In the latter part of the twentieth century, spirituality and religion is regretfully no longer considered by many a necessary part of our lives. This has, however not always been the case, and indeed at one stage in our history it was a legal requirement to attend one's local church. Failure to do so resulted in a fine. Although many chose to pay this fine, being Roman Catholic or members of a nonconformist denomination, it is therefore not surprising that the vast majority of the population could be found attending a divine service at their local parish church at least once a week. Until even more recently (19th century), if you wanted to be involved in public affairs, i.e. local or national government, you were debarred if you were not a practising member of the established church.
Yet prior to 1849 Leverstock Green had no parish church of its own. Leverstock Green as a rural community had gradually increased in population from the 17th century. The medieval village of Westwick, with its manor house at Westwick Cottage Westwick Row dates back to the twelfth century and earlier. Even after its decline as a village, there were a minimum of 13 households to be found along Westwick Row until the present century. Where then did the local residents worship?
In the early middle ages the Manor House at Westwick was known to have a chapel of its own, though this no doubt was for the private use of the de Gorham family, and their servants. In a survey carried out in 1306 for John de Gorham which described the Manor at Westwick, the manor house is said to have comprised:
" a hall with chambers; a chapel with a certain chamber; a storied edifice beyond the gate with a chamber. A kitchen, a bakehouse, a dairy, a larder with a certain chamber, a granary with a chamber for the bailiff, a dwelling for the servants of the manor, two cow houses, two sheep houses, a pig-sty and gardens".
With the manor no longer in private hands, but once more returned to the ownership of St. Albans Abbey, and with the resulting decline in importance of the dwellings along Westwick Row, this chapel no doubt fell into disuse, and there are no further known references to it.
Indeed the Leverstock Green area, which stretched from High Street Green through to Pimlico along the Bedmond Road, and to beyond Westwick Row towards St. Albans, was prior to the establishment of the Parish of Leverstock Green in 1850, divided between three parishes. All of these, that is St. Mary's Hemel Hempstead, St. Michaels (St. Albans), and St. Lawrence's Abbots Langley were ancient Parish Churches, St. Michaels being a Saxon foundation.
Ordnance Survey map reproduced with the permission of the controller of HMSO,
MAP SHOWING THE THREE PARISH BOUNDARIES COVERING LEVERSTOCK GREEN PRIOR TO 1850.
HH - Parish of Hemel Hempstead
AL - Parish of Abbots Langley
St. M - Parish of St. Michael's.St. Albans
Residents of Leverstock Green therefore had to attend their respective parish church some three to three and half miles distant. Unless they had the benefit of a horse or a pony and cart, this would have meant a walk of about an hour whichever church they attended, and in the case of St. Mary's would also involve a steep climb.
Weekly services were not the only occasions upon which Leverstock Green residents attended their respective parish churches. Baptisms, Weddings and burials all took place at the relevant parish church. The following is an extract from the will of Agnes Bune of Westwick, dated 12th January 1472/3 Probate was granted just over a month later, on 12th February 1472/3.
"My body to be buried in St. Michaels churchyard next to the grave of my husband. To the high alter if the said church 6d. For candles and lights in the said church 20d. To the vicar of St. Michael one two gallon brass pot...."
On 10th March 1473/4 - John Stoneham of Westwick made the following will upon his deathbed. He died shortly afterwards as the will received probate 16 days later. It read as follows:
"I John Stoneham of Westwick in the parish of St. Michael of sound mind and whole memory fearing to be in danger of death make my testament in this way. First I give and bequeath my soul to Almighty God, my Saviour and my body to be buried in St. Michaels churchyard. I leave to God and the High Altar of the said church for remission of my sins, for which my past payments have not fully recompensed, 20d. To the holy rood light in the said church 4d. To the other lights in the said church 6d. To the lights, or for repair of the torches in the said church, 6d......"
Another will, that of Agnes Harryes, and believed to be the widow of the man acting as steward for the Abbey at Gorhambury began as follows:
"The 7th day of September the eve of the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary 1485 and in the first year of our lord King Henry VII. I Alice Harryes of Westwick in the parish of St. Michael in `Kyngesbury', widow and relict of Henry Harryes of Gorhams, of sound mind and good memory, make my testament as followes. First and before all I bequeath my soul to Almighty God, my creator and Saviour, Blessed Mary, His mother etc. My body to be buried in St. Michael's churchyard at the footpath there which leads from the north gate of the said churchyard to the priest's door of the said church, that is in the middle of the said footpath opposite the high altar. I bequeath to the high altar 12d and to the roodlight and St. Mary's light in the same church 8d that is 4d to each light......"
