Hertford, Hertfordshire

All Saints' Church, Hertford, Hertfordshire

It is unclear which church came first in Hertford – St. Andrew’s or All Saints’. Both were mentioned in the Domesday Book but both pre-date that event by some long period. In 673 AD the first Synod of all the Bishops of England was held at Hertford. There is no certain record of where, but All Saints’ often claims that honour, which would make it 220 years or so older than St. Andrew’s which definitely dates to around 860 AD.

Either way, the Church was entirely rebuilt in the medieval period in a Perpendicular style. It stood here until 22nd December 1891. At 5 in the morning a local baker saw flames coming from the north side of the church. The fire brigade was called but the weather was so cold their pumps froze and by 8 am the church was completed destroyed. The spire having collapsed and the interior being totally gutted. The only survivals were the parish chest and parts of two 15th Century brass memorials.

A competition was held for the design of the new church. It was won by a firm from Lancaster, Paley, Austen and Paley. The church is typical of H.J. Austen’s designs and is built of Runcorn stone, like Liverpool Cathedral, and has a quite similar look and feel, although on a smaller scale (everything is on a smaller scale than Liverpool Cathedral!).

The first stone was laid in 1893 and just under two years later the Church was consecrated. The tower was completed ten years later and is named Victoria Tower after the recently deceased Queen.

The Church now stands cut off from Hertford Town Centre by the A414 road through town which rather spoils its tranquil effect. One of the best views can be had from the top floor of a nearby multi-storey car park.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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