Pictures by Daniel.
Pictures by Daniel.
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.
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.
Throughout 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 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.
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.
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
Its construction was commenced in 1140 and was dedicated in 1150 although construction continued for another 30 years.
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/
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 .
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.
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.