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Church of St Mary (C of E)

A Grade I Listed Building in Pirton, Hertfordshire

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Latitude: 51.9716 / 51°58'17"N

Longitude: -0.3318 / 0°19'54"W

OS Eastings: 514694

OS Northings: 231661

OS Grid: TL146316

Mapcode National: GBR H5M.6ZJ

Mapcode Global: VHGNK.6PGY

Plus Code: 9C3XXMC9+J7

Entry Name: Church of St Mary (C of E)

Listing Date: 27 May 1968

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1347110

English Heritage Legacy ID: 163158

Location: Pirton, North Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire, SG5

County: Hertfordshire

Civil Parish: Pirton

Built-Up Area: Pirton

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: Pirton

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans

Find accommodation in


TL 1431 (South side)

7/148 Church of St. Mary
27.5.68 (C of E)


Parish church. Early C12 formerly cruciform church with crossing tower;
transepts destroyed by successive collapses of tower in C13; S porch,
many windows, buttresses and chancel roof and fittings C14; nave
heightened with new roof and windows in C15; flat ceiling inserted in
chancel with 'W 1697 D' carved on soffit of cross-beam. Interior
re-ordered 1839. Restoration in stages by John Loughborough Pearson
(1817-1898) for the Rev Ralph Lindsay Loughborough following the
architect's report of 1851:- 1876-7 tower carefully rebuilt from the
foundations with pointed arch on S for future transept:- 1882-3 nave
restored with new steep roof, parapets, furnishings and finishes. S
transept built as a vestry 1907-14 partly with voluntary labour as a
memorial to Rev Loughborough, supervised by F.L. Pearson following plans
by his father. Chancel restored with removal of flat ceiling and
restoration of pointed head to E window 1948 after damage by flying bomb
in 1944. Nave of coursed limestone rubble with freestone dressings and
ashlar parapets. Contrasting coursed flint C14 walling of S porch and
added buttresses, again with limestone dressings, irregular uncoursed
clunch rubble to tower, S transept, and most of chancel but coursed
limestone rubble at E part of chancel. Steep red tile roof to chancel
and transept, lead roof to nave, and to tower with spike and vane. A
large church standing in the inner bailey of an extensive motte and
bailey earthwork castle at the centre of the village. Dedicated to the
Blessed Virgin Mary. Central crenelated tower, short square-ended
chancel, aisless wide nave, 2-storeys S porch, and large S transept used
as vestry. Creasing on W side of tower for a more steeply pitched nave
roof (reinstated by Pearson). The chancel up 3 steps from crosswing has
a 2-bays crown-post open timber roof carried on a raised tie-beam offset
to E with wallposts and curved braces. Bell-shaped corbel at E end to
post to collar-purlin. Brace only to purlin. Trussed rafters of roof may
pre-date supporting structure, itself reset at higher level and dated
'1697'. C12 roll moulded string course across E wall below windows.
Single window on N side is a 2-lights late C14 insertion in an older and
higher opening with round-headed inner arch. Early C14 double piscina
with trefoil heads and chamfered pier between rear E end of S wall.
2-lights early C15 pointed window above, with cinquefoil lights and
stained glass of angels. Wide 3-lights SW window with square head, late
C15, and cinquefoil lights. Adjoining on E a pointed priest's door with
segmental rear arch, 2-centred outer arch with indication of a niche
over. Heavy C19 carved wooden reredos with pinnacles now at side of
chancel. Wide 3-lights E window originally C14 pointed has wave-moulded
jambs, altered in C17 to square headed window by blocking head and
introducing depressed 3-centred arched heads to the lights. Reserved
chamfered mullions. Pointed head reinstated 1948 with 2 vertical
chamfered mullions. Crossing tower has early C12 arches to E and W each
of 2 square orders in massive round arches with simple chamfered imposts
and plinths. Some voussoirs decorated in chip-carved ornament. Beamed
ceiling on billet moulded stone corbels. Wide pointed S arch of 3
chamfered orders with organ under arch. N external pointed doorway gives
access to stair in NW corner to upper parts of tower. A 2-lights pointed
bell opening with tracery on E, N and S sides. Square-headed loop on W.
Bell frame dated '1642'. S transept: has brass memorial tablet beside
door in W wall. Wide 3-lights pointed S window. Trefoil lights under
ogee tracery in head. Scissor-braced rafter roof in softwood. Unusually
wide and lofty nave with 4-bays C19 open timber roof carried on medieval
stone corbels carved with heads. Roof has ridge beam and 2 butt-purlins
carried on trusses with curved braces to moulded cambered tie-beams,
arched braces to collars over and quatrefoil tracery to side panels next
the queen-struts. Round headed blocked C12 windows recorded middle of N
and S walls (RCHM (1911)162) and framed copy of wall painting found on W
wall in 1883 which then faded. In the N wall the W window is a pointed
C14 2-lights one with Dec. tracery and fragments of C14 stained glass in
the head. The E window of 3-lights with trefoil heads and late C15 Perp
tracery under depressed 4-centred head. Lower part of window blocked.
C14 N doorway blocked on inside but original plank door and chamfered
2-centred outer arch remains. Corresponding 3-lights C15 Perp window at
E end of S wall with moulded rear arch, 2-lights Dec window further to W
with trefoil lights and quatrefoil in head. 3-centred hollow moulded
rear arch to S door. Pointed rebated doorway with sill at 2M height to W
of S door with winding stair in wall to upper floor of porch. W end has
tall 3-lights C14 Dec window with cinquefoil ogee heads to lights and
tracery in pointed head. Moulded rear arch, jamb stops, and label. Wall
monument to Jane Docwra d.1645 incorporating a slab carved with an
epitaph she composed. Classical clunch frame with side scrolls and
broken segmental pediment with 2 shields of arms. Caen stone font on
Portland stone base 1883 with battered square bowl, corner shafts
breaking into knobbly foliage. Fat octagonal shaft and 4 stumpy columns
on square chamfered base. Octagonal oak pulpit also by Pearson with
carved cornice and panels. Former 2-storeys S porch to early C14 S door
with original plank door and 2-centred head and continuously moulded
jambs with stops. Pointed entrance arch of 2 chamfered orders dying into
jambs and recess outside. Floor to upper chamber removed revealing
2-bays open timber roof with ridge beam and cranked central tie-beam.
Pointed doorway on N wall with pyramid jamb stops. Deep splays to slot
windows to side walls of upper part, and 2-lights trefoil cusped front
window. Rebated wall cupboard on W wall. Tile paving, and stone bench on
W side partly cut away for former stair to W balcony. (RCHM (1911)161-2:
VCH (1912)50-1: Kelly (1914)192: Pevsner (1977)270: M.A. Newbery A short
History and Guide: St. Mary's Church, Pirton, Hertfordshire, Pirton PCC

Listing NGR: TL1469431661

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