{ "timeline": { "headline":"800 years of St Peter's Church", "type":"default", "startDate":"900,1", "text":"

at the heart of the Great Berkhamsted Parish

Our worshipping Christian community has lived through the Berkhamsted Castle Siege, the Crusades, the Reformation and two World Wars. Discover the fascinating history of St Peter's Berkhamsted from its foundation to the 21st Century. Click the next date on the right to begin.

", "asset": { "media":"/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/800th-hero-buckler.jpg", "credit":"", "caption":"St Peter's Church Berkhamsted" }, "date": [ { "startDate":"1066,1", "headline":"Norman Conquest", "text":"

William of Normandy invades the Kingdom of England and defeats King Harold at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066. The Normans advance north and the Saxon nobles surrender to William at Beorh\u00f0anst\u00e6d\u00e6<\/em> (Berkhamsted). William is crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey on 25 December.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/battle-of-hastings-1024x873.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
Public Domain image" } }, { "startDate":"1072,1", "headline":"The Diocese of Lincoln", "text":"

In 1067, Remigius de F\u00e9camp is appointed Bishop of Dorchester. Remigius came to England with William, Duke of Normandy, and this is the first episcopal appointment in England since the Norman Conquest. Dorchester is the largest diocese in England at the time, having absorbed the Dioceses of Leicester and Lindsey around 1010. In 1072, Remigius moves the see to the City of Lincoln. For over 800 years, the Diocese of Lincoln covers a vast swathe of England stretching from the Humber to the edge of London. The small town of Berkhamsted lies within its bounds.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/diocese-llincoln-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "The Diocese of Lincoln on a map of Ecclesiastical England at the time of Henry VIII
" } }, { "startDate":"1216,1", "headline":"Henry III is crowned King", "text":"

King John dies in October 1216. His nine-year-old son Henry III is crowned King of England at Gloucester Cathedral. England is in turmoil; the Barons' War is under way, and England loses its lands in France with the demise of the Angevin Empire.<\/p>

Henry's reign lasts from 1216 to 1272, and while he is on the throne, a new Church of St Peter is founded in the small Hertfordshire town of Berkhamsted.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/henry-III-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "13th C painting of the Coronation of King Henry III
Public Domain image" } }, { "startDate":"1216,1", "headline":"Siege of Berkhamsted Castle", "text":"

England's barons are in revolt against the King and the turmoil of the Barons' War reaches Berkhamsted.\u00a0The Barons invite Prince Louis of France to become King of England; he lands with his army and marches on London. After taking Hertford Castle,\u00a0Prince Louis lays siege to Berkhamsted Castle, attacking it with trebuchets. The English surrender after 2 weeks.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/castle-siege.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "Illuminated manuscript from The Crusader Bible, c.1240\n
Public Domain image\/Morgan Library & Museum" } }, { "startDate":"1222,1", "headline":"St Peter’s Church is consecrated", "text":"

In 1222, a new church dedicated to St Peter is consecrated in the Hertfordshire town of Great Berkhamsted.\u00a0 The first Rector, Robert de Tuardo, is presented by the Abbot of Grestein Abbey in Normandy and installed by the Bishop of Lincoln, Hugh of Wells. St Peter's is a new building, still under construction.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/800th-hero-hugh-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "Stained glass of St Hugo by of Lincoln (Nathaniel Westlake, c.1887)
" } }, { "startDate":"1250,1", "headline":"St Peter’s Church completed", "text":"

The main body of St Peter's Church is constructed over a period of about 50 years. By 1220 the north and south transepts and the lower part of the tower have been built.\u00a0 The church is then extended westwards, with the addition of a long nave. Aisles are added to the north and south by 1230, and the Lady Chapel is added to the east side of the north transept.\u00a0By 1250 the core part of St Peter's Church has been completed.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/stonemasonry-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "Medieval stonemasons
" } }, { "startDate":"1325,1", "headline":"St Catherine Chapel added", "text":"

\u00a0Sometime in the first half of the 14th century, a chapel dedicated to St Catherine of Alexandria is built to the south of the chancel of St Peter's.\u00a0Catherine was a 4th-century martyr who was killed by the Roman Emperor Maxentius for refusing to renounce her faith. She was condemned to die on a spiked breaking wheel, but it shattered at her touch, so she was beheaded.\u00a0<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"", "credit":"", "caption": "" } }, { "startDate":"1346,1", "headline":"Henry of Berkhamsted", "text":"

During the Hundred Years' War, Berkhamsted Castle was an active military fortress and often a royal residence. Many townsfolk had connections with the Castle, among them Henry of Berkhamsted, a knight who served as Constable of Berkhamsted Castle and fought with Edward the Black Prince at the Battle of Cr\u00e9cy in 1346. It is thought that the stone chest tomb in the Lady Chapel of St Peter\u2019s is the tomb of Henry and his lady wife.<\/p>

 <\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/battle-of-crecy-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1350,1", "headline":"St John’s Chantry added", "text":"

