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Church History

"The church is disappointing - big and spreading but almost rebuilt by the Victorians. Original Early English chancel lancets, with some Perpendicular tracery and intact 15th-century aisle arcades animated by stops carved with gruesome crawling beasts and angel and ?Green Man corbels. In the south aisle window two lights of mainly late medieval fragments flank the remains of mid 14th-century Tree of Jesse, four loops of exquisitely wreathed yellow, a king in each, against mocha-brown ground. Orchestral angels are etched between the tracery above. Chancel monuments include four typical Queen Anne affairs - tall, narrow, much sugary alabaster carving, one with barley-twist columns. Another monument is to Thomas Smoult (d 1707), a former Barkway vicar. Purposely placed under the tower is a bust of Admiral John Jennings (by Rysbrack) amid cannon, flags and putti. There are some minor monuments."

[From Hertfordshire (a Shell Guide), R. M. Healey , Faber & Faber, London, 1982]
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Church Records

The Parish Registers for the periods:-

are deposited at Hertfordshire Record Office, County Hall, Hertford, SG13 8DE. [D/P13]

Entries from the Marriage Registers for the period 1539-1837 are included in The Allen Index at Hertfordshire Record Office.

The period 1538-1875 is covered by the IGI.

Transcripts of the parish registers for the period 1538-1967 are deposited at the Society of Genealogists, 14 Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Road, LONDON, EC1M 7BA.

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Description and Travel

"Large former coaching village in good barley country south of Royston. In 1801, at the height of the coaching era, Barkway was accounted a town along with Hertford and St Albans and had more people (699), more inns (6), and more shops that it has now. Its magnificent main street - two-thirds of a mile long - has a pub and two garages at either end, and lanes and footpaths leading off. It is decidedly townish, and more East Anglian in character than its nearest rival at Much Hadham, with brick and flint, plaster and thatch, half-timber and Georgian red brick. Of special note, starting from the north, are: late 14th-century hall house featuring a smoke hood inside (opposite inn); early Georgian Red House with a fine doorcase in an urbane brick front facing the street and a plain country Georgian rear facing the fields; a pair of three-storey ex-coaching inns with carriageways and stabling (facing Church Lane); a widening of the High Street to form a market place - cropped lime-trees now, village pond opposite. On the east side are funny little 'slipper baths' of white brick, dated 1867, and then the prettiest stretch of street follows - a curve of cottages on one side, including National Trust Berg Cottage and an endearing Wealdean type, visually set off by the banked trees of Ashgrove on the other side as the street straightens . Farther south, Gas Lane contains the remains of an early 19th-century retort gasworks (last village gas-lamp removed c. 1940, since when High Street has been without street lighting). Take the footpath north of Ashgrove for an unusual view of Manor Farm, church, and vicarage in an intimate group among trees, but dwarfed by the two distant aerial masts looking uncomfortably close. Manor Farm seems all Dutch gables and Arts and Crafts diamond paning, but conceals a medieval structure. There is a moat and an impressive aisled barn The unwieldy vicarage of 1882, built by its vicar, once had vast grounds.

"Barkway House was visited in the 1840s and '50s by Punch editor Mark Lemon and cartoonist John Leech, both afficianados of the Hunt. Leech based the Jorrocks character of Surtees' hunting novels on a local coachman sketched in church. A prominent High Street milestone was one of many erected between here and Cambridge by Trinity Hall fellows Mouse and Hare(!) from 1725 to 1727. Each bears the college symbol.

"Newsells Park and hamlet, a romantic world of chalky fields, beech dells and half-seen thatch, colour-wash and brick, lie between the Royston and Barley roads. The present mansion, in municipal neo-Georgian style, replaces the Queen Anne home burnt down carelessly in the last war. A William and Mary dower house, grand stables, and toy-like 'rustick' cottage, dated 1804, remain. A hill obelisk of mortar-faced brick bears no inscription. At the hamlet road junction is an unusual Great War memorial made from boulder.

"Cokenach, in contrasting flat parkland, is a mixture of real (1716 and 1833) and later Lutyens-style Georgian brick. Fine stables and c. 1850 moat. Lonely brick barn towards Nuthampstead has an 1851 date and Clinton (of Cokenach) monogram picked out in ventilation bricks."
[From Hertfordshire (a Shell Guide), R. M. Healey , Faber & Faber, London, 1982]
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