SOME EXTRACTS FROM THE EARLY PARISH REGISTERS
15th June 1539 - "John Feilde son of John Feilde" and "Dyonysia Feilde" were both buried in St. Lawrence's Churchyard.
5th November 1555 - St. Lawrence's Church recorded in its register that:"Mr. William Ibgrave Esquire was buried here." (William Ibgrave had been given Chambersbury by Henry VIII)
5th July 1562 - "Mr. Benjamin Ibgrave son of Ellis Ibgrave was Christened" at St. Lawrence's Church.
22 August 1568 - "Abraham, sonne of John Longe of Bennetsend" was Baptised at St. Mary's Church.
7 November 1569 - "Grace, daughter of William Longe of Bennetsend" was Baptised at St. Mary's Church Hemel Hempstead.
17th April 1570 - "Christopher sonne of John Puddefat of Bennette End" was Baptised at St. Mary's Church Hemel Hempstead.
16th March 1574/5- "Elizabeth Aberrie widdowe from Woodwells" was buried at St. Mary's Church Hemel Hempstead
4th April 1582 - "William Longe of Coxpond" was buried at St. Mary's Church Hemel Hempstead.
28th March 1587 - "Abigale the Bastarde daughter of Raphe Puddefat of Bennetts End" was Baptised at St. Mary's Church.
11th October 1599 -"Henrie Partridge of the Tylekill" was buried at St. Mary's Church
24th January 1605/06- William Ibgrave (grandson of the first William who was the King's embroiderer ) was buried in St. Lawrence's Church Abbots Langley.
10th October 1611 - "William Berchmore from Coxpond" was buried at St. Mary's Church Hemel Hempstead.
9th April 1616 - At St. Lawrence's "Married was Sir James Fullerton Knighte and the Right Honorable Dame Magdalen Bruce." Dame Magdelen was the widow of Lord Bruce of Kinloss, and lived at Chambersbury, Lord Bruce having obtained the property after William Ibgrave's death.
11th February 1684/5 - St. Lawrence's Church register recorded that: "Baptised was John the son of John Lewin and his wife of Levist. green"
20th October 1691 - St. Lawrence's Church register recorded that: "Zachary Baldwin and Elizabeth Axtel were married." The Baldwins were known to be practising Blacksmiths at Blacksmith's Row Leverstock Green in the 18th century.
However, the local parish churches were not the only choice of places of worship for the local residents prior to the building of Holy Trinity. Leverstock Green's position as an outpost of the three parishes meant that it was an ideal place to establish places of worship for the various nonconformist denominations, particularly in the years between the Act of Uniformity in 1662 and the Toleration Act of 1689.
The Act of Uniformity made the use of the Prayer Book compulsory in English churches, and over two thousand ministers who refused to conform were turned out of their livings, including the Rev. John King, Vicar of Abbots Langley.
John King was to become one of the most controversial, if not the most controversial Church of England clergyman to live and work in our area. Although an ordained Minister in the Church of England when receiving his appointment in 1623, King was a Puritan, and one who had a great influence on his local flock. Believing in adult rather than infant Baptism, few infant baptism's appear in the parish registers for his period in office, particularly in the latter years. It is interesting to note how many "families" of children received the sacrament of Baptism under King's successor. The quotation on the right being a typical example:
Click here for further pictures of Woodlane End Farm.
Above: St. Michael's Church St. Albans. To find out more about the church click here.
Above: St. Mary's Hemel Hempstead.
Below & Left: St Lawrence the Martyr, Abbots Langley and the Norman font at St Lawrence's
"27th November 1684 -Baptised were four daughters of William Feilde and Elizabeth his wife. Elizabeth being 8 years old - Anne 4 years - Mary 2 years and Sarah 3 weeks.."
William Feilde was a grandson of the last John Field to be Lord of the Manor of Market Oak (otherwise known as Leverstock Green).
During the period of the Civil War and the succeeding Commonwealth, King upheld and reaffirmed his Puritan beliefs, but was eventually to be rejected as Vicar in 1662. Despite this, John King remained in the parish, living to the ripe old age of 89, and becoming something of a legend and local hero. He was even given a memorial stone, set into the fabric of St. Lawrence's Church.
"The Bodies of Reverend Mr. John King, minister of this parish near 53 years, who departed this life September 16th 1679, aged 89; and of Elizabeth his wife, who departed this life May 22nd 1672, aged 66 years."
Despite the technical inaccuracy of the inscription, later incumbents of the parish, recognised the strength of feeling within the parish, and didn't do anything to overset the monument.