The Chantry of St John the Baptist is added onto the south side of the nave. A chantry chapel is a part of a church set aside for singing the liturgy for the dead. At the Dissolution, chantries were abolished and their assets were sold or granted to supporters of Henry VIII. The St John Chantry in St Peter's became a chapel for the Berkhamsted School, which was founded in 1541 by John Incent on land taken from the monastic hospital of St John the Baptist. Today this area of the church is occupied by the choir stalls and organ.\u00a0<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/chanttry-1350-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "St John Chantry (drawn by Buckler in 1832)
" } }, { "startDate":"1356,1", "headline":"Richard Torrington", "text":"

The Torringtons are a family of high standing in the parish during the 14th century. Richard Torrington is often referred to by tradition as \"the founder of St Peter's\" \u2013 it is probably that they were a wealthy family who funded the major church rebuilding and extension project of the late 14th century.\u00a0<\/p>

Richard Torrington dies in 1356 \u2013 in that same year, Edward the Black Prince rides out from Berkhamsted Castle to fight at the Battle of Poitiers.\u00a0Richard and his wife Margaret Torrington are commemorated on a memorial brass.\u00a0 They are depicted holding hands, united in their love through death \u2013 a very unusual depiction of affection for monumental art of this period.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/torringtons.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "Drawing of the memorial brass to Richard & Margaret Torrington (Clutterbuck, 1815)
" } }, { "startDate":"1356,1", "headline":"The Battle of Poitiers", "text":"

The Battle of Poitiers is fought on 19 September 1356, part of the Hundred Years' War. English forces, led by Edward the Black Prince, defeat French forces and capture King Jean II of France. He is brought to England and imprisoned in Berkhamsted Castle. Edward's forces include large contingent of 2,000 longbowmen, many of whom came from Berkhamsted.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/battle-of-poitiers-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "Battle of Poitiers (1356), from Froissart's Chronicles
" } }, { "startDate":"1356,1", "headline":"John Raven", "text":"

Sir John Raven (\"Little John\") is squire to Edward the Black Prince at Berkhamsted Castle. He is responsible for Berkhamsted's archery battalion whose practice ground is at Butts Meadow. His duties include travelling around England to bring archery supplies from bowyers and fletchers in Cheshire. The invention of the English longbow is instrumental in the victories during the Hundred Years' War at Poitiers, Crecy and Agincourt, and Raven probably plays an important part in these campaigns. It is possible that Raven is also part of the guard of honour at Berkhamsted and Hertford Castles during the imprisonment of King Jean of France.\u00a0<\/p>

John Raven is commemorated with a monumental brass in St Peter's church, depicted in full medieval battle armour. Raven gives his name to Ravens Lane, a nearby street that leads to the Castle.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/john-raven-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1369,1", "headline":"Bubonic Plague Pandemic", "text":"

Bubonic plague (the \"Black Death\") ravages Europe killing one-third of the population. The effect of the deadly disease outbreak can be seen in the rapid succession of rectors between 1369 and 1386, when St Peter\u2019s had eight successive rectors, the shortest being Thomas Payne, who lasted only nine days.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/short-history-wyatville-1.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "Belgian painting of people burying Plague victims (c.1353)
Public Domain image" } }, { "startDate":"1375,1", "headline":"Clerestory & West Window added", "text":"

In the late 13th century, St Peter's Church undergoes a significant extension and re-ordering, possibly funded by the Torrington Family. The nave is extended upwards as a great west window and clerestory (the row of windows at the top of the nave) are added. This addition is a response to the daring new Perpendicular style of the time, when church builders are introducing windows of unprecedented size to bring light and colour into the great cathedrals. In St Peter's, we also see a new south porch added next to the Chantry around this time.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/nave-sunlight-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "Sunlight streams through the clerestory windows into the nave
" } }, { "startDate":"1379,1", "headline":"John de Waltham", "text":"

John de Waltham serves as rector of St Peter\u2019s 1379-1380. Waltham becomes an important figure in the Church, becoming Bishop of Salisbury in 1388. He is also a favourite and close friend of King Richard II, who later appoints him Lord Privy Seal, and Lord Treasurer. After Waltham\u2019s death in 1395, Richard honours him with a tomb in Westminster Abbey in the Chapel of Edward the Confessor \u2014 the only person not of royal blood to be buried in the royal chapel.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/john-de-waltham-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1381,1", "headline":"Royal Patronage", "text":"

From the foundation of St Peter\u2019s in 1222, the advowson \u2013 the right to present a new parish rector to the bishop \u2013 rested with the Abbot Grestein Abbey in Normandy, a remnant of Norman domination since 1066. In 1381, this changes when Rev Peter de Burton is presented by King Richard II. This establishes a new tradition of the reigning monarch acting as patron to each new rector, which lasts until 1722.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/richard-ii-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "Portrait of Richard II in Westminster Abbey
" } }, { "startDate":"1470,1", "headline":"The Incents", "text":"

