Caldecote Church, Hertfordshire

Caldecote is one of the smallest parishes in Hertfordshire, taking in just 325 acres. The manor was once held by a succession of important families-  the de Limeseys who were followers of the Conqueror (and founded Hertford Priory) and the Funivalls. Henry VIII granted the land to Ralph Rowlet of St. Albans which began its trend towards absentee landlords.

The little church of St. Mary Magdalene is an indication that this was once a well-appointed village. It was built around 1400 on the site of an older church dating to at least 1215. The font and pews all date from around 1480 as does the water stoup in the south porch which is considered the church’s most distinctive feature. Cromwell’s troops were responsible for destroying all the medieval windows and they have largely replaced with clear windows. The church was still holding reasonable size services until the 18th Century but it seems to have dwindled dramatically since then.

Where once stood a prosperous village, now only 17 people live, too few to keep the parish intact and now the church – the only major building dating to any age – is deconsecrated and since 1978 has been in the hands of The Friends of Friendless Churches.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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