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All Saints, Willian, Hertfordshire

(51°57′40″N, 0°13′6″W)
TL 225 307
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Hertfordshire
now Hertfordshire
medieval London
now St Albans
  • Ron Baxter
21 September 2018

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Feature Sets

Willian is a small village in the North Hertfordshire district, on the southern edge of Letchworth Garden City. The church is in the village centre, and is built of flint rubble with ashlar facings. It consists of a chancel with a N vestry, a nave with a S porch, and a W tower with a polygonal NE stair turret. The chancel has been traditionally dated to the 12thc on the basis of the blocked, round-headed S doorway, but its deep chamfer makes such an early date unlikely. Otherwise there is nothing in the fabric to indicate a date before the 13th - 14thc for the present building. The tower and S porch are 15thc and the vestry 19thc. Fragments of an early building are seen in chevron voussoirs re-used as facing material on the N side of the nave.


Willian was held by Geoffrey de Bec in 1086, and before the Conquest it was held by Leofric, a housecarl of Earl Leofwine. Geoffrey's manor was assessed at 5 Hides and 1 virgate, of which 2 hides were in demesne. By the early 13thc the manor was held by William Malet de Graville, said (following VCH) to be the son of Matthew de Graville, son of William de la Rue. On the separation of England and Normandy in 1204, William de Graville lost his lands and Willian was granted to Matthew de Lilley in farm. In 1216 King John granted the manor to Pain de Chaworth, but in 1237 King Henry III committed it to John, Earl of Lincoln. This led to disputes over the title, and in the early 1240s the king took it into his own hands.

In 1243 he provisionally granted it to Paul de Peyvre and his heirs, and it stayed in this line until 1429 when it passed to John Broughton, a grandson in the maternal line of the same family. More recent history may be found in VCH.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration


Historic England Listed Building, English Heritage Legacy ID, 161927.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Hertfordshire, Harmondsworth 1953, 278.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire, London, 1910, 242-43.

Victoria County History: Hertfordshire vol. 3 (1912), 177-81.