The Incents are a family of high standing in the Great Berkhamsted Parish. Berkhamsted Castle is still a royal residence in the late 15th century and Robert Incent is employed there as private secretary to Cicely, Duchess of York,\u00a0 wife of the Duke of York and mother of two Kings of England. Robert's wife, Katherine, is noted for her charity and funds the adornment of the St John Chantry in St Peter's Church. Their house on the High Street opposite the church is known today as \"Dean Incent's House\", named after their son John, born in 1480, who later becomes Dean of St Paul's Cathedral in London. Robert dies in 1485 in a mysterious epidemic called \"the Great Sweating Sickness\". Two brass memorials in St Peter's Church commemorate Robert and Katherine.<\/p>

 <\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/incents-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1495,1", "headline":"Death of Cecily Neville", "text":"

In 1495 Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, dies at Berkhamsted Castle. Cecily is mother of two English kings \u2013 Edward IV and Richard III \u2013 and has been a important political figure through the turmoil of the Wars of the Roses. She is the last royal resident at Berkhamsted, and after her death the Castle falls into ruin. A stained-glass window at the west end of St Peter's Church bears her coat of arms.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/cecily-duchess-of-york-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "Cecily, Duchess of York, and her coat of arms in stained glass
" } }, { "startDate":"1534,1", "headline":"Break with Rome", "text":"

Until the mid-16th century, the English Church has been Roman Catholic, under the authority of the Pope. In 1527, Pope Clement VII refuses to annul King Henry VIII\u2019s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, leading to a bitter political dispute which results in England\u2019s schism with the Catholic Church. From 1534 onwards, England\u2019s monarch is styled \u201cSupreme Head on Earth of the Church of England\u201d in place of the Pope (this title is briefly revoked by Queen Mary I, but reinstated by Elizabeth I).<\/p>

This act sets in motion a chain of events that leads to the English Reformation and shapes the distinctive identity of the Church of England. Today's Church is rooted in its ancient heritage with many Protestant influences, often described as being \u201cboth catholic and reformed\u201d.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/henry-VIII-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "Portrait of Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger
Public Domain image" } }, { "startDate":"1535,1", "headline":"Bell Tower Raised", "text":"

In 1535-6, during the reign of Henry VIII,\u00a0 the upper part of the tower is built, the last major addition to St Peter's Church which bring the building up to its full present-day size. This creates a sizeable new belfry, although there is still no clock - this is not added for another 300 years.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/twoer-addition-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1541,1", "headline":"Dean Incent", "text":"

John Incent is born in Berkhamsted c.1480, the son of Katherine and Robert Incent. His parents are important people in the parish and Robert is secretary to Cicely, Duchess of York at Berkhamsted Castle. John Incent rises to be a powerful political figure, and in 1513 is ordained as a priest. He is loyal to King Henry VIII and becomes involved in the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Thomas Cromwell, and shuts down the monastic hospital of St John the Baptist in Berkhamsted in 1523. In 1529 Incent is appointed Chaplain to the King, and in 1540, Dean of St Paul's Cathedral in London. In 1541, Incent establishes a school on the confiscated monastic lands,\u00a0 \"one chauntry perpetual and schools for boys not exceeding 144 to be called Dean Incent's Free School in Berkhamstedde\"<\/em> \u2014 known today as Berkhamsted School. The house of John Incent's birth on Berkhamsted High Street is now called Dean Incent's House<\/em>.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/dean-incent-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "Dean Incent's House, Berkhamsted
" } }, { "startDate":"1609,1", "headline":"Sir Adolphus Carey", "text":"

Sir Adolphus Carey (or Cary) is a Member of Parliament for St. Albans and renowned in Berkhamsted as \u201ca most loving benefactor to the poor of this town\u201d. He lives at Berkhamsted Place, a mansion at the top of the Castle Hill in Berkhamsted which he has leased from his brother, Sir Edward Carey, the Keeper of the Crown Jewels to Queen Elizabeth I. Sir Edward built Berkhamsted Place in 1580 from stones plundered from the Berkhamsted Castle ruins.\u00a0<\/p>

In 1609, Sir Adolphus dies in London from smallpox and is buried on 10th April at St Peter\u2019s Berkhamsted. In the 1920s, local historian R.A. Norris has Carey's funerary helmet restored and put on display in St Peter\u2019s, hanging above the tomb of Henry of Berkhamsted. Sadly it is stolen the 1970s and has never been recovered.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/short-history-berkhamsted-place.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "Berkhamsted Place
" } }, { "startDate":"1640,1", "headline":"Puritan iconoclasm", "text":"

Puritanism is the dominant political theology in England during the Civil War, and parish churches across the land are altered and damaged in a wave of anti-Catholic fervour. \"Popish\" adornments such as statues and paintings are destroyed by Cromwell's henchmen. In St Peter's Berkhamsted, there are accounts of medieval wall paintings of the Eleven Apostles and Saint George and the Dragon on the pillars, and these are whitewashed over, probably by Cromwell's puritans.\u00a0<\/p>

Similar wall paintings may be seen in other churches in the area, including in All Saints Little Kimble, St John the Baptist Little Missenden and St Albans Abbey.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/short-history-little-missenend.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "Medieval wall paintings in St John the Baptist Church, Little Missenden, probably similar to those lost from St Peter's
" } }, { "startDate":"1648,1", "headline":"Civil War", "text":"

