St. Ippollitts Church, Hertfordshire

One of the most beautifully sited churches in Hertfordshire, this very handsome building was founded around 1087 by Judith, niece of William the Conqueror in penance for turning evidence against a local Saxon lord who was subsequently executed. The first church would have been a simple affair, but it proved too small quite quickly and in 1320 the church was enlarged and the tower added.

The Knights Templar owned nearby land at Temple Disney, and although there is no firm evidence, circumstantial evidence suggests they were here also. Their habit of carving a cross on the walls of churches as they left is vouched for by a cross on a pillar in the south aisle at about the height of a mounted man.

Extensive building work was undertaken in the 1870s to restore the church to good condition and today we are left with a particularly appealing building in a beautiful setting.

There is some debate over which St. Ippollitts (or rather St. Hippolytus) the church is named for – there are three St. Hippolytus of Rome – a 3rd Century historical figure – or one of the two legendary St. Hippolytus’ – one, of Pronto, who was torn apart by horses and the other, another St. Hippolytus of Rome. This has yet to be settled!

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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