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. xiii. S.W.)
(1). Parish Church of St. Mary, stands on the E. bank of the river Beave, N.E. of the village. It is built of flint rubble, with Barnack stone and clunch dressings. The Nave is of the 11th century, and probably of pre-Conquest date, as the walls are only 2 ft. 3 in. thick; there is much re-used Barnack stone about the church, and traces of what was probably a rood over the former S. doorway. Early in the 12th century the South Aisle was built, and at the beginning of the 13th century the Chancel was re-built and the North Aisle added. The West Tower was built in the middle of the 14th century; the South Porch was added early in the 15th century, and windows were inserted in the aisles late in the same century; at the beginning of the 16th century the clearstorey was built. In the 19th century the North and South Chapels were added, and the chancel was completely restored.
The church is of especial interest on account of its early origin and the varied dates of its development. It also contains, in the S. aisle, a 13th-century effigy, which affords a rare and unusually perfect example of the flat-topped helm of that period.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (29½ ft. by 16½ ft.) has modern lancet windows and modern arches, opening into the chapels. The two-centred chancel arch, of two chamfered orders, is of 13th-century material, re-built late in the 14th century. The Nave (37½ ft. by 20½ ft.) has a 13th-century N. arcade of three bays, with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders, and octagonal columns with moulded capitals and bases, the latter much defaced; the easternmost capital was re-cut or inserted in the 15th century. The 12th-century S. arcade of two bays has semi-circular arches, of one square order, and abaci, one abacus being cable-moulded. The clearstorey has three windows of two lights on each side. The North Aisle (7 ft. wide) has, in the N. wall, three windows of three lights and a W. window of two lights, all inserted late in the 15th century. The N. doorway, of two moulded orders, is of late 14th-century date. The South Aisle (9½ ft. wide) has, in the S. wall, a late 15th-century window of four lights, and the jambs and part of the rear arch of a 12th-century window. The S. doorway is also of the 12th century, though much restored, and has a semi-circular head of two orders, and shafted jambs with defaced capitals; a small 15th-century doorway opens into the stair-turret of the S. porch. In the N.E. corner are the remains of the stair-turret leading to the former rood-loft, with one doorway. The W. window, of three lights, is of late 15th-century date, and there are traces of a similar window over the modern arch opening into the chapel. The West Tower (11 ft. square) is of three stages with embattled parapet and small spire. The tower arch, of three moulded orders, is original. The W. window, of three lights with net tracery, is also of the 14th century, but the single-light windows of the bell-chamber are of late 15th-century date. The South Porch (11 ft. by 8 ft.) is of two stages; the vaulting of the ground stage is restored. The entrance archway is of two moulded orders, with pilastered jambs. In the N.W. angle there is a quarter-octagonal stair-turret; the upper chamber has a S. window. The Roofs of the nave and aisles are plain 15th-century work.
Fittings—Bells: five; 1st, 1626; 3rd, 4th, and 5th, 1713. Brasses: in the chancel, of William Chapman, 1621, his wife, 1636, and inscription: on N. side of nave, of a civilian and his wife, with shield of arms, late 15th-century: at W. end of nave, of Edward Humbarstone, 1583, and his wife; said to be palimpsest; with inscription: in N. aisle to William Bramfeilde, 1596, inscription only: in the vestry, to John Humberstone, 1590, inscription imperfect: to Rychard Humberstone, 1581, inscription palimpsest on inscription to—Lovekyn, 1370. Font: of clunch, octagonal, roughly moulded; bowl with plain sides and angle shafts; late 14th-century. Monuments: in the S. aisle, in a niche with segmental head, Purbeck marble effigy of knight in mail hauberk with coif, and chausses, long surcoat and flat-topped helm; left leg broken below the knee, but fragment remains perfect; mid 13th-century: on S. side of chancel, a classical mural monument, with kneeling effigies of Daniel Gorsnor and his wife, 1638; name said to be incorrectly inscribed for Gorsuch: on S. side of nave to Gyles Humbarston, 1627, and his wife, kneeling figures, with inscription. Piscina: in the chancel, with shafted jambs, early 13th-century, much restored. Pulpit: small, of oak, octagonal, with plain panelled sides, early 16th-century. Screen: under the chancel arch, of five bays, with traceried open upper panels, close lower panels, and a central opening, 15th-century. Sedilia: in chancel, plain, much restored, 13th-century. Miscellanea: on S. side of S. wall of nave, a little W. of the middle and above the arcade, remains of a rood carved in chalk; probably over the original S. doorway. On plinth of tower, consecration crosses, worked in scappled flints and chalks.
Condition—Good; much restored.
(2). Walkern Bury (Mount and Bailey type or manorial work), lies on level ground 1 mile E. of the village, 400 ft. above O.D.
Detailed Description—The work consists of a nearly circular enclosure, defended by a strong rampart and ditch, the latter partly surrounding a smaller enclosure on the N. This second enclosure corresponds to the usual moated mount, but is nearly obliterated by modern farm buildings; the indentation on the E. at the junction of the two enclosures may be accidental, in which case they would constitute a single defensible area of about 2⅓ acres, standing from 7–11 ft. above the ditch. The rampart is 11 ft. above the ditch, which is nearly 50 ft. broad, and has a counter-scarp 8 ft. high, without a bank, but with a small mound, 5 ft. high, on the N.E. There is an entrance in the middle of the S. side.
Dimensions—Greatest length through both enclosures, N. to S., 430 ft.; greatest width, W. to E., 320 ft.
(3). Walkern Place, a farmhouse at the N. end of the village, was built in the 17th century, of timber and plaster, but the front was re-faced with brick in the 18th century.
(4). Bridgefoot Farm, W. of the church, is a 17th-century building of timber and plaster; the roofs are tiled. At the S. end of the E. front the upper storey projects and is gabled. The central chimney stack has a cluster of square and diagonal shafts.
(5). Rooks Nest, a farmhouse at the S. end of the village, W. of the main road, is a 17th-century building of two storeys. The plan is L-shaped, with a gabled porch wing on the E. front of the longer block, which is built of red brick; the shorter block is at the S. end, and projects towards the W.; it is of timber with brick filling. The windows in the front are probably original, and have brick mullions, now covered with cement. The central chimney stack in the main block has four square shafts set diagonally. Interior: the staircase has a large square newel with moulded panelling of early 17th-century date.
(6). Cottages, in the village, several built in the 17th century.
(7). The White Lion Inn, on the E. side of the main street, was probably built in the 17th century, but has been much altered. It retains the original brick chimney stack and an entrance doorway of substantial oak timbers.