Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Stanstead St Margaret, Hertfordshire

St Margaret locked, no keyholders listed and for absolutely no reason as it's more or less in the middle of a housing estate. It looks plain and interesting much like Tilty and Caldecote. Refer to previous rants for my opinion on locked churches.

ST MARGARET. Norman nave (see the small window in the S wall). The chancel is Dec, obviously built for a church more important than is the present one. Large E window of four lights with early flowing tracery. Contemporary S Windows. On the N side the church had an aisle and a chancel chapel which were later pulled down. Small Georgian cupola. Inside low BOX PEWS.

St Margaret (2)

Corbel (7)

Corbel (8)

Stanstead St Margaret. It is by the River Lea, which comes down to it from Amwell. On one side of the road is a brick building with an 18th-century clock house; on the other is a gabled manor with a painted coat of arms on the 18th-century gate. The church gate is in the shadow of two great elms. The church is but a fragment of what it was 600 years ago, when the chancel was made new. Two small Norman windows are blocked up over a doorway, and buried in the wall is an arcade of the 14th century, part of it still peeping through. Set against the wall of the modern vestry is a medieval gravestone seven feet long.

Here lies, under a dark stone before the altar, a famous puritan of St Ives, Henry Lawrence, whom they laid to rest here in 1664. He was Cromwell’s kinsman and Milton’s friend. He was the landlord of the house Cromwell lived in at St Ives, and it was to his Uncle Henry that Cromwell would pay the rent for the barn still standing there. It was while Cromwell was living at St Ives that the trouble over ship money began, and Lawrence sought refuge in Holland during the difficult times that followed. Returning to England, he did much work for the Commonwealth, mediating between England and Scotland, helping in the government of Ireland, but opposing the trial of the king. After Cromwell’s death he proclaimed the succession of Richard Cromwell to the Protectorate, and at the Restoration was permitted, like Milton, to continue to live in seclusion, so he came to live at Goldingtons here. It was to a son of Lawrence that Milton addressed one of his sonnets, beginning:

Lawrence, of virtuous father virtuous son,
Now that the fields are dank, and ways are mire,
Where shall we sometimes meet, and by the fire
Help waste a sullen day?

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