St John the Baptist, Aldenham

Nobody can be quite certain of the date of Aldenham’s first church. However, the presence of large quantities of Hertfordshire Puddingstone in the present building may indicate that it rests on the site of some kind of pre-Christian worship. Christopher Webb’s wonderfully designed east window (replacing the window destroyed by enemy action in 1940) includes a panel showing the 8th century King Offa holding a Saxon Church, and an 11th century Norman window, probably from an earlier building, can be seen at the west end of the south aisle.The earliest available document to mention the present church relates to the appointment of a Vicar and is dated 1267, so it would seem fair to assess the origins of this building as the mid-13th century. The lower part of the tower, the font and a large part of the Lady Chapel date from this period, while the south and north aisles date from the 14th and 15th centuries respectively. To the 15th century too belong the wonderfully decorated oak roof timbers in the nave, the painted oak Lady Chapel screen and the upper tower, diagonal buttresses and stair turret.

In the16th century the chancel was widened and a vestry added. These additions and improvements seem to have been made without regard to the overall symmetry of the building, which remains quaintly asymmetrical to this day.

Coordinates: 51°40′20″N 0°21′17″W / 51.6723°N 0.3546°W / 51.6723; – 0.3546 .

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St Albans Abbey (exterior)

St Albans Cathedral is the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain. It stands over the place where Alban, the first martyr, was buried after giving his life for his faith over 1700 years ago.

The building’s amazing mixture of architectural styles bears witness to the many centuries of its life, first as a monastic Abbey and now as a Cathedral. Down all those centuries countless pilgrims have come to honour Saint Alban’s sacrifice and offer their prayers at his shrine.

The present Cathedral was begun in 1077, using Roman bricks and flint from the ruined city of Verulamium. Its massive 11th century bell tower is the only remaining example of its type. It has the longest nave in England where you can see outstanding 13th and 14th century wall paintings. 

Visitors continue to flock to the shrine of Saint Alban. The shrine was rebuilt in the early 14th century. It was destroyed at the reformation, but rediscovered and rebuilt in the 19th century, and restored in 1993. A rare survival, it remains a centre of ecumenical worship. Pictures by Daniel and Thelma.

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St Giles Cheddington

 

 

The earliest church of which there is any trace appears to have been built during the reign of Henry I or Stephen (i.e. between 1100 and 1135). This church must have been built in the Norman style and its outline is now marked by the present chancel and nave. Fragments of this old church are to be found decorating the walls of the porch. Two centuries later (in 1340) the chancel arch was widened and probably replaced a round headed Norman arch, but the greatest changes came in the 15th century. First the windows of the nave and the chancel were put in (but not the large east window which is modern). Later the north aisle and west tower were added thus completing the general outline as it is at present. All these alterations and additions were built in the Perpendicular style and so radical were these changes that the church has the general appearance of a 15th century church.

The Saxon name Cheddington and the fact that the church is built on a wooded hill give ground for believing that the first Christian church here was built on the site of an old pagan temple. It was a frequent practise of the heathen Saxons to build their temples among the trees on hilltops. St Augustine, who came to convert England in 579 A.D. was advised by Pope Gregory the Great ‘that heathen temples were not to be destroyed but turned, whenever possible, into Christian churches and that the huts which they used to make of boughs of trees round the temples were still to be used for amusements on Christian festivals’. If this happened at Cheddington, then the church built in the 12th century replaced a much older building. Pictures taken by Daniel and Thelma 14 May 2016, followed by a refreshing pint in the next village: at The Stag, Mentmore.

 

St Giles Cheddington

St Giles Cheddington

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