St Mary Magdalene, Barkway
Church Lane, Barkway, Hertfordshire SG8 8EJ see MAP
Barkway Church represents a peaceful haven in the midst of the busy world we live in. Service times can be found at this month in the Benefice . We always give a warm welcome to all comers. You may care to click on
There has been a church here certainly since Norman and possibly since Saxon Times. During the 13th Century, the chancel was rebuilt and traces of the 13th century windows are still visible on its north side. In the 15th century, the nave was widened, the aisles and clerestory added, and the tower was built. Mrs Vernon Harcourt of Newsells Park restored the main part of the church in 1861 and the chancel had work carried out on it by Colonel Clinton, who lived at Cokenach. At about the same time, the Cokenach pew that stood in the chancel arch was removed. Prior to that, during the sermon the windows were closed, the curtains drawn and chairs pulled up in front of a large fire. During the restoration work the tower collapsed and was rebuilt larger than before – note the Jennings monument by Rysbrack at the back of the Tower.
If you look up, standing in the nave, you will see some fine corbels and some are thought to be caricatures of the masons’ mates and employers. There is a villainous looking sheep above the pulpit – perhaps a dig at the vicar. Above the Chancel steps are the two funeral hatchments of the Clinton family.
Within the Sanctuary of the Chancel are the memorials of the Chester family who lived at Cokenach in the 17th century. The coats of arms on the north window are the Clintons.
There is a fine stained glass window in the South East corner of the north aisle to the right of the organ which was paid for by the Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex Branch of the Burma Star Association to commemorate those who fought in Burma campaign during the 1939-1945 war. It was designed by Alan Younger who also designed the rose window in St Albans.
The east window comprises a jumble of glass and includes the remains of a 15th century window, the glass of which was removed and buried to save it from the ravages of iconoclasts. These fanatics were appointed by the parliamentary army during the civil war to smash up anything that was considered idolatrous and to have been found by chance. There is an old tradition that the glass really came from Reed church.
The Tower contains a peal of eight bells. Six of these were recast by Briant of Hertford in 1787 with two more added in 1914 with the inscription “Give peace in our time O Lord”. The bells used to be rung from the ringing chamber on the first floor but it was too noisy for the ringers and they are now rung from ground level. There is a priest’s bell inscribed “James Bartlett made me in 1688 TE”. The turret bell on which the clock strikes is pre restoration. It is the only one in Hertfordshire from the Bury St Edmunds foundry and has inscribed on it “Ave Maria Gracia Plena” with the Bury shield three times on its crown. When it was restored in 1980, it was lifted off and returned by helicopter.
Maintenance of the Church
The Church is well maintained through the generous support of The Friends of Barkway Church. Over the years restoration and improvement works have been undertaken at considerable cost and largely without grant aid. A sound system and a loop for the hard of hearing has been installed and the organ has been renovated. The north side of the Nave has been re-roofed, flintwork has been repaired and a stone cross replaced. In 2008, a meeting room with kitchen and toilet facilities was built within the north west side aisle. The weathervane and cockerel on the Tower have been restored and the clock face re-gilded.
At the end of 2016, the lighting was upgraded with dimable LED fittings controlled by a Dali System, which has transformed the building. In 2017, we plan to repair the tower as well as undertake other repairs listed following our Quinqennial inspection in 2016.