With the Act of Uniformity, members of the nonconformist sects sought places of worship where they were less likely to be detected and brought before the courts. Leverstock Green and the surrounding area was ideal as it was not within the town area of either Hemel Hempstead or St. Albans, but was within easy reach of either for those so inclined. One of the earliest such places of worship is thought to be Woodlane End House, which until its demolition as part of the growth of Hemel Hempstead New Town, stood at the junction of Woodlane End Road and Leverstock Green Road.
The font at St. Lawrence's church Abbots Langley, dating from about 1400, and at and in which many Leverstock Green residents were baptised until 1850.
Above: The memorial to John King in St. Lawrence's church Abbots Langley.
In 1679 Some Baptists from the parish of Kensworth, near St. Albans, moved into Hemel Hempstead with the Rev. Samuel Ewer as their first minister. Ewer is considered to be the founder of the Baptist Church in Hemel Hempstead, and as the records of the Abingdon Association show Hemel Hempstead to have joined them in 1656, it would seem likely that Ewer had already taken up residence in the area, when the group from Kensworth joined him in 1679. It is thought this group met in Wood Lane End House (later known as Wood Lane End Farm) where Samuel Ewer lived until his death in 1708. (See above.)
Samuel Ewer's funeral took place on 24th December 1708, and from the oration given at the time it would seem the service took place at Woodlane End House, which had served as the Baptist church for many years. Mr. John Piggott of London preached the sermon at Ewer's funeral, his address giving us an insight into his character. These are some extracts from that address:
" He was justly esteemed by all men of probity and good sense, who had the advantage of his acquaintance: for if we consider the Reverend Mr. Ewer in any relation while living he was very desirable."
"He has distinguished himself for several years as an exemplary Christian, whose piety towards God, and affability towards men, have recommended him to the esteem and approbation of all...."
"...he was well qualified with useful learning and ministerial gifts: a man vigilant, sober and of good behaviour; given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, nor greedy of filthy lucre, but patient: not a brawler....one that ruled well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity.......He coveted no man's gold or silver; he was the farthest in the world from a little mercenary spirit: it was not the prospect of earthly gain, but the love of souls that engaged him in the ministerial work. He did forego that which he aught have demanded, I mean the maintenance of himself and family.......Yet you be witnesses for your deceased pastor, that he always generously gave his labours; and yet that did not cause him to take less pains in the promoting of your salvation...."
"If the sermons of your deceased pastor had not all the embelishments of language which some boast of, they had this peculiar advantage, to be full of solid Divinity.........the praise of this useful minister is in all the churches, where the knowledge of him hath reached. Here, indeed he lived, here he constantly preached; and I believe you will all own that his life was an excellent sermon: for in that you may see the practicalness, and usefulness of relative duties."
"In him you might behold the manly tenderness of a loving husband, the melting compassion of a kind father, the generous freedom of a true friend, and the admirable qualifications of a faithful pastor........"
"As to his particular behaviour during his last sickness, I am told by those who were nigh him, that he did not pass the time of his illness without some violent assaults from Satan: and it pleased the Lord to afford him speedy relief..........his indisposition was but short; he was well and dead within the compass of seven days. He did not apprehend that he should die of his illness until about two days before his death. His pain was so great that he feared to discourse but little; and when he drew near his end he was sometimes delirious. Yet when he had the least interval, he expressed a very great concern for the church under his care...."
Mr. Ewer was survived by his wife and children, and some of his descendants lived in the Hemel Hempstead/Leverstock Green neighbourhood for many years. Members of Samuel Ewer's congregation: Thomas Marsom, James Hardinge, John Ward and Matthew Dunn, corroborated the view of Ewer given by Piggott in his funeral address, finishing their written account with :
"His name and memory will be deservedly precious in the churches of Christ, not only in this but succeeding ages."
Following the Toleration Act, Woodlane End House was certified for use, and again in 1712:
"These are to certify that a congregation of Protestant Discentors called Baptists do intend to meet for religious worship in a house called Wood Lane End House, abbutting on High Street Green on the S.W., and on a lane called Wood Lane on the north, in the parish of Hemel Hempstead; inhabited by Sarah Ewer and John Mills, April 18th, 1712. Witnesses John Lowther, John Costard, James Yates, John Atkins, John Humphrey, John Mills. Registered April 18th 1712."
Nearly a century later, another place of dissenting worship was registered in Leverstock Green, though its precise location is uncertain. The registration was witnessed by Humphrey Tarbox who were later buried in Leverstock Green Churchyard, as despite there being a Baptist chapel in the village from 1841, the registered burial ground was on the Church of England premises.
