St Mary, Graveley, Hertfordshire

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Feature Sets (2)


Graveley is a village in the North Hertfordshire district of the county, 2 miles N of Stevenage and 4 miles S of Letchworth Garden City. Graveley High Street was formerly the Great North Road, but the modern A1(M) bypasses the village on the W. The church stands at the end of Church Lane on the eastern outskirts of the village and is surrounded by farmland, largely arable. St Mary’s consists of a chancel with a N vestry, nave with a N aisle and a S porch, and a W tower. The nave is 12thc in origin, as indicated by the rere-arch of the S doorway and the doorway that now gives access to the vestry from the E end of the N aisle. Both are plain and are thus not included as features in this report, but photographs are included . The nave was reroofed in the 15thc; its roof carried on low trusses decorated with angels, and the wall-posts carried on corbels. The chancel is largely of 13thc date with 3 pointed lancets on the lateral walls, the tower is of the late-15thc throughout, and the S porch is dated to the 18thc by VCH and the List Description. The N nave arcade and the vestry were added in 1887, and presumably it was then that the N nave doorway was re-used as an interior vestry doorway. The church is face with flint rubble with clunch dressings. The nave roof is of lead and the chancel roof of red tiles. The only Romanesque sculpture surviving here is a piscina basin in the form of a scallop capital, now set in the S nave wall at the E end, under a 14thc pointed trefoil head.


The Domesday Survey lists 5 holdings in Graveley in 1086. In order of size: Godfrey held 2 hides and 1½ virgates in Graveley from Peter de Valognes, that was held by Lemar from Almaer of Benington in 1066. Gosbert de Beauvais held 2 hides in demesne in 1086, held as a manor by Swein, a man of Earl Harold in 1066. 1½ hides and 10 acres were held from Bishop Odo of Bayeux by Adam in 1086 and by Alnoth (who held 1½ hides) and Bruning (10 acres) in 1066. William held half a hide from Robert d’Oilly, land held by 2 men of Godwine of Bentfield before the Conquest. Finally Peter held 1½ virgates from William de Eu, held by Aelstan of Boscombe and by Leofsige, a sokeman of King Edward before the Conquest.

Of these manors the most relevant is that of Gosbert de Beauvais, which passed to Reginald de Argentein in the early 12thc, along with the manor of Great Wymondley. The position with regard to early sub-tenant is not straightforward, and the reader interested in this is referred to the VCH.



Piscinae/Pillar Piscinae


Set in the S interior wall of the nave, at the E end, is a piscina in the form of a 12thc scallop capital of clunch, slightly convex in form, recessed at the top and drilled for drainage, set under a later chamfered trefoil headed niche. The capital has three scallops on its front face, with a conical wedge between the E pair only. The side faces have single scallops. Above the shields on all faces a pair of horizontal lines has been scribed. The capital has a plain necking and has been roughly retooled overall.

Depth front to back 0.23 m
Height of capital 0.18 m
Width of capital at top 0.23 m


The piscina capital might originally have formed the bowl of a pillar piscina.


  • Historic England List Description (English Heritage Legacy ID) 162621.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Hertfordshire, Harmondsworth 1953, 98.

  • N. Pevsner and B. Cherry, The Buildings of England: Hertfordshire, Harmondsworth 1977, 148.

  • Victoria County History: Hertfordshire vol. 3 (1912), 85-90.

Exterior from S
Interior to E
S nave doorway, rere arch
Vestry doorway from W


Site Location
National Grid Reference
TL 235 281 
now: Hertfordshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Hertfordshire
now: St Albans
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
medieval: St Mary (pre-Reformation)
now: St Mary
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
21 September 2017