Hatfield Church, Hertfordshire

Surprisingly, the handsome church of St. Lawrence which stands right next to one of England’s premier Stately Homes, Hatfield House, has little to do with the Cecils who lived there.

The church is mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086) but the earliest remains surviving today are from the 12th Century. The lower walls of the nave and the south and west doors date to this period. At the west end are three narrow Norman windows, elsewhere larger decorated windows date from the 14th Century.

The vast majority of the church structure dates to the 13th Century, including the tower, which is an early construction of its type, although enlarged three centuries later.

Rather than the Cecils it was the Savage family who have left the greatest reminders at the church, including the beautiful Savage Chapel dating to around 1500.

At the time of this rebuild the church was renamed as St. Mary’s, but by the mid-1700s the original name of St. Lawrence had re-emerged. The church is sometimes, confusingly, referred to as either St. Mary’s or St. Lawrence and St. Mary’s.

It is worth a slight detour when visiting the splendours of Hatfield House to have a look around this church, one of Hertfordshire’s finest.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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