England is in the grip of Civil War. Oliver Cromwell fights to bring down King Charles I and establish the supremacy of Parliament over the monarchy. Berkhamsted is a Royalist town, and a local parishioner who lives at Berkhamsted Place, Anne Murray,\u00a0 becomes embroiled in a plot to smuggle the young Duke of York (later King James II) out of the country for his own safety. Anne goes into exile herself to escape local hostilities.\u00a0A 1649 memorial in St Peter\u2019s commemorates Anne's two brothers, James (d.1627) and John Murray (d.1634) who died young. The inscription describes them as \"youths of the most winning disposition who lived and died at Berkhamsted Place\".<\/em><\/p>", "asset": { "media":"", "credit":"", "caption": "" } }, { "startDate":"1648,1", "headline":"Royalist Prisoners", "text":"

The Civil War conflict comes to Berkhamsted in the summer of 1648.\u00a0After the Siege of Colchester, St Peter\u2019s Church is requisitioned by the Parliamentarian commander, Sir Thomas Fairfax, to hold wounded prisoners of war. With the church now full of wounded Royalist soldiers, the churchwardens are forced to take out the windows to increase ventilation. A lot of medieval glass is probably lost at this time.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/short-history-fairfax.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "Roundhead commander-in-chief Sir Thomas Fairfax (1612\u20131671)
" } }, { "startDate":"1650,1", "headline":"Intruder Priests", "text":"

The Civil War ushers in a period of Puritan rule during the 1650s. Priests with Royalist sympathies are ejected from office and \u201cintruder\u201d priests are installed by Parliament in English parish churches. The Rector of St Peter's at this time, Rev John Napier, is ejected in 1650 and replaced with a Parliament-approved clergyman, although his replacement is not recorded on the list of Rectors displayed in the church. Following the Restoration, Napier returns to his post in 1661, where he remains for another 20 years.<\/p>



 <\/p>", "asset": { "media":"", "credit":"", "caption": "" } }, { "startDate":"1656,1", "headline":"Daniel Axtell", "text":"

One of Oliver Cromwell\u2019s foremost henchmen in the Civil War, Daniel Axtell, was born in Berkhamsted and baptised in St Peter\u2019s in 1622. During Cromwell's Protectorate, he appropriates Berkhamsted Place.\u00a0After serving in Cromwell\u2019s forces in Ireland, Axtell returns to Berkhamsted in 1656 to live at Berkhamsted Place.<\/p>

At the Restoration of the Monarchy, Axtell is executed at Tyburn in 1660 for his role in the execution of King Charles I. The Surveyor of Hertfordshire recommends that a new tenant and army officers are needed at Berkhamsted Place \"to govern the people much seduced of late by new doctrine preacht unto them by Axtell and his colleagues.\"<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/short-history-daniel-axtell.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1660,1", "headline":"John Sayer and Samuel Pepys", "text":"

John Sayer is a Berkhamsted parishioner who went into exile with the royals during Cromwell's Protectorate. After the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, he returns to Berkhamsted and, like many Royalists, is rewarded for his loyalty and appointed chief cook to King Charles II. Sayer becomes acquainted with the diarist Samuel Pepys, and is mentioned briefly in an entry in the Diary of Samuel Pepys<\/em> from September 1661, which records a hearty drinking session in Sayer\u2019s wine cellar:<\/p>

\u201cBy my troth, we were very merry, and I drank so much wine that I was not fit for business.\u201d<\/em><\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/sayer_tomb.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "John Sayer's chest tomb in St Peter's
" } }, { "startDate":"1684,1", "headline":"The Sayer Almshouses", "text":"

John Sayer, Royalist and chief cook to King Charles II, dies a wealthy man in 1682. A lavish marble chest tomb in St Peter\u2019s Church records his piety and generosity. In his will, Sayer leaves \u00a31000 for the relief of the poor in the parish, and in 1684 the row of almshouses is built on Berkhamsted High Street to house poor widows.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/short-history-sayer-almshouses.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1700,1", "headline":"Change and Decay", "text":"

Over the years the fabric of the church building invevitably falls into disrepair. A 1628 record describes St Peter\u2019s as \u201ca large and goodly church for the publique service of Almighty God, which by reason of antiquity and former neglect is very much and dangerously decayed.\u201d<\/em>\u00a0<\/p>

By the 18th century, the first serious signs of decay become apparent: in the 1700s, the ceiling of the St John Chantry collapses, narrowly missing the boys and masters of Berkhamsted School. Routine repairs and alterations to the ancient fabric of the church are made, but a full-scale restoration is not yet attempted.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"", "credit":"", "caption": "" } }, { "startDate":"1722,1", "headline":"Patronage of the Duke of Cornwall", "text":"

