Little Gaddesden

Pages 142-144

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)xxvi. N.W. (b)xxvi. S.W.)


a(1). Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, stands about ½ mile N.E. of the village, surrounded by fields; the walls are covered with cement, except those of the tower and the new parts of the chancel and N. chapel, which are of flint with stone dressings; the roofs are partly of lead and partly of tiles. Restoration and rebuilding have obscured the early history of the church; the Nave arcades and the West Tower are of the 15th century, and appear to be the oldest parts; the Chancel seems to have been re-built in the 17th century, with the exception of the S. wall, which retains traces of late 15th-century work. The North Chapel has been re-built, and the South Chapel restored. The South Porch was added in the 17th century.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (32½ ft. by 18 ft.) has traces of a blocked window of late 15th-century date in the S. wall, and some carved stone corbels which formerly supported a wood ceiling. The Nave (38 ft. by 17 ft.) has 15th-century N. and S. arcades of three bays; the shafts are octagonal, with moulded capitals and bases, and the arches are of two hollow chamfered orders; all the stonework has been restored. The North Aisle has two N. windows, one of three cinque-foiled lights and the other of two lights, in late 15th-century style, but with modern stonework. In the W. wall is a single trefoiled light. The N. doorway is blocked and has a plain four-centred head. In the South Aisle are two S. windows of three lights and a small window in the W. wall. The West Tower (9½ ft. square) is of two stages with an embattled parapet. The tower arch, with half-octagonal responds and moulded capitals, and the W. doorway with a four-centred head, are both of the 15th century, but the windows and other details are modern. The low-pitched Roof of the nave is of the 15th century, and has moulded timbers resting on stone corbels. The roof of the N. aisle has also some old timbers.

Fittings—Chest: in the N. chapel, large, iron-bound. Monuments and Floor Slabs: in the S. chapel, to Elizabeth, Viscountess Brackley, 1669: to Henry Stanley, 1670: in the floor, several 17th-century slabs: in the N. aisle, to members of the Egerton family, 1635, and 1649 to 1663: mural tablet in the S. aisle, to Elizabeth Egerton, 1611: and over the S. door, to John, Earl of Bridgwater, 1686. Plate: includes unmarked cup of c. 1650, and flagon of 1635. Screen: between chancel and nave, 17th-century, much restored. Seating: carved poppy heads, and part of the front panelling of choir seats, 17th-century.

Condition—Good, owing to modern restorations, but the external cement is peeling off in places.


b(2). Ashridge, stands in a large park between Little Gaddesden and Great Berkhampstead. The house is of early 19th-century date, but is on the site of monastic buildings, of which a cellar still remains. The cellar (68 ft. by 26 ft.) was originally under the frater, and is of the 15th century; it has seven bays of vaulting, supported by a row of octagonal columns, from which the ribs spring directly without capitals. The 17th-century mantelpieces, etc., in the house were brought from elsewhere. In the Chapel are two brasses: of John Swynstede, priest, in Eucharistic vestments, 1395, and a rose brass with inscription to John Killingworth, 1412; both brought from Edlesborough, Bucks.


b(3). Old Park Lodge, Ashridge Park, about ¾ of a mile N.W. of the house, formerly known as the Forester's Lodge. It is a small rectangular brick building of three storeys, and is of the 17th century, with 19th-century additions at the E. end; the roof is tiled. The third storey is partly in the roof, and has dormer windows. At each end of the building is a chimney stack with square shafts set diagonally. In the middle of the S. front, and on the projecting chimney breast at the W. end, is a large square of plaster on which a sundial is painted; both are now much defaced.


b(4). The Manor House, stands about ½ mile S. of the church, at the corner of the road leading to Studham. It was built in the 16th century and consists of a main block of two storeys and attics, with a large dining room on the ground floor; a wing at the S.E. end, containing the kitchen and domestic offices; and a modern wing at the back. The main block is built chiefly of Totternhoe stone, and the N.E. side of the house is faced with flint and stone in alternate squares.

