Church of St Mary, Letchworth

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    Church of St Mary the Virgin in Letchworth

    The Church of St Mary the Virgin is the Church of England parish church of Letchworth in Hertfordshire. A church appears to have been on the site since before the Norman Conquest. The current church was built in the late 12th century and is Grade II listed.[1] It comes under the Diocese of St Albans. The original dedication of the church is unknown; it was rededicated to St Mary during the First World War.[2]

    The church is the oldest building in the area and is only 60 feet long inside. Mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, parts of the building date to the 11th century and is built on the remains of an older Saxon structure. However, most of what is seen today dates to the late 12th century and was reroofed in the 15th century when the south porch was also added. The nave has three bays and a chancel. The church has a pyramidical timber-framed bell-cot with a tiled roof at the west end inside which is a bell dating to the 14th century. The exterior is of flint and ironstone random rubble, partly rendered, with freestone dressings and ashlar, brick and tile buttresses. The windows in the nave have a Y tracery. The gabled porch has a square headed doorway with shields in spandrels. Inside there is a carved effigy of the Crusader Sir Richard de Montfichet on a window sill. His heart is reputedly buried under the church.[1][3][4][5]

    After 1903 the small rural parish of Letchworth changed dramatically with the development of Letchworth Garden City. In 1908 a "mission church" dedicated to St Michael was opened on Norton Way South, closer to the new town centre. This in turn was replaced by another church (also dedicated to St Michael) on Broadway, which opened in 1967. The new St Michael's church officially became the parish church of the ecclesiastical parish of Letchworth (covering only the south-western part of the larger Garden City) in November 1967, with the old parish church of St Mary's thereafter being a chapel of ease to St Michael's.[6][7] Structural problems with the 1960s St Michael's building led to its closure in December 2019, but St Mary's continues in use.[8]

    Notable burials

    Grave of W. F. Harvey in the churchyard of St Mary's Church in Letchworth

    References

    1. ^ a b Historic England. "Parish Church of Saint Mary, Letchworth Lane (1347697)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
    2. ^ Johnson, Kenneth (1976). The Book of Letchworth. Chesham: Barracuda Books. pp. 18, 77. ISBN 0860230163.
    3. ^ St Mary's Church on the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation website
    4. ^ St Mary's Church - Diocese of St Albans website
    5. ^ Josh Tidy, Letchworth Garden City Through Time, Amberley Publishing (2015) - Google Books
    6. ^ Miller, Mervyn (2002). Letchworth: The First Garden City (2nd ed.). Chichester: Phillimore. p. 24. ISBN 1 86077 213 7.
    7. ^ "Letchworth: St Michael the Archangel to replace the old church of St Mary, November 1967". Hertfordshire Archives Catalogue. Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies. Retrieved 6 October 2021.
    8. ^ McEvoy, Louise (6 October 2020). "Beleaguered Letchworth church permanently closes over expensive building repairs". The Comet. Archant. Retrieved 5 October 2021.
    9. ^ Scott Wilson, Resting Places: The Burial Places of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons 3rd ed., McFarland & Company, Inc., Publisher (2016) - Google Books pg 323

    External links

    Coordinates: 51°57′48″N 0°13′45″W / 51.9634°N 0.2293°W / 51.9634; -0.2293