St Nicholas Church
St Nicholas Church holds an important place in the history of Harpenden and this is because it is the oldest known church in the local area. The church was originally built in 1217 when it was the Chapel of Ease but additions were made in 1470. These changes saw a tower being added and the venue was made bigger. In 1861, the first church was taken down in order for a larger building to be constructed. The tower itself holds 8 bells, and the oldest of these bells dates back to 1612.
From the Middle Ages up until 1859, Harpenden was considered as part of the ecclesiastical parish of Wheathampstead while also being recognised as an individual civil parish. This meant that there were individual officials who were voted in annual at the Manorial Court.
Just three years after the separation from the parish of Wheathampstead, there was a need to rebuild the church in order to accommodate an increase in the congregation of the local area.
To say that the separation from the parish of Wheathampstead was popular would be an understatement and this was something that brought great joy to the community at the time.
Currently, the church is a part of the Harpenden St Nicholas Parish, which is a C of Parish in the St Albans diocese. There are two other churches in the parish, All Saints which is located in the East of town while St Mary's is located in the Northern area of the town. All three churches have their own district committees and while they need to work within the overall remit of the parish, there is room for independence in each of the three bodies.
Individuals interred in the churchyard
There are a number of famous names and people of historical importance interred in the churchyard at St Nicholas:
- Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy: 1847 to 1932. Esterhazy was a spy and is buried with the name of Jean de Voilemont
- Joseph Henry Gilbert: 1817 to 1901. Gilbert was a chemist
- John Bennet Lawes: 1814 to 1900. Lawes was an agricultural scientist
- Frank O. Salisbury: 1874 to 1962. Salisbury was an artist
- Eric Morecambe: 1926 to 1984. Morecambe was a comedian and entertainer
- Katherine Warington: 1897 to 1993. Warington was a botanist
While the fact that the church has been a place of worship for considerable time, it is still an important place of daily worship for the local community. There are public services available every day apart from Monday and all people are welcome to attend the public services.
As you would expect, there are a number of services on a Sunday, including:
- 08 : 00 am Holy Communion service
- 09 : 30 am Sung Eucharist service
- 11 : 30 am Morning Praise
- 04 : 30 pm Simply Worship - this service is only available on the first Sunday of every month
- 06 : 30 pm Evensong
The variety of services available on a Sunday should ensure that there is something for everyone, allowing the community to find a service that best suits with their lifestyle and their spiritual outlook.
On a Wednesday, there a 1030am Holy Communion service and then the congregation usually gathers afterwards for a coffee. This is a good social outlet for many people in the local community, helping to bring people together and give folk a chance to catch up and speak to others.
On a Friday there is a brief 8am Holly Communion and Morning Prayer service. On a Saturday at 1030am, there is a Holy Communion service and on the first Saturday of each month, there is a Book of Common Prayer service.
With morning and evening prayer services available on most weekdays, there is an opportunity to add a religious service to their weekly routine.
It is very easy to get to and from the Church with St Nicholas Church being a 5 minute drive from Harpenden Train Station or a 10 minute walk from the station.