St Margaret, Barley, Hertfordshire

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Feature Sets (2)


The church has chancel, nave with N and S aisles and N porch, and W tower with a vestry attached on the S. The church was rebuilt by William Butterfield in 1870-72. Some parts of the older stucture were retained. The S aisle is 14thc., the first two stages of the tower are 12thc. and the uppermost stage 14thc. The round-headed tower arch has a chamfered impost, but is otherwise plain. A round-headed window, deeply splayed, survives on the S face of the lowest stage of the tower and now opens onto the vestry. On the exterior the second stage windows of S, E and W faces (the E window is covered by the chancel roof and the W is partially hidden behind the church clock) have a continuous thick roll with inverted cushion bases (partially restored). The church walling is coursed rubble. There is some herringbone masonry visible in the tower walling. Romanesque sculpture is found on a reset fragment in the N aisle. The fragment is not from the church.


A priest at Barley is mentioned in DS as being among the tenants of Harduin de Scales, who held land there. VCH records that the advowson appeared to be in the gift of the tenants. In 1268 it was given to Chatteris Abbey, Cambridgeshire.


Interior Features

Interior Decoration


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The fragment is carved with two foliage scrolls clasped at the centre by a reeded band with a central row of nailhead. The stems are also reeded with nailhead above the level of the clasp. Both scrolls terminate in acanthus leaves, the L contains a ribbed berry and the R a cross-hatched berry. Further leaves wrap around the scrolling stems at the angles. Behind the clasp is a vertical strap with reeding and nailhead which has short tri-lobed leaf terminals at top and bottom. Beneath the scrolls in the centre is a short upward facing tri-lobed leaf. The fine, grey stone is probably Totternhoe Stone, a local limestone.

d. 0.13 m
h. 0.21 m
w. 0.14 m


The church guide, when refering to a cross in the N aisle mounted on a Roman tile from St Albans, notes that 'nearby are other stones from that edifice'. Although this seems a rather oblique reference, the carving is in fact identical to carved jambstones on the S transept doorway of St Albans cathedral and is probably one of the original jambstones from that doorway. Comparisons may also be made with the so- called 'Aylesbury group' of fonts, in Buckinghamshire, in particular the rim decoration of the font at St Mary, Weston Turville.


  • The Victoria County History: A History of the County of Hertford, London, 1914, 4:39, 42.
  • N. Pevsner and B. Cherry, The Buildings of England: Hertfordshire, Harmondsworth, 1953 (1977), 88-89.
  • M. Thurlby, 'The Place of St Albans in Regional Sculpture and Architecture in the Second Half of the Twelfth Century', Alban and St Albans: Roman and Medieval Architecture, Art and Archaeology, British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions, 24, Leeds, 2001, 166.
Tower, W face, window.
Tower, W face, window.
Tower, S face, window.
Tower, N face, window.
Tower, N face.
Tower, S wall, window.
Tower arch, S impost.
Tower arch, from E.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
TL 403 384 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Hertfordshire
now: Hertfordshire
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: St Albans
medieval: not confirmed
now: St Margaret
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Hazel Gardiner