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

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'Northchurch', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire, (London, 1910) pp. 156-158. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]

In this section


(O.S. (a)xxv. S.E. (b)xxxii. N.E.)


b(1). Parish Church of St. Mary, stands in the middle of the village, 1¼ miles N.W. of Great Berkhampstead on the main road to Tring. It is a cruciform building faced with flint and has stone dressings, except the tower, which is faced with Totternhoe stone and has been plastered. The roofs of the chancel and transepts are tiled; the low-pitched roof of the nave is of lead. The earliest part of the building is the Nave, of which the S. and W. walls are of pre-Conquest date; the church at that time probably consisted of a small chancel and an aisleless nave, 32 ft. 9 in. by 22 ft. 4 in., with a square W. chamber, about 21 ft. square, as indicated by the thickening of the walls at the W. end. The present Chancel was built early in the 13th century, when probably the Central Tower was erected over the lines of the original chancel, and the Transepts were added; the tower is now entirely of the 15th century, but it is unlikely that it was more than re-built at that time; the transepts were also repaired or partly re-built in the 15th century. The North Vestry and Organ Chamber, the North Aisle and South Porch are modern, and the building has been extensively restored.

The church is of especial interest on account of the indications of the pre-Conquest W. chamber, of which very few examples remain in the country. The Flemish chest in the vestry is an elaborate example of 15th-century wood carving.

Northchurch, Parish Church of St. Mary.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (34 ft. by 17 ft.) has a modern three-light E. window, with a few 15th-century stones in the outer jambs. In the N. wall is an early 13th-century lancet, opening into the vestry, and W. of it is a modern doorway and an arch opening into the organ chamber. In the S. wall are three late 14th-century windows of two lights, with a quatrefoil in the head, and a small doorway now blocked by a wide buttress. The Central Tower (15 ft. square) is of two stages above the roof of the church, with an embattled parapet and a stair-turret at the N.W. angle; it rests on four 15th-century arches of two moulded orders with half-octagonal responds. The bell-chamber windows are of two trefoiled lights, with a quatrefoil in the head. The North Transept (16 ft. by 13½ ft.) has a little 15th-century stonework in the E. window, but all the other details are modern. In the South Transept (17 ft. by 16 ft.) all the details are modern except some 14th-century worked stones in the S. wall. The Nave (59 ft. by 22½ ft.) is of four bays, with a modern N. arcade. In the S. wall there is a modern window of three lights, a window of c. 1250, of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in the head, and a window of c. 1320, of two trefoiled lights with tracery, much restored; the S. doorway is modern and the W. window of three lights, with tracery, has been entirely renewed, except a little of the internal stonework. The rood-loft doorway remains in the N.E. corner. The North Aisle has modern windows, but some old stones are re-used in the jambs. The Roofs of the chancel and nave contain a few old moulded timbers.

Fittings—Bells: six, four by Chandler, 1651; bell frame dated 'T.K., 1615.' Chest: in the vestry, Flemish, with richly carved traceried panels, shafts and pinnacles on the styles, and an original wrought-iron lock plate. Font: plain octagonal bowl, probably 15th-century; base modern. Indent: at E. end of N. aisle. Piscina: in the chancel, recess without basin, probably late 15th-century. Tiles: in floor of tower, 15th-century, much worn.

Condition—Good, owing to modern refacing and repairs. The plaster is scaling off the tower.

b(2). Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene, ruins, in the grounds of Marlin Chapel Farm, on a hill 1¼ miles S.W. of the village, consisting of fragments only of a small rectangular building of flint rubble. There is no detail by which it can be dated; a few worked stones are built into the walls.

Condition—Bad; some of the walling is covered with ivy, and trees are growing inside the building.


b(3). Homestead Moat, at Marlin Chapel Farm, encloses farm buildings.

b(4). The Church Houses, at the S.W. corner of the churchyard, are a group of 16th-century cottages built of vertical timbers, with brick filling, of which some is modern; the roofs are tiled. The upper storey projects, and the windows have leaded casements.

Condition—Fairly good.

b(5). Cottages, in the main street, are 17th-century buildings of brick and timber; the roofs are tiled.

Condition—Fairly good; some of the timbers are decayed and have been replaced with strips of tarred brickwork.

a(6). Dovecote, in the grounds of Norcott Court, about a mile N.W. of the church. It is a small rectangular 17th-century building of brick and timber, with gabled ends. The roof is tiled. The lower part is now used as a tool house. All details are hidden by the ivy, which completely covers the walls and roof.

Condition—Bad, on account of the ivy.


b(7). Grim's Ditch, or Graeme's Dyke or Gryme's Dike (Boundary Bank: see also Great Berkhampstead, Tring and Wigginton), enters the parish on the W. from Smart's Wood (Wigginton) and passes S.E. through Hamberlin's Wood. The line is then lost until it reappears at Woodcock Hill towards the E. border of the county.

Condition—Fairly good at W. end; poor at E. end; destroyed elsewhere.