Hertford, Hertfordshire

St. Andrew's Church, Hertford, Hertfordshire

Hertford was once at the heart of ecclesiastical matters in south England. There were formerly at least four parish churches in the town centre, St. Nicholas, St. Andrew, All Saints’ and St. Mary-the-Less. Of these only St. Andrew’s and All Saints’ have survived to this day. Both St. Nicholas and St. Mary-the-Less were closed in the 16th Century and the three parishes were amalgamated into one new St. Andrew’s Parish.

It is believed that the first St. Andrew’s Church was built around 860 AD, possibly as Hertford’s first church, although it is unclear if All Saints’ may have been earlier – certainly it’s position by the three rivers and near where the Normans later built their Castle is a strong case for St. Andrew’s. A wattle-and-daub church was destroyed by Danish invaders in 894 AD. It seems that there was no rebuild until the early Norman period – presumably at the same time the Castle was first built.

This Norman church was rebuilt around 1480 and remained in that form until at least 1786 when the Hertford Corporation is recorded as paying £20 for a pew to be reserved for their exclusive use. However, by the time the 19th Century arrived the church was in poor condition and was being called “cold, damp and depressing”. The decision was made to rebuild from scratch and the new church – the currently one – was consecrated on March 24th 1870, it had cost £4,000 to build and was put up in just 9 months. The tower was added five years later and it cost another £2,000 just to hang the bells in the tower.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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