Holy Trinity Church


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
The Heath, Church Lane, Hatfield Heath, Essex, CM22 7EA


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Statutory Address:
The Heath, Church Lane, Hatfield Heath, Essex, CM22 7EA

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Uttlesford (District Authority)
Hatfield Heath
National Grid Reference:


Church built in 1856-1857 to the designs of Joseph Clarke.

Reasons for Designation

Holy Trinity Church, built in 1856-1857 to the designs of Joseph Clarke, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* the elements of the church – nave, tower, transept and vestry – are skilfully united in a well-proportioned composition of considerable architectural quality, incorporating limited but finely executed detailing; * the considered use of building materials, consisting of flint with ashlar stone dressings, creates a textural richness which is particularly notable on the angle buttresses; * an almost complete range of good quality furnishings and fittings have been retained which embody the history and development of the church and its congregation; * the lectern by Harold Stabler is of particular note for its striking form, intricate detailing and fine craftsmanship, altogether representing a piece of early C20 design of significant quality.

Historic interest:

* the later changes to the church, by G E Pritchett and F W Chancellor, were sensitively carried out and show how the church continued to evolve to meet the successive needs of the congregation.

Group value:

* the church occupies a prominent position in the centre of the village green and is surrounded by numerous listed buildings with which it has strong group value.


Hatfield Heath was an outlying part of the large medieval parish of Hatfield Broad Oak. From the C17 the focus of the parish shifted westwards, away from the village of Hatfield Broad Oak to Hatfield Heath, and the latter's population grew throughout the C19. In 1836 chapels of ease were proposed for both Hatfield Heath and the nearby hamlet of Bush End, and the scheme was revived in the 1850s. P Thompson exhibited designs for both buildings in 1855-6, and the major Gothic Revival architect Richard Cromwell Carpenter also drew up a scheme for Hatfield Heath at the same time. When Carpenter died in 1855, the designs for both churches were undertaken by Joseph Clarke FRIBA (1819/20-1888). Clarke’s London-based practice was very largely concerned with church-building and restoration. His known works date from the middle of the 1840s until the time of his death. He was diocesan surveyor to Canterbury and Rochester which included this parish at the time the church was built, and from 1877 he became the surveyor to the newly-created diocese of St Albans. These posts helped bring in numerous commissions in these three dioceses but he also gained jobs over a much wider geographical area and examples of his work can be found in most parts of England. He was also consultant architect to the Charity Commissioners. Clarke is associated with 47 listed buildings, many of which are medieval churches that he restored.

The foundation stone for the Church of Holy Trinity was laid in 1856. It was opened in 1857 and consecrated by the Bishop of Rochester on 4 August 1859. The seats were free to all, except those in the Side Chapel which had been paid for by John Thomas Selwin (of Down Hall) for the use of his family. In 1881 fundraising began for improvements to the church, and G E Pritchett (1824-1912) was engaged to carry out the works in 1882-1883. The side chapel was improved and a transept on the south side of the chancel was built which increased the space. New altar rails, a lectern and reading desk were provided, and seats were added for the choir in the chancel. The organ was moved into the new south transept and the old north vestry now housed the heating equipment. In 1897 a bell frame was built to take four bells but only three bells were installed. In 1911 a new lectern was installed, designed by Harold Stabler (1872-1945) who specialised in metalwork and jewellery, and in design education. He was the first director of the Keswick School of Industrial Art, and Head of Arts and Crafts at both the John Cass Institute, London (1907-1937) and the Royal College of Art (1912-1926). He co-founded the Design in Industry Association in 1915 along with Ambrose Heal, Frank Pick and others; and in 1921 he established the business that later became Poole Pottery.

In 1934 F W Chancellor was responsible for adding the choir vestry to the south-west corner of the church using materials from the original stair turret that was removed for its construction. After the Second World War, the side chapel was turned into a War Memorial Chapel. The pews were removed and replaced by chairs, each one dedicated to one of the fallen from the village. In 1960 the spire was re-clad in Canadian cedar wood 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.


Church built in 1856-1857 to the designs of Joseph Clarke.

MATERIALS: flint, some of which is knapped, with stone dressings. Roof covering of small red, clay tiles except for the spire which is clad in Canadian cedar wood shingles.

PLAN: the church is situated in the middle of the triangular village green. It consists of a nave, a south aisle encompassing a side chapel; an east chancel flanked by a vicar’s vestry on the north side and a transept (added 1882-1883) and organ chamber on the south side; and a bell tower on the south side with an adjoining choir vestry on its west side (added 1934).