Left: The Leverstock Green area in 1766, taken from the map by Drury & Andrews.
The parish boundaries are shown by a dotted line.
"Hemel Hempstead. The Tenemant of Humphrey Tarbox, for Protestants, February 4th 1813. Certified by Humphrey Tarbox - his mark witnessed by Joseph Turner."
In 1820, a further place of worship was registered with the bishop for dissenting worship:
"Hemel Hempstead. Stable at Levistock Green for Protestant Dissenters, July 3rd 1820. Certified by Joseph Dodds, Joseph Camfield, James Clerk."
By the beginning of the 1840's the Baptist congregation in the Leverstock Green area was obviously considered sufficiently large to merit its own purpose built chapel. By the end of 1841 a Baptist Chapel had been built and consecrated on land now occupied by No 18 Bedmond Road - immediately opposite the present parish church. and close to the newly built teacher's house or dame school. Later on the same year the chapel was certified as a place of dissenting worship:
"The chapel in Leverstock Green was certified to the Archdeacon of St. Albans by the Rev. Thomas Hopley and Messers John George, R.Bruce, Thomas Orchard and John Orchard."
It is interesting to note that in William Upton's survey of 1847, the chapel is noted as having accommodation for 250, holding two Sunday services with an average attendance of 150. Mr.. Orchard was given as the chief minister and his ministry was characterised as "affectionate and useful". Leverstock Green was credited with a population of 500 by Upton.
The national ecclesiastical census of 1851 for Leverstock Green's Baptist Chapel, however, noted it as having accommodation for 162 persons, 150 of them "free". It gave the general congregation in the morning as consisting of 40 persons, in the afternoon 80 and in the evening 110. There were 26 Sunday scholars in the morning and 20 in the afternoon. Thomas Orchard was the Minister and he lived at Chambersbury Cottage Leverstock Green.
Click on document above to read the Title Deeds for Leverstock Green Baptist Chapel.
Right: Members of the Leverstock Green Baptist Chapel's Women's League prior to one of their annual summer outings, sometime between 1945 & 1954 - NOT the 1930's as previously stated.
Pictured are Back Row L-R: ?, Mrs Ison, Mrs. G Wilkins, Mrs. Ivory the Chapel organist, ?, ?, Mrs Rogers, ?
Middle Row L-R: ?, ?, Mrs Gurney, Mrs Seaby, Mrs Rose the Pastor's wife, Mrs Milmer, ?, ?, ?,
Front L-R: unknown children, Mrs DeBeager, ?,?.
If you can fill in any more of the names, please contact me.
The Baptist Chapel was situated between Northend Cottage and the School House, virtually opposite what later WASto become Holy Trinity's grounds.
It is the building in the foreground with three large windows.
Part II.A CHURCH OF OUR OWN
As has already been seen, those members of the community known as Leverstock Green were served by three separate parish churches, all of them about three miles distant from the central area of the village. There had also grown up a considerable nonconformist congregation in the area, firstly based at Woodlane End, and by 1841 near the centre of the village in its own purpose built place of worship.
But what was Leverstock Green like as a village by the 1840's? Fortunately for us the Tithe Surveys were undertaken at this time and we have the extremely detailed maps and apportionments to give us a very clear picture of Leverstock Green and its inhabitants at this time. The Tithe surveys were undertaken on a parish basis and so three separate surveys cover Leverstock Green, one for each of St. Mary's Hemel Hempstead, St. Michaels and Abbots Langley parishes.
The tithe map for Hemel Hempstead was surveyed between 1840 and 1841 by George Alexander Smith for John Griffin, Surveyors. The parish was subdivided into separate tithings, with one of these divisions known as Leverstock Green, and another as High Street. All the property in the Leverstock Green division and some within High Street could be said to be part of Leverstock Green, and were certainly incorporated into the ecclesiastical parish of Leverstock Green once it was created in 1850. This included Tile Kiln Farm, Bennetts End Farm, Great & Little Cox Pond Farms, Woodlane End Farm, The Crabtree and all the small individual cottages in-between including the area known as Belconey (where the Plough PH is).
Part of the Hemel Hempstead Tithe map (1840) showing some of the Leverstock Green tithing. WoodlaneEnd Farm, The Crabtree, and Great & Little Cox Pond Farms are clearly shown as well as the pond which used to exist at Cox Pond and the wide stretch of common (grass) land which was Leverstock Green.
