July 16 – Church Micros between St Albans and Ware

St Albans, Bayford, Little Berkhamsted, Hertingfordbury, Bengeo, Waterford, Ware, Stanstead St Margarets, Great Amwell

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

We are staying in St Albans so it is only right and proper that we should visit the churches here. St Stephens is a lovely church but just as we started taking photos we realised that the camera had no charge in it so we plugged it in and went to find the geocache.  As it turned out it took a while to find so we managed to get some charge in the camera. After several circuits of the churchyard, we hadn’t found any of the three things we needed to find. We finally found HRM and while talking to a gardener he suggested that a seat beside the church could be Hamlet’s friend, The seat was dedicated to his friend’s son. We did not know the international calling code so had to google that. The last seat I finally found dismantled and up against the wall of the church. Then I made a mistake with the last part of working out the numbers, though my multiplication was fine. We walked too far and after checking the manipulation of the numbers again we walked back near to where we started and found the final cache. A real adventure so this cache definitely deserved a favourite and we took a geocoin. The geocoin is the first we have found for ages but we will have to find a box big enough to put it in as most caches we came across are micro or nano. The geocoin started its travels in Pennsylvania, U.S.A. in 2015 and has travelled 28260.9 km so far.

Next, we drove on to St Mary’s church in Bayford. Now that is a church with the WOW factor. It has wonderful Victorian wall painting on the walls and ceiling. It had a marble tomb to George Knighton from 1612 and a late 15th-century octagonal clunch font with a very tall 19th-century wooden font cover. There are three monumental brasses on the wall and all the windows had stained glass. We found the cache easily. There is also a wall memorial to William Clinton Baker who died in 1903.

We went to Little Berkhampsted next but St Andrews church was closed so we went to look for the church micro. We found it easily but when I got home to log the find I found that the Reviewer had archived the cache. It is a pity as Bike pirate and ReggieCat have replaced the cache.

St Mary’s church in Hertingfordbury provided us with another WOW reaction. It is full of alabaster with a tomb of Sir William who was knighted in 1615 and Lady Harrington. Also, the tomb of Lady Calvert from 1622 who was in the court of Elizabeth I and James I. There is an amazing alabaster altar rail as well as a double sedilia and reredos. Just stunning!! The Cowper mausoleum is also fantastic with the tomb of the 6th Earl from 1856 – Francis. All around are other monuments some huge and other smaller ones. There were an alabaster lectern and pulpit. The cache was an easy find but when I went to log the cache I found that it had been archived back in March 2017 but the cache is still there to be found.

At Holy Trinity church in Bengeo, there was a lovely nave altar cloth and a stone reredos. The church has been very tastefully modernised without losing its history. It had three lovely patchwork processional banners.

St Leonards church in Bengeo was closed which was a pity as it has an apse and looked interesting. We found the cache inside the church grounds which is highly unusual.

St. Michael and All Angels church in Waterford was built in 1871 by Henry Woodyer in the gothic style. It is quite a small church with only a nave and chancel with no tower but it does have a broach spire over the timber bellcot. Woodyer was a classic Bohemian artist who added colour both inside and out in unusual details like inlaid mastic, roof tiles, and especially mural work but it’s the tiles and glass that have the real wow factor. Although trained in the 1840s by the pious William Butterfield, Woodyer decorated his churches in the turquoise and azure depths beloved of the pre-Raphaelites, and this church’s glass is a catalogue of the style. Saints, angels and prophets by William Morris, Ford Madox Brown and Edward Burne-Jones stand, sing, or dance against rich brocades and swirling foliage in the richest of colours, with every tree in fruit, every bush in flower. The glass dates from the building of the church until the end of the century and was added to in the next thirty years by the best designers of the time, with windows by Douglas Strachan, Selwyn Image and Carl Parsons. Each sees to be trying to outdo the last in colour and texture, depth and line. The walls of the chancel and sanctuary are also covered in the most outstanding mosaic work in colour and gold. It was completely breathtaking.

Nearby we found another cache which took us to a memorial for Golding’s school. Goldings was opened in April 1922 as The William Baker Technical School, for boys from Dr Barnardo’s who had shown that they were in need of a trade and were capable of being taught. In its early days, it housed 300 boys who lived and learned their trade there. In the beginning, boys would stay till around 17 years of age and Dr Barnardo Homes would then find them a place of work and lodgings. Some boys who didn’t know of their parents were encouraged to emigrate to Canada. and later Australia and continued until about 1967.  In the early days, Goldings was run on a very strict military style and you had to salute the Governor if you saw him around the grounds. Senior boys were selected and were promoted to Sergeants and Corporals and were used to control the rest of the boys.

St Mary’s Church is a grade I listed parish church in Ware. There was a church on the site according to the Domesday Book but the chancel which dates from the 13th-century is the oldest part of the present building when the church served the town and the monks of the Benedictine Priory. The church was restored in the nineteenth century by George Godwin. The tower is surmounted by a short spire of the type known as a “Hertfordshire spike“. The church had some wonderful Christopher Whall stained glass windows. As for the cache we looked for ages to find the “unusual stone” but never did. We found the mother … but even then wasn’t sure about what to do with the numbers. We were just about to give up and already walking away when I read that Bike pirate and ReggieCat had just looked for the hint alone. We took a punt at the hint and could not believe our eyes when we found the cache. We used our geocaching sense and it paid off.

St John the Baptist church at Great Amwell is a pleasant church located above the New River, constructed by Hugh Myddleton and the pool was designed by Milne. It was closed so we went to look for the geocache. I think that it would have been impossible to attempt at any other time of the year.

Next, we went to Stansted St Mary but we could not find anywhere close to park the car. Eventually, we found a park and walked along the river. We could not find the geocache anywhere and wonder if it is on the other side of the river. Eventually, we had to give up and it was our only DNF for the day. However, we realised that there was another cache nearby named “OOO Meridian”. Now we always like to do meridian caches as of course in England you have E000 00.000 multiple times. It took us ages to find the marker as we were on the wrong side of the road. We then counted our steps and for the second time today we were surprised to find the cache as this one was 21 metres away from where the GPS was pointing.

A lovely day with interesting places and churches and another part of Hertfordshire explored.