The very first entries show that in the early days of the church, the “gentry” of the parish were expected to pay the church a small annual rental for the privilege of sitting in a particular pew. This was common practice in Victorian England. Holy Trinity Church was designed to seat 404 persons, and we know from a ground plan of the church, that the “Encorporated Society for the Promotion of Enlarging Building and Repairing of Chapels & Churches” gave Holy Trinity Church a grant of £200 to ensure that 350 of these seats were to be “declared to be free for the use of the poor for ever”. The word FREE was to be painted in a conspicuous manner on the front of each pew. From the plan we can see that the pews which could be rented, were those 6 pews towards the front of the left hand side of the nave. The front pew on this side was to be free also and I find this a little strange, unless although “free”, it was reserved for the family of the clergy.
Studying all the pages of the accounts it would appear that not just whole pews, but individual seats within pews were rented. Amounts of rental varied from £2 down to 2/6 per annum. It is difficult to judge from the entries whether or not there was a basic seating charge of 2/6 per individual seat and £1 or £2 for a whole pew, or whether the amounts paid depended simply on status/income. The list for the year 1850-1851 began as follows: Mr Dickinson £2, Mr. Longman £2, Mr. Evans £1. These were the heads of the families associated with the Paper Mills at Nash Mills, now part of Leverstock Green parish, whereas previously they had been part of the parish of Abbots Langley. St. Mary’s Church Apsley wasn’t to be built for another 21 years. (John Evans was to serve as Churchwarden there also for many years.) Then followed other “worthies” from the parish: Mr & Miss Saunders 10s, Miss Edwin 5s, Mr Joseph Finch 10s, Mr John Saunders 5s (John Saunders was the other Churchwarden.), Mr George Saunders 10s, Mr Bedwin 5s, H N Neale Esq. £2, Revd B Richardson £1, Mr Jennings, 5s, Mr John Child’s 5s, Mr William Smith 10s, Mr J Ebbern 5s and Mr D Headech 2s6d.
Entries of pew rentals, sometimes referred to as “seatings” continued to be accounted for in this way until 1868, thereafter they are lumped together as “contributions” or “subscriptions” and it is difficult to know how long the practice really lasted.
As well as giving the names of those renting pews, the accounts from 1850 for the first couple of years show expenses, which can be considered “one offs”, being specifically related to the fact that the church was newly consecrated. (October 1849).
In July 1850 Messrs May & Tyers were paid 16s 7 ½ d for 4 ¾ days work altering seats. (These must have been some of those paid for by the gentry as the next entry refers to similar work on free seats.) An additional entry on the same line said @ 3/6. A simple sum shows that the daily charge for this work was 3s 6d. (Worth £13.31 in 2004).
The charge for altering 40 free seats was £2, and as the unit charge shown was 1/- May & Tyers seem to have charged per seat rather than per day. We may never know how and why they were altered.
This was not the only charge for work on the seats, as there was an entry dated August 7th of 10s for “materials” (Perhaps wood, paint and varnish), and later at the end of February 1851, 9s6d was paid to Mr Elland for staining the seats, and 5s was paid out in January 1851 for repairing cushions. Had the Church Mouse been active I wonder? If so it seems to have eaten through the bell-ropes as well, as on 8 March 1851 £1 2s 6d was paid to a Mr Boulton for replacing bell-ropes. (Though why they should need replacing after such a short space of time is a mystery unless the local rodent population was very active.) Two further bell ropes were requires and paid for in February 1853 as 14s was paid to Mr Messenger for the ropes. The cost of fixing them this time was 11s paid to Mr Payne at the end of the following month.
A further replacement, that of some windows, was made in August 1851 for the sum of 12s 9d. An entry a little further down makes me wonder if the new bell ropes and window replacements are connected as the expenditure of £1 was made on 12th April 1852 “ making wireguard for window and attaching bell pullies etc.”
Other initial one off expenses included 5s 3d for a Banns Book in November 1850 and 1/- for a Vestry Minute book at the same time, and 3/- for a new broom in April 1852. Mr Walker, a bricklayer, was paid £1 12s 4 ½ d in January 1851, though for what specifically the entry does not say. £4 15s was spent on “spouting” in August 1851, by which I take it to mean the guttering on the outside of the church. The font had also not been properly finished as on February 4th 1852 Mr Hales was paid the sum of £1 14s 0d for lining it, presumably with lead to make a separate waterproof basin.
