A Comparison of Early Printed Sources


The Old Church at Thundridge

So your ancestors were baptised, married, and buried in a Hertfordshire parish church - but what did the church look like at the time. If it is still standing there is almost certainly a 20th century church guide which tells you something about the history of the building - but if it had been rebuilt (or demolished) it can be hard to find out about it.

In the tiny parish of Thundridge there is a church tower, adjacent to the site of the old manor house, and this page looks at old printed sources to see what they say about the old church building, which was demolished in 1853.

Sarah Lynne is researching the old church and has made some useful suggestions as to the material included on this page.

There is a You Tube video showing the old tower and churchyard in detail.


The Historical Antiques of Hertfordshire


This is the earliest detailed history of the county and as it was reprinted in 1826 and 1975 copies are available in many libraries. It is mainly concerned with the manors and the people who owned it - and virtually all the engravings are of the grand houses belonging to people who might have wanted to acquire copies of his book for their libraries!

In the case of Thundridge there is a one sentence description of the church, and undated list of vicars. The memorial inscriptions relate to family which lived in Thundridge Bury, the manor house immediately adjacent to the church. There are no relevant engravings.

THE Rectory is impropriated to the perpetual Use of the Masters and Fellows of Trinity Colledge in Cambridgc; and this Vicaridge Anno 26 H.VIII. was rated in the King's Books at the yearly Value of 6l [£6]. of which the Masters and Fellows aforesaid are the Patrons.



NOTE: Urwick's Nonconformity in Hertfordshire provides a different and more authoritive list:

1576 William Dixey   1660 Anastasius Lightfoot
1636 Henry Yates   1671 John Figgett
1650 Ezekiel Edger   1686 Francis Grange
Mr. Gates. Mr Grainger.  
Mr. Redyear. Mr. Samuel Lingwood.  
Mr. Anastatius Lightfoot. Mr Coxhead.  

This Church is dedicated to the Honour of the Virgin Mary, from whom it is called Little St. Maries, and is situated in the bottom of the Hill, near tile Mannor-house in the Deanery of Braughing, in the Diocess of London:  The Chancel and Body of the Church are tyled, and at the West End of the Church is a square Tower, wherein are four small Bells, and a fair Shaft or Spire cover'd with Lead is erected upon the Tower.

Within this Church lye several Marble Stones, which have these following Inscriptions.

Here lieth the Body of Roger Pettyward, Citizen and Salter of London, who departed this Life the 18th of May, Anno Dom. 1639, after he had lived 71 Years: Married to his only Wife about 24 Years, by whom he had Issue John Pettyward of London, Salter, and Martha the Wife of Captain Edward Gardiner, Esq. the sole remains of their numerous issue.

Here lieth the Body of Mrs. Martha Pettyward, sole Wife to the said Mr. Roger Pettyward, who departed this Life the 26th of January, 1639. after she had lived 62 Years. In their Lives they were loving and Faithful, at their Separation by Death, Sad and Mournful; yet ever comforted in the assured Hope of a joyful Resurrection to eternal Life by Jesus Christ.

Here lieth the Body of Mrs. Martha Gardiner, Widow, late Wife of Edward Gardiner Esq. deceased, and Daughter to Roger and Martha Pettyward deceased, who died the 11th of May, 1681. Ęlat. suę 69.

Here lieth the Body of Roger Gardiner, elder Son of Edward Gardiner, Esq. and Martha his Wife, who departed this Life the 13th of April, 1658. Aged 21 Years and 9 Months.

Roger lies here before his Hour,
Thus doth the Gardiner lose his Flower.

Here lieth the Body of Edward Gardiner, Esq. who deceased the second of April, 1650, being Aged 76 Years and 6 Months, leaving behind him one Son and one Daughter.

Here lieth the Body of Elizabeth Gardiner, the Wife of Edward Gardiner, Esq. deceased, being buried the 17th of April, 1648. and Aged 67.

Here lieth the Body of Edward Gardiner, Esq. who died the 4th of May, 1664, Aged 54 Years and 4 Months, leaving two Sons surviving, John and Benjamin.


The History of Hertfordshire


This covers similar ground to Chauncy's book, but less detail, and is hard to find.  Any significant facts are likely to have been picked up in later histories. If you are visiting a library which has a copy it is worth looking to see what it says.

In the case of Thundridge is includes no descriptive information on the construction of the church - and it lists the same memorials as Chauncy.

