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)xxx. N.E. (b)xxx. N.W.)
a(1). Parish Church of St. John the Baptist, stands about ⅓ mile W. of the village, on the edge of an incline commanding an extensive view to the N. over the river Ash. The walls are built of small flints, and the dressings are of clunch, except those of the tower, which are of Barnack stone; the roofs are tiled. A building stood on this site in the 12th century, but the only remaining details of that date are the detached fragments of a doorway, though probably the walls of the Nave incorporate some of the original work. In the 14th century the Chancel appears to have been enlarged to its present size, and the West Tower was added. In the 15th century the tower arch was widened and various windows were inserted. The church has been restored several times during the 19th century, and the Porch, Organ Chamber and Vestry are modern.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (21 ft. by 18 ft.) has a modern E. window of three lights, and, in each side wall, a 15th-century window of two lights with tracery; a doorway in the S. wall is of the same date, but has a modern label; there is no chancel arch. The Nave (43 ft. by 18½ ft.) has, in the S. wall, a window of two lights with tracery, of c. 1350, and a modern window of 14th-century character; the doorway is of c. 1370, and set in the wall above it is part of a 12th-century arch with zig-zag moulding. In the N. wall is a window which resembles the S. window of c. 1350, but is of modern stonework; the doorway, of the same date and detail as that on the S., now opens into the modern vestry; a projection at the N.E. corner outside proves the existence of a former rood-loft staircase. The West Tower (11 ft. square) is of three stages, with an embattled parapet, and a modern spire covered with copper. The tall tower arch is the width of the tower, and of late 15th-century detail, the W. doorway, of two moulded orders with a label, is of the 14th century, and the W. window, of two lights with tracery, is of the same date; a projecting S.E. stair-turret has pointed doorways opening into it at the level of the ground and first floors. All the upper windows of the tower are of modern stone. The Roofs are modern, but retain some ancient tie-beams and wall plates.
Fittings—Bells: six; 2nd probably of 1624, date incomplete; 3rd of pre-Reformation date, inscribed with a prayer to St. Katherine; 4th of 1624. Brass Indents: in the tower, of a priest (?), half-figure, inscription and shield: of a man and his wife, with shields, inscription, etc., c. 1420. Credence: in the chancel, a carved cushion-capital, early 12th-century, set on a shaft, now forms credence shelf; discovered, with several others, in the tower when it was restored at the beginning of the 19th century. Doors: in N. doorway of nave, oak, c. 1370, with 13th-century ironwork: in upper doorway of stair-turret, oak, with vertical iron straps, plain hinges, and a large oak stock lock, mediæval. Font: octagonal, sides panelled, and carved with various subjects, the head of a lion, a nun, etc., of c. 1420. Paintings: on E. wall of chancel, figures of a bishop and apparently of a knight; on the N. wall, another figure, seated on a rainbow, with a sword raised horizontally; close to it, small figure of an angel with a Tau cross. Piscina: in S. wall of nave, of brick, early 16th-century. Plate: includes a finely chased cup of 1562 and cover paten. Recess: on S. side of chancel, 14th-century, probably encloses a monumental slab.
b(2). Widfordbury, next to the church on the W. side, is a two-storeyed house with timber-framed and plastered walls, and tiled roofs; the plan is L-shaped. It was built probably in the 17th century, but the only certain signs of age are a few exposed floor timbers, and a doorway in the E. wall, now only visible inside a cellar; it has an oak door on strap hinges, and appears to have been internal; if in situ it must have opened into a former E. wing which probably extended to the red brick wall (about 180–200 ft. long and 7–8 ft. high) which bounds the W. side of the churchyard. This wall, which runs N. and S., was apparently built early in the 16th century, and is said locally to have belonged to a former priory. At the N. end are the remains of two sides of a room with a large fireplace. Part of a moulded and mullioned brick window, and a doorway with a four-centred arch, are visible on the E. face of the wall, and a large gateway with a four-centred arch can be seen on the W. face. About 70 ft. further S. is an archway of later date, probably of the 17th century; it is flanked by shallow pilasters and has a round arch with moulded imposts and archivolt. A moulded plinth runs along the wall on the churchyard side, interrupted by the doorways and archways. A Pigeon House, on the farm, about 300 ft. N.W. of the house, has red brick walls and a thatched roof, and was built probably in the 16th century. The plan is octagonal (internal diameter, 17 ft.). It has a plain, square-headed doorway, and small rectangular lights on four sides, with moulded jambs which resemble those in the old wall mentioned above, and have grooves for glazing; none of the cots remain.
Condition—Of the wall, ruinous. The house is divided into two dwellings and is not in very good repair; but is probably substantially sound.
a(3). Tumuli, two, W. of the railway.
Condition—Of one, good; of the other, bad.