The church of St Nicholas was built sometime between 1109-1119 AD and was dedicated by Hervey, Bishop of Ely. In about 1258 the priest at Norton gave the church to the Abbey of St Albans. The Abbot already had the right to appoint the priest to the church but because he could not undertake the day to day duties himself he appointed a representative, called a vicar. When the abbey was dissolved in 1539 the church reverted to the king. During the next 450 years the rights were owned firstly by the Bowles family of Wallington, then the Haselfoote family and finally by various people until 1908 when they were purchased by the Bishop of St Albans.
The oldest part of the church is the south end of the nave and the Norman clunch chancel arch. In the fifteenth century the tower was built and the nave extended to join up with it. The walls of the nave were heightened and the windows and porch of the church date from that time. At about the same time pews were installed for the first time. In 1814 the north doorway was blocked up and the coat of arms which now hang over the south door replaced an earlier larger one.
In the first decade of the twentieth century the church was in a poor condition and much work was done on restoring it. It was reconsecrated in October 1909 and the vicar died in December the same year. He had been vicar since c.1842 almost 68 years.
The church has eight light bells hung for change ringing. Since the construction in the same parish of the much larger St George's church in the town, St Nicholas's has become a chapel of ease. It is still used regularly from Easter to October, and is very popular for wedding