Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Date first listed:
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

East Hertfordshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TL 30854 11948



TL3011NE ST MARY'S LANE, Hertingfordbury 817-1/24/339 (East side) 10/02/50 Church of St Mary and St John


Parish church. C13 and C14, restored 1845 and 1890, virtually rebuilt on the latter occasion. MATERIALS: flint with sandstone dressings, clay tiled roof with pierced and fretted ridge tiles, tower has copper covered setback spire on 'Hertfordshire spike'. PLAN: nave, north aisle, west tower and spire. EXTERIOR: west tower in 3 stages, with diagonal buttresses with offsets, and embattled parapet. West doorway C15 style, C19 oak plank doors, arch with ogee and band and cavetto mouldings to jambs and intrados, cusped quatrefoils in spandrels, dripmould with angel bosses. West windows above 2-light, with restored C15 roll mouldings, irregular quatrefoil heads, central cusped quatrefoil, 3 centre head and dripmould. 2-light louvred openings at belfry stage, C14 style with cusped trefoil heads and roundel. South porch with gabled parapeted roof, C14 style doorway with chamfer and double ogee mouldings, dripmould with undercut moulding and foliated bosses; niche with statue of Virgin Mary above, gabled parapeted roof. Nave of 2 bays externally with flint buttress with stone quoins, restored C15 2-light windows with elliptical inner heads to left-hand, cusped quatrefoils on right both under flat moulded dripmould. South projecting vestry C19 with pinnacle at left, 3-light window with ogee heads and cusped quatrefoils under segmented arch. Chancel roof runs through from nave at same height, external stonework of C13 structure renewed 1890. Single lancet window on south wall with long and short quoins, parapeted east end, with cross finial on range, long and short quoins, east window restored C13. Chancel built 1891, separate parapeted roof, twin octagonal pinnacles and twin projecting canted bay windows, with single lancets with double cavetto mouldings. The right-hand pinnacle, above a buttress, marks the division of the chapel from the north aisle, 3 bays subdivided by buttresses. Three 2-light windows, 2 with segmental pointed heads with C15 stonework, window at right has flat head and is more fully renewed. North aisle has separate gabled roof from nave, with diagonal buttress and parapet gable on west, 3-light window with ogee heads and segmental arch.

INTERIOR: much altered in 1845 and 1890 restorations. Door from south porch C14 style moulded surround with dripmould with carved ball florets. 4 bay nave with deep reveals to C15 windows in south wall; nave arcade on north, octagonal columns with moulded bases, undercut moulded caps, and double chamfered arches. C19 nave roof constructed of oak from the Panshanger estate, arch braced structure with short hammer beams supported on moulded corbels, moulded arch braces support high collars with embattled tops, 2 stages of moulded purlins, common rafters exposed below ceiling. Tall C15 tower arch with attached octagonal columns with moulded base, caps and elliptical arch, moulded outer surround. North aisle of 4 bays, cavetto mouldings around window openings restored C15. Arch braced roof with short hammer beams. C19 chancel arch with outer moulded band, chamfered arch, and moulded inner arch carried on moulded caps and columns. C13 chancel of 4 irregular bays, restored and altered 1890. south wall has large arched opening to organ chamber and vestry, south window in wide chamfered reveal, with moulded clunch inner head with undercut ogee roll and chamfers. East window C13, triple lancets with engaged colonnettes between with undercut bell caps, bases with undercut roll ogee moulding, north wall with single lancet in wide chamfered reveal. 2 openings on north to Cowper Chapel, C19 heavily moulded arches on clusters of 3 shafts, with moulded bases and roll and bell caps. Arch braced roof with short hammer beams with wagon roof above, slightly different profile of 2 short east end bays suggest the possible remnant of a medieval roof beneath. FITTINGS: C19 raised altar area; altar rails in pink and red veined translucent marble, 4 panels with elaborate pattern of moulded quatrefoils separated by attached colonnettes, moulded top rail. Reredos of red and pink veined marble, central arched niche for cross, 3 niches either side with colonnettes and ogee trefoil heads, elaborate fretted pierced and carved top. Below north window is a 2 seat sedilia in pink and white veined marble, C14 decorated style with ogee heads and carved flowers and fleur-de-lys. The original sedilia (qv) was rebuilt in the churchyard south of the porch. Below south window is piscina, 2-light surround C19 in C13 style with heavily undercut mouldings but incorporating medieval heads in dripmould; 2 inner trefoil heads with blank moulded recessed roundel between. Pulpit in nave, green and pink alabaster, elaborate Gothic frontal with ogee heads and shields. Lectern in form of alabaster angel with book rest supported on wings,

