Buntingford, Hertfordshire

St. Bartholomew's Church (Layston Church), Buntingford, Hertfordshire

St. Batholomew’s Church at Layston was once the parish church for Buntingford. A church existed here since at least the late 11th Century, although the bulk of what survives today is from the 13th-14th Centuries. The church certainly continued in parochial use until the mid-16th Century and was probably abandoned around the time of the Reformation, most likely because of the distance from the centre of Buntingford.

For a while Buntingford was unparished, until the consecration of St. Peter's Church in the town centre. It would appear that St. Bartholomew’s was then left to disintegrate and yet in the early 20th Century the roof was rebuilt and in the 1950s the vicar of Layston instructed local architect David G. Martin to convert the chancel into a cemetery chapel. The roof, placed on in 1904, was removed and the interior was laid out as a formal Garden of Rest.

By the end of the 20th Century, however, the Church was in a serious state of disrepair and was closed off because it was considered dangerous. In recent years work has begun to turn the ruinous church into a private residence and it is still currently swathed in scaffolding. All in all, an ignominious fate for one of East Hertfordshire’s larger churches.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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