A Saxon church stood here, which may have been wooden. After the Norman Conquest the land here was granted to Geoffrey de Magnaville and it seems likely that he was responsible for rebuilding in stone. The south doorway features the classic Norman zig-zag pattern. The marble font is of the same date and was thrown out of the church during the Civil War and not reinstated until 1855.
Like the majority of Norman churches it was deemed necessary to enlarge in the 13th Century and then again in the 14th. In the 15th Century the Lord of the Manor of Thorley was the legendary Dick Whittington, Lord Mayor of London who was influential and very rich. Local legend states that the cats which live around the church are descendants of Dick Whittington’s famous moggie.
It was during this period that the Church tower with its typical Hertfordshire Spike spire was built.
Like many English Parish Churches the Victorians did a lot of renovation at Thorley, starting in 1855 replacing a burnt out thatched roof with a new one and repairing the damaged floor in the nave and chancel (damaged no doubt by having been exposed to the elements for twenty years whilst the roof wasn’t there!). Further changes were made throughout the 19th Century including the addition of the stained glass. One of the last major changes was the addition of a Lychgate in 1921.
Recent road changes have cut off Thorley from easy access which makes the Church a little oasis of calm amidst the traffic pouring out of Bishop’s Stortford, Harlow and Stansted Airport.
Photo - Andrew J. Müller
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