Monday, 5 September 2011

Meesden, Hertfordshire

Now St Mary, whilst not being the most exciting of buildings, does restore your faith in humanity. It took me two visits before I found it on the end of an exceedingly wet trip in late August - we had 20mm of rain in two and a half hours!

Tucked away up a path through woods and found at the top in a clearing there was no way this isolated church would be open and I almost didn't bother to try the door. Luckily I did and to my total astonishment gained access. Here was one of the most isolated churches I've visited and it was open - this should be held up as an example to all those who keep their churches locked.

As I've said there's not a lot but there is a fine monument to Robert Younge d.1625, medieval tiles and it appears to have been, up to the 16th century, cruciform in shape.

ST MARY. Away from the village. The nave dates from the C12 (see the S doorway). The short transepts were added (or renewed) in the C13 (see the narrow two-bay arcades from the nave with octagonal piers and moulded capitals) but rebuilt in 1877. The chancel is of c. 1300 (see the renewed E window of three cusped lancets under one two-centred arch). The pretty timber bellcote with its shingled spire is C19. All this is in no way out of the ordinary. What, however, makes the church worth a special visit is the S porch, entirely built of brick, probably c. 1530 (cf. Wyddial). The two-light windows are of brick, the much moulded doorway is of brick, and so are the diagonal buttresses and the crenellation with angle turrets and a niche under a stepped gable. Below the battlements trefoiled a brick corbel-table (cf. Rickmansworth Rectory and Redbourn). - TILES. In the chancel a whole series of early C14 tiles in dark green and yellow with circles, quatrefoils, etc. - PLATE. Chalice and Standing Paten, 1621. - MONUMENT. Robert Yonge d. 1626, with bust in circular niche.

Robert Younge 1625 (1)

Medieval tiles


Meesden. Leaving the long green with the houses scattered about it, we find a wood with a path climbing to a church with a simple Norman door, masked by a high 16th-century porch. There is a mural monument to Robert Younge (1626), whose bust presides over the chancel, a saintly man with texts over his head, in his hand, and written across his open book. The font and the chalice are of his day, but the tiles arranged in a handsome mosaic before the altar are 300 years older, laid down in the 14th century when the chancel was new. They are yellow and dark green, and two of them have shields. It was a friendly thing the Victorians did for this small church in the wood, opening up the blocked 13th-century arcades and rebuilding the miniature transepts to which they led 700 years ago and now lead again.

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