Heating costs both in the church and at the school were a considerable and continuous expense. Coke & Faggots having to be purchased annually, and Mr Cranstone of the Cranstone Ironworks in the Marlowes, was paid £2 5s 6d for a stove in March 1853. A replacement stove was purchased from G & J Jennings in March 1855 for £2 2 13s. A further entry in November 1861 was to repay the Rev C J Framton £1 for a stove for the vestry as per receipt. By 1865 it would appear that the heating arrangements for the church school had become unsatisfactory as well, as Mr Jennings was paid £2 16s 3d for “taking down old, fitting & fixing and repairing second hand stove”, with an entry lower down reading “of Rev Helme (for National School) second hand stove £1.10s 0d.” Such expenses were obviously deemed to be met by the church which had responsibility for the school, and indeed much of the Church’s archival documents are related directly to the schools first in Bedmond Road and later after the new school was built in 1930, to the school in Pancake Lane.
Continually recurring expenses were for items such as Sacramental wine, coal, coke, wood, the washing of surplices, cleaning & trimming church paths and clearing them of snow in the winter. There was the salary payments of various persons: Mrs Doult ½ years January 1850 17/6d; Mrs Doult March 1851: 16/-, Bob Peat 1 ½ yrs salary March 1851 £1 10s, Mrs Doult ¼ yrs salary August 1851 10/6d, Mrs Doult ¾ yrs salary £1 11s 6d, Bob Peat 1 yrs salary April 1852 £1, ( for extra services throughout Lent and Passiontide 6/-), Mrs Doult ¼ yrs salary April 1852 10/6d, Mrs Doult 2 years salary March 1853 £1 1s (presumably for a different job as a usual years salary for her presumed cleaning job (she it was who was paid for the broom) was 2 guineas (£2 2s), and indeed she was paid £2 2s for a years salary in April 1853. By 1859 she was being paid £3 a year and by 1866 the cleaner, by this time Mrs Ratford, was being paid £3 10s a year.
As the Churchwardens themselves changed, so the details of some of the entries. Many of the early entries just gave the name to whom a bill was payable and the amount, but on occasion intriguing and/or interesting detail was given:
- ·1858 – Carriage of Hamper for Benham – 3s
- ·April 1859 – Mr Benham for stone - £1 4s 6d
- ·July 9th 1859 – Beer to men oiling bells – 6d
- ·24th June 1860 – Mr Joseph Chalk for building Toolshed at back of school £8.10s 0d and repairs to Church 5/6 as per bill - £8.15s 0d
- ·June 1860 – W Doult, compensation for Garden Ground, cite of New Toolshed. – 5s 0d
- ·June 1860 – Oil & Grease & Assistance to oiling Bells – 2s 6d
- ·13th October 1860 – New Surplice Closet as per bill - £3 3s 0d
- ·December 1860 – Binding Mates & Materials making a Form , - 1s 8d
- ·April 1861 – Mr Jennings, taking down & repairing stoves in church and vestry & new Pipeing to tool shed as per bill - £3 4s 8d
- ·April 1861 – Mr Walk whitewashing vestry room as per bill – 9s 4d
- ·October 1861 – Mr Chalk, a new pair of front Gothic Doors for Church hung and painted complete with wire for Porch windows £5 12s 9d – repairing churchyard gates £1 6s 6d as per bill - £6 19s 3d
- ·November 1861 – Mr Jennings, taking down, cleaning, repairing and putting up again Stoves in Church and Vestry, £5 9s 10d, repairing and painting spouting £1 5s 6d, New Iron Chest £4 as per bill - £10.15s0d
- ·1861 – R Peat, tolling bell Prince’s funeral – 6d [This was HRH Prince Albert]
- ·March 1863 – R Peat, ringing bells for Prince’s wedding day - 2s 6d [This was wedding of Prince & Princess of Wales]
- ·1863 – Mr Sears, altering Pulpit & Reading Desk - £5 8s 10d
- ·1864 – Mr Sears, for new Oak Stools and altering Forms - £5 15s 9d
- ·December 9th 1865 – Cocoa matting as per bill - £1 11s 4d
- ·1867 – Mr Sears for repairing roof and putting new window in church etc. - £5 3s 0d
- ·1872 – Organist £2 15s 0d - 1873 - Organist £7 10s 0d raised to £15. pa 1883
- ·1873 – Organ blower – 10s
- ·1877 – 1882 George Wilson was paid £2 pa. For bell ringing, this was raised to £2.10s in 1881
- ·1880 -Mr Bish Clock Bill £5.9.0d- 1881, Mr Bish winding clock £5.0.0d, 1882 £5 15s 0d, 1883 £6.7s 6d + arrears £1.5s0d; 1884 £5 , 1886 Mr Bish winding and cleaning clock £8 3s 0d (amount continues to vary each year).
- ·1888 – Mr Sears for re-roofing church - £27.10s 0d