An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1910.
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(O.S. 6 in. (a)xii. S.E. (b)xiii. S.W. (c)xx. N.E.)
a(1). Parish Church of St. Nicholas, stands about ¾ mile N.W. of the town; the walls are probably of flint, but are covered with cement. The nave, chancel and aisles have embattled parapets, and the flat roofs are covered with lead. The Tower is the earliest part, and was built in the first half of the 12th century; it appears to have been the west tower and porch combined of an earlier nave, which was replaced by the present Nave, with its North and South Aisles, early in the 13th century; the aisles were widened c. 1330, when the present Chancel, with its North and South Chapels, took the place of the earlier (probably 13th-century) chancel. A doorway, now above the roof of the nave, in the E. wall of the tower, suggests that there was a high-pitched roof of the 14th century; the present low-pitched roof, with the clearstorey, is of the 15th century, and the arches of the nave arcades with the capitals are of later date than the bases and pillars, and were probably inserted when the roof was re-built. The bell-chamber of the tower was also added in the 15th century. The South Transept is modern, and the South Porch, if it is old, has been completely restored.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (39 ft. by 17 ft.) has a modern E. window of four lights and tracery; the N. window, now blocked, is of three lights under a square head, with an edge-roll on the inner jambs, and is of the 14th century; the S. window is similar, and has been repaired outside with cement. The arcades, each of two bays, between the chancel and the N. and S. chapels, are of the 14th century; both have octagonal middle pillars, but the responds are different, those on the N. being semi-octagonal and those on the S. semi-circular, all have moulded bases and capitals; the arches are of two chamfered orders, and have moulded labels. There is no chancel arch. The North Chapel (25 ft. by 13 ft.) has a 14th-century traceried E. window of four lights, with an inner edge-roll like those in the chancel; it has been much repaired with cement; in the N. wall are two 14th-century windows of two lights under pointed heads with labels, and a third window, a modern copy of the others; the easternmost is walled up outside, but the tracery is exposed inside; the second is wholly blocked, but the outline is visible outside. The South Chapel (25 ft. by 12 ft.) has an E. window and two S. windows similar to those in the N. chapel, but those on the S. have inner jambs and arches moulded with an under-cut edge-roll, and have moulded labels; outside they are repaired with cement; between them is a pointed doorway, probably contemporary. The Nave (43 ft. by 16 ft.) has N. and S. arcades of four bays; the octagonal pillars and moulded bases are of early 13th-century date, but the moulded capitals and pointed arches (of two hollow chamfered orders) were inserted at the beginning of the 15th century; the bases are mutilated, and the labels of the westernmost bays have been hacked away to make room for a gallery. The clearstorey has 15th-century square-headed windows, which have lost their tracery. The North Aisle (13½ ft. wide) has three N. windows; the easternmost is of four lights under a square head, and was probably inserted in the 15th century, but now has modern tracery; the second, of two lights with tracery under a pointed head, is probably of the 14th century, but the tracery is modern; the third is a similar window of the 14th century, repaired outside; close to the W. wall is a 14th-century doorway, restored; the W. window, of three lights with tracery, is modern. The South Aisle (12½ ft. wide) has a modern S. archway opening into the transept; W. of it is a 14th-century two-light window, which resembles those in the S. chapel, and near the W. wall is the pointed 14th-century S. doorway, repaired; the W. window is modern. The West Tower (16 ft. by 15 ft.) is of two stages, undivided externally, with diagonal angle-buttresses, probably added in the 15th century, an embattled parapet, and a leaded spire. The tower arch is of the 12th century; on the W. side it has shafted jambs, with rudely carved capitals, and an edge-roll in the semi-circular head, the E. side is plain; in the W. wall is a 12th-century doorway, restored with cement; it has shafted jambs, with rude bases, capitals and abaci, and a round arch of two orders, the outer with an edge-roll; in the N. and S. walls are small round-headed 12th-century windows, set high up in the wall; above the tower arch is a round-headed doorway, which formerly opened into the 12th-century roof, and over it (but now outside, above the roof of the nave) is a pointed doorway, which probably gave access to the former 14th-century roof: the E. wall of the bell-chamber, on each side of this doorway, has a small round piercing, and the other three walls have two-light pointed windows of the 15th century, repaired. The South Porch is too much restored for the date of its erection to be determined. The Roof of the chancel and nave is low-pitched, with traceried trusses, and is of the 15th century; the aisles have coeval flat lean-to roofs, though that of the N. aisle has been repaired; in the chancel the roof has carved angels at the feet of the principal crossribs; the others have wood corbels, some being carved.
