All Hallows’ Church, 1750–c.1800

All Hallows’ was established in the mid-13th century (presumably replacing an earlier church on the same site), but only the bases of the nave pillars and some of the lower sections of the walls remain from this date. The tower and most of the fabric date from the 14th and 15th centuries, but there are bits and pieces from every century since (the south porch is Tudor, for example), and a variety of materials—stone, brick, and flint. However, alone amongst the churches of the old Edmonton Hundred, it appears to have kept its original medieval structure more or less intact until it was ‘restored’ by Henry Butterfield in 1876. Like many other church restorations of the Victorian period, Butterfield’s had far more to do with turning All Hallows’ into the contemporary notion of what a medieval parish church ought to look like than simply making good and mending the existing fabric—in the opinion of Butterfield and other Victorian architects the original builders had, basically, got it all wrong. As a result, the rood screen, the last surviving in Edmonton Hundred, bit the dust, along with several medieval and Tudor brasses, and other monuments were shifted from their original positions.

The church has some noteworthy stained glass; there are a couple of good Victorian examples from Butterfield’s time, but far better—according to Nikolaus Pevsner’s Middlesex volume of ‘The Buildings of England’ the second-best in the county—are two very fine 16th or 17th century Flemish or French windows at the eastern end of the church. There are also some some notable 16th and 17th century monuments (photos will soon appear on the Monumental Inscriptions page), although none is in the same class as the Frowick tombs at South Mimms.

Several of the engravings show a curious domed structure at the eastern end of the church. It is, or rather was, a vestry built and endowed by Lord Coleraine in 1696, upon condition that he and his family should possess the vault beneath. The dome and obelisk were removed in 1855, having become structurally unsound, and the rest of the edifice was demolished at some later date—although it was still standing in 1873, being referred to in the description of the church in the Middlesex Trade Directory for that year.

For some reason, Jean-Baptiste Claude Chatelaine, the artist who drew these two 1750 views, made the tower appear very tall and spindly. Is the tree at the left in the upper view one of the yews that remain today, newly-planted? When did the big ‘table’ tombs to the south-east go?

In the background in the lower view is Church Farm, a very fine Stuart house, now All Hallows’ vicarage, and renamed the Priory.

Clearly, touring old graveyards was a recreational activity in those days, too.

This late 18th century view is impossible! The artist has invented a non-existent slope to make the church appear more imposing. There seems to have been a lot of digging going on. Why doesn’t the building on the left appear in other views?

Another case of late 18th century artistic licence!

Another late 18th century view, with the Priory in the background.

Two early 19th century views. Why is there no ivy on the tower in the lower one? Its presence is mentioned in the 1873 directory. And when did the wall go? In Butterfield’s 1876 restoration? Was the Coleraine mausoleum really in such a parlous state, or did it not fit in with Butterfield’s vision?