TQ0098 : Information Board near the remains of St. Mary Magdalene Church, Flaunden

taken 2 years ago, near to Latimer, Buckinghamshire, Great Britain

Information Board near the remains of St. Mary Magdalene Church, Flaunden
Information Board near the remains of St. Mary Magdalene Church, Flaunden
This photo shows the information board located north of the ruins of St. Mary Magdalene Church by the River Chess. It has the following wording:

Left Column
You are standing on the banks of the Chess River, opposite the site of Flaunden Church, a scheduled ancient monument. The remains of flint rubble walls and stone foundations are buried, and a raised mound is all that is now visible.
The nearby yew trees may have been part of the churchyard vegetation. The small raised bank along the eastern and southern boundary probably represents the former churchyard limits.
Plan of St. Mary Magdalene Church
Image of the 15th century font with octagonal bowl (now in St. Mary Magdalene Church, Flaunden)

Middle Column
Images of the south east view 1824 and of The South Transept window as it appeared in 1940
In the Middle Ages this land belonged to the manor of Hemel Hempstead, but in the early 1200s the manor of Flaunden became (for a short while) a separate entity. There is little doubt that it was Thomas de Flaunden who built the Church in about 1230 "for the ease of the inhabitants", and in 1478 burials were permitted in the churchyard. From memorials that were in the church, dating back to the late 13th century, it would seem that a family called Prince played the leading role in Flaunden for the next 300 years. With the extinction of the family the manor deteriorated. By the late 18th century the people of old Flaunden village, which once surrounded the church, began to move up from the old village to the present better placed site which had grown up on the hill a mile and a half to the north. Old St. Mary Magdalene appears to have been finally abandoned in 1838 when a new church was built up on the hill. In the 19th century the curate's lodging, and later even some parts of the church itself, were occupied by poor families (see north west view, 1815). By the end of the last century, all that was left of old Flaunden were a pair of cottages, a couple of apple trees and a ruined church. Today, there are no visible remains at all.
The church, dedicated to St.Mary Magdalene, is unusual in design being built on the plan of a Greek cross. It measured 36ft by 13ft from east to west, and 37ft by 10ft 6ins north to south. A wooden belfry was built at the west end over the main entrance, and further west were attached lodgings for the curste (see plan).
Inside the church, 13th century paintings, including scenes from the crucifixion, decorated the walls. There was a 13th century piscina (a basin used to drain away consecrated water) in the east wall, and traces of a stone reredos (an altar screen), with a central niche over it, in the south wall close by.

Image of the north west view, 1815
"The Church... is a mean structure... being partly inhabited by poor families..."

Right column
In 1940 the church was "...in a ruinous condition, the roof and wooden tower having quite disappeared. the ivy-clad north and west walls retain much of their original height, and up to recently showed traces of early mural painting. There is a small 14th century doorway in the north wall and a 15th century three-light window in the south wall..."
After 1838 the old church was partially dismantled; two of the 1578 turret bells were sold and the third was rehung in the new church. The communion plate, font, west door and some tiles and timber were also taken up to new St. Mary Magdalene.
Until World War I the roofless walls were still intact, the west door arch stood complete and the stone tracery of the lovely perpendicular style window in the south wall was in good condition.
Image of Medieval Tiles
The tiles displayed on this information board are just some of the 13th century examples originally laid in the old church. The slip patterns display arabesque designs with kings, queens, saints and animals. Tiles from the old church were used to pave the main porch of the new one.

Information provided by the Buckinghamshire County Museum Archaeological Service.
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Grid Square
TQ0098, 72 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Wednesday, 7 August, 2019   (more nearby)
Wednesday, 5 February, 2020
Geographical Context
Religious sites 
Near (from Tags)
Church (from Tags)
St Mary Magdalene 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TQ 0082 9868 [10m precision]
WGS84: 51:40.6709N 0:32.5951W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TQ 0081 9870
View Direction
Southeast (about 135 degrees)
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Other Tags
Information Board  Latimer  St Mary Magdalene 

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