EXTERIOR: the church is in the early Gothic style with angle buttresses on the tower and mostly diagonal buttresses elsewhere, all with off-sets. The fenestration consists of lancets, either single, paired or grouped, with stained glass windows set in moulded, blocked stone surrounds. The main body of the church is under a steeply pitched roof. The south elevation has, from the left, a single lancet and then the projecting choir vestry with two lancets under a pitched roof (parallel to the main roof). This is followed by the three-stage tower which has a broached spire with small louvres on each face (added in 1960). On the first stage, the principal entrance is set within a pointed arch doorway of four moulded orders resting on attached shafts with carved foliate capitals. The headstops are also in the form of foliate carvings. The double-leaf doors have chamfered panels and elaborate hinges. The second stage of the tower is lit on the south face by a single lancet, and the third stage is lit on all faces by a single lancet. Following this, the south aisle is pierced by two paired lancets with a buttress in between; and the gabled transept, which is at right angles to the main roof, is lit by a two-light window with a quatrefoil in the head. The gable is surmounted by a floriated quatrefoil cross. The east side of the transept has a small vertical plank door with bifurcated strap hinges, set in a moulded pointed arch surround. The east gable end is pierced by three single lancets, the central one higher than the others. At sill level a stone tablet is set which records when the dedication was laid in 1856 by the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. The north elevation is pierced by a single lancet which lights the chancel, followed by the projecting vicar’s vestry under a catslide roof, lit on the north and east sides by a small lancet. The nave is lit by two paired lancets and two single lancets, in the centre of which is a plank and batten door with decorative strap hinges, set in a pointed arch stone surround. In between each aperture on this elevation is a buttress with off-sets. The west gable end is pierced by three lancets, the central one higher than the others with a quatrefoil set in a small circular surround which has a hoodmould.

INTERIOR: this is plastered and mostly painted white, including the window surrounds which have houdmoulds. The principal rafters of the arch brace, king-post roof trusses rest on corbels. The nave is separated from the south aisle by a two-bay arcade with moulded pointed arches, supported by paired columns with capitals enriched with foliage ornamentation. The chancel is defined by the moulded chancel arch which rests on elongated corbels, and has a floor laid in large red, black and white tiles. The painted wooden reredos was given in 1901 by Mr and Mrs H Broke in thanksgiving for the safe return of their son Major Broke from the Boer War. It consists of a six-bay arcade of trefoil-headed arches resting on slender columns, and an elaborate raised central section of five trefoil-headed arches with crocketed finials. The fixed wooden pews have closed backs and simple shaped ends, except for the choir pews in the chancel which have trefoil finials. The raised platform with pews at the west end was originally used for children’s seating.

CHURCH FURNITURE: the organ in the south aisle was made in 1909 by Alfred Kirkland of London, although the oak casing was added later. The octagonal stone pulpit, given in memory of Lord Rookwood of Down Hall, replaced an ‘ugly pulpit made of stained deal’. It has three visible facets richly carved with open tracery, consisting of two-light trefoil-headed lancets in moulded pointed arches with a quatrefoil in the head. The arches are subdivided by attached marble columns, and the cornice is enriched with foliate carving. The small font appears to date from around the opening of the church. It has an unusual Gothic design encircled by an arcade of panels, each arch on a stumpy column with a naturalistic-foliage capital. The Arts and Crafts metal lectern, designed by Harold Stabler, was given in 1911 by the family of the churchwarden Horace Broke, in memory of him and his daughter Katherine. The front of its book desk is an open panel of finely-wrought scrolls and leaves, with bracketed candle holders at each side, supported on an open stand of geometrical design which bears a memorial tablet.

STAINED GLASS: much of this was installed as gifts from church members. The west window is the earliest gift to the church and has a repetitive quatrefoil design in red, blue and yellow with texts running vertically in the borders of the lancets and symbols in some quatrefoils of the four Evangelists. It was donated by Rev Thomas Francis Hall MA, vicar of the parish, in memory of his daughter who was born on 16 August 1840 and died on 26 April 1844. The east window, given in memory of Horace Broke by his family, was designed in 1910 by Read and made by Powell and Sons.


Books and journals
Bettley, J, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Essex, (2007)
Essex Churches, accessed 23 February 2018 from http://www.essexchurches.info/church.aspx?p=Hatfield%20Heath


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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