Holy Trinity Church
Images copyright John Whitworth ©
Mrs Diana Graves
Holy Trinity Church History
Hatfield Heath was originally part of the parish of Hatfield Broad Oak. However, during the nineteenth century the village grew, and in 1859 eventually qualified to be a parish in its own right.
The church is built of flint.
At the east and west ends of the church are triple lancet windows. These are echoed on the north and south sides of the church with small single or double headed lights.
The broached spire was covered with chestnut wood shingles. Inside, the roof carries on the medieval theme with a single-framed trussed rafter roof.
Holy Trinity was consecrated by the Bishop of Rochester on 4th August 1859. The seats were free to all, except those in the Side Chapel which had been paid for by John Thomas Selwin Esq (of Down Hall) for the use of his family.
Originally the Side Chapel was a smaller lean-to structure marked off from the nave by an oak screen. On the south side, the tower with spire contained three bells. The tower staircase was entered through the door by the first pew behind the font. The raised seating at the back of the church was designated as children’s seating, presumably for the members of the Sunday school but, because of lack of space in the chancel, the organ was placed among the seats at the west end of the church.
It soon became clear that the church was not adequate for the needs of the parish and fundraising was begun in 1881 to pay for improvements. Contributions ranged from large and generous donations from the Selwin-Ibbotsons of Down Hall, G A Lowndes and Mr H Broke of Gladwyns, to the father of a large family who donated 1d a week over six years.
The Side Chapel was improved and a transept on the south side of the chancel was built, increasing the space considerably. New altar rails, lectern and reading desk were provided and other improvements made, including seats for the choir in the chancel. The organ was moved into the chancel. The old north vestry was then used to house the heating equipment.
In 1897 a bell frame was built to take four bells; three bells were installed: 8 cwt ringing A; 5 cwt ringing D, and a third came from the Whitechapel Bell Foundry weighing 3 cwt. The bells were hung “in chimes”.
Soon after this, in 1899, the family of Mr and Mrs Clayton Glyn gave the three small stained-glass windows (two on either side of the chancel and one in the chapel) in memory of their parents.
Over the years various gifts were made to enhance the church. The west window is the earliest gift to the church. It was donated by Rev Thomas Francis Hall MA, vicar of the parish. The window is in memory of his daughter born on 16th August 1840, died 26th April 1844. Mr J Dore Williams, one of the churchwardens, offered an east window in 1874. In 1901 the reredos was given by Mr and Mrs H Broke in thanksgiving for the safe return of their son Major Broke from the Boer War.
Two years later the ‘ugly pulpit made of stained deal’ was replaced by a stone pulpit in memory of Lord Rookwood of Down Hall, whose family was a great benefactor of the church in its early days.
In 1900 a new two manual organ, made by Alfred Kirkland of London, was installed at a cost of £300. The churchwarden, Mr Perry, had rescued many of the old ornamental organ pipes from the contractor’s lorry, and these were incorporated into the new organ. The oak casing was added later.
After the death of the churchwarden, Mr Horace Broke, in 1911, his family gave the beautiful stained glass east window in his memory. They also gave the ‘Art Nouveau’ lectern in memory of him and his daughter, Katherine.
In 1931 the church was lit by gas, presumably before then the lighting had been by oil lamps. This was provided by the ‘Bishop’s Stortford and Epping Gas Co’.
Three years later, in 1934, a choir vestry was built in the south-west corner of the church beside the tower. The staircase turret was taken down to make room for this and the materials used in the building of the vestry.
After the Second World War, the Selwin Chapel (the Side Chapel) was turned into a War Memorial Chapel. The pews were removed and replaced by chairs, each one dedicated to someone from the village who had died in the war.
In 1956, the church, under the direction of the vicar, Rev F Roberts, received a major redecoration. The Ten Commandments and Creed, which had been inscribed either side of the chancel arch, were painted over.
1960 saw the heating system brought up to date with an electrical heating system installed. During this year the spire was re-shingled with Canadian cedarwood shingles and louvre openings on four sides were fitted. This prepared the way for the six new bells, paid for by the Centenary Fund and cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. The bells were recast from the original bells, but the entire ring weighed 18.5 cwt, 2.5 cwt lighter than the original bells. They were dedicated to Miss Clara Coleman who had been the only PCC secretary since its inauguration in 1921. The new peal ranged from Treble at 2 cwt to the Tenor at 4 cwt (approximate weights). The inaugural peal was rung on 1st July 1961.
On 1st January 1990 the parish was joined with that of St Mary the Virgin, Sheering, to form the Untied Benefice of Hatfield Heath and Sheering.
In 2009 the church celebrated its 150th anniversary with a year of special events.
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Holy Trinity Church