Since the reign of Richard II, rectors of Great Berkhamsted have been presented to the bishop by the monarch.\u00a0In 1722, there is a change in the duty of patronage when the heir to the throne, Prince George, Duke of Cornwall (the future George II), presents Rev John Cowper as Rector. This reflects Berkhamsted's ancient links with the Duchy of Cornwall, and until the 1860s, all Great Berkhamsted rectors are presented by the Duke of Cornwall.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/short-history-prince-george.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "Prince George, Duke of Cornwall by Gottfried Kneller (1716) (Royal Collection)
Public Domain image" } }, { "startDate":"1731,1", "headline":"William Cowper", "text":"

Poet and hymnodist William Cowper is born at the St Peter's Rectory in 1731, the son of Rev John Cowper who serves as rector of St Peter\u2019s from 1722 to 1756.\u00a0<\/p>

William Cowper becomes one of the most influential writers in Britain. Much of his work centres on his deep faith, and he is especially remembered today for a number of popular Evangelical hymns, including \"Oh! for a closer walk with God\" <\/em>and \"There is a fountain fill\u2019d with blood\"<\/em>. Cowper\u2019s hymns gave the English language the phrase \u201cGod moves in a mysterious way\u201d. His poetry is admired by both Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth.\u00a0Cowper is also active with William Wilberforce in the anti-slavery movement. In the 1960s, he is quoted in speeches by Martin Luther King. Two windows in St Peter\u2019s Church commemorate Cowper\u2019s life and writing.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/cowper-rectory-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "William Cowper's birthplace, the Berkhamsted Rectory
" } }, { "startDate":"1810,1", "headline":"Rev John Crofts", "text":"

Rev John Crofts begins his incumbency as Rector of St Peter\u2019s Church in 1810 and remains in the post until his death in 1851. At this time, the Victorian movement to improve church buildings is growing, supported by the Bishop of Lincoln, John Kaye.\u00a0 During his tenure at Great Berkhamsted, Crofts oversees a number of renovations and additions to the parish: a new clock is installed in the bell tower of St Peter's; a new cemetery is established; a major renovation of the church building is carried out under Jeffry Wyattville; and most controversially, Crofts has the old 17th-century rectory (revered as the birthplace of William Cowper) demolished and builds a new grandiose rectory further up the lane, complete with imposing iron gates across Rectory Lane.\u00a0<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/short-history-crofts-rectory.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "The Victorian rectory built by Rev John Crofts
" } }, { "startDate":"1820,1", "headline":"The Wyattville Restoration", "text":"

In 1820, Jeffry Wyattville (1766\u20131840), architect of Ashridge House, is appointed to carry out a major restoration of the building. His \u201cimprovements\u201d are drastic, and contemporary accounts describe churchwardens \u201ctearing down from the walls the memorials of the past\u201d. 19th-century restorers did not have the same reverence for historic fixtures as we do today. Wyattville also covers the outer walls of the church with stucco (plaster), moves the medieval chest tomb from the nave into the north transept, and removes a musicians\u2019 gallery from the east end.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/wyatville-restoration-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "Jeffry Wyattville by Thomas Lawrence (c.1830, Royal Collection) and the decaying St Peter's Church
" } }, { "startDate":"1834,1", "headline":"Augustus Smith", "text":"

One of Berkhamsted's more colourful characters, Augustus Smith (1804\u20131872), is an important figure in the town and parish.\u00a0He is the eldest son of Nottingham banker James Smith and Mary Isabella Pechell, who live at Ashylns Hall. Like his father, Augustus serves as a churchwarden 1834-47. In 1834, he also acquires the lease on the Isles of Scilly from the Duchy of Cornwall and sets himself up as the self-styled \u201cLord Proprietor of the Isles of Scilly\u201d. His 35-year autocratic rule over the islands earns him the nickname \u201cThe Emperor\u201d.<\/p>

Smith is an influential figure in Cornish politics, and he serves as Member of Parliament for Truro 1857\u20131865. In 1866, he comes into conflict with Lord Brownlow of Ashridge, when the Earl tries to fence off common land near the town. Smith is remembered as the heroic leading figure in the \u201cBattle of Berkhamsted Common\u201d of 1866, when he fights for access rights of local people to the common. Upon his death, Augustus Smith is buried in Cornwall and the Scilly title passes to his nephew, Thomas Dorrien-Smith.<\/p>






 <\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Augustus_John_Smith_1804-1872.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1837,1", "headline":"A Grave Crisis", "text":"

In the early 19th century the improved living standards lead to population growth, and between 1800 and 1850, the population of England doubles. More people inevitably leads to more deaths, and St Peter's churchyard \u2014 like churchyards all over the country \u2014 is beginning to run out of space. The Great Berkhamsted Vestry Committee has its first discussions about seeking establishing a new burial ground.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/st-peters-churchyard-1870.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "St Peter's Churchyard pictured c.1870, after buruals had ceased
" } }, { "startDate":"1837,1", "headline":"The Railway Age", "text":"

