Hertfordshire Genealogy

Guide to Old Hertfordshire


St Leonards, Flamstead





An early Nineteenth Century print of Flamstead Church by Longmate

I have not yet been able to trace the publication in which this originally appeared but the engraver was probably Barak Longmate (1768-1836) who illustrated some topological works. (Obituary Gentlemans Magazine, 1835)

On the way from Redbourn to Market Street, we pass Flamstead. This Village is on a hill near the valley through which the River Ver runs, and the old Roman road called Watling Street. The Church is an interesting building, dedicated to St. Leonard, with a large square tower and six bells. The living is a Vicarage, in the gift of University College, Oxford, of the value of 180 per annum.

Weever gives an account of three very ancient tombs in this Church, only one of which remains; it is situated between the nave and north aisle, and is an altar-tomb with the recumbent figures of a male and female, and two dogs at their feet; it is much mutilated. There are six arches on each side dividing the nave from the aisles, resting on octagonal pillars with ornamental capitals, and an elaborately-carved old oak screen separates the nave from the chancel. On each side of the nave are five oblong panels on the wall, containing texts from Scripture, which appear to be of more modern date than the other parts, as does also an ornamental reredos in the chancel. The pews are ancient and irregular, and the whole Church requires renovation. At the end of the south aisle is a very elaborate monument of varied marbles to Thomas Saunders, Esq., in the middle of which are five small alabaster kneeling figures of children, and underneath a large female figure, which is said to represent his daughter, who married into the Sebright family, and conveyed the estate to them by that marriage. There are other memorials to members of the Saunders and Sebright families, which latter have held the Manor for many years, and a handsome memorial with a long inscription to Richard Pearce, Esq., who died 1800, aged 79. In the floor are several slabs which have contained brasses, one of which, in the chancel, is probably the one recorded by J Salmon, who says it was to the memory of Johannes Oudeby, Rector of this Church, who died May, 1414. On the wall at the south end of the communion table is a monument with a long inscription to the memory of Sir Bartholomew Fouke, who was Master of the Household to Queen Elizabeth and King James 1., and died July 19th, 1604, aged 60; above is the effigy of a kneeling figure at a desk. At the opposite end of the communion table is a handsome mural monument to Sir Edward Sebright, who died in 1709, aged 38, and Dame Sebright, his wife. There are other interesting memorials scattered about the old Church which also contains two piscinae and some carved stalls, an old octagon font partly restored, and a very ancient porch.

In the Parish Register, under the year 1578, is an entry of the burial of a child and its father, "who both died in ye porche." It is thought by a writer that this refers to a custom which once existed, by which every parishioner had a right to make the Church porch his temporary residence, until he could find lodging elsewhere.

Flamstead has an excellent Free School, endowed by the late Sir John S. Sebright, with 57 per annum; there are other Charities to the amount of 90 per annum, and twenty Alms­houses for poor widows, founded in 1669 by Thomas Saunders, Esq., of Beechwood. The Wesleyans and Baptists have convenient Chapels. Flamstead is reported to have been of sufficient importance to have once had a weekly Market; there is a Fair held annually on Easter Tuesday. The population of the Parish is 2005, and the number of acres 5929.

Guide to Hertfordshire 1880


See Flamstead - its church and history

and 1902 Report of St Leonards

The web site Painted Churches includes a wall painting from this church.

St Leonard's Church, Flamstead

Published by E. Mott, Markyate

There is a lengthy description of the history of the church in Flamstead - The Listed Buildings

St Leonard, Flamstead

Chalk and flint are the two main building materials found in Hertfordshire and as a consequence the churches tend to vary in style and construction. However, one peculiarity exhibited by many is a spirelet known as the 'Hertfordshire Spike', a needle-thin spike on top of the tower, usually shingled and then encased in lead. Flamstead's is a typical example. Large parts of St Leonard's date from the fourteen century, but the nave is Early English and displays on the capitals the stiff leaf carving that is common to this period. One of the best medieval wall paintings in Hertfordshire is preserved in the church, showing St Christopher, Christ in Glory and details of the Last Supper. Also discovered this century under layers of plaster was one of the original consecration crosses, which denotes the spot anointed with holy oil during the church's dedication.

English County Churches, by Derry Brabbs
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1985


Some modern photographs of St Leonard's, Flamstead
















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September 2012   Page created