St Lawrence the Martyr

This church was built in 1154AD to extend an old Saxon church and is central to the village of Abbots Langley.

About this church

The site of Abbots Langley parish church was probably originally occupied by a Saxon church.

The nave and aisles (with beautiful Norman arches) were added between the years 1140 to 1150 and the church was dedicated to St Lawrence the Martyr in 1154. The tower (with its well used ring of six bells) was built between 1190 and 1200 and the tower arch shows the change in style to the Transitional before the complete development of Early English Gothic architecture. The south east Corpus Christi Chapel was built between 1307 and 1327.

The Saxon church fell into decay and in 1400 was replaced by the present chancel building. In addition, the chancel was linked to the Corpus Christi Chapel by a two bay arcade. In 1450 the aisle walls were rebuilt, the clerestory raised and the nave and aisles re-roofed. Like many local churches of that period, it was built with Totternhoe Clunch, a hard chalk stone, and flint in a chequer pattern.

The most recent addition is the Breakspear room on the north side with a small kitchen, toilets and meeting room. It is named after Nicholas Breakspear, Pope Adrian IV, the only English pope, who was born in the village of Bedmond in this parish. The Breakspear room also provides level access for wheelchair users. In 1969, this church suffered a huge fire, mainly in the sanctuary. The restoration has completely opened up this area and given the church much more flexibility for worship and other events.

St Lawrence the Martyr has a very active connection with this parish and its residents. Every day there are many visitors who come to find a quiet place for peace, for prayer and meditation. But for worship, too, this church is very well supported. Over the years we have grown and now need to run five Christmas Eve nativity services in succession to accommodate everyone coming from far and wide. The services, complete with donkey and real babies, fill the whole church almost to overflowing.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • Wildlife haven
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Bus stop within 100m
  • Level access to the main areas
  • Car park at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets in church
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike
  • Church shop or souvenirs

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