Piscinae: in S. wall of the chancel, with a trefoiled ogee head, 14th-century: in S. transept, 15th-century; both without basins. Plate: includes covered cup of 1563. Miscellanea: In the churchyard, on the S. side of the church, is an old stone coffin.

ConditionGood, but where old stonework remains in the windows it is decaying.

Secular

a(3). The Bury, S.W. of the church, a modern house, replaces an earlier building, of which the porch remains, about 200 yards N. of the present entrance. The porch, locally known as the Charter Tower, is of late 16th-century date, two-storeyed and built of stone. Over the doorway are the arms of Richard Combe, who owned the Bury between 1557 and 1595, and is said to have pulled down the old house, and built another on the site.

ConditionVery bad; the stonework much decayed, and part of it loaded with ivy.

a(4). Lockers, at the top of Bury Hill, mile S.W. of the church, is a modern house, except the wing at the S. end, which is of late 16th-century date; it is of two storeys and an attic, built of brick and plastered; the roof is tiled. There is one original chimney stack with four shafts, set diagonally. Two of the rooms have original oak panelling and mantelpieces, now painted, and two ornamented plaster ceilings remain; one with medallions containing a king's head, lions and unicorns, and shields with the Royal arms; the other with lions and cherubs' heads in relief.

ConditionGood.

Hemel Hempstead, Parish Church of St. Mary.

a(5). Cottages, two, known as Henry's Banqueting Hall, about 200 yards N.E. of the church; they are of two storeys and an attic, built in the first half of the 17th century, of brick and timber; the roofs are tiled. The front faces S. and has a small projecting staircase wing. In the principal room of the cottage on the E. is a large open fireplace with a wood lintel, and above it are remains of 17th-century plaster decoration, consisting of a large fleur-de-lis and part of a crown. A room on the first floor has a smaller fireplace with moulded stone jambs and a four-centred head, and above it a fleur-de-lis between two Tudor roses surmounted by crowns, of plaster, in relief. Some of the ceilings have old beams.

ConditionPoor; the timber framing of the walls is decaying.

High Street, E. side

a(6). House, now a chemist's shop, is probably of the 16th century at the back, but the front is modern. The chimney stacks have square shafts, set diagonally. In the interior is some oak panelling, and during repairs a fragment of glass was found with the date 1620 scratched on it.

ConditionGood.

a(7). The King's Arms Inn, opposite the Town Hall, built of brick and timber late in the 17th century, has been much repaired. At the back is an original balcony, overlooking a courtyard.

a(8). Houses, in Keen's Place, of brick and timber, built probably in the 17th century.

ConditionGood on the whole.

Unclassified

a(9). Tumulus, N.W. of High Street Farm, and about a mile N.E. of the church.

ConditionFairly good.