Hatchments in Britain: 6

Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire & Middlesex

A. W. Longden

Editor: Peter Summers

Philimore, 1985

ISBN 0 85033 536 1


Diamond-shaped funeral hatchments came into vogue in the early 17th century, and after the funeral they were hung in the church. This book records the surviving hatchments in Hertfordshire churches.


Introduction from Hertfordshire Section

Of the 93 hatchments recorded most are in good condition; several churches have had their hatchments cleaned, repaired and rehung, which is a very encouraging sign. A few have disappeared during the past few years usually after the redecoration of the church, when it was probably thought that they looked too damaged to repair. At Hemel Hempstead one behind the organ to a Lord Polwarth had an electricity cable taken through the centre of it in order to supply the organ!

Several of the old writers in the county mention hatch­ ments where these no longer exist or are diminished. Cass in his book refers to 20 in East Bamet church of which only 10 remain today. A 19th-century engraving of St Albans Abbey shows several in the nave but not one has survived. The earliest hatchment appears to be for Edward Denny at Bishop's Stortford, 1720, and the latest for Dr. Perigal dated 1931 in Lyonsdown church in New Bamet.

There are several armorial boards in the county of various types, the most curious being in St Albans Abbey to the Maynard family; this is a board with three shields for families of Rowlatt, Seale and Maynard with their quarterings, dated 1547, 1613 and 1619, and is placed over the Maynard tomb.

It is surprising to find only one hatchment to the county's greatest family, the Cecils of Hatfield House, in Old Hatfield church. This one is for the Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury, known in court circles as 'Old Sarum'. She was Master of the Hatfield Hunt from 1793 until 1848, when she became too frail and blind to ride and.gave up at the age of 77.

At Knebworth there is a hatchment to Lord Lytton, the famous Victorian novelist. Among the many memorials to the army and navy it is strange to find five to Admirals in close proximity, two at Broxboume, one at East Bamet, one at Bengeo and one at Bushey.


Parishes with Hatchments


Great Amwell


Chipping Barnet

East Barnet

New Barnet



Bishop's Stortford






Hemel Hempstead




Kings Walden



Little Munden




St Albans


Stanstead Abbots

Stanstead St Margaret




Sample Entry

Note the family names Garrard, Drake, Tothill, Maonague, Monthermer, Marshall, Daworth, Garneys, Barne & Asthorpe.

Please note that this is the only Hertfordshire hatchment illustrated - and to fully appreciate the descriptions you need to understand the language of Heraldry.

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