The Church of Saint Leonard is a Norman church in Bengeo,
Hertfordshire. Located on the hillside overlooking the shared Beane and Lea valley, the Grade I Listed church dates from about
1120, and is the oldest building in Hertford. The church served as the parish church of Bengeo until the larger Holy Trinity
Church was opened in 1855. St. Leonard's was stripped of its fittings and stood empty and unused for some years, until the
Gosselin family of nearby Bengeo Hall commissioned its restoration and refitting between 1884 and 1894.
The church is built of flint with stone dressings and
has a tiled roof. The nave is coated with plaster with an open collar-beam roof. The south doorway dates from the 12th century,
with the addition of an 18th-century brick porch. The chancel roof and the wooden west bellcote both date from the 19th century
restoration. The bellcote houses a single bell, dated 1636.
Remains of medieval wall paintings were uncovered during
restoration work in 1938 by William Weir. The church is used for Sunday services during summer months, and also hosts exhibitions
and concerts. (credit Wikipedia)
Having grown up in Bengeo during the 70's and 80's St Leonards Church was always deemed as a
little mysterious among the then younger generation. Perhaps it was the cluster of Skull & Cross Boned headstones which
stimulated the younger imagination but it was rumoured that placing a penny atop the headstone and rotating it 3 times would
cause a hand to erupt from the grave and pull you below ground.
There was also a belief that running around the Church 12 times at midnight would wake the slumbering
dead. I was to lazy to try the second legend but I can confirm the first to be untrue.
For some the Skull & Cross Boned headstones were though to belong to Pirates but it's
more likely they mark the resting place of Plague victims, however the symbol is sometimes used on graves as just a logical
sign of death with no other connotations.
The majority of these photos were taken in late August 2014 but a few date from around 2008.