An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1910.
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(O.S. 6 in. (a)xxx. S.W. (b)xxx. S.E.)
b(1). Parish Church, dedication unknown, but attributed to St. Dunstan, stands near Hunsdon House, about a mile S. of the village. The walls are of flint rubble with stone dressings; the S. chapel is of brick; the roofs are tiled. The church has been much re-built, but there are traces of a Nave, probably of the 12th century, of which the W. wall and possibly the N. wall remain. Early in the 15th century the West Tower and North Porch were built, and, c. 1500, the nave was widened towards the S. and the Chancel re-built. The North Chapel was added later in the 16th century, and at the end of the century the South Chapel was built. The building was restored during the 19th century, but was not structurally altered.
The church contains the following fittings of especial interest:—the screen between the S. chapel and nave, an unusually elaborate example for the date (c. 1610): the Cary monument and that of Sir Thomas Forster, fine illustrations of the period (early 17th-century): the Poyntz monument (1528), though small, of exceptionally good detail: the early 16th-century glass in the E. window, of which sufficient remains to show the subjects of the design.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (43 ft. by 17½ ft.) has an E. window of five lights, a N. window, two S. windows, and a small S. doorway, all modern, except a few stones of c. 1500 in the jambs. On the N. a doorway, with a four-centred wooden head and a pointed arch, opens into the chapel. The chancel arch, of two chamfered orders, is also of c. 1500. The North Chapel (22½ ft. by 13½ ft.) has an early 14th-century E. window of two lights, re-set, partly restored. On the S.E. is a square projection which contains a short flight of steps, the floor of the chapel having been raised for the construction of a vault early in the 18th century. The Nave (48½ ft. by 22½ ft.) has in the N. wall two windows, of two lights each, and a doorway, all of the 15th century much restored; two doors and part of the stairs to the rood-loft are in the N.E. corner. In the S. wall, opening into the chapel, is a wide arch of three moulded orders, probably of brick, plastered, and W. of it are two almost entirely modern windows. Above the tower arch are traces of the steeppitched roof of the earlier and narrower nave. The South Chapel (23 ft. by 22½ ft.) has mullioned windows of plastered brick in the E. and W. walls, and two single-light windows and a doorway in the S. wall; they are all of late 16th-century date. The West Tower (12½ ft. by 11 ft.) is of three stages, with an embattled parapet and a small slated spire. The early 15th-century tower arch is a little N. of the central line of the nave and is of two orders, the inner order resting on pilasters. The W. doorway is of two moulded orders, the inner two-centred, and the outer square; above it is a traceried window of two lights. In the second stage is a W. window of two lights, and in the third stage are four windows of two lights. The North Porch is of open timber construction, with cusped barge-boards, and a two-centred entrance arch. In the Roof of the nave are a few old moulded tie-beams; the N. chapel has a plain collar-beam roof, possibly original, and the roof of the S. chapel is also original.
Fittings—Bells: eight; 4th by Robert Oldfeild, 1630; 7th and 8th by Anthony Bartlet, 1668 and 1652. Brasses: in the N. chapel, of Margaret Shelley, 1495, shrouded figure, with symbol of the Holy Trinity and inscription: in nave, to James Gray, park keeper, 1591, inscription and square plate with figure of huntsman with crossbow, a wounded stag, and skeleton representing Death. Communion Table: in chancel, early 17th-century. Doors: in nave, N. chapel and chancel, plain, probably mediæval. Glass: in the E. window, fragments of an Annunciation, an Ascension, Resurrection, etc., early 16th-century: in the windows of nave, other fragments. Monuments: on N. side of chancel, cusped and panelled wall recess, with inscription to Francis Povntz, 1528: on the same side, large canopied tomb, in classical style, with effigy of Sir Thomas Forster, judge of the Common Bench, 1612, in his judge's robes and cap; in front of the tomb, a richly worked wrought iron railing: in S. chapel, large mural monument, of classical design, with effigies of Sir John Cary and his wife, c. 1600. Piscinae: in the chancel, c. 1500. Plate: includes cup and cover paten of 1660. Poor Box: plain, 17th-century. Screens: under chancel arch, base only, mid 15th-century: between S. chapel and nave, large, elaborate oak screen, with close lower panels, small Ionic arcade above them, and heavy enriched cornice; over it a shield of twenty pieces, with the Cary arms and alliances, c. 1610.
Condition—Good; much repaired. The screen in the S. chapel is in very good condition.
a(2). Olives Farm, house and moat, on the extreme W. border of the parish, nearly ¾ mile from the church. The house is of timber and plaster, and is gabled; the roofs are tiled. It was built in the 17th century, apparently on a rectangular plan, and has an 18th-century addition on the E. side, and a modern S. wing. One chimney stack is of 17th-century thin bricks. Inside the house is a large fireplace with chimney corners enclosed in cupboards, and a few old beams also remain.
Condition—Of house, good; of moat, fairly good.
b(3). Hunsdon House, near the church, is a rectangular building, facing N. and S., of red brick, with an embattled parapet and flat roof. The recorded history of the house is that in 1447 it was built by Sir John Oldhalle; in the 16th century it became the property of Henry VIII., and was much altered; in 1804 the then owner pulled down a great part of it, and restored the rest. The plan was probably half-H or E-shaped, and the present main block formed the N. wing, projecting towards the E. Only the outer walls remain, the interior being entirely the work of 1804. At each of the four angles is a diagonal buttress, with a V-shaped face, surmounted by a pinnacle or small turret with a modern slate roof. The principal entrance is in a small projecting wing at the E. end, and the doorway has jambs and a four-centred arch of brick, covered with cement. All the other doorways and windows are modern. One of the large cellars under the main block has a barrelvault of brick, and projecting from another is a small octagonal turret which now terminates below the ground level. At the W. end is a small modern wing containing the domestic offices. It partly encloses a courtyard, and is pierced by a large gateway on the N.W., which has some old bricks in it, but was probably also built in the 19th century. A wall between the courtyard and garden on the S. appears to be old; on the garden side it has an octagonal summer house, probably originally a turret, and, on the courtyard side, a blocked window and three vertical rows of small blocked recesses, three in each row, possibly constructed to hold the wooden joists of partitions. Interior—In the entrance hall there is a painted wooden mantelpiece, of 17th-century workmanship, and in another room is an old stone fire-place with a flat four-centred arch, and three shields, one surrounded by a garter, carved in the lintel; the woodwork of this fireplace is of the 18th century.
b(4). House, formerly the Wheatsheaf Inn, now divided into two cottages, stands on the E. side of the Widford road, about a mile N. of the church. It is an early 17th-century building, of two storeys, with part of the upper storey in the roof. The walls are timber-framed and plastered; the roof is tiled. The plan is L-shaped; the main block faces W. and the shorter wing S. The S. half of the W. front is gabled, and there is a dormer window in the N. half; the main entrance is in the middle. The N. end of the main block and the E. end of the S. wing are also gabled. The windows have modern sash frames. In the main block is a central chimney stack with engaged shafts set diagonally. A large fireplace on the S. side of the stack has oak posts and a lintel with arched soffit; on it is carved the date 1681 or 1687.
b(5). Cottages, in the village, nearly a mile N. of the church, a row of two-storeyed 17th-century buildings, have plastered walls and retain their original chimney stacks of narrow bricks; the roofs are tiled. Other small cottages are of the 17th century, but only the chimney stacks remain unaltered.