HistoryI mile west of Hertford
The approach into Hertingfordbury from either direction is down a steep hill, with a sharp, left-hand bend at the bottom.
Until the main road from Hatfield to Hertford was diverted a few years ago, heavy lorries trundling through the village sometimes knocked chunks off corner buildings, but now the village has regained much of its former tranquillity.
It is a place of considerable charm, full of odd corners and unexpected things - a brick, mulhoned window left unplastered in the middle of
a white wall; a tiny cottage with a delightfully pretentious Georgian door; a house called The Hill, which has an elegant chimney that runs down to a fireplace opening on to the street; and another very attractive house with a broad, arrow-shaped gable that leaves you puzzling over what the interior must be like.
The White Horse Inn dates from the 16th century, as does the pleasantly named Amores with its high, stone chimneys. There are also a number of fine rose-brick Georgian houses.
The church stands in a churchyard so steep that it would seem that some of the inhabitants must have been buried vertically; there is an odd monument by the door, shaped like a coffin standing upon lion’s feet. The Church of St Mary itself, whose benefice is held by the Queen in her capacity as head of the Duchy of Lancaster, was massively restored towards the end of the last century, though not unattractively. The font, altar and communion rails, all of rose alabaster, reflect the high quality of 19th-century workmanship; so do the benches, carved by Joseph Mayer of Oberammergau in 1875. There is a whole chapel-full of monuments to the Cowpers, judges, statesmen and restorers of the church, and some fine early-l7th-century effigies. The most charming of these is the little girl who kneels at the. foot of the enshrouded Sir William and Lady Harrington; every detail of her sad face and Jacobean costume is perfectly clear. Near by is an elaborately dressed effigy of Lady Calvert, the mother of Lord Baltimore, the founder of the colony of Maryland in 1634.
Of slightly morbid interest are the 17th and 18th-century framed certificates of burial, declaring that the corpses concerned had been wrapped in woollen shrouds. For many years this was a legal requirement, as a means of encouraging the wool trade.