A tiny village contains an exceptionally old, and magnificent church. This is St John the Baptist Church in Aldbury, near Tring.
The Church of Aldbury was granted to Missenden Abbey by William de Bocland just over 800 years ago. By the end of the 13th century it had probably assumed most of the features that are still here today, although there was some works done in 1866 and the exterior was dressed in flint rubble masonry and stone to give it an older appearance.
The church is noted for the Pendley Chapel, an ornate memorial chapel which is located at the east end of the nave installed here in 1575 but its origins are much older. Edmund Verney had the tomb moved here from the dissolved monastery of Ashridge and enclosed it in an ornate stone parclose screen, also brought from Ashridge.
Oh, and do look at the floor, which are made up of relaid medieval encaustic tiles.
The carved stone recumbent tomb is of Sir Robert Whittingham, a nobleman who was slain at the battle of Tewkesbury, but at his feet instead of a loyal dog, is a “wild man”. I didn’t notice it at the time, as sadly the two memorials have been vandalised and gouged with an offensive symbol. I will never understand the pleasure that people get from despoiling things that give other people pleasure.
The other great treasure is the wall painting above the altar space. It’s a 19th century painting of St John the Baptist preaching, and has been restored in yellow monochrome.
There’s a curious set of steps leading up to a small door, presumably for access to the tower, but obviously, locked.
The church is open daily, and a welcome break if out for a walk in the countryside.
Aldbury itself is a tiny village that is almost offensively pretty. How dare it be so nice!
A cluster of picture postcard houses around a perfect village pond, and they even have an old punishment stock in the grass, possibly a bit too exposed to a drunk driver though.
Location map and local interesting places
- 6] Ashridge Estate
- 7] Pitstone Windmill
- 8] Whipsnade Tree Cathedral
- 9] Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Estate
- 10] Ascott
- 11] Chilterns Countryside
- 12] King's Head
- 13] Moleskin and Markham Hills
- 14] Sharpenhoe
- 15] Hughenden
- 20] Hughenden Manor