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St Mary the Virgin, Great Wymondley, Hertfordshire

(51°56′30″N, 0°14′1″W)
Great Wymondley
TL 215 285
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Hertfordshire
now Hertfordshire
  • Ron Baxter
21 September 2017, 21 September 2018

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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.


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches


Piscinae/Pillar Piscinae


RCHME, VCH and the List Description date the S doorway c.1120. The church of St Leonard, Bengeo also has an apsidal E end. The chancel arch at Great Wymondley is contemporary with the doorway, and the ipiscina with its flat-leaf capitals must date from the 1170s or '80s. The simple volute capitals of the chancel arch may be compared with examples at Reed and on the chancel arch at Bengeo within the county, and over the border at Pampisford in Cambridgeshire..


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.