Pages 136-137

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

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In this section


(O.S. 6 in. (a)xx. N.E. (b)xx. N.W. (c)xx. S.E.)


a(1). Parish Church of St. Mary and St. Thomas of Canterbury, stands in Knebworth Park. The walls are of flint rubble with clunch dressings; the roofs are tiled. The Nave was built c. 1150, and the Chancel probably at the same time. The West Tower was added c. 1420, the North Chapel c. 1520, and the South Porch c. 1600; the N. chapel was re-built c. 1700, and during the 19th century the chancel was practically re-built, and the North Vestry was added.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (27½ ft. by 13½ ft.) is almost entirely modern, but has in the N. wall a blocked window with edge-roll moulding of c. 1150; below it is an arched recess of early 16th-century date. The arch opening into the N. chapel is also of early 16th-century date, and has been much repaired; the chancel arch, of c. 1150, has engaged shafts with scallop capitals. The North Chapel (27½ ft. by 12 ft.) has two square-headed windows of c. 1700 with wood frames. The Nave (57½ ft. by 20 ft.) has in the S. wall a modern single light, a square-headed window of three lights with tracery, of c. 1350, much restored, and a two-light window of the 15th century, also much restored; beyond the two-centred doorway, of c. 1380, much repaired, is a fourth window of c. 1500, without the central mullion. At the E. end of the N. wall, is a single-light window, with modern tracery; the wide single-light window at the W. end of the wall is modern, and replaces an earlier two-light window. The lower entrance to the rood-loft stairs is blocked, but the two-centred arch with moulded edge can be seen, and the upper doorway remains. In the E. wall is an opening into the N. chapel; it has a square head and skewed sides. The Tower (12 ft. square) is of three stages with angle buttresses, embattled parapet and small lead spire; on the S. is a projecting stair-turret. The string course of the parapet has grotesque heads at the corners and a gargoyle in the centre of each wall. The tower arch is of c. 1420, and of two moulded orders with engaged shafts; the W. window is original, with grotesque heads on the stops of the labels, and modern tracery; the W. doorway has a two-centred moulded arch under a square head with shields in the spandrels; one shield bears the arms of Hotoft (see Brasses below). The second stage is pierced on the N. and S. by narrow loops, and the bell-chamber has four windows, each of two cinque-foiled lights with a quatrefoil in the head. The South Porch is coated with cement, and shows only traces of original windows. The Roof of the nave has trusses, which are probably of the 15th century; the N. chapel has a flat plaster ceiling of c. 1700.

Fittings—Brasses: in the chancel, of Simon Bache, 1414, priest in Eucharistic vestments, with figures of saints on his cope, and inscription: under the arch to the N. chapel, to John Hotoft, c. 1470, inscription on six strips of brass, three shields: (1) Hotoft, three pikes' heads erect, erased; (2) (covered by iron railing)— impaling three harts (?); (3) quarterly, 1 and 4 Hotoft, 2 and 3, argent, two bars gules, in chief three roundels; said to have been on an altar tomb now not on original slab: in S. chapel, of Roland Lytton and his two wives, 1582, arms and inscription. Font: octagonal, of limestone, plainly moulded, c. 1480. Monuments: in S. chapel, to Anna, wife of Roland Lytton, 1601, with arms: tomb of Sir William Lytton, 1704–5, recumbent figure of marble under elaborate canopy, with arms and quarterings of Lytton: on floor, to the son of Giles Strangways, 1646: to Judith, wife of Rowland Lytton, 1659: to Sir William Lytton, 1660: to Sir Rowland Lytton, 1674: to Judith (Lytton), wife of Sir Thomas Barrington, 1657, with arms: other monuments of the Lytton family: in chancel, mural tablet to Judith (Lytton), wife of Nicholas Strode, 1662: floor slab to John Ham, clericus, 1684: on W. splay of window on N. side of nave, inscription, defaced, with date of birth, 1395, said to be of John de Hall, rector. Piscina: in the chancel, 14th-century, with modern sill. Plate: cup, 17th-century, date erased: paten of 1668. Pulpit: Flemish carved panels, one dated 1567, made up in 18th century. Screen: under the chancel arch, elaborate iron grill of c. 1700. Seating: in the nave, complete set, oak, moulded, 15th-century.

Condition—Generally good. The tower is secured by iron ties, and the stonework of the W. doorway and bell-chamber windows is partly decayed.


a(2). Knebworth House stands in a park, S.W. of the church; it faces a little N. of E. and is a large two-storeyed building of early 16th-century date, of brick and stone, heavily plastered externally. The original plan was of the courtyard type, but three wings were pulled down in 1811; the W. wing, containing the hall, forms the present house, with additions of later date. The hall was re-constructed in the 17th century, but the further history of the house is obscured by alterations made in the 19th century. The gatehouse in the E. wing was partially re-erected as a lodge (see Codicote), and contains the only remaining original detail. The 16th-century plan of the W. wing had the screens in the middle, entered from a projecting porch, with the hall on the N. and the butteries, pantries, and kitchens on the S. Beyond the hall, in the N.W. corner of the house, was a solar. The hall, which is carried up two storeys, is intact, though it retains no 16th-century detail. A long gallery fills part of the space formerly occupied by the offices, and a grand staircase and library have been added on the N. of the hall and solar. Only the stumps of the N. and S. wings remain, and with the rest of the building are completely altered. The exterior is covered with 'Gothic' detail in cement, and all the windows have been altered. The ceiling of the hall is of c. 1610–20, and was probably inserted under an open timber roof; it is coved and has a moulded cornice, plate and principals, with carved grotesque brackets. The screen, of the same date, is in three bays divided by herm caryatides; the arch in each bay has pierced spandrels, and above them is a heavy moulded entablature with a pierced frieze; the central arch is open and forms the entrance, but the lower part of the other arches is filled with solid carved panels, ornamented with cartouches painted with the arms and quarterings of the Lytton family. Above the cornice is the railing of the gallery over the screens, filled with panels of pierced arabesque design. Both screen and ceiling are of oak. The rest of the room is lined with elaborate deal panelling, which is said to have been designed by Inigo Jones, and may be of mid 17th-century date, but is possibly later: the panelling at the N. end of the room is an elaborate architectural design in three bays, with detached, fluted Corinthian columns and an enriched entablature broken over the middle bay; over the broken entablature is a pediment with a round arch, of which the soffit is panelled; and in the flanking bays are doors opening into the solar, now a drawing-room. The rest of the wall is covered with large bolection-moulded panels, and the E. and W. walls are treated in a similar, but less elaborate, manner, and are set with fluted pilasters. The fireplace on the S.W. forms a simple part of the design.

Condition—Good; much altered and re-built.

c(3). Farm-Buildings, at Deard's End, nearly a mile S.E. of the church, are of timber with brick nogging, and of late 16th or early 17th-century date. The roofs are of rough-axed timbers, and tiled.

Condition—Fairly good.

b(4). Little Rustling End Farm, about 1½ miles W.N.W. of the church, is a 17th-century house of two storeys; the front is covered with cement; at the back the walls are timber-framed, with brick filling on the ground floor and plaster on the first floor; the roof is tiled. The plan is rectangular, with a projecting staircase wing at the back and a central chimney stack. In the kitchen is a large beam supporting the open timber ceiling.

Condition—Fairly good.


b(5). Tumuli, two, in Graffridge Wood.