St Nicholas Church, Harpenden

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St Nicholas Church, Harpenden
St Nicholas Church, Harpenden
Denomination Church of England
Churchmanship Broad Church
Dedication St. Nicholas
Parish Harpenden
Diocese St Albans
Province Canterbury
Priest(s) Revd Linda Williams (from December 2010)

The church of St Nicholas in Harpenden is a parish church in the Church of England. It is a Grade II* listed building.[1]


It is the oldest known church in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. It was originally built as a Chapel-of-Ease in about 1217, until it was enlarged and the existing tower added in 1470. The old church was demolished in 1861 to make way for a larger building. The tower contains a ring of eight bells, the oldest of which dated from 1612.

Harpenden remained part of the ecclesiastical parish of Wheathampstead until 1859 but was, from the Middle Ages, a separate civil parish with its own officials, who were elected annually at the Abbot's Manorial Court, held at Wheathampstead. In 1862, only three years after the long-sought separation from the parish of Wheathampstead, the church was rebuilt to accommodate the growing congregation.

The church is part of the Parish of Harpenden St Nicholas, a Church of England Parish within the Diocese of St Albans. Within the parish are two daughter churches, All Saints' in the East of the town in the Batford district of Harpenden, and St Mary's on the Northern outskirts. These churches have their own District Committees (as St Nicholas does) and enjoy a degree of autonomy and distinctive styles of worship.

Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy is buried in the church yard under the false name of Jean de Voilemont. A former major in the French army, Esterhazy fled France after it became clear that he was the real spy feeding the German Empire with French military secrets, and not Captain Alfred Dreyfus, who was falsely convicted and imprisoned on Devil`s Island just off French Guiana. Whilst living in exile in Harpenden, Esterhazy continued his habit of writing anti-semitic tracts for the right wing French media. He died in Harpenden in 1923.


  1. England, Historic. "PARISH CHURCH OF ST NICHOLAS - 1347212 | Historic England". Retrieved 21 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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