An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1910.
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77. LAYSTON (with Buntingford).
(O.S. 6 in. (a)ix. S.W. (b)xiv. N.W.)
b(1). Parish Church of St. Bartholomew, stands high, about ½ mile N.E. of Buntingford. It is built of flint, with some Roman tiles in the N. wall of the nave; the upper parts are in places repaired with blue bricks. The roofs are flat. The Chancel seems to have been built c. 1220, but its walls are unusually thin for the period: the very thick walls of the Nave suggest an early origin, but none of its details are of earlier date than the 15th century: the Tower was added c. 1420, and the South Porch probably at the same time.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (30½ ft. by 17 ft.) has a triplet of 13th-century lancet windows in the E. wall, below which, inside is a contemporary string course: in the N. wall are two blocked lancets, the westernmost of modern stone; in the S. wall are two 13th-century lancets, a 15th-century window of three lights, and a priests' doorway, also of the 15th century. The chancel arch was widened towards the end of the 15th century, and has shafted jambs and a moulded four-centred arch. The Nave (52 ft. by 27 ft.) has three windows in the N. wall, all with moulded jambs; the westernmost window is of two lights; the two others, of three lights each, have lost their mullions, etc., and now have wooden frames: in the S. wall are two windows of three lights, with moulded jambs and heads, and a window of two lights with plain hollow-chamfered jambs; all the windows are of the 15th century, but the two-light window in the S. wall is of earlier date than the others. The N. doorway, with a two-centred arch, is blocked; the S. doorway is of the 15th century, and has moulded jambs and a pointed head; both doorways have moulded square labels inside. In the N.E. corner is a rood-loft stair-turret, now without steps. The West Tower (14 ft. by 13½ ft.) is of three stages, with a small leaded needle spire; the W. wall has diagonal buttresses, and at the S.E. angle there is a newel staircase with much-worn steps. The 15th-century tower arch is pointed, and of three moulded orders, with shafted jambs: the W. doorway has moulded jambs and a pointed arch in a square head, with traceried spandrels and a label, and is also of the 15th century, but the head has been repaired at some later date; the 15th-century window over it is of three lights with tracery; the second stage is lighted by loops, and the bell-chamber by windows of two lights, with traceried four-centred heads. The South Porch has an original entrance archway with moulded jambs and a four-centred arch in a square head: on each side is a two-light window, modern, except the head of the E. window. The Roofs are modern.
Fittings—Bells: five; four of 1633. Bracket: for an image, moved from elsewhere, now on S. wall of chancel, carved with a grotesque face, and showing traces of colour, 15th-century. Brass Indents: in the nave, of two men and two women, early 16th-century. Font: panelled bowl, stem with small shields, many of them broken, carved with the emblems of the Passion, 15th-century. Monuments: in chancel, mural, to John Crouch, with heraldic shields, 1605: in the nave, to William Slatholme, Doctor of Physics, 1665. Niche: with canopy, above the entrance to the porch, partly old. Piscina: in the chancel, with rebated jambs and a shouldered arch, 13th-century. Plate: includes large silver-gilt cup of 1681, silver-gilt standing paten, and large salver of 1727. Pulpit: made up of 16th and 17th-century panelling, including a linen panel. Seating: many of the pews, 15th-century. Stoup: in the tower, S. of the W. doorway, in a cinque-foiled niche. Miscellanea: in churchyard, coffin lid or slab, plain, ancient.
Condition—Fairly good, except some of the external stonework: the windows of the nave have been repaired with cement, the W. window in the S. wall is in a bad state of preservation, as the cement is falling away and taking the surface of the stone with it.
b(2). Chapel of Ease, St. Peter's, at Buntingford, stands at the S. end of the High Street; it was built c. 1615, of brick, in the form of a cross, with the chancel on the S.; the roofs are tiled. In 1899 the building was completely restored, and an apse and a porch were added. The windows are modern.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (21 ft. by 13 ft.) is formed by the S. arm of the cross and opens into the apse by a modern arch; it has one window on the E. side. The Nave (39½ ft. by 21 ft.) is formed by the central part and the N. arm of the cross, and has windows in the N., E., and W. walls. In the N. wall is also a doorway opening into the modern Porch. The E. and W. arms of the cross form Transepts (both 11½ ft. deep by 24 ft. wide); the E. transept has a window of five lights on the E. side, a window of two lights on the N., and another on the S. Above the first, outside, is a stone inscribed "Domus Orationis, 1615." The W. transept has a window of three lights in the N. wall, and two, of two lights, and an external doorway in the W. wall. Over the E. gable of the E. transept is a small brick bell-cot. The Roofs are modern, but four original tie-beams remain.
Fittings—Bells: one, no marks. Brasses: in E. transept, plate engraved with a view of the chapel during a service, 17th-century. Gallery: in W. transept, with plain wooden Ionic columns, and a panelled front, c. 1615, much restored. Glass: in N. window of nave, a quartered coat, dated 1622. Seating: of modern construction, but probably old material.
a(3). Beauchamps, farmhouse and moat, nearly a mile N.E. of the church; the house is of early 17th-century date, with a modern brick front; the original walls are timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. The plan is E-shaped, with the wings projecting at the back; the middle wing is of one storey, the rest of the house of two storeys; all the wings are gabled, and at each end of the main block is an original brick chimney stack with three plain square shafts. Inside the house is some 17th-century oak panelling, now painted, and a carved panelled door. Three arms of the moat are still wet.
