St Michael & All Angels

The interior is a treasure house of Morris glass designed by a variety of preRaphaelite artists, Powell mosaics and some fine 20th century glass by Christopher Whall, Karl Parsons and Douglas Strachan.

About this church

Built in 1871 by Henry Woodyer. He was an architect who worked in a spiky muscular gothic style, but here finances provided by a single family only ran to a simple nave and chancel.

Here the building is but a framework for the fittings; the pulpit is by Woodyer, the font looks a bit later and has a heavy spire like cover, but it’s the tiles and glass that have the real wow factor here. Although trained in the 1840s, Woodyer decorated his churches in the turquoise and azure depths beloved of the preRaphaelites, and here the 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. 

William Morris provided an Annunciation and plenty of angels, but his foliate backgrounds of pattern and line are his strength. Edward Burne-Jones work moves from the small scale nativity to the characterful Baptist and St Peter. His David is colourful and his Miriam truly wild. This window has been described as the best Victorian glass anywhere by Lucinda Lambton, whom it rather resembles. By 1896 his glass is much lighter, and white robed figures people his large window in the south wall. Ford Madox Brown designed Noah in De Morgan blues and greens and St Philip with something of El Greco in his gait. Selwyn Image gives us a gold clothed bridegroom and virgins from the proverb. Strachan’s Supper at Emmaus is done in Veronese green and ultramarine

The climax of decoration is in the chancel, with Minton floor tiles in strong patterns. The richest work dates from the early years of the 20th century, and is by Powells’ of Whitefriars who specialised in such work at that time. The reredos has saints and angels in opus sectile set behind a marble arcade. The walls glow with mosaics: angels spread their scarlet golden wings amidst spiralling vines set on an azure ground, and below fine gilded networks flow over the malachite green dado.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • National heritage here
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Level access to the main areas
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike

Other nearby churches

St Andrew

The origin and date of St Andrew’s is not certain but some authorities believe it is the original church of Hertford, the parish being created in 860 AD.

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