The Industrial Revolution brings about change across Britain. The rural town of Berkhamsted is transformed when the London and Birmingham Railway company, led by chief engineer Robert Stephenson, builds a new railway line through Berkhamsted. Despite a public protest meeting held in the King's Arms Hotel, construction goes ahead. An army of navvies brought in from the Midlands, Ireland, and the North invades Berkhamsted, and the genteel townsfolk are shocked by the frequent punch-ups on the High Street. The barbican of Berkhamsted Castle is demolished to make way for the new railway line, and seven young railway workers are killed in construction accidents.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Berkhampstead_railway_station_1838-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "Illustratoin of a steam train chuffing into Berkhampstead railway station (Thomas Roscoe. The London & Birmingham Railway, 1838)
Public Domain image" } }, { "startDate":"1838,1", "headline":"Church clock installed", "text":"

A new clock is installed into the tower of St Peter's to mark the accession to the throne of Queen Victoria. It has been\u00a0built by the clock manufacturer Thwaites & Read of Clerkenwell in London. Church clocks are not a recent invention; in the 1330s the Abbot of St Alban's, Richard of Wallingford, designed a famous astronomical clock for the Abbey there, but parish church clocks did not become widespread until the mid-16th century.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/parish-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1842,1", "headline":"A New Cemetery", "text":"

The problem of graveyard space is solved when the Countess of Bridgewater, Charlotte Catherine Anne, donates an acre of land behind Egerton House (today the Rex Cinema) to St Peter's Church. A new cemetery is established, funded by public subscription and consecrated in 1842 by Rt Rev\u00a0 John Kaye, Bishop of Lincoln. A large foundation stone commemorates generous donations by local worthies, including the Rector, Rev John Crofts, James Smith of Ashlyns and Lord Somerville. Corporate donations are also recorded from the London and Birmingham Railway Company and the Grand Junction Canal Company. The stone also bears the names of churchwardens Augustus Smith and Henry Lane.\u00a0<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/rectory-lane-cemetery-countess-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "Countess of Bridgewater, Charlotte Catherine Anne, donated the land to estbalish Rectory Lane Cemetery in 1842
" } }, { "startDate":"1845,1", "headline":"The Smith-Dorrien Family", "text":"

In 1845, a prominent new name is established in Berkhamsted history. The younger brother of Augustus Smith, Robert Algernon Smith marries Mary Ann Drever, a daughter of the wealthy, high-standing Dorrien Family.\u00a0 Among Mary Ann's ancestors are John Dorrien, a German merchant banker and chairman of the East India Company, and George Dorrien, Governor of the Bank of England 1818\u20131820. Robert changes his surname to Smith-Dorrien by Royal Licence, assuming the prestigious family name of his mother-in-law.<\/p>

The Smith-Dorriens have 15 children, establishing an influential dynasty of Berkhamsted gentry. They live at Haresfoot near Berkhamsted. Robert serves as a churchwarden of St Peter\u2019s 1862-1879, and plays a key role in the Butterfield restoration. Among their offspring are several notable figures. Thomas Algernon Smith-Dorrien-Smith, succeeds his Uncle Augustus as Lord Proprietor of the Isles of Scilly, while his brothers see distinguished military service. General Sir Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien serves in the Second Boer War and World War I, and later becomes Governor of Gibraltar, while two other brothers serve in the Royal Navy: Lieut. Commander Henry Theophilus Smith-Dorrien and Rear Admiral Arthur Hale Smith Dorrien. Horace's wife Olive founds a Hospital Bag Fund in support of wounded soldiers during WWI. The last Lord Proprietor of the Isles of Scilly is Major Arthur Algernon Dorrien-Smith.<\/p>

Although the Smith-Dorriens leave Berkhamsted after WWI, many memorials, adornments and stained-glass windows can be found today all around St Peter's which have been donated by the family, bearing witness to their generosity.<\/p>

 <\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/smith-dorrien-family-1024x655.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1851,1", "headline":"Rev James Hutchinson", "text":"

Rev James Hutchinson is installed as Rector of the Great Berkhamsted Parish, presented by Prince Albert Edward, Duke of Cornwall and eldest son of Queen Victoria. Rev Hutchinson is the last rector of St Peter\u2019s to be presented by a royal patron, before the patronage changes to the Earls of Brownlow. He succeeds Rev John Crofts, the Rector for over 40 years. During is 20-year incumbency (1851-1871), Hutchinson oversees the construction of a new Holy Trinity Church in Potten End, is involved in the commissioning of Edward Buckton Lamb's ornate new Town Hall on Berkhamsted High Street; and heads the committee which appoints William Butterfield to begin a major restoration project on St Peter\u2019s Church.\u00a0Rev. Hutchinson retires in 1871. After his death in 1873, his widow, Sophia Jane Hutchinson, commissions a huge painted mural of the Ascension of Christ in\u00a0the nave of St Peter\u2019s. Rev James Hutchinson is laid to rest in Rectory Lane Cemetery.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/rev-james-hutchinson-mural-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "The Arts and Crafts-style Ascension Mural in St Peter's Church (now lost), commissioned in 1874 by Sophie James Hutchinson in memory of her late husband Rev James Hutchinson
" } }, { "startDate":"1862,1", "headline":"Patronage of the Earls Brownlow", "text":"

