Sunday, 11 September 2011

Hinxworth, Hertfordshire

The lovely St Nicholas shouldn't, on paper, be lovely at all but somehow the C18th brick chancel works well with the earlier nave and tower. Whilst it contains many points of interest its crowning glory is the chancel brass to John Lambard which includes an image of his daughter Jane (aka Elizabeth) Shore who became Edward IV's mistress.

ST NICHOLAS. Nave without aisles, low W tower with angle buttresses, chancel of C18 brick. The rest is mixed stone and flint. S porch with three-light windows as at Ashwell. Inside the church two niches for statues, one on the E side of a N window, the other in the SE corner of the nave. - BRASSES. Man and woman, mid C15 (chancel N wall). - Man and woman, nearly 4 ft long with, below, individually cut and mounted figures of six children. Late C15, unusually good, believed to be John Lambard d. 1487, Alderman of London. 

St Nicholas (3)

John Lambard 1487 (1)

John Lambard 1487 (5)

Hinxworth. Old Robert Clutterbuck, who devoted years to making a history of his beloved Hertfordshire, lived at Hinxworth Place, a perfect home for an antiquarian, for this stone house was built in the I5th and 16th centuries, with mullioned windows of old glass, pointed doorways, and panelled walls set in a lovely garden - all within a mile of the thatched cottages and the quaint clock tower of the village among the elms. Happily its beauty is safe, for it belongs to the county council, and every passer-by may feel that he shares its freehold. Here Robert Clutterbuck toiled for 18 years on his three volumes of Hertfordshire, published over a period of 12 years, beginning at the time of Waterloo. It has been said that the plates in his work have never been surpassed in such a publication.

Reached by a shady field path, where two Lombardy poplars frame a distant view of the Essex hills and limes form a double guard to the door, is a church of about the time of Agincourt, with a Tudor clerestory and 18th-century brick chancel. In the 15th-century porch we found a stone coffin lid 600 years old. Four ancient oak angels stand out darkly against the newer roof, and canopied stone niches make beautiful two window-sills. Excelling in beauty is a brass on the chancel floor, a superb portrait of John Lambard, Master of the Mercers Company, buried here in 1497. His wife, their daughter, and three sons, are with him in elegant dress. An earlier unknown couple who would know this church when it was new 500 years ago have their brass portraits on the wall.

At Hinxworth was found a Venus brought here by some art-loving Roman in the days of the Caesars, whose coins have also been found in plenty; and a gravel pit older than the Romans has yielded traces of four distinct British tribes.

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