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St Mary the Virgin, Westmill, Hertfordshire

(51°55′32″N, 0°0′37″W)
TL 369 271
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Hertfordshire
now Hertfordshire
  • Ron Baxter
16 April 2018

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Feature Sets

Westmill is an attractive village a mile south of Buntingford in the East Hertfordhire district of the county. It has a broad high street lined with timber-framed and Georgian houses, with a triangular green at the W end and the church at the E. St Mary’s is a substantial church of flint rubble with a coursed flint facing and limestone dressings. Long and short work at the SE angle of the nave suggests a pre-Conquest date for this part of the building. The nave has a N aisle with a 2-bay arcade cut through the Anglo-Saxon fabric in the 12thc. The W bay has been fitted with glazed partitions and fitted out as a church hall. The chancel is 13thc., as revealed by a blocked window visible on the exterior S wall. The lancets in this wall are 19thc work. The 15thc W tower 15thc has a Hertfordshire spike. The nave has a S porch of 1876 (added during a restoration), replacing an earlier one shown on photographs displayed inside the church, and there is a N organ room to the chancel. The only Romanesque feature described here is the N nave arcade.


Westmill was held by Aki, a thegn of Earl Harold, in 1066, and by Ansketil from Robert Gernon in 1086. It was assessed at 7 hides and 1 virgate, with 3 mills and woodland for 100 pigs as well as pasture for the livestock. The listed population of 18 villans, 5 Frenchmen, 12 bordars, 15 cottars and 2 slaves suggests a total population for the vill of more than 200 people.

Robert Gernon’s holdings were acquired by William de Montfitchet in the reign of Henry I. He was succeeded as overlord by Gilbert de Montfitchet (recorded before 1165-66), and then by Richard of the same family towards the end of Henry II’s reign. The Montfitchet overlordship came to an end on the death of another Richard, perhaps his son, in 1258. The tenancy was held by Ralph FitzHaselin and Richard Westmill in the time of William de Montfitchet, and later, during the reign of Henry II, by a family named Zoing. Hubert le Zoing held the tenancy in 1178 and his brother Jordan in 1183. They remained in possession well into the 13thc, as Geoffrey le Zoing was granted a market and fair at Westmill in 1226, and William le Zoing is mentioned in 1274.


Interior Features



RCHME dates the arcade to the late-12thc, which fits the pointed arches and chamfered order.


Historic England Listed Building, English Heritage Legacy ID 161366.

N. Pevsner and B. Cherry, The Buildings of England: Hertfordshire, Harmondsworth 1977, 401.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire (London, 1910), 236-37.

Victoria County History: Hertfordshire vol. 3 (1912), 397-402.