Great and Little Wymondley are a pair of villages in the arable farmland to the E of Hitchin in North Hertfordshire, on the W side of the A1(M). Great Wymondley, to the N, is now the smaller of the two and St Mary’s church stands at the E end of Church Green in the village centre. It consists of a 12thc nave and apsidal chancel; the latter with pointed lancets indicating a 13thc remodelling. The nave has a timber-framed S porch, and a N vestry, both built in Joseph Clarke’s restoration of 1883-84. The nave was heightened in the 15thc and a parapet added, and the 4-storey W tower dates from the same period. Construction is of flint rubble with limestone dressings. Romanesque sculpture is found on the S nave doorway.and the chancel arch, and there is a late-12thc piscina.
8 hides in Great Wymondley were held by the church of St Mary, Chatteris before the Conquest, but the manor was taken from that church by Earl Harold, c.1063 and attached to his own manor of Hitchin. A further 3¼ hides were held by Swen, a man of Harold, before the Conquest. In 1086, King William held the 8 hides and the smaller manor was held by Goisbert de Beauvais.
Before the end of the 11thc, the entire estate was given to Reginald de Argentein, and it remained in this line until the 15thc.
The church was originally a chapel to Hitchin. The Abbess of Elstow claimed, in 1199, that it had been granted, with Hitchin and its church, to her abbey, a claim opposed by Reginald de Argentein on the grounds that his ancestors had already presented to the church. Reginald’s son Richard acknowledged the right of the Abbess of Elstow to present to the church, which she appropriated around this time, and the church remained with Elstow until the Dissolution.
|Height of opening||2.04 m|
|Width of opening||1.14 m|
|Height of tympanum (radius)||0.83 m|
|Thickness of tympanum||0.15 m|
|Width of tympanum (diameter)||1.54m|
Engaged nook-shafts on worn cushion bases with roll neckings. The block capitals take the form of simplified human heads; not identical but both set frontally to the main angle of the capital, with protruding ears, round eyes drilled for pupils, wedge-shaped noses and thin closed mouths. Imposts are as the 1st order, and the arch has a fat angle roll. There is no label.
Engaged nook-shafts on cushion bases with plain roll neckings. The capitals are of the simplified volute type, basically cushions with an angle tuck and non-projecting volutes carved on the main angles only.
|Height of opening||0.47 m|
|Overall height of piscina||0.73 m|
|Overall width||0.88 m|
|Width of opening between shafts||0.54 m|
|Height of bases||0.040|
|Height of capitals including necking||0.075 m|
|Height of shafts||0.305 m|
|Height of shafts with capitals and bases||0.415 m|
|Max. width of capitals||0.12 m|
Historic England List Description (English Heritage Legacy ID) 162757
N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Hertfordshire, Harmondsworth 1953, 102-03.
N. Pevsner and B. Cherry, The Buildings of England: Hertfordshire, Harmondsworth 1977, 153-54.
RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire, London 1910, 105-06.
Victoria County History: Hertfordshire vol. 3 (1912), 181-85.