This Church, dedicated to St Mary and All-Saints, is in the Deanry of Braughing, and Archdeaconry of Middlesex. It stands below the two large barrows, which I suppose Danish, South of the Rib, where 'tis called Haven End.

Trinity College in Cambridge are Patrons, as of Ware, by Grant of Henry VIII. The present Vicar Mr. --- Coxhead.

The Church or Chapel antiently belonged to the Priory of Ware, from whence it was supplied. A Complaint was made to Pope Gregory IX by the Inhabitants, That the Pope refused to furnish them with a Vicar, being obliged to it. The Pope sent a Commission in 1229 to Niger Bishop of London, and others, to hear and determine the Matter. They appointed that a Resident Chaplain should be sent hither by the Prior, to perform the full Service of the Place; and that the Inhabitants should swear to furnish a handsome House, four Acres of Arable, a Penny every Sunday, and five Shillings and Two-pence yearly to the Prior.

This Chapel (as the Church of Ware) was given to the Monastery of St. Ebrulf in Normandy by Hugh de Grentemaisnil; and taken away again amongst: the Priories alien by Edward III. when he had Wars with France: It was afterwards taken away by Henry V. and settled upon his Priory of Shene; and the Vicar had a yearly Stipend from the Priory of Shene of 53 s. 4 d. This upon the Dissolution was slopped, but restored by the Court of Augmentation to the Vicar and his Successors, with the Arrears.

Salmon then lists the monuments, truncating the first, and omitting the verse.


A Topographical Map of Hertfordshire


This survey was printed at 1.95 inches to the mile, and has been reprinted several times. It shows the larger houses and their parks at a scale where the outline plan can be seen, This can be useful in interpreting written descriptions. A problem is that churches are represented symbolically - but their position is probably reasonably accurate.

The map shows the church symbolically in a large churchyard to the east or southeast of Thundridge Bury.


A View of Thundridge


Towards the end of the 18th century, into the 19th century, prints were produced of a variety of views, sometimes to be sold individually, and sometimes to be used to illustrate books. It is worth checking online indexes of organisations such as the British Library and HALS.

This aquatint, produced by Francis Jukes (1745-1812), was part of the Kings Library, and is now in the British Library. Many of Francis Jukes' prints were prepared to appear in books, and the origins of this print is not know,

If you know what book (if any) this came from please tell me.


The Beauties of England & Wales: Hertfordshire

 1807 onwards

This was published in various editions over several years, and the Hertfordshire section is often seen in a volume with other counties, or rebound on its own. It contains extensive information on St Albans and accounts of the more important towns and villages in the county. Different editions appear to include a different selection of engravings.

The Hertfordshire section does not mention Thundridge - undoubtedly because the parish was too small to be considered - but my grangerised copy includes the following engraving of Thunderidge Bury and the Church from the Gentleman's Magazine.


Extract from 1811

This was published between 1731-1922 and is important because extracts relating to Hertfordshire have been reprinted. This was first done in George Edward Gomme's The Gentleman's Magazine Library, Volume V, Hampshire to Huntingdonshire, which selectively reprints the more important material from the magazine, but which does not include the engravings. Arthur Jones' Hertfordshire 1731-1800 as recorded in the Gentleman's Magazine provides far more comprehensive cover, including the birth, marriage, death and bankruptcy notices.

Gomme's selection included a description of Thundridge Bury [1811, Part 1., p. 609.] which mentions the church, which can also be seen in the engraving (not in Gomme). There is a further description of the wall paintings in the Bury [1811, Part 2., p. 305.] which does not mention the church.

I send you a south-eastern view of Thundtidge Bury, near Ware, Herts, late the seat of J. Hollingsworth, Esq. (see Plate I.). This capacious and venerable mansion (originally named Tonbridge Bury) is situated about a mile from Wade's Mill, near Ware, and was built about the reign of Henry VII., though the outside of the building has from time to time been modernized, and only a small part, on the north side, retains its original form. The rooms are large. On the ground-floor are two parlours 36 feet by 18, and a hall 40 feet square, embellished with an elegant mantelpiece, containing much antique ornament, with the arms, helmet, and crest of the Gardiners, long possessors of this estate, one of whom lately sold it by auction to R. Giles, Esq., of Young's Bury, near this place, who has sold the mansion in lots to pull down. On removing the wainscot some very good paintings were discovered, executed on the plaster-walls, of the achievements of Hercules, one of which has been preserved. In another part of the house was discovered a painting, not very finely executed, but remarkably fresh in its colours; the subject, Hunting a Wild Bull. Mr. Hollingsworth resided here about twenty-eight years, and made many elegant improvements, particularly in the plantations and grounds, which are well stocked, principally with stately firs of various sorts. These, together with a moat that partly surrounds the house, and the church spire peeping above the trees, produce a pleasing and picturesque effect. It is much to be regretted that this venerable mansion, with every requisite for the maintenance of old English hospitality, should be destroyed ere Time had marked it with his desolating hand.

