St Peter's Church, Lilley


Post Card, St Peter's Church, Lilley, Herts
Lilley Church, Posted 1906
Photographed and Published by W. H. Cox, 90 Castle Street, Luton


War Memorial


Lilley Rectory

The Church of St Peter is an ancient edifice, in a very delapidated state, with small wooden spire and three bells; it has a nave, chancel and a porch on the south side. The register dates from 1711. The living is a rectory, annual value 500, with residence and 36 acres of glebe land, in the gift off St John's College, Cambridge, and held by the Rev. Miles Bland, D.D., of Ramsgate, formerly fellow of that college; the Rev. P. H. Jennings, M.A., of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, is Curate.

Post Office Directory for Hertfordshire, 1866


The History

In 1870 tile old Norman church on this site had been allowed to get into such a state of disrepair that the Parish were advised not to restore it but to rebuild. The last service was held on Easter Sunday that year.

The Revd. Arthur Coles Haviland had become the Rector of Lilley in 1868 and upon his arrival he had found both the church itself and religious life in the Parish in a parlous state. Fortunately the living at that time provided a good income from Tithe rent (sadly not so now!) and Arthur Haviland was a man of enthusiasm, drive and some wealth. He took the bold decision to rebuild the church at the cost of 3,600 which he raised by public subscription and a generous donation from the then squire, George Sowerby.

Thomas Jekyll was appointed Architect. He retained some features from the old church, and the new Sf. Peter's church was duly consecrated on St. Peter's Day, June 29 1871. At that time Lilley was in the Diocese of Rochester until it came under the newly formed See of St Albans in 1898.

The Church

The design is simple in Early Decorated style consisting of Tower, Nave, Chancel and Vestry and to the south of the Chancel the Sowerby Chapel which forms the roof of a family vault, a remnant of the old church no longer in use. The whole church is faced with local undressed flint stones. One enters the church through the south door via an entrance porch containing some memorials from the old church including the 1620 monument to the Dowcra family, Elizabethan owners of Lilley.

From Leaflet available in the church

Photographs of St Peter's Church by Hugh J Griffiths

The church is a Grade II listed building.

Chauncy's 1700 transcription of the Dowcra Monunent is recorded on the Docwra One Name Study

St Peter's Church, Lilley, Herts


St Peter's Church, Lilley, Herts

St Peter's Church, Lilley, in 2011

[click on pictures for larger image]

East Stained Glass Window, St Peter's Church, Lilley, Herts

East Window


List of Rectors, St Peter's Church, Lilley, Herts

List of Rectors


The Sowerby Chapel, St Peter's Church, Lilley, Herts

Sowerby Chapel

In the Churchyard

As you walk from the lych gate towards the church towards the church you see a wooden grave board (undoubtedly a replacement) for James Allingham who died in 1838.

To the south of the tower there are an number of later 17th/early 18th century graves, including one to Hannah Watford, wife of James Watford, who died in 1785 and was the earliest date I succeeded in reading. Close to it was the base of an obelisk, with coat of arms, recording the grave of George Draper (listed building) and an 18th century tomb chest, with an illegible inscription (listed building).

  James Allingham, grave board, St Peter's Church, Lilley, Herts
18th century tomb stone of Hannah Watford, churchyard, St Peter's Church, Lilley, Herts   18th century grave stones, St Peter's Church, Lilley, Herts   George Draper, 18th century obelisk, churchyard, St Peter's Church, Lilley, Herts

In the churchyard, south of the tower, is a large obelisk, inclosed with an iron railing, to

George Draper, steward of this and other manors in the Counties of Hertford, Bedford, Essex, Middlesex, Leicester, and Cambridge, who died 27th August, 1745, in the 74th year of his age.

An altar tomb at the east end of the chancel to- [presumably not the one in the above picture]

Thomas Stokes, Gent., who died 24th October, 1771, aged 60.

The other memorials, many of which are nearly concealed under a luxurious growth of nettles and briars, are chiefly to the families of Cain, Barnwell, Bendley, Irons, and Clark.

Cussans, History of Hertfordshire, 1874

November 2011   Page Created