In 1862, the local Duchy of Cornwall estates are sold to the Ashridge Estate. Since the 13th century, rectors of Great Berkhamsted had been presented to the bishop by the reigning monarch, and since 1722 by the Duke of Cornwall. With the 1862 change in land ownership, the right of patronage passes to the Earls Brownlow. The last rector of St Peter\u2019s to be presented by a royal patron is Rev James Hutchinson (installed in 1851 with Prince Albert Edward, eldest son of Queen Victoria, as patron).<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/short-history-ashridge.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1870,1", "headline":"Victorian Renovations", "text":"

Fifty years after the restoration work by Jeffry Wyattville, we find St Peter's once more in a dilapidated state. Wyattville's solution for a makeover of this ancient building was to cover the medieval stonework with stucco (plaster), a material that could never stand the test of time. By the 1870s, this stucco was cracked and crumbling, and many interior features were proving unsatisfactory. At some point in the 19th century, part of the south aisle of the church had been partitioned off and a large external door inserted to create a garage for the town's fire engine. The PCC began to make plans to restore the church to its former medieval glory.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/short-history-church-1870.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1870,1", "headline":"William Butterfield", "text":"

In the Victorian era, church restorations are the height of fashion. The PCC, under Rector James Hutchinson, commissions a new renovation programme from renowned Gothic Revival architect William Butterfield. The restoration happens in stages, beginning in 1870 and ending in the early 1880s. Among many alterations, Butterfield raises the roof of the south transept to its original pitch, and removes Wyattville\u2019s crumbling exterior plaster and re-faces the exterior walls with flint. Within the building, he\u00a0re-floors the nave, demolishes an adjoining vestry building, installs new oak benches, replaces the west end gallery, and knocks down interior dividing walls to remove both the fire engine garage and the south porch. Ancient medieval paintings of saints are uncovered beneath whitewash on the pillars, but they are removed, losing some ancient adornments in the church.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/butterfield-letter-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1871,1", "headline":"John Wolstenholme Cobb", "text":"

Rev John Wolstenholme Cobb serves as Rector from 1871 until his death 1883. He is appointed Rector during Butterfield\u2019s restoration work, and further improvements to the church building continue during his incumbency. Cobb is an enthusiastic historian and does much to document the history of the town, Berkhamsted Castle and St Peter's Church. His book, The History and Antiquities of Berkhamsted<\/em> (1855) is still used by historians today.<\/p>

Cobb dies in office in 1883 and is buried with great ceremony in Rectory Lane Cemetery.\u00a0<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/cobb-timeline-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1877,1", "headline":"The Diocese of St Albans", "text":"

In 1837, the borders of the vast Diocese of Lincoln, of which Great Berkhamsted is a part, are redrawn and the southern parts transferred to to other dioceses. Hertfordshire churches such as St Peter\u2019s are brought under the Diocese of Rochester. After 50 years, a new Bishopric of St Albans is created in 1877 with St Albans Abbey as its cathedral church. Since then, Berkhamsted has been part of the Diocese of St Albans, which covers Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and parts of north London.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/st-albans-diocese-map-1877-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1910,1", "headline":"A Victorian Church", "text":"

At the turn of the 20th Century, the interior of St Peter's is richly decorated with fittings provided by wealthy local donors such as the Smith-Dorrien Family. In this captivating photograph taken c.1909, we see the arch at the east end of the nave. The pulpit is yet to be decorated with Harry Hems's carved angels (they are added soon after in memory of Mary Ann smith-Dorrien); the medieval chancel screen has been brought forward to the west tower arch and adorned with a large wooden cross; above the arch is the huge wall painting in memory of Rector James Hutchinson; and through the screen we can see through to the chancel right back to the east end with the gilded Arts & Crafts High Altar. Within 50 years, this scene is to change considerably.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/4b.StP_.E.end_.pre1910-775x1024.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1918,1", "headline":"World War I", "text":"

The \"Great War\" of 1914-1918 affects Berkhamsted in many ways. An officers' training camp is set up near Berkhamsted Castle by the Inns of Court Regiment, and thousands of young men pass through the town on their way to war, many never to return. Around 200 men and boys from the town itself are killed in action and are interred in the large battlefield Cemeteries of Belgium and France. Some return home to Berkhamsted and die later as a consequence of their wounds; others fall victim to the 1918 Flu Pandemic. A Red Cross military hospital is set up on Kings Road, with an makeshift flu ward in the St Peter's Courthouse.\u00a0<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/800th-hero-wwi-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1920,1", "headline":"A New War Memorial", "text":"

After the armistice, a war memorial is erected in 1920 on the corner of the High Street and Water Lane (outside the Court Cinema) as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by the members of the local community. In 1952, the memorial is moved to it present location outside St Peter's. Inside the church, a marble monument is also inscribed with the names of the fallen.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/town-war-memorial-decked-poppies-1024x657.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1922,1", "headline":"700th Anniversary", "text":"