RIGHT:Part of a map showing the lands belonging to Cox Pond Farm of about 1840 (HALS AH682). This section from the left shows Blacksmiths Cottages & Leverstock Green Farm & outbuilding close together, then further to the right, Hill Farm and its outbuildings.
The Green, i.e. Leverstock Green runs through the centre, as previously showing the broad strips of common grazing on either side of the road. Green Lane,( the green coloured road shown with line down the centre running in slight diagonal to the SW in teh left-hand portion of the picture) also shows the wide strips of common grazing. Tile Kiln Lane (just coloured in Brown) runs off Leverstock Green towards the top of the picture.
The centre of Leverstock Green, around the larger open green (smaller than today's green) which had formed where the Bedmond and St. Albans roads converged, had become a recognisable village settlement by this time as can be seen by the two maps to the left and below.
It is hard today to imagine what the area was like without Holy Trinity Church as it was eventually to be built in what would have been the natural place had it developed with the village from the 16th century.
Above: Part of the St. Michaels Tithe map for 1840 showing the settlement of Leverstock Green. The two ponds in hte centre of the village are clearly visable; one behind Church Cottgaes and the other in the centre of the original central green. The Three Horshoes, the original White Horse,and the Leather Bottle can all be seen together with the few cottages which formed the centre of the village.
Right: Part of the Tithe Map of Abbots Langley showing the Northend of the Parish. Leverstock Green Farm is the most northerly farm holding in the parish with Northend Farm next. There was no Baptist Chapel nor Sibleys Orchard when this map was drawn up. The Lane joining the Green next to Blacksmiths Cottages was called Peas Lane, part of which makes up today's Peascroft Lane.
This community had itself been growing as the brick and tile making industry centred around Tile Kiln Lane and Woodlane End, was gaining in strength and the numbers of its employees.
In 1846 a number of events occurred. Firstly the whole of Hertfordshire was transferred from the Diocese of London to the Diocese of Rochester.
No doubt partly in response to the Sunday school held in the new Baptist Chapel in Bedmond Road, the Rev. Edward Oswell, the 24 year old curate of Abbots Langley, had a new National School for both boys and girls built on copyhold land he had purchased for the purpose. This was virtually next door to the Baptist Chapel in Bedmond Road. The school was built solely at the expense of Rev. Oswell and cost about £200. It had originally been proposed to adapt an old Methodist chapel for the purpose, though precisely where this chapel was is unsure - perhaps in Bedmond, as the ecclesiastical census of 1851 noted a Wesleyan Methodist meeting house in a private house in Bedmond. The school was united to the National Society (a Church of England sponsored society), and it made a grant of £10 towards fitting it out with seats and benches; the building was used for Divine Service on Sundays before Holy Trinity was built, however this would not be really satisfactory.
Subsequently also in 1846 a meeting of local worthies was held at Abbots Hill, the home of John Dickinson, the paper manufacturer and local landowner. The outcome of the meeting was to decided that a new church should be built in Leverstock Green. It is possible that as well as the prevailing feeling of patronage and philanthropy, the lack of spiritual leadership from the Vicar of St. Michaels may have hastened the desire for a new church. For in 1847 in his survey of places of worship in Hertfordshire, William Upton, a Baptist Minister from St.Albans observed that: "St. Michael's as a whole, is an irreligious and neglected Parish." He also noted that the Rev. Lord Frederick Beauclerck, Vicar of St. Michaels was "aged and laid aside", and that the curate was "pompous and unevangelical."
Whatever the driving force, the minutes of the meeting at Abbots Hill recorded that:
"In consequence of an opinion having prevailed generally among landowners, clergy and gentry residing in the neighbourhood of St. Albans, Abbots Langley and Hemel Hempstead, that the district in and about Leverstock Green was insufficiently provided with Church Accommodation............"
At the end of the meeting, it was recorded that the following proposal had been accepted:
`"Proposed new Church at Leverstock Green"
"The village of Leverstock Green is situated on the road from St. Albans to Hemel Hempstead, and the three parishes of St. Michael's St. Albans, Abbots Langley, and Hemel Hempstead unite at that point; from their respective churches of which Parishes it is distant from two-and-a-quarter to three-and-a-quarter miles. It is proposed to erect a church upon Leverstock Green capable of accommodating about 400 persons and to attach to it a District containing such portions of the three adjoining Parishes as lie within a convenient distance in every direction from the new church. Within this district, there is a population of not less than 1000 souls who have hitherto been unprovided with church accommodation; for independently of the difficulty of attending Divine Worship at their Parish Churches, which arises from the great distances at which they are situate, these churches are barely sufficient for the accommodation of the nearer residents. As the greater part of the population for whose benefit this undertaking is commenced are the labouring poor, it is intended that nearly the whole of the sittings shall be free and unappropriated. It is proposed that the so united portions of the three adjoining parishes shall form a separate and distinct Ecclesiastical District."
