BHO

Letchworth

Pages 140-142

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

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Citation:

In this section

78. LETCHWORTH.

(O.S. 6 in. vii. S.E.)

Ecclesiastical

(1). Parish Church, dedication unknown, stands N. of Letchworth Hall, about ½ mile S. of the village. It is built of flint rubble with free-stone dressings; the roofs are tiled. The Nave is the earliest part, and is probably of the 12th century, the Chancel, which is of the 13th century, having been apparently re-built, as it leans to the S. In the 15th century the South Porch was added, and the church re-roofed; windows were inserted in the nave c. 1500, and the Bell-cot at the W. end, although altered externally, also seems to have been erected at the beginning of the 16th century. The church was repaired in the 19th century.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (19 ft. by 14 ft.) has an E. window of three lights under a square head, probably of the 16th century, when the E. wall seems to have been re-built; in the N. wall is a 13th-century lancet window and a low-side window of c. 1350. The S. wall has similar windows, and a 14th-century doorway, which has been blocked and can only be seen outside. The chancel arch has coarse mouldings and was probably re-built in the 16th century. The Nave (32 ft. by 16½ ft.) has, in the N. wall, two single-light windows with tracery, of c. 1500, and a blocked doorway, probably of the 14th century. The wall is thickened at the N.E. angle, probably for the rood-loft staircase, of which the foundations have been discovered recently. In the S. wall are two modern windows, and a 15th-century doorway of two moulded orders, with a four-centred head. The W. window is of two cinque-foiled lights with tracery, and is also of c. 1500. The Bell-cot is covered externally with cement, and has N. and S. windows and a pyramidal tiled roof. It is supported by a four-centred wooden arch, now painted, which spans the nave at the W. end. The South Porch has an entrance archway of two moulded orders; the arch is two-centred under a square head, with shields in the spandrels; the arms on the W. shield are six lozenges, three and three. The side windows are blocked. The Roof of the chancel is plastered, but the 15th-century trusses and wind-braces are visible; the beams and wall cornices of the 15th-century roof of the nave are still in position, though the nave is now covered by a plaster ceiling.

Fittings—Bell: with inscription Ave Maria Gracia Plena, probably 14th-century. Brasses: in the chancel, of Thomas Wyrley, priest in Eucharistic vestments, with inscription, 1475: in the nave, of a man and his wife, half-length figures, c. 1470, with fragment of inscription, recording name of wife, Isabelle; man said to be William Overbury. Door: on S. door, some 13th-century ironwork. Font: bowl, possibly 14th-century. Glass: in the W. and N.E. windows of nave, fragments of mediæval painted glass; the arms of Montfitchet, gules three cheverons or a label of three points azure, in the N.E. window. Monument: on sill of N.E. window of nave, small effigy in chain mail and long surcoat holding a heart in his hands, c. 1300, much worn and defaced. Niche: for image, in the nave, early 15th-century; the head is partly buried in the N. wall, and the S. jamb cut back. Plate: includes cup and cover paten of late 16th-century character, without hall-marks. Seating: in the nave, several benches with broken ends, 15th-century. Stoup: in the porch, only the base remains.

Condition—Generally good. The N.W. buttresses are decayed, and the E. wall is settling, but its N. and S. angles, being on old foundations, are good.

Secular

(2). Letchworth Hall, S. of the church, is a large house, built c. 1620, on the site of an earlier building, of which fragments remain; they were dug out of the foundations in 1909, and include some 15th-century window tracery in clunch. The present house is of brick, and has a picturesque and irregular appearance on account of the different levels at which it is built; the roofs are tiled.

The house is of especial interest on account of the unusual plan.

It is T-shaped, with the hall and a range of rooms in the vertical arm which projects to the S.E.; the cross arm, which faces N.W., contains the kitchens at the N.E. end and the parlour at the other end; a modern wing with a tower has been added on the N.W. front. The plan is abnormal, for the entrance, which is covered by a porch, and the screens are at the S.E. end of the hall, away from the kitchens. Over the screens is a gallery, now closed. A modern staircase has been inserted S.W. of the screens. Above the hall are some attics, and above the parlour another large room reached by a second modern staircase. The N.E. Elevation has a projecting porch which is carried up two storeys, and is finished with a gable on each side. All the gables of the house, including those of the porch, have brick copings, and, at their apices, the octagonal stumps of former brick pinnacles. The S.W. Elevation of the hall wing, and the S.E. Elevation of the parlour and kitchen wing have been much altered; the N.W. Elevation is nearly covered by the modern additions. The original windows have wooden frames, mullions and transoms. Some original chimney stacks remain, and have square shafts set diagonally. The inner doorway of the porch has an old oak, nail-studded door and moulded oak frame, and opens into the screens. The fine oak screen still remains in the hall; it is of early 17th-century date, and has two wide arches with a central pillar and enriched spandrels; the sides have diagonal panels, and there is a richly moulded cornice. One section of the screen has been brought forward to make room for the modern staircase behind it, in which some early 17th-century oak balusters and newels have been re-used. On the S.W. of the hall is a fireplace with a four-centred arch and a 19th-century coat of arms above it. In the parlour is a 17th-century carved oak chimney-piece. The room above it has a 17th-century carved clunch fire-place with female half-figures at the sides, and a decorated frieze. The overmantel repre sents the 'Judgment of Paris' modelled in plaster.

Condition—Good; much altered and enlarged.

(3). House, now divided into cottages, N.W. of the church, was built early in the 17th century, of timber with brick nogging; the roof is tiled. The plan is rectangular, with a projecting porch on the S., and a central chimney stack. Some of the old windows have been blocked.

Condition—Good; much altered.

(4). The Post Office, in the middle of the village, ½ mile N. of the church, is a two-storeyed brick and timber building, probably of early 17th-century date; the roof is tiled. The plan is L-shaped, but there may have been originally a S. wing, as the S. end of the W. wing is of much later date than the rest of the house. There are dormer windows in the roof, and a square chimney stack at the junction of the wings.

Condition—Good; much of the brickwork renewed; the chimney stack out of repair.