England’s oldest windmill

 

Pitstone Windmill is a Grade II* listed windmill in England which is thought to date from the early 17th century.

Latitude: 51° 49′ 54.12″ N
Longitude: 0° 37′ 47.64″ E

Although the exact date of when Pitstone Windmill was built is unknown, it is acknowledged to be one of the oldest post mills in Britain. The date 1697 is thought to relate to a time when was refurbished. Whether or not the assertion that the mill is older than 1627 is true this date still makes the Pitstone Windmill several years older than the similar ‘post mill’ at Bourn in Cambridgeshire.
 Pitstone Windmill was used from its earliest days to mill grain, grown in the nearby villages, into flour. Village mills like this one were once an essential service within a community so it is no surprise that the mill has a history of providing a lucrative income for its owners and tenants.
Although the industrial revolution began to undermine the importance of a local mill through the advent of mass production, investment in the Pitstone Windmill continued.
During the 19th century much of the machinery was replaced by the Canal Company, who owned the mill until 1842, or by Francis Beesley, who sold it for £400 in 1874 to the third Earl Brownlow, owner of the nearby Ashridge Estate.
Lord Brownlow subsequently let it to a local farmer, Hawkins of  Piston Green Farm who ran a successful business from it and oversaw further repairs in 1895.
In 1902 a fierce gale caused extensive damage. The sails were not turned in time and blew forward, causing the tail bearing to fly through the roof and the sails to crash into the round house walls.
This event put the Pitstone Windmill beyond economic repair and it was left to decay. A combination of the elements and opportunists caused the loss of many of its constituent parts.
In 1924 the Ashridge Estate was broken up and the mill was sold off. Pitstone Windmill was bought by its tenants, the Hawkins family.
The Hawkins were unable to save the windmill themselves and in 1937 they donated it, and access to it, to the National Trust.

 

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St Peter, Berkhamsted

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St Peter’s was originally built at the beginning of the 13th century, possibly on the site of an even earlier church, but was restored in 1820 and again in 1870 which is when most of the external stonework dates from. Today, it is the oldest surviving building in Berkhamsted and, architecturally, the most important.

wide shot of the nave

It is in the Early English style, with clustered columns typical of the period. The church has a cruciform framework with a crossing tower. Original 13th Century windows survive in the old chancel and north aisle but most of the windows are of 14th century date.

The tower has a ring of eight bells re-cast in the Whitechapel Foundry at various dates between 1838 and 1946. The Church clock by Thwaites & Read of Clerkenwell dates from 1838. The principal organ is by Peter Collins and was introduced during the reordering of the church in the 1980s. The church also houses a small Bryceson pipe organ and has recently acquired a Kawai 7′ concert grand piano. There is seating for around 450 in the congregation.

Light of the World stained-glass windowThroughout the church there is a good selection of Victorian stained glass and brasses from as early as the 14th century. There is also a medieval coffin top tomb (c.1200) with floriated cross in St Catherine’s Chapel near the south door. The font by the west door is made of marble and introduced in to the church in 1870 whilst the pulpit’s carved angels date from 1910. The Lady Chapel on the north side of the church is a lovely vaulted space and was probably part of the original 13th century building.

The church on the High Street in 1910The churchyard, closed in the nineteenth century, is an attractive area of lawn, on the north side of the church, with several mature trees (cedar, common lime, silver lime) and bounded on the north side by the original Berkhamsted School building of 1541-4. A yew tree, probably about 350 years old, stands within the churchyard by the junction of the High Street with Castle St.

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Peter and Paul, Little Gaddesden, Herts HP4 1NZ

The earliest written reference to the church is to be found in a document dated 1161, signed by Thomas a’Becket, who lived in Berkhamsted castle at that time. The main body of the church was built between 1370 and 1450 although the tower is probably of a little earlier date. It has undergone many changes since then, being extended in 1812, restored and re-modelled in 1876, extended again in 1964 and underwent major repairs in 1991.

Grade: I
Date Listed: 30 November 1966
English Heritage Building ID: 157710

OS Grid Reference: SP9978813820
OS Grid Coordinates: 499788, 213820
Latitude/Longitude: 51.8141, -0.553

 

Photographs by Daniel and Thelma

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St Mary’s Hemel Hempstead

St Mary’s Church, Hemel Hempstead is the parish church of the town and its oldest place of worship.

Its construction was commenced in 1140 and was dedicated in 1150 although construction continued for another 30 years.

Old Town

It is cruciform in shape, with chancel, the first part to be built, nave south and north transepts, and a tower. A spire, one of the tallest in Europe was added in the 14th century with a total height of 200 feet. It is topped by a gilded weather vane. The church is built from the local clunch stone and flint with some addition of Roman bricks. The architecture is Norman throughout apart from porches added in the 14th and 15th centuries. A 19th century vestry was added on the north east corner.

In 1302 a cell to Ashridge Priory was founded in Hemel Hempstead and the church had collegiate status until the Dissolution of the monasteries in 1536. A door at the base of the tower allowed the monks access to the church and avoided them mixing with the townspeople.

It is not known why such a grand church was constructed in what at the time was a small hamlet.

The font is original Norman, although surrounded by 19th century decoration. Photo By Daniel taken from Elbows on the Table coffee shop (it does excellent sandwiches and salads). – http://www.elbowsoffthetable.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/Elbows-Off-The-Table-1640311589578109/

 

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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