A list of subscribers was added, ranging from £2 to £1,500. The Earl of Verulam, whose home Gorhambury was in St. Michaels parish, donated the land on which both the church and the Vicarage were to be built."
Below are shown many of the original drawings produced by the architect Raphael Brandon, for Holy Trinity and now kept at the Hertfordshire Record Office (now known as the Hertfordshire Archive or HALS) at County Hall Hertfordshire, and reproduced here with their kind permission.
Above: North side seen in section from the south.
Below: Section looking west.
Left: North elevation
Below: South elevation
Left: South elevation - watercolour sketch
Below: West elevation
Left: Ground Plan
A quote from the minutes of the acceptance of these plans on acceptance reads:
"The Mason will be expected to make his own arrangements as to the supply and cost of flints. He being allowed to use those already collected - about 250 loads - at the price of 4/6 per load."
In August 1847 The contract was signed with a Mr. Lilley of Measham, to build the church in Leverstock Green. The cost being £1,591,10s 6d. The stone mason was a Mr. Elliot of Leicester.
An additional £200 was given to the church in order to ensure that the bulk of the seating within was "free". The plan shown below, held with the architects plans at HRO was drawn up at the end of 1850 to show this free seating and has the following inscription on it:
"This Church was erected in the year 1849 and contains accommodation for 404 persons. A Grant of £200 in aid of its erection was made by the Incorporated Society for Promoting the Enlargement, Building and Repair of Churches and Chapels on condition that the seats for 350 persons described on the annexed Plan should be set apart and declared to be forever "free" for the use of the poor for ever. The word "free" is painted in a conspicuous manner on each free seat."
Richard Richardson - Perpetual Curate
It is interesting to note that one of our first churchwardens was John Evans, later Sir John Evans who took over Nash Mills from his father-in-law and was a noted Antiquarian. He had married Harriet Ann Dickinson, daughter of John Dickinson in September 1850, and they lived at Chambersbury until 1856. It was possibly during their years at Chambersbury that he discovered the Bronze Age hoard along Westwick Row. Their son, Sir Arthur Evans was to discover the ancient Minoan civilisation in Crete.
Eventually in August 1849 The Church of Holy Trinity was finally completed after a great many problems and delays. The committee had continuously changed its mind over minor details contributing in the delay to its completion. The oak pulpit was donated by John Dickinson at a cost of £30, the font, also a gift from John Dickinson cost £10. The original High Altar in Oak cost £16.
On 30th October 1849 Holy Trinity Church was dedicated by the Bishop of Rochester, being in his diocese. The Vicarage, (later called Daneshurst), and also designed by Brandon, was built at the church end of Pancake Lane. It was finally demolished in 1985, having been a private house for some years after the erection of the present Rectory.
There was no local paper at the time to report on this great occasion, but the "Illustrated London News" for November 10th 1849 carried the report printed here.
CHURCH OF THE HOLY TRINITY, LEVERSTOCK GREEN, NEAR ST. ALBAN'S HERTS
The church was consecrated on the 30th October, by the Lord Bishop of Rochester. Its erection originated in the munificence of the Earl of Verulam, who presented the site, and a large sum towards the cost of the building. The edifice is constructed in a substantial manner, and consists of a well-designed chancel, with vestry on the north side; a nave, north and south aisles, and south porch. The bells are hung in a double bellcote, at the west end. The style of the architecture is of the early part of the fourteenth century. The body of the church affords accommodation for four hundred persons in open benches; but at least six hundred were present on the day of the consecration. After this impressive ceremony, the service of the day was performed by the Rev. Mr. Hutchinson: and an excellent sermon was delivered by the Hon. and Rev. Edward H. Grimston. The design of the church, which has given universal satisfaction, was prepared more than three years since by Messrs. Raphael and J.Arthur Brandon, and has been carried out by the elder after the lamented decease of his brother. Adjoining the church is the Rectory House, also built from the design, and under the superintendence of the same architect: it is a commodious and appropriate structure."
Accompanying the report was an engraving, somewhat romantically showing a graveyard already inhabited. This newspaper engraving was based on a much larger engraving depicted here.
ABOVE LEFT: Early engraving of Holy Trinity. ABOVE RIGHT: The Vicarage, also designed by Brandon, as seen from the rear gardens/lawns in about 1900
Below: A very early photograph of the front of the Vicarage, thought to date from the incumbency of George Finch, and therefore pre 1899.