font elaborately carved alabaster bowl on octagonal column with 4 carved lions sejant. Pews have bench ends in Rococo style, carved in 1893 by Joseph Mayr of Oberammergau; fruit swags, rope, shell and scroll motifs, carved panelled frontals with moulded surrounds, the craftsman's name recorded on a plaque on the first pew. MONUMENTS: Cowper Chapel built 1890-94 over the family vault, C13 style, divided into 2 bays with heavy moulded clustered shafts and moulded arches supporting quadripartite ribbed vaults; on outer wall 2 single-light lancets in deep chamfered reveals. Chapel separated from chancel and N aisle by elaborate wrought-iron screen with gates with acanthus scrollwork modelled shields and armorial bearings, date '1891' on overthrow above north aisle gate which is also flanked by attached candlesticks. Principal memorial to Francis Thomas de Grey Cowper (d.1905), life size recumbent effigy with shield at feet on a panelled Italianate style tomb with carvings, mouldings and shields, by Henry Poole 1909. On east wall monument to William, second Earl Cowper (d.1764), white, black, pink and yellow veined marble, break front black marble base with panels with carved swags of fruit and flowers, moulded cornice, life sized angel pointing to a weeping putto who holds an elliptical shield with a relief head and shoulders portrait of the deceased earl. The angel's left-hand points to a cluster of putti heads surrounding a sunburst high up on the pink marble obelisk. Spencer Cowper d.1727, judge of the pleas, memorial in window embrasure on north wall, black marble cartouche with inscription, above a scrolled and pedimented surround in black marble, with a relief of Cowper in judge's robes, seated between the figures of Wisdom and Justice, made 1752 by Roubiliac. Lady Desborough (1867-1952), cartouche with stylised surround, by Lawrence Whistler. Chancel: south wall, C14 style recessed monument to Henry Cowper of Tewin d.1890, Clerk to the Church, colonnettes with stiff leaf caps, cusped arch with dog tooth ornament, dripmould with ball flowers. Black marble incised slabs with modelled armorial bearings: Robert Mynne d.1656, Helen Mynne d.1659. Walter Wallinger d.1709, Elizabeth Hughes d.1714, Jane Cowper d.1771. Nave: S wall above pulpit, Renaissance style marble armorial plaque, painted in polychrome, to Sir Christopher Vernon of Haddon, Derbyshire, official of the exchequer. Sir Gore Ousley (1770-1844), Ambassador to Shah of Persia, black marble surround, white monument with Persian urns and ornament. Mary, wife of Thomas Urmston, d.1714 elliptical veined marble wall plaque surmounted by armorial bearings, putti heads and skull with batswing 'Memento Mori' at foot. Tower: On south side altar tomb of Sir William (d.1637) and

Lady Harrington and their daughter, black marble slab with 2 recumbent marble figures, with an effigy of their daughter kneeling in prayer, attributed to Epiphamious of Evesham. Sir William was MP for Hertford. On north wall monument to Anne, wife of George Calvert, who was Secretary to Robert Cecil of Hatfield House, black slab with alabaster recumbent draped figure resting on cushions with mural cornice supporting 3 shields with armorial bearings and richly moulded swags of fruit. Brasses on north wall to Thomas Ellis, 1608, and his wife 1612 who lived at Armores, and one C13 or C14 to Phelipe and Isabel, children of Robert de Louth with inscription in Norman French. HISTORICAL NOTE: an earlier church preceded the present one, which was built before 1400, and possibly connected with John of Gaunt, who is said to have added to The Glebe during his tenure of Hertford Castle from 1360 onwards. The church is still held by the Duchy of Lancaster. The church was restored in 1845 and virtually reconstructed by Earl Cowper in 1890-91, carried out mainly by the Panshanger craftsmen. The spire was thickened from the slim 'spike' on the basis of mortice holes found in the timbers of the base. The vestry and Cowper chapel were added. Two cottages in front were demolished, and a temporary church built on land at the rear taken in from The Glebe, now added to the churchyard. The churchyard in front of the church was cleared in 1930 and headstones set along the wall. The most important monuments are separately listed (qv). (Victoria History of the Counties of England: Hertfordshire: London: 1902-1912: 467-8; Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England): An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Hertfordshire: London: 1910-: 114; The Buildings of England: Pevsner N: Hertfordshire: Harmondsworth: 1977-: 193-4).

Listing NGR: TL3085411948


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Doubleday, AH, The Victoria History of the County of Hertford, (1902), 467-468
Pevsner, N, Cherry, B, The Buildings of England: Hertfordshire, (1977), 193-194
Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Hertfordshire, (1910)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 29 Aug 2000
Reference: IOE01/02721/14
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr A. Gude. Source Historic England Archive
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