St Augustine, Broxbourne, Hertfordshire

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Feature Sets (2)


Broxbourne is a town in the Broxbourne Borough of SE Hertfordshire. It is bounded to the E by the River Lee, which forms the border with Essex. Ware is 4 miles to the N and Hatfield is 9 miles to the W. The church stands at the E of the town centre, alongside the River Lee. It is substantially of the 15thc, with a 2-bay aisled chancel continuous with the 4-bay aisled nave. There is no chancel arch but a step separates the two areas. The N chancel aisle contains the organ, and the tomb of Sir William Say (d.1529), builder of the S chapel who is commemorated by an inscription on the exterior. The S aisle houses the tomd of Sir John Say (d.1478) and his wife Elizabeth, and on the E wall the magnificent early-17thc tomb of Sir Henry and Lady Ursula Cock. The W tower has a turret on the SE angle, and the S porch in mid-17thc work. A modern parish room has been added on the S side. The only Romanesque feature is the Purbeck font.


Broxbourne was held by Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury before the Conquest, and by Adeliza, wife of Hugh de Grandmesnil in 1086, when it was assessed at 5½ hides. At this time, 3 hides and 3 virgates were in demesne, and a priest was mentioned, implying a church at that date. Hugh and Adeliza's son Ivo gave Broxbourne to Bermondsey Abbey, but he had already mortgaged his estates to Robert Count of Meulan and Earl of Leicester, so he took possession. On his death in 1118, the County of Meulan passed to his eldest son, Waleran, while the earldom of Leicester and the English estates went to the second son, Robert. His son, another Robert, married Parnell de Grantmesnil and they gave the manor to the Knights Hospitaller, a grant confirmed by King John in 1199. It stayed in their possession until the order was dissolved in 1540. Thereafter it was granted to John Cock and thence to his son Henry whose tomb stands in the S chapel.





The font stands in the S nave aisle, W of the W doorway. It consists of an octagognal Purbeck bowl with 2 round-headed arches on each face. It has a circular basin lined with lead, and the rim is generally damaged, especially at the E. The bowl stands on a fat central shaft and 8 perimeter shafts with fat roll bases on an integral plinth, all of Purbeck. This stands on an octagonal stone plinth and a step extended to the W.

Height of bowl 0.29 m
Height of shafts and their plinth 0.47 m
Height of stone plinth 0.15 m
Overall height of font 1.10 m
External diameter at rim across flats 0.685 m
External diameter at rin corner to corner 0.740 m
Internal diameter of basin 0.525 m


As in most southern counties with a shortage of local building stone, fonts of paludina limestone (the so-called Purbeck and Sussex marble) were commonly imported into Hertforshire in the 12thc-13thc. Other examples are at Clothall, Thorley, Gilston and Bishop's Stortford. The octagonal bowl suggests a late-12thc or c.1200 date.


  • Historic England Listed Building¬†English Heritage Legacy ID:¬†157400

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Hertfordshire, Harmondsworth 1953, 71-72.

  • Victoria County History: Hertfordshire vol. 3 (1912), 430-40.

Exterior from SE
Interior to E
Exterior from SE


Site Location
National Grid Reference
TL 372 069 
now: Hertfordshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Hertfordshire
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: St Albans
medieval: St Augustine (pre-Reformation)
now: St Augustine
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
06 June 2018