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Early History Of St. Paul's Church

19th of March 2006

The architect of St. Paul’s Church was Thomas Talbot Bury (1811-1877). He was articled to Pugin and designed 35 churches, including Tring and Bovingdon Church, where there is a stained glass window dedicated to his memory by his sister. The cost of building the church was just under £1,500 which was raised by public subscription. The foundation stone was laid in April 1837 and the church was consecrated 17 months later, in 1838, by the Bishop of Lincoln, just one year after Queen Victoria’s coronation. It provided 400 places, of which 176 were free.
Unusually, the altar is situated at the west end of the church and not on the east side, as is traditional. The story is that the door, which was then at the back of the church, was nearer to the Manor House, making it quicker for John Parsley (who lived in the Manor House at that time) to enter the building.
For the first 10 years, the church came under the umbrella of Kings Langley Church, but in 1848 Henry Dennis, the Curate of Kings Langley, was appointed Vicar of Chipperfield.
Even in those days, housing presented a problem. Eventually, Day House, across The Common, complete with coach house and coachman’s cottage was bought to serve as a vicarage. They are now known as Saddlebow and the Old Vicarage. In 1874, the Vicarage was enlarged to accommodate the Rev. W.G. Sharpin who had eight children. The Living at that stage was worth £300 per annum.
1889 brought a time of changes. The Sanctuary was enlarged and the Vestry was added. The main door was moved from the east end to the north side and a porch was constructed, as was the lych gate. A fine pair of lych gates presented by Mr. Sands Clayton and brothers of Chipperfield House were in memory of their brother, who served under General Gordon. There was much astonishment in the village when the lych gates were stolen in 2001.
The character of the church must have been greatly changed in 1889, when the gallery and the three-decker pulpit were removed. A publication by Cussans in 1879, described the pulpit as unique, being the only one of its kind left in the whole of Hertfordshire.
Mary Nobbs

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