The Architecture of
St John The Baptist
The 12th Century church of St. John the Baptist, Widford, is very interesting, both historically and architecturally. We know that there has been a building on this site from the very earliest days. The present building dates from about 1100 and the Norman mouldings are preserved in the wall above the south door. The building is constructed of flint and stone. The nave was built first, with the piscina (the basin for washing the communion chalice) marking the east end. The doors into the church, both north and south, were hung in about 1286 by craftsmen from a neighbouring village, Much Hadham.
The font, which dates from the 14th Century, is still in regular use
for baptisms today.
The tower was built in the 14th Century, and is a good example of
early English workmanship. In l890 the spire was rebuilt in copper,
replacing a weather-boarded construction because it “was leaning dangerously”. In the tower is a ring of six bells, still rung for services today. The bells were all cast between 1400 and 1624, with the oldest bell, the fourth, bearing the inscription “SANCTE KATHERINA ORA PRO NOBIS” (St.Catherine pray for us). Widford’s bells are considered to be the sweetest toned in the district.
The east window was presented in 1894 by the American descendants of John Eliot, who was baptised in this church in 1604. John Eliot left England for Massachusetts in 1631 and became known as “the Apostle to the Red Indians in North America”.
St. John the Baptist has two lych gates. The first leads to the old churchyard, and the second lies immediately opposite the first on the other side of the road. This second gate was erected as a memorial to the men of Widford who died in the 1914-1918 War, and leads to what is still known as “the new churchyard.”