 Yours, etc., P.


The History and Antiquities of the County of Hertford


This can be considered as a significant update on Chauncy, with more family trees - and more (and later) memorial inscriptions of the more important locals. It also includes a number of family trees.

It includes three pages recording the memorials of the Thundridge Bury families - in more detail and for a later period than Chauncy. It only includes a brief description of the church.

THIS Church, which is dedicated to St. Mary and All Saints, stands half a mile to the East of Wadesmill, which lies upon the turnpike road leading from London through Ware to Buntingford. It consists of a Nave and Chancel, which were separated from each other by a Saxon arch, having at its West end a square embattled Tower, surmounted by a tall spire. The Church has been lately repaired, and the arch so much enlarged as to have lost its character.

Copy of pages of Thundridge Menorials
Clerke, Gardiner, Kilpin, Pettiward, Ramsey, Silvester, Walley   Collier, Crawley, Gardinier, Green,  Hollingsworth, Kilpin, Welles   Bainbrugge, Cooper, Gardinier

A Topographical Directory of England


Early trade directories only include the larger towns in Hertfordshire - so do not mention Thundridge. However this national topographical directory does include a description of the Thundridge Church building which is comparable with that in the specialist Hertfordshire histories.

THUNDRIDGE ... The church, dedicated to St Mary and All Saints has an embattled tower with a lofty spire: it had formerly a Norman arch between the nave and the chancel, which having been enlarged in recent repairing the edifice, its original character has been destroyed.

Post Office Directory - Hertfordshire


The Post Offices (later Kelly's) Directories around 1900 contained extensive descriptions of the towns and villages in Hertfordshire  - but the descriptions in the earliest ones often only briefly mention the church, as here :-

... The church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, has lately been repaired, and the living is annexed to the vicarage of Ware. ...

Post Office Directory - Hertfordshire


This mentions the new church - and fails to mention the old one.

... The church of St. Mary, situated at Wade's Mill, on a lofty and commanding eminence, was erected in 1853, at the sole expense of Robert Hanbury, Esq., M.P.: it is a neat stone edifice, with nave, porch, aisle, chancel, and square tower containing 4 bells.  The living ...


History of Hertfordshire, 1870

This is another major history, which is reasonably accessible in that it has been reprinted. It contains more information than the earlier histories in recording the churchyard memorials of the less important. It includes a useful description of the old church a few years after its demolition.

The old church of Thundridge, situated in the valley, near the river Rib, about half a mile from the North Road, was demolished - with the exception of the tower - in 1853, and a great part of the material was used in the restoration of Sacomb Church. It was one of the oldest churches in this part of the county, and the low, semi-circular arch which communicated with the nave, is enriched with a magnificent example of Norman moulding, which indicates the period of its building to have been about the year 1100. Not a vestige of the church itself now remains; it is impossible even to trace its foundations, as the entire churchyard, and the site of the building itself, is covered with a rank and luxuriant growth of weeds and briars.

See How silent now the desolated spot

Is this the place where numerous footsteps trod,
Where living votaries fill'd the house of God?
Where the full chorus of the sounding choir
Bade one loud strain of prayer and praise aspire?
How silent now the desolated spot,
Its paths untrodden and its use forgot!

One the north side of the tower is a slab to John Gardiner, of Thundridge-Bury, Esq., who died 23rd November, 1760. in the 43rd year of his age; and Dorothy, his wife, daughter of John Gilbert Cooper, of Locko, Co. Derby, Esq., who died 16 January, 1793, aged 70. ... There are other memorials in the churchyard, but they are for the most part so covered with moss as to be illegible.

On the demolition of this church, another building was erected and endowed at the cost of Robert Hanbury, Esquire, on the hill overlooking the valley of the Ash. It consists of a tower, containing four bells, nave, aisle, and chancel, in early English style of architecture, and is built of squared blocks of stone. ...