Fittings—Bells: six; one of 1670. Brasses and Indents: in the chancel, of Stephen Hellard, Rector, c. 1500, priest in cope, with inscription: in the N. aisle, indents of a man and his two wives, their sons and daughters, and inscription, mid 15th-century: in nave, slab with indent of floriated cross and inscription, probably 14th-century. Font: square bowl carved with foliage, standing on circular stem and small round shafts with moulded bases and capitals, early 13th-century. Monuments: in chancel, mural, to William Pratt, 1629: in N. aisle, upper part of recumbent effigy of a lady with hands raised in prayer, an angel and a priest supporting her elbows, late 13th or early 14th-century. Niche: in N.E. corner of N. chapel, with large modern bracket, and traceried canopy, probably 15th-century. Piscina: in chancel, cement, possibly old: in S. chapel, with cinque-foiled head and trefoiled basin, probably 14th-century. Plate: cup and cover paten of 1634, paten and flagon of 1683; all of silver. Screens: against the E. wall behind the altar, upper part of a traceried wood screen, now painted; 15th-century; the lower part is at the entrance to the chancel: between chancel and chapel, two, of oak, traceried, 15th-century: another at W. end of S. chapel. Stalls: three in chancel and three in tower, with carved misericords; late 14th or early 15th-century. Sedilia: in chancel, three, of modern cement.
c(2). Homestead Moat, in Whomerley Wood. There is a slight outwork at the N.W. corner.
a(3). The Old Bury, N.W. of the parish church, is a small rectangular building of the 17th century. It is two-storeyed, faces S., and has timber-framed walls wholly coated with cement; the roof is tiled, and gabled longitudinally, with cross gables at the ends. At each end of the S. front is a gable, and in the middle is a smaller gable. E. of the centre of the house is a 17th-century plain brick chimney stack. Interior: Some old floor joists are visible, and there is some flint walling in a cellar, possibly part of an earlier building which is known to have existed on the spot.
b(4). Chells Manor House, now a farmhouse, situated about 2 miles E. of Stevenage, is of early 17th-century date. Externally it is coated with rough-cast; the roofs are tiled. The plan is half H-shaped; the main block faces S.W., and originally the two wings were continued as outbuildings and enclosed a courtyard, but a fire in 1896 destroyed the outbuildings. At the end of the N.E. wing is a timber-framed extension of one storey; the wall at the N.E. end is of modern brick. At each end of the S.W. front the upper storey projects and has an overhanging gable above it. One window in the room over the kitchen, now blocked, is original; it is of three lights, and has moulded oak mullions and jambs. The chimney stacks are of brick, the central stack having sunk panels. Interior: The hall, now divided into two rooms and a passage, originally occupied most of the main block, and the doorway on the S.W. front, now opening into the drawing-room, was the principal entrance. The original wide fireplace in the dining-room is now an ingle nook; at the back of it is an original narrow staircase lighted by a small window. A few original oak doors remain. The cellar is paved with narrow bricks.
a(5). The Old Workhouse, stands opposite the modern Church of Holy Trinity, at the S. end of the town. It is no longer used as the workhouse, and was no doubt originally a dwelling house; it is now the property of the gas company. The building is rectangular, and is probably of early 16th-century date. The walls are of vertical timber-framing, filled with plaster; the roof is tiled. The upper storey projects at each end of the N. front and is gabled, and the E. and W. ends are also gabled; the window and door frames are modern; there is one dormer window and a plain 17th-century chimney stack of brick. The interior has been much altered.
