A Brief History

It is, perhaps, difficult to believe that until the 19th century, St Mary’s in the Old Town was the only Anglican church in Hemel Hempstead!  However, by that time, St Mary’s church building could no longer hold the increased congregation.  So, at a Vestry meeting in 1828, it was agreed that a Chapel of Ease should be built at Boxmoor.  A site was chosen on a tract of open pasture-land, which the Trustees of Box Moor Trust agreed to sell for £70, and the foundation stone of the new chapel was laid on 21 May 1829 by Miss Anne White, sister of the incumbent at that time, the Reverend Thomas White.  The chapel, built of brick, was consecrated on 25 May 1830.

That chapel was used for worship until Alfred Richings arrived as Vicar of Boxmoor in 1865 and proposed rebuilding the chapel into a much larger church.  Designed by Richard Norman Shaw (the architect of New Scotland Yard in London) the new building was undertaken in two stages.  First the Chancel was constructed and used in conjunction with the existing chapel.  In the second stage, the chapel was replaced with a longer Nave.  The completed building was consecrated on Easter Tuesday, 7 April 1874 by the Bishop of Rochester.  The west end was further extended in 1893.  Finally, the creation of new glass doors in the west wall of the church was part of our Millenium project, which included the building of a new hall and offices, adjoining the church.

Interestingly, apart from those in the Sanctuary, Norman Shaw envisaged that all other windows in the church would be of plain glass.  However, between 1886 and 1917, seven stained-glass windows were installed. Finally, another one was added in 1972, in commemoration of Canon Hamilton (our longest serving Vicar).