Church Goods in Hertfordshire, 1873

This book lists the property owned by the church in 1552 - and is mainly concerned with removable items - but there can indicate some feature of the church. In this case the inventory includes.

4 bells in the steeple

A sanctus bell



Guide to Hertfordshire


This often overlooked book provides a friendly tour round the county, visiting and describing each town and village in turn - often including information which the big histories ignore. It includes a brief mention of the old church, including a  poignant epitaph on a stone in the old churchyard, rather than tyhe quotes from memorials of the great and good.

The Church of Thundridge occupies a most commanding position on the opposite side of the road, near Wadesmill; it was erected at the sole charge of Mr. Hanbury, in the year 1858, at a cost of £9,000, and is dedicated to St. Mary and All Saints. The old Village Church, which it superseded, is in a secluded situation, about half-a-mile distant, and was most inconveniently placed for the wants of the parishioners. The old burial ground still remains, and in it is a curious epitaph on Roger Gardiner and his wife, who died 1658, ret. 21 :-

Roger lies here before his hour,
Thus doth the Gardiner lose his flower.

There are several old tombs, and the mausoleum of a family formerly residents. The tower of the old Church forms a pleasing object in the valley near the river Rib.


Nonconformity in Hertfordshire


This book provides a detailed and well-researched account of the history of Christianity in each parish and is not particularly interested in the buildings - but can provide useful information. In the case of Thundridge it questions Chauncy's list of ministers - see NOTE.


The Church Bells of Hertfordshire


This book provides details of all the church bells of Hertfordshire, and lists details of the bells in Thundridge Tower (until 1871) and those moved to Wadesmill. There is a later book. See also Dodds' 1992 book The Church Bells of Hertfordshire.

In the year 1853, the ancient church, in which these four bells hung when the Edwardian Inventory was made, being at an inconvenient distance from the village, was, with the exception of the tower, taken down. The four bells then here were removed to a new church at Wadesmill, and the above described bell was placed in the tower for use at funerals, the churchyard here being used for interments until about the year 1871,


Tourist's Guide to Hertfordshire


This pocket guide is less obsessed with recording the memorials of the great and good and contains many useful interesting facts not mentioned in the massive earlier works. It only briefly mentions that there is a new church at Thundridge  "erected 1858" [sic].

There are other pocket guides to the county, the earliest I have seen being Cooke's Topographical and Statistical Description of the County of Hertfordshire of about 1807 which follows the main turnpike roads through the county, and which misses out Thundridge. By the end of the 19th century such guides were becoming common - aimed at cyclists and at walkers who visited Hertfordshire from London by train - see Victorian Pocket Guides to Hertfordshire. Tomkins' Hertfordshire of 1903 (and later editions) is a pocket gazetteer  which contains useful brief descriptions of towns, villages and hamlets - and second hand copies are often available. However by this date Kelly's Directories usually include more extensive descriptions of the churches.


Picturesque Hertfordshire


This book tours Hertfordshire with useful descriptions and excellent line drawings. It is included in this list because it is a valuable source, but does not include all parishes - and does not mention Thundridge.

During the 20th century there were a number of illustrated guides which cover the county which will not be mentioned here, with the exception of the very useful book by Alderman.

Royal Commission on Historical Monuments

Inventory of Historical Monuments - Hertfordshire


This book lists architecturally important buildings in each parish, often in some detail - almost always including ancient churches. Buildings covered in this book (where they still exist) are now almost certainly listed buildings (See Images of England) and included in Pevsner's Hertfordshire.

The Old Church, and the remains of Thundridge Bury are listed, but the 1853 church is not.

(1). THE OLD PARISH CHURCH: only the Tower remains; it stands in an isolated position near the river Rib, about ½ mile E. of Wades­ mill. The walls are of flint rubble coated with cement; the dressings are of stone. It was built in the 15th century, and the rest of the church was pulled down in 1853.

Architectural Description-The Tower is of three stages, with angle buttresses on the W. side, and a straight parapet. The tower arch is much defaced, and is now built up; a 12th-century doorway, also much defaced, has been inserted, and above it a 14th-century window, well preserved, both evidently from the original church. The doorway has a round arch, with cheveron and other mouldings; the window is of two trefoiled lights with tracery under a square head. On the S. wall is a stone with a quatrefoil piercing and in the centre a rose; in the W. wall is, a doorway, with a window above it of the 15th century. The 15th-century bell-chamber windows are each of two lights, trefoiled, with a quatrefoil in tIie head.

