History

AS YOU STAND IN THE CHURCH LOOKING AROUND...

 

There has been a church on this site since the early 12th century.  The original building has been adapted and expanded over the centuries.  What is now the main part of the church is an extension built in 1962.

 

To your right there is a children’s corner with a frieze of the creation.  The corner area is used particularly by young children during the family Eucharist.

 

Above the sanctuary is a “Rood” or crucifixion scene.  Jesus is flanked by Mary, his most blessed mother, and St John, his younger cousin, for whom he had a particular affection, and after whom this Church is named.

 

The lectern, from which the Bible is read and expounded during services, has a “fall” over it with a depiction of an eagle.  This symbolises the Word of God going out into the world.  The eagle is also a symbol for our St John who was one of the Gospel writers.

 

The stained glass window in the sanctuary is evocative of the manifold grace of God in creation, preservation and salvation.  It also links the story of St Alban with that of Jesus.

 

The altar has two celebratory candles on it, since the Eucharist not only commemorates the death of Jesus, it is also the sacrament of his real presence.

 

In the older part of the church is the Lady Chapel, named in honour of St Mary.  This part of the church speaks particularly of the Christian belief in life after death and the Communion of Saints.

 

The stained glass window depicts Jesus as the “Lamb of God” who sacrificed his life on the cross so that we might experience freedom from sin and the grace and comfort of God.  St Mary is placed prominently in the foreground, and with her are women saints: Mary Magdalene, Catherine of Alexandria, Cecilia, and Ethelreda (an English saint).  On either side are other saints: Isaiah, Peter, Paul and King David, and the patron saints of Britain with Queen Margaret of Scotland.  The patron saints of Britain – Andrew, David, Patrick and George are again figured in wood in the reredos.  If you look carefully at the various depictions you can see traditional symbols associated with each of the saints.

 

On the sanctuary floor are famous brasses – the large one representing Sir John Perient and his wife Joan.  Sir John was standard bearer to King Richard II in the 15th Century.  There are many other memorials, several with heraldic devices.  Through the screen, and on the wall on the right, there is a tablet depicting St George, the patron saint of soldiers, commemorating 73 Australian soldiers who were tended in hospitals in this parish during the First World War and later died.  Nearby is a bronze memorial to those from the parish who also died in the same war.  Below is the modern Book of Remembrance.  On the north wall is a memorial window to a Victorian lady who for 22 years was church organist and village schoolmistress.  It fittingly depicts St Ambrose a teacher of the faith and St Cecilia, the patron saint of music.

In the window above the font John the Baptist is shown baptizing Jesus himself in the River Jordan – when the Holy Spirit came upon him like a dove.  Standing near the font (except in Eastertide when it is near the high altar) is the Easter Candle – representing the unconquerable Light of Christ which shines through all ages.

 

There are four flags laid up in St John’s Church.  One is a Cub Pack flag, another is a Scout Troup flag, and the third is a Royal Air Force flag.  The Australian flag was given by Forces at the end of the First World War.  It goes together with a memorial to 73 wounded soldiers from Australia who were nursed in hospitals in Digswell Place and Digswell House, and who later died or were killed on return to the front.  The main memorial depicts St George (the patron saint of soldiers), and on the opposite pillar is an actual list of men.