St Leonard's Church, Bengeo

Coordinates: 51°48′19″N 0°04′48″W / 51.8053°N 0.0800°W / 51.8053; -0.0800
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St Leonard's, Bengeo
St Leonard's Church, Bengeo, Hertfordshire
DenominationChurch of England
DedicationSt Leonard
Heritage designationGrade I[1]
Architectural typeParish church
Years built1120
DioceseSt Albans

The Church of Saint Leonard is a Norman church in Bengeo, Hertfordshire, England. Located on the hillside overlooking the shared Beane and Lea valley, the Grade I Listed church dates from about 1120, and is the oldest building in Hertford.[1][2]


The building served as the parish church of Bengeo until the larger Holy Trinity Church was opened in 1855,[3] after which St Leonard's was stripped of its fittings and stood empty and unused for some years. The Gosselin family of nearby Bengeo Hall commissioned John Thomas Micklethwaite to restore and refit the church between 1884 and 1894.[3] In the 13th century, against the north-east end of the chancel, was an anchorite's cell which consisted of a wooden hut. Of eight feet by six feet, there was a recess in the wall for the anchorite’s bed and seat, and an access to the church.[4]


The church is built of flint with stone dressings and has a tiled roof.

The wooden west bellcote dates from the 19th-century restoration.[5] The bellcote houses a single bell, dated 1636.[5]

The south doorway dates from the 12th century, with the addition of a Georgian brick porch.[6] The south door itself dates from the 14th century.[6]


The apse is an unusual feature, found in only two other medieval churches in Hertfordshire, St John the Baptist, Great Amwell,[7] and St Mary's, Great Wymondley. The roof dates from the 19th-century restoration.[5]


The nave is coated with plaster with an open collar-beam roof. Remains of medieval wall paintings were uncovered during restoration work in 1938 by William Weir.[3]

Interior showing medieval wall painting and Norman chancel arch

The church is used for Sunday services during summer months, and also hosts exhibitions and concerts.[3]



  1. ^ a b Historic England. "Church of St Leonard (1268717)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  2. ^ "St Leonard's Church (Bengeo)". Herts Direct. Archived from the original on 23 March 2009. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d "St. Leonard's Home page". Archived from the original on 4 July 2021. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  4. ^ Besant, Walter (1906); Medieval London (Vol. 1&2): Historical, Social & Ecclesiastical, Chapter IV; "Hermits and Anchorites, p. 175 .London, A. & C. Black
  5. ^ a b c Page, William (1912). A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 3. London: Victoria County History. pp. 423–427. Archived from the original on 29 June 2021.
  6. ^ a b "St. Leonard's The entrance". Archived from the original on 6 July 2021. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  7. ^ Historic England. "Parish Church of St John the Baptist (1341839)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 8 September 2021.

External links[edit]

51°48′19″N 0°04′48″W / 51.8053°N 0.0800°W / 51.8053; -0.0800