The 700th anniversary of the consecration of St Peter\u2019s Church is commemorated with a historical pageant in the grounds of Berkhamsted Castle.\u00a0Parishioners dress up in historical costumes and put on a play, telling the story of Berkhamsted. A short choral piece is specially composed for the event by Gilbert Hudson and Stanley Wilson, entitled A Song of Berkhamsted<\/em>. Performances run Wednesday 5 to Saturday 8 July 1922. It rains nearly every day.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/800th-hero-1922-pageant-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1945,1", "headline":"World War II", "text":"

Another World War rages across the globe, and between 1939 and 1945, many from Berkhamsted go to serve and many lose their lives. Berkhamsted becomes the temporary home of the exiled French General. Charles de Gaulle.<\/p>

After the war, the names of the fallen of another global conflict are added to the Berkhamsted War Memorial. St Peter's Cemetery on Rectory Lane is now dotted with 27 sombre white headstones of the Imperial Wars Graves Commission (later the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) of two World Wars. Many others buried here do not receive a headstone.<\/p>

 <\/p>", "asset": { "media":"", "credit":"", "caption": "" } }, { "startDate":"1956,1", "headline":"A Rotten Roof", "text":"

In the early 1950s, the Rector, the Revd Robert Brown leads a fundraising campaign to raise \u00a33,000 (approximately \u00a372,000 in today\u2019s money) to carry out restoration work on the decaying church building, as well as a re-ordering of the east end of the church. In 1958, as work begins on replacing the lead of the nave roof with copper, a major problem is uncovered: the medieval roof is riddled with dry rot and must be entirely replaced at an extra cost of \u00a31,500.\u00a0The fundraising continues, and the work of restoration and the re-ordering of the east end are completed by the autumn of 1960.\u00a0<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/roof-supplement-1958-1024x747.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1960,1", "headline":"Re-ordering", "text":"

After fundraising, the east end of St Peter's is substantially re-ordered to fit the needs of modern worship.\u00a0 The medieval chancel screen is moved back from the west tower arch to the east arch, its openings closed up, the figures of saints and angels are moved up and the whole screen is painted in bold colours and gold leaf. It becomes the reredos of a new Sanctuary area underneath the crossing beneath the tower, with a white marble paved floor. The old chancel area, now screened off, becomes a vestry. The huge mural over the tower arch is badly deteriorated, and is painted over. The choir stalls are moved from the old chancel to the St John\u2019s Chantry, along with the organ. The total cost of the restoration and re-ordering is about \u00a324,000 (\u00a3480,000 in today\u2019s money). On 5th November 1960, the new high altar is consecrated by the Bishop of St Albans.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/altar-consecration-1960.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"1979,1", "headline":"Songs of Praise", "text":"

On 19 February 1979 an episode of the BBC television programme Songs of Praise<\/em> is broadcast from St Peter's Berkhamsted. Hymns include Parry's Jerusalem<\/em> and William Cowper's O! For a closer walk with God<\/em>.<\/p>

Following the broadcast,\u00a0\"Beorcham\" (aka Percy Birtchnell) writes in the Berkhamsted Review<\/em> , \"almost everyone agreed that the singing was excellent\" but apparently the BBC chose some \"rather bleak views of the Castle\"!<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/songs-of-praise-1024x747.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "BBC TV cameras come to St Peter's for Songs of Praise
" } }, { "startDate":"1986,1", "headline":"A New Organ", "text":"

A new organ for St Peter's Church is commissioned from organ builder Peter Collins of Redbourne, Hertfordshire. It replaces the instrument by J.W. Walker which was located in the north aisle. The new two-manual organ is installed in the St John Chantry by the choir stalls in 1986. It features a brightly coloured casing in English oak and sycamore, and incorporates some of the original Walker pipework.<\/p>

Various alterations are carried out over the years; after only 20 years the mechanics fail and a fundraising programme is launched to carry out a vital rebuild between 2007 and 2011.\u00a0In 2014, tinkling bell mechanism called a Zimbelstern<\/em> is added, an unusual feature for an English instrument.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/The-Organ.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "
" } }, { "startDate":"950,1", "headline":"St Mary’s Northchurch", "text":"

In Anglo-Saxon times, St Mary's Parish Church is built on Akeman Street, the old Roman road from London to Chester. After the Normans conquer England, the parish of Berchamstede <\/em>is listed in the Domesday Book. In 1222, a new parish church dedicated to St Peter is established a mile further south, closer to Berkhamsted Castle. Berkhamsted St Mary comes to be known as \"the North Church\" and today this is the separate parish of Northchurch<\/em>. In the 21st century, St Mary's is still an active church, and one of the oldest churches in Hertfordshire.<\/p>", "asset": { "media":"https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/800th-hero-map-1659-1024x576.jpg", "credit":"", "caption": "1659 map of Hertfordshire by Joan Blaeu
" } }, { "startDate":"2024,1", "headline":"The Future", "text":"

958 years have passed since the foundation of St Peter's Church. This is a living, worshipping Chrsitian community and together we look forward in faith to our shared future.

", "asset": { "media":"/wp-content/uploads/hero//spring-sun-hero.jpg", "credit":"", "caption":"" } } ] } }