A new book about the history of St Paul’s Church in Chipperfield has been produced by Mary Nobbs, a long-time villager and local historian.
Mary has compiled information over the last 20 years to produce a detailed and informative guide to the church and the people who helped to make it the centre of village life from 1838 to the present day.
The village itself grew up on the outskirts of Kings Langley, where there was once a royal palace and friary.
The Reformation saw the dissolution of the friary and the palace, together with its deer park, had fallen into disrepair.
By the mid-16th century, there were only about six houses and four farms in Chipperfield.
People gradually moved up the hill to Chipperfield and the coming of the railway in 1837, which made the journey to London much easier, saw an expansion in population.
The 13th century church in Kings Langley was a long walk or horse ride away, so in the early 1830s a group of local people appealed for their own church to be built in Chipperfield.
A new ecclesiastical district, comprising the hamlets of Belsize, Bucks Hill, Chandlers Cross, Penmans Green and Tower Hill, was formed into this new Chipperfield district.
The Rev James Tomlin of Bulstrode led the campaign and the Lord of the Manor, John Parsley, sold his cornfield on Chipperfield Common as the site of the new church.
The architect was Thomas Talbut Bury, then articled to Augustus Pugin, best know for his work on the House of Parliament but a noted church architect of the Victorian era. The Rev Lacy of Tring freely provided the working drawings.
The church was designed in an Early English style, laid out in the traditional cruciform shape.
It was built of local flints and had a plain interior. The altar was in the west, unusually, and there was a triple-decker pulpit. Some pews for the vicar’s family and church trustees ran either side of the chancel. There was no road, just a track outside.
It cost about £1,500, raised by public subscription, and the foundation stone was laid on April 23, 1837 by the Earl of Essex of nearby Cassio Park.
The consecration followed on October 10, 1838 by the Bishop of Lincoln.
The vicarage was not built until 1848 and is now a private house.
In those days, pews were rented out and the seat prices ranged from £2 to four shillings per annum.
Some seats in the nave were free, and all the seats in the gallery – up in the gods in theatrical terms – were free, barring the front row which was reserved for members of the choir.
There was a strict hierarchy of seating, reflecting the social status of the inhabitants.
The church was restored in 1889, allowing for a more decorative Victorian style.
The bell was rung every day at noon throughout the First World War as a reminder of the villagers serving in the trenches, but silenced in the Second World War unless warning of an emergency.
A magnificent organ was installed in 1964 and organ recitals are part of the church’s musical tradition.
Many of the church’s internal features, such as the choir stalls, kneelers and screens, are all additions funded by the parishioners over the years.
In 2004, Chipperfield united with Sarratt in a joint benefice, today serving 1,800 parishioners.
The illustrated booklet gives many more details as well as a guided walk around this lovely church.
Some notable memorials include the stone pulpit, dedicated to Mary Blackwell, wife of the Lord of the Manor in 1910, and the window for Nicolas Jeffries, son of the vicar, who died in Tunisia during the Second World War, aged only 23.
For further information about the book, call 01923 269480.