Fittings-Bells: four (now in the modern parish church); 1st, medireval, probably by John Danyell, inscribed, 'Johannes est nomen ejus',. 2nd, 1623; 3rd, 1631; 4th, by John Dier, 1580.

Condition - Fairly good, but requires attention. The upper stages are held together by iron bolts and glands; much of the coping of the parapet has broken away. Two low buttresses were built on the E. side after the destruction of the church.

Victoria County History, 1912

This is a very important reference history which is widely availble in specialist libraries - and most of the town and village descriptions     are available online. It includes a significant description of the old church tower

The church of ST. MARY at Wadesmill consists of chancel 26t. 9 in. by 29 ft. 9 in., north vestry, nave 56 ft. 9 in. by 25 ft., and west tower; all internal dimensions. The church was built in 1853 of squared rubble with stone dressings, to take the place of the old church, of which only the tower remains.

The old church was pulled down in 1853 on the erection of the church at Wadesmill. There was a chapel here in the time of Hugh de Grentmesnil, who was tenant in 1086. The dedication is given variously as ALL SAINTS and ST. MARY. Chauncy says it was called Little St. Mary's. The tower is built of flint rubble with stone dressings, and is of three stages, with angle buttresses on the west; it was erected in the 15th century. The tower arch is blocked and the stonework much defaced. Under the arch has been inserted a 12th-century doorway with semicircular arch, with cheveron and billet mouldings, all much decayed; above the doorway a 14th-century window has been inserted. It has two trefoiled lights with tracery under a square head; it is in good condition. Both doorway and window appear to have come from the old church. On the south wall, in the first stage, is a square panel inclosing a quatrefoil piercing with a rose in the centre; in the west wall is a doorway with a four-centred arch under a square head, with tracery in the spandrels, and above it is a window of three cinquefoiled lights under a four­centred arch. The second stage has narrow single lights on the north, south and west faces and a sundial on the south. Each face of the belfry stage has a window of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoiled opening in the head, under a four-centred arch. The tower has been buttressed on the east, and the upper stages are secured with iron bolts.

The bells, of which there are four, are now in the modern church. The treble is inscribed 'Johannes est nomen ejus' by an unknown founder; the second is dated 1623; the third 1631, both by Robert Oldfeild; the fourth by John Dier, 1580.

Kelly's Directory - Hertfordshire


By this date descriptions in the directories were far more extensive - and the description of the ruins of the old church are more detailed than the description of 1851 - when it was the parish church!

... The church of St. Mary, standing on a lofty and commanding eminence was erected in 1853, at the sole expense of the late Robert Hanbury, esq. D.L., J.P., who died 20th Jan. 1884, and is an edifice of Kentish rag, in the Early English style, consisting of a chancel, nave, south porch and a small western tower with angle turret and containing 4 bells, containing 4 bells, formerly in the old church: on the north side of the chancel [details of some memorials, including some which, though it does not say so, must have come from the old church] ... The remains of the old church of St. Mary and All Saints, demolished in 1853, stands in a valley half a mile east of the village, near the river Rib, and approached by a long and beautiful avenue of elms, and consists now only of the tower, which retains a good Norman arch, formerly leading to the nave. ...

The Old Church, Thundridge
A Pilgrimage in Hertfordshire


A Pilgrimage in Hertfordshire


By the beginning of the 20th century popular hardback books describing the county started to become available and Moul and Kitton's Picturesque Hertfordshire of 1904 contains some excellent engravings and later books began to contain photographs. However the coverage tends to be selective and A Pilgrimage in Hertfordshire is one of the best and has been reprinted in paperback. It includes drawings of both the tower and the Norman doorway.

Thundridge, of which Wade's Mill forms part, is north of Ware where the old North Road crosses the River Rib. The original parish church was some three­quarters of a mile east in the water meadows. Dedicated to St, Mary and All Saints, it was dismantled in 1853. Nothing but the tower remains (fig. 44), a most depressing sight, a ghastly derelict when I last saw it, in a position of great solitude. As the sketch shows, even in its shocking state there is still grandeur about this venerable ruin - with its Norman doorway (fig. 45), the inserted windows of later periods, and the board sundial on south side - but the heaps of debris and the hoofmark of the vandal are the abomination of desolation.

See Also
John Pearson
All Hallows and Little St Mary and St Mary the Virgin
Hertfordshire People June 2010
December 2009   Page created and later significantly updated
April 2012   1552 inventory added