is A WELL church!"
see a map of the location
St Martin's Church is located in the
centre of (new) Knebworth on the corner of St Martin's
Road and London Road.
Until the 19th Century St
Mary’s was the only place of worship
in the village. In 1880 the Church of England
began operating in New Knebworth, when a Mission
Room was built in Gun Lane, and a new church,
St Martin’s, was opened in 1915.
Parochial Church Council (PCC) are
fortunate to be the custodians of such a remarkable
church was designed by the eminent architect
Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens (1869 - 1944) and
reflects his own idiosyncratic style. In the
Hertfordshire volume (published in 1953) of his
Penguin series on The Buildings of England, Professor
Nicholas Pevsner calls St Martin’s ‘one
of Lutyens’s most remarkable churches’.
In fact Lutyens designed
very few religious buildings, fewer still were
actually built and none of them
was finished to his original designs. Best known
are the two churches at Hampstead Garden Suburb
(started c1909) and his aborted Liverpool Roman
Catholic Cathedral. St Martin’s, Knebworth
is chronologically between the Hampstead churches
and Liverpool Cathedral and so has been seen as
a part of the development process that led to the
design of the Cathedral.
Work first began on St Martin’s church in
April 1914 and it was consecrated by the Bishop
of St Albans, Dr. Edgar Jacob, on November 12th,
1915. It was firmly laid down by the architect
that only the best materials were to be used. Facing
bricks and pantiles for the roof were to be specially
made ‘at an approved yard’. Stonework
was to be ‘of the best Portland stone’.
Timber was to be ‘Memel, Dantzic or Riga
sawn die square, sound and well seasoned, cut out
perfectly ... Planks, deals and battens to be cut
out or converted from yellow Christiana pine well
seasoned’. The pillars are made from Portland
stone, with the exception of the two Massive Doric
columns that separate the transepts from the nave
which have a brick core coated with cement which,
like all the cement work in the building, was worked
to resemble Portland stone.
Apart from the Font and the small Portland stone
pillars, which came ready turned from the Portland
quarry, all the stonework was cut on the spot by
a group of local stonemasons.
The builder was Mr William Derby of Knebworth.
The special bricks and pantiles were made in his
brickyard at Rabley Heath. Local builders were
responsible for cutting the great 12” x 18” tie
beams of the roof from the round and for cutting
and fitting all the woodwork in the church including
the panels of the roof, the ambos, choir stalls
and the altar.
View of the altar from front of church
One of two sets of organ
Interior pictures of St Martin's Church, Knebworth
|Lutyens’ original plan was for
a much larger building and included a nave with three
bays and an apse at the east end. The west end was
to include a portico with steps; this was changed
to a plain wall on a ‘temporary’ basis,
though in fact the most unattractive plain brick
wall persisted until 1963/4 when the church was completed
to its present design by Sir Albert Richardson (1860
Richardson was a friend and admirer of Lutyens.
He designed the western extension to the nave (17
feet long), a cupola for the bell, and the entrance
lobby and ‘Rector’s Office’.
The cupola was made by a Mr Mackinnon of Bedfordshire.
The African mahogany has a grain suitable for circular
cutting, and with the copper used, it weighs 3 ½ tons.
St Martin’s has seen many changes since
1915 but it remains the much loved home of a thriving
Christian community who gather regularly to celebrate
their faith. But what is this Christian faith?
To be a Christian is to have made a decision to
put one’s trust in Jesus Christ. At baptism
that decision is often expressed for us by others
- our parents and godparents - but it is not until
we take the decision for ourselves to live by trust
in Jesus Christ that we can truly call ourselves
Have you made that decision?
At the heart of our Christian faith is the realisation
that we are separated from God simply by the way
we are. While few of us are as bad as we could
be, none of us are as good as we should be! If
we are honest with ourselves we will know that
we hardly live up to our own standards, let alone
God's perfect standard. The good news is that in
Jesus, God has given us a way back to himself.
On the cross Jesus died carrying our failings in
his body. He took our imperfections on Himself
so that we can come to God the Father in His perfection.
In the Bible we read:
"God made him who had no sin (Jesus) to be
sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness
of God." [2 Corinthians 5:21]
The barrier between God and ourselves, created
by our imperfection and failures, has been removed
by Jesus Christ. Once the Truth of this finds its
home in our hearts, we will want to respond to
the love of God who reaches out to us through his
Son Jesus Christ. If that is what He has done for
me how can I give Him less than myself?
If you have any queries then please
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