The house is a good example of 16th-century domestic architecture, and the painting on the main staircase is of especial interest.

At each end of the front of the main block is a square projecting turret carried up above the roof, and finished with a moulded crow-stepped gable; in the turret at the S.E. end is the entrance doorway, and the other turret contains a staircase. Between the two turrets is a projecting bay window carried up two storeys; a stone built into it bears the date 1576, and the initials A. R. D. and E. (?) B. The initials may be those of Sir Robert Dormer who owned the manor at that time, and of his wife, Elizabeth Browne. All the windows have stone mullions and transoms and moulded labels. A rain-water pipe on this front bears the date 1684. At the N.W. end of the building is a chimney stack with four large circular shafts of stone on moulded bases; the shafts are connected at the top by a stone entablature with a small moulded cornice. All the other chimney stacks are of brick, and have square shafts set diagonally.

Interior—The internal doorways of the main block have moulded stone jambs of two orders; the inner order is carried up to form a four-centred arch, and the outer one is carried above the arch as a square lintel. The Dining Room, originally 32 ft. by 16½ ft., is now about 27 ft. long, as a passage has been formed at the S.E. end by the erection of a partition made up of 15th-century traceried panelling taken from Ashridge; the other walls are faced with stone. At the N.W. end of the room is a large stone fireplace with a four-centred arch, flanked by fluted columns on pedestals which support a moulded entablature with architrave, frieze and cornice, all richly carved, and with traces of distemper colouring. Above the columns are stone consoles carried up to the ceiling, carved with human figures. In the middle panel above the fireplace are painted the arms of Queen Elizabeth. The panel on the right probably represents Princess Elizabeth and her attendants walking in Ashridge Park; in the panel on the left are figures of three gentlemen of the same period; all the painting is much defaced. At the S.E. end of the room is a blocked arcade; the piers are square with moulded capitals, the arches are four-centred, except one, which is semi-circular. The Drawing Room, on the first floor, above the dining room, is also faced with stone. At each end is a plain stone fireplace; in the walls are several small recesses and an arched recess for a seat at the N.W. end. The first floor of the S.E. turret forms part of this room, opening into it by two four-centred arches resting on an octagonal column with moulded base and capital of 16th-century character. The Attics are reached by an oak staircase in the S.W. turret; on the jamb of the doorway between the drawing room and this staircase is an incised cross, between two gibbets, on a curved line representing the summit of Calvary. A room in the attic, about 6 ft. square, probably once used as an Oratory, has a fireplace and three recesses in the walls. A painted cupboard door which came from the dining room hangs on a wall of the main staircase, and is said to represent Princess Elizabeth in Ashridge Park receiving the summons from Queen Mary to proceed to London as a prisoner.

Condition—Good throughout.

b(5). John of Gaddesden's House, stands opposite the N.E. lodge of Ashridge Park. John of Gaddesden was a noted physician in the reign of Edward III. The house is a small mediæval building of timber and plaster with a projecting upper storey; the roofs are tiled.

Although restored externally, the house is an interesting example of the lesser domestic architecture of mediæval date. The 15th-century open timber roof of the hall is especially noticeable.

The windows have wooden frames and leaded lights with some original fastenings; near the N. end an octagonal chimney stack has two octagonal shafts with moulded bases and caps. At the back is a stack with a single shaft of similar design. The hall of two bays on the first floor, now used as a reading room, has a very fine open timber roof of 15th-century date; the beams are massive and have carved spandrels in the supporting brackets. The timbers in the walls are exposed, and at the N. end is a stone fireplace, some oak panelling and an oak cupboard.

Condition—Good throughout; restored externally.

b(6). Robin Hood House, originally an inn, stands at the end of the village, ¾ mile S. of the church. It is a two-storeyed building with attics, and is covered with cement; the roofs are tiled. It is probably of the 17th century, but the only old features now visible are some beams in the ceilings and some flat, shaped balusters in a staircase leading from the first floor to the attics.