High Street, E. side
a(6). The Grammar School, of the 16th century, and several Houses, of the 17th century. The School is at the N. end of the bowling green. It is known that a school existed in Stevenage in 1312, but the grammar school was founded in 1558 by Thomas Alleyn, rector of the parish. About 1572 it was transferred to a building which belonged to the English or Pettits' School, founded in 1561, and for more than 300 years the schools were carried on together. In 1905 the buildings were much altered and enlarged, but one small rectangular building of c. 1562 remains. The walls were originally of timber with brick nogging, but have been almost entirely faced with brick; the roof is tiled, and at each end is a gable. The building consists of one room of two bays; the roof, mainly original, is of open timber construction; the one truss has an ogee-moulded and cambered tie-beam with curved moulded angle-braces; the purlins are also moulded. House opposite the green, at the N. end of the street, is of two storeys with attics, built in the 17th century of timber and brick, and much altered and refronted in the 18th century. The roofs are tiled, and there is one original chimney stack. On the N. side of the house is a range of outbuildings, formerly malthouses, with a disused kiln; they contain some large trusses of uncertain date. Inn, opposite the White Lion Inn (see No. 9), has a modern brick front, but the two chimney stacks are of 17th-century brick; one has three square shafts set diagonally. Cottages, two, in a detached block of houses, are covered with rough-cast on a brick base; the roofs are tiled and have two small dormer windows. House, at the S. end of the street, now a shop and dwelling house, is of two storeys; the front is gabled; the lower part is covered with modern cement, and the upper storey has basket-work pargetting arranged in panels. The roofs are tiled. The central chimney stack has three square flues. At the back of the house are modern additions, but one original plastered gable remains. The interior contains some old ceiling beams, one being moulded, and a large open fireplace has been filled in.
Condition—Of school, fairly good; of houses, good on the whole, most of them have been restored; of cottages, dilapidated.
a(7). The Castle Inn and an adjoining Cottage, originally one building, are of late 16th-century date, with modern additions and alterations. Part of the front has a brick base, and the upper storey, with two gables, has panels of basket-work pargetting restored with cement. All the windows of the inn are modern, but some of those in the cottage have leaded lights. The roofs are tiled, and the inn has a brick chimney stack with three square flues. In the parlour of the inn is a large open fireplace, with a massive beam over it, in which is cut a flat four-centred arch.
a(8). Houses and Cottages, a number of small buildings of 17th-century date, generally of two storeys, with tiled roofs; some have basketwork pargetting and original chimney stacks. The interiors are almost wholly modern, but some retain open fireplaces, which have been reduced in size to fit modern grates. Four Cottages in one range, at the N. end of the street, standing back from the road, are of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered, except the front, which is partly of brick, and is gabled; the roofs are tiled. The chimney stacks are built of thin bricks. A large open fireplace remains in one cottage, but is reduced to fit a modern grate. Cottage, at the junction of the Hitchin road, is also of the 17th century, but on the front the ground floor was faced with brick at a later date. The end is gabled, and shows some timber-work; the two chimney stacks are of thin bricks. House near the N. end of the street, has an overhanging upper storey. The walls are almost entirely re-faced with brick, but the overhanging part is covered with rough-cast, and there is a little original basket-work pargetting. The roofs are tiled, and the central chimney stack is built of thin bricks. House, adjoining the S. end of the Red Lion Inn (see No. 10), is probably also of the 17th century, but much restored. House, further S., is a small building, and part of it is a shop. The plan is L-shaped, and the front has a gable at each end, and a dormer window in the middle. The lower storey is of plastered brick, and the upper storey of pargetted timber. The roofs are tiled, and the central chimney stack has three octagonal brick shafts on a moulded base. Cottage, further S., has a modern plastered front, a tiled roof, with two gabled dormer windows, and a central chimney stack with three square shafts built of 17th-century bricks.
Condition—All good, much restored.
a(9). The White Lion Inn, near the N. end of the street, is of late 17th-century date: the walls have been almost entirely re-faced with brick; the roofs are tiled, and there are two chimney stacks built of 17th-century bricks. The wide entrance to the yard has some original constructional timbers supporting the floor above it, and a semi-classic turned column, which formerly supported a gallery. The interior contains some large moulded beams in the ceilings. An open fireplace in the bar has been blocked.
a(10). The Red Lion Inn has a bracketed timber coach entrance. The front has been restored, but on the N. side of the yard is part of a 16th-century building, which has a projecting upper storey of close vertical timber-work, with plaster filling. The roofs are tiled. A timber outhouse on the S. side of the yard has a little basket-work pargetting on the E. side.
c(11). Tumuli, six mounds known as 'The Six Hills,' about ¾ mile S. of Stevenage.