Condition—Of house, fairly good; of moat, good.
b(4). Alswick Hall, farmhouse and moat, about ½ mile S.E. of the parish church; the house, now divided into two tenements, is two-storeyed, and of the L type; the walls are of plastered timber, with brick foundations; the roofs are tiled. It was built early in the 17th century, and re-decorated at the end of that century, when corridors were arranged on the first floor. The windows have wooden frames and plain mullions. Interior: the original kitchen fireplace remains, with a wide, three-centred arch, and on the first floor are two fireplaces with four-centred moulded heads, also original. There is some panelling of various dates in the 17th century, one room been completely panelled; several rooms have large bolection-moulded panels of c. 1700, and retain fixed oil paintings over the fireplaces.
A fragment only remains of the moat.
Condition—Of house, poor.
b(5). Owles, farmhouse and moat, about a mile S.S.E. of the parish church; the house originally consisted of a rectangular block, built of brick early in the 17th century, but additions and alterations were made in the 18th and 19th centuries. Two brick mullioned windows remain, and also the original chimney stacks with diagonal shafts, much defaced and re-built.
The moat, nearly circular in shape, can be traced, but only a fragment remains.
Condition—Of house, dilapidated.
High Street, Buntingford
b(6). The High Street, running N. and S., was a part of the Ermine Street, and an old coaching road to the north.
E. side (starting from the S. end)
b(7). House, now used as a storehouse and stable, behind a furniture shop, is an early 16th-century building of two storeys with timber-framed and plastered walls; the roof is tiled. The entrance doorway has moulded oak jambs and a Tudor arch in a square head; the mullioned window frames are original and have quarry glazing; in the upper storey are some good roof trusses.
Condition—In bad repair; the walls lean inwards and the roof timbers are sagging; the building will probably soon collapse.
b(8). The Court was originally the Buntingford Grammar School; two wings remain, built of brick, with tiled roofs; the wing running E. and W. is of the 18th century, and was probably the master's house; the other wing, at right angles to it, is of early 17th-century date, and originally consisted of a single room of one storey, forming the hall or school-room, but is now divided into two storeys and several rooms. Some original windows remain, and have plastered brick mullions and transoms. The main entrance has shallow rustications, a semi-circular head and a crude pediment in plaster. The original plain queen-post trusses of the roofs are still in situ, with the tie-beams imbedded in the ceiling of the first floor.
Condition—Good, but much altered in the 19th century.
b(9). House, next to the George Hotel, is of the 17th century, and has a plain timber framed and plastered front, and an overhanging upper storey; the roof is tiled.
b(10). The George Hotel is also probably of the 17th century, but has been much altered in the 19th century.
b(11). Cottage, now divided into two dwellings, near the N. end of the street, is of early 16th-century date. It is a two-storeyed building of timber and plaster with a central chimney stack; the roof is tiled. The original central doorway with a three-centred wood arch has been filled in. The upper storey projects and has original windows with lead glazing.
W. side (starting from the S. end)
b(12). Ward's Hospital, almshouses, four for men and four for women, were founded and built in 1684 by Seth Ward, Bishop of Salisbury and Chancellor of the Order of the Garter, as recorded by an inscription on the lintel over the middle doorway; the walls are of red brick with rusticated Portland stone quoins; the door and window dressings are also of Portland stone, and a plain stone string course marks the level of the first floor; the roofs are tiled, and hipped at the ends of the wings. The building is of two storeys and consists of a main body and two long wings which enclose a quadrangle; on the E. side is an iron railing on a brick, wall, in which is the gateway. On the E. front of the main block is a slightly projecting bay, with moulded cornice and pediment enriched with modillions; the cornice is carried round the whole building. In the projecting bay is a stone doorway with an ornamented head, over which is a broken pediment, enclosing the arms of Bishop Ward. Each of the eight dwellings has a living room on the ground floor with a front and back entrance, a bedroom over it, and another small room on both floors. The doorways to the courtyard have stone architraves and moulded lintels.
b(13). House, formerly the Angel Hotel, now two dwellings, has a plastered front of c. 1680– 1700, but the main building is probably older. On the front the upper storey projects, and the lower storey has a hollow cornice with foliated brackets; the entrance doorway has rusticated jambs, and a lintel with keystone and pediment. A large gateway leads to the yard behind the house.
b(14). House, now a butcher's shop, has a large gateway of late 16th-century date, with a depressed wood arch and carved spandrels; a rain-water head is dated 1741, but the house is evidently of earlier date.
b(15). House, opposite the George Hotel, is probably of the 17th century, and has timber-framed and plastered walls; the roof is tiled.
b(16). The Clock Turret, over a large gateway next to a stationer's shop, is said to have been built in the 16th century; it has a gabled head and is modern outside, but some of the internal timbers may be old.
b(17). The Cock Inn, probably of early 17th-century date, has a plastered front and an overhanging upper storey; the roof is tiled.
b(18). The White Hart Inn is modern except the gabled N. end, which is of early 17th-century date, built of plastered timber, with an overhanging upper storey.
b(19). Cottages, several, with timber-framed walls partly plastered and partly weather-boarded, are of late 16th or early 17th-century date. Some have tiled roofs and others are thatched.