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St Leonard, Flamstead, Hertfordshire

(51°49′10″N, 0°26′9″W)
TL 079 146
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Hertfordshire
now Hertfordshire
  • Hazel Gardiner
20 April 2018

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Feature Sets

Flamstead is a large village in the Dacorum district of western Hertfordshire, 6 miles NW of St Albans and 4 miles S of Luton (Bedfordshire).The village clusters around a junction of minor roads near the junction of the A5 (following the line of Watling Street at this point) and the M1, and the church stands on the high street, in the centre of the village, surrounded by a spacious churchyard. It is constructed of flint with Totternhoe (clunch) facings and repairs in brick and tile. The oldest part of the church is the W tower, of the 1st quarter of the 12thc. This has the remains of paired round –headed openings at the top of the lower storey, best preserved on the E face but nowhere showing Romanesque sculptural work and not recorded here. The upper storey is a later heightening with a plain parapet and a great deal of brickwork repair. The tower arch is also 12thc, but was narrowed in the 13thc, and the nave has 6-bay aisles dating from the 13thc with elegant and varied stiff leaf in the arcade capitals. The highlight of the church is undoubtedly its wallpaintings; both figural and decorative and covering the period from the 13thc to the 19thc. The tower arch and a relief, possibly Romanesque, reset in the nave, are recorded here.


Flamstead was held by Aki, a thegn of King Edward, in 1066, and by Ralph de Tosny in 1087. It was assessed at 4 hides before the Conquest and at 2 in 1086. The population listed was 22 villans, 7 cottars and 4 slaves, suggesting a population in the region of 150, and the manor included woodland for 1,000 pigs.

The manor descended in the direct line until the death of Robert, Lord Tony, in1310. No tenants are recorded in the 12th – 14thc.


Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches

Interior Decoration


The enigmatic clunch relief is not mentioned in any of the printed sources listed below. It is impossible to be sure of its subject matter or to date it. It is included here as an object that may not be Romanesque but should certainly be better known. I am indebted to Stiffleaf who published it on his Hertfordshire churches blog, suggesting that it had been installed upside-down. He convincingly argued that the arms may belong to Atlas or orans figures, and suggested a possible Norman date.


Historic England Listed Building, English Heritage Legacy ID 157803

N. Pevsner and B. Cherry, The Buildings of England: Hertfordshire, Harmondsworth 1977, 141-43.

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire (London, 1910), 88-89.

Stiffleaf, https://hertfordshirechurches.weebly.com/flamstead-church-hertfordshire.html.

Victoria County History: Hertfordshire vol. 2 (1908), 193-210.