Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Throcking, Hertfordshire

Holy Trinity is a curious affair with a tall, conjoined nave and chancel and a truncated tower - the original obviously fell and the top half was re-built in brick but plainly not as high as the original.  It was originally built in the 13th century, though much of the construction dates to the 15th century. In 1660 the upper portion of the tower was rebuilt by Sir Thomas Soame, son of the Lord Mayor of London

I like it though but who knows what the interior is like as the church was locked with no sign of a keyholder; but Mee is interesting reading.

HOLY TRINITY. The most interesting part is the W tower; of the C13, flint-built and unbuttressed below (see the two deeply splayed lancet windows), but completed in brick with roundheaded windows, a corbelled out stair-turret, and a parapet (originally with pinnacles) in 1660. An ornate brick plate outside records the date. The rest of the church is Perp. - FONT. Octagonal, Perp, with various tracery patterns on the panels of the bowl; the stem is also panelled. - BENCHES. Four in chancel with poppyheads. - MONUMENTS. Two black floor slabs with unusually fine coats of arms, one to Thomas Soane d. 1670, the other to Robert Elwes d. 1752. In 1753 Rysbrack, one of the two most distinguished sculptors of the period in England, made the noble epitaph for Elwes: a large, very classical pedimented inscription tablet and a Rococo cartouche with coat of arms beneath; no figures. - Hester Elwes d. 1770, by Nollekens, also an epitaph; with a seated female figure by an urn; the decorative detail remarkably Neo-Grecian for its date. 

Holy Trinity (2)

Throcking. It seemed to us that this small place was struggling to keep its head above the grass, which we found growing everywhere, even across the lane. It has a farm, a few cottages, a house which was once the rectory, and a church hidden behind the hedges in the shadow of tall elms and a spreading yew. The little wooden angels 300 years old are still holding up the roof, though it has been made new. The font has been here 500 years, ever since the nave and chancel were built. The four foot thick walls of the tower are 200 years older, though its rather top-heavy upper half of brick was added in 1660 by Sir Thomas Soames, whose stone here tells us that he died aged 88 "or thereabouts." The 17th century added the substantial pews and the choir-stalls with carved heads, on one of which we noticed three acrobats, one man supporting another upside down on his head and swinging the third by the leg - easily the most comical thing to see in Throcking.

There are two monuments by fashionable sculptors of their day to the Elwes family, one by Nollekens showing a woman reading a book, the other by Rysbrack. Round the walls are 11 painted crosses, newly coloured, but marking the spots which the bishop touched with holy oil on consecration day 500 years ago.


  1. If you had arrived just two days later you could have seen inside with me - it was sunny too. However, it really isn't very difficult getting a key for this church - just needs some lateral thinking. Try asking at the farm / social centre east of the church. They used to hold the key, but they will tell you where you can now get it.

    1. If a church doesn't actively promote a keyholder I take it as an act of open hostility to the casual visitor and therefore don't apply lateral thinking!