THUNDRIDGE OLD CHURCH
(Cold Christmas Church), Hertfordshire
The Old Church of Thundridge, sometimes called Cold Christmas Church to stop confusing with the New Church, is believed to date to around 1086. It existed here, nestled in the Rib Valley, for nearly 800 years quietly undisturbed by the attention of rebuilders and would have remained a strikingly Norman structure, particularly for Hertfordshire, had its fate been different.
Unfortunately, by the mid-19th Century the village had shifted away from the Valley to where modern Thundridge and Wadesmill (virtually one village) now stand. The decision was made to build the new Church of St. Mary in the village and in 1853 the old church was demolished.
Building materials were removed to build the new Church and also the church at nearby Sacomb leaving only the tower and the graveyard here.
This isolated and eerie place has gathered about it a number of legends. The first of these relates to the name “Cold Christmas”. It is said that most of the burials in the now abandoned graveyard were of children who died in one particularly bitter Christmas season. This was when the village was dubbed Cold Christmas, and although there isn’t much here now barring a few houses, the name has stuck.
It is said that the church was built on an incorrect north/south alignment and as such it has attracted the attention of occultists who believe that this wrong alignment is a sign of the devil. With the Church here being abandoned it became easy for it to become a focus of witches and devil worshippers, in fact the problem has become so serious that it has been contemplated to knock down the remaining tower and remove the graveyard in an attempt to stop rituals taking place, thus far the red tape involved in removing the bodies has prevented this from happening.
As recently as 1989 a local radio station decided not to set up a transmitter here because of “regular interruption from devil worshippers”.
Finally, such an eerie and isolated spot has to have its ghost story. In 1978 a lady walking through the grounds of the church was confronted by an army marching from the door of the tower who then proceeded to march straight through her!
Access to the church tower is strictly forbidden (although it apparently does not stop the ‘devil worshippers’) but it can be seen, ghostly and ethereal from a footpath along the Rib Valley and even from a distance has an oddly foreboding atmosphere.
Photo - Andrew J. Müller
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