The first incumbent to be appointed to Holy Trinity was the Rev. Charles P. Incledon, soon to be replaced by the Rev. Richard Richardson. (See Vicars of Holy Trinity.
In 1851, and so shortly after the consecration of Holy Trinity, an Ecclesiastical Census was undertaken at the same time as the National Census in 1851. The purpose of this ecclesiastical census was to see whether or not the provision of places of worship (i.e.. churches and chapels) had kept pace with the changes in demography which had occurred from the beginning of the nineteenth century; in particular whether or not that part of the population now living in towns and cities as opposed to the country was sufficiently well served by churches and chapels. This has remained the only occasion when such an ecclesiastical census has been undertaken. The census day was Sunday 29th March 1851, and the census forms allowed for two sets of attendance figures - those for the day in question and an average attendance to be given I brackets. If no service was held on the particular occasion, then an "X" was to be entered on the form. The census predated the formation of the Parish of Leverstock Green by a few months and so gives the Church of Holy Trinity as being a Consolidated Chapelry. The Church's income from Tithes was given as £42, from Glebe as £1-£5; and from Fees £2. Free sittings were numbered at 350, with a total of 400 sittings all together. The table shows the figures given for attendance:
Between them, the Church and Chapel at Leverstock Green accounted for about half the population of the village attending a divine service on a regular basis.
Leverstock Green was made into a Parish in its own right in 1851. This first parish of Leverstock Green was huge and stretched to incorporate Apsley, Adeyfield, Nash Mills and Pimlico. It was however, only 20 years before it was to be reduced in size by another Parish created around a new church also built partly with the money and patronage of members of John Dickinson's family - namely Apsley End, [ Charles Longman, John Evans, Frederick Pratt Barlow and John Dickinson Junior covered all the expenses of' St. Mary's at Apsley, including the bells. John Evans, as he had been at Holy Trinity previously, was to be a churchwarden from 1871-1886.]
The first burial took place in Holy Trinity's churchyard in 1850. The first two records seem to be missing from the register of burials, so the first known burial took place on 25th February, and was of Zilpah Horwood, aged 32, who lived in Leverstock Green. The officiating Minister was R.Richardson, the incumbent of Holy Trinity. There were a total of 8 burials at Holy Trinity during that first year, 5 of them being over the age of 40, 2, between the ages of 25 and 40, and 1 infant, Frederick Wilson, aged just 4 months. These numbers were untypical of the numbers for following years. It must be remembered that not all deaths within Leverstock Green ended up as burials within the churchyard of Holy Trinity, many families preferring to bury their dead where they had buried their ancestors, or burying their families in graveyards belonging to the various dissenting churches.
One hundred and Fifty years later Holy Trinity is still serving the Leverstock Green community and has a relatively large regular congregation for the late 1990's.
Above: Results of the Ecclesiastical Census held on Sunday 29th March of 1851 at Holy Trinity. (NB average attendance at a 10am Eucharist Service in 2016 is 80.)
Two different views of Holy Trinity Church in the early 20th century. The clock was installed in 1879 by public subscription.
ABOVE: 1897 25": 1 mile OS extract showing the Church and Baptist Chapel.
RIGHT: An early postcard showing the interior of Holy Trinity.
Holy Trinity Church Leverstock Green - A Brief History & Guide by Tony Baillie & Michael Abbot, pub. by Holy Trinity DCC 1986
The Archive Photograph Series - Leverstock Green & Bennetts End by Barbara Chapman, pub. by Chalford 1996
Religion in Hertfordshire 1847-1851, edited by Judith Burg and pub. by Hertfordshire Record society 1995
Architectural drawings (1847) for the new church at Leverstock Green by Raphael Brandon; held in the Hertfordshire Archive (HALS) ref: D/E Md 27) [Previously know as the Hertfordshire Record Office]
Centenary Booklet for Holy Trinity Church Leverstock Green 1949
The Endless Webb by Joan Evans, pub by Longman 1955
Nonconformity in Hertfordshire, by William Urwin, pub. 1884
History of the English Baptists by Joseph Ivimey, Vol. II, pub 1814
The Baptist Quarterly, Volume 26 1975/6
Notes on the Records of the Abbingdon Association, pub. by The Baptist Historical Society
Tithe Surveys & Apportionments for Hemel Hempstead , St. Michaels and Abbots Langley. All held at the Hertfordshire Archive (HALS) [Previously know as the Hertfordshire Record Office]
Topographical Map of Hartfordshire 1766 by Andrew Dury & John Andrews. Reproduced by Hertfordshire Publications.
Domesday Book for Hertfodshire published by Phillimore
The Illustrated London News
With grateful thanks to the staff at the Hertfordshire Archive & Local Studies, HALS, previously known as the Herts. Record Office), for their help, and permission to reproduce my photographs taken of the Abbots Langley Tithe Map (HALS ref: DSA4 63/4), the St. Michaels tithe Map (HALS ref: DSA4 87/2), The Hemel Hempstead Tithe map and the maps of Great & Little Cox Pond Farms (AH682).
Also the Archivist & Librarian at the Angus Library Regents Park College Oxford for her help with the research into Samuel Ewer and the Baptist Chapel, Leverstock Green.
Also to Keith Goddard for kindly letting me see and transcribe the original deed concerning the land on which the Baptist Chapel, and latterly his home, were built.
Also to the many individuals who supplied old photographs and postcards for use in the Archive Photographs Series: Leverstock Green & Bennetts End, some of which have been reproduced here.
Lastly my thanks go to my husband Martin for his encouragement and support and for scanning the photographs for the original booklet.
All photographs and scans of HALS documents shown on this website are published here with the kind permission of Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies.
This page was last updated on: February 7, 2016
CHAMBERSBURY & LANGLEI
Two further changes to the parish of Leverstock Green occured since. In 1980 the parish of Leverstock Green became a "District" of the newly formed Team Parish of Chambersbury which comprised the disctrcts of Leverstock Green, Bennetts End and Apsley. Initialy the team leader (The Rector) was the Vicar of Leverstock Green, with two additional Vicars based at the churches at Bennetts End and Apsley. In 2003 when the Rev David Parry left to take up another appointmnet, it was decided that the other Vicars within the Parish could apply for the position of Rector if they so wished. Subsequently therefore the Vicar of Apsley, Rev. David Lawson became Rector, and Holy Trinity Levertsock Green was appointed a new Vicar: Rev. Simon Cutmore.
In 2009, the Team Parish of Chambersbury was changed once more. The three distircts, together with the ancient parish of Kings Langley, were merged into a new Benefice which was given the name of Langlei, based on the Doomsday parish of that name, the boundaries of which encompased much of the new Benefice. The three districts were reinstated to Parish Status, so we now have 4 x parishes within the Benefice of Langelei comprising the previous Parish of Kings Langley and the parishes of Leverstock Green, Bennetts End, & Apsley. Rev. David Lawson was apointed Rector of the new Benefice & Rev Simon Cutmore remains Vicar of Leverstock Green.
LANGELEI: - The Domesday book recorded the manor of LANGELEI within the Hundred of Dacorum. It straddled the Gade valley, and was later (13th century) to be divided into the two manors/parishes of Kings Langley & Abbots Langley.
The pre September 2010 parishes of Kings Langley & Chambersbury are largely within the boundary of Domesday’s Langelei, with some areas within the original parishes of Hemel Hempstead & St. Michaels, St. Albans (Westwick)
The original sub-manor of Chambersbury was also wholly within Domesday’s Langelei. The manor house was in Leverstock Green, set back from the Bedmond Road at the top of Chambersbury Lane.
The suggestion to use the name Langelei was put forward by Barbara Chapman when suggestions were solicited from all four parishes involved. At a special meeting held in the spring of 2009 (chaired by Rev John Quill from Apsley) at which there were many representatives from each of the four parishes, the numerous suggestions were debated. In the end the meeting decided unanimously to adopt LANGELEI as the name for the new benefice.
THE LEVERSTOCK GREEN CHRONICLE
A detailed history of one village in Hertfordshire, UK
"ABBOTS HILL" built by John Dickinson as his family home.
BELOW: The original seating plan HOLY Trinity. Left copy is the one held in the Lambeth Palace Archive, Right copy the one held in the Holy Trinity Archive (to be deposited at HALS in 2016)
Leverstock Green straddled three parishes.
The contract to design the church was given to architects Raphael and J Arthur Brandon in July 1847. The brothers practiced together between 1841 and 1847 at Beaufort Buildings, Strand,
Despite their youth at the time, they were amongst the most important architects in the gothic revivalist movement of the time, jointly producing a series of three works on Early English Ecclesiastical Architecture that became, and remained architectural pattern books for the whole 19th century. Their books are still in print and available today via such companies as Amazon & Waterstones.
There were numerous delays in building the church, largely because the committee kept changing its mind, but also due to the unexpected death of one of the architects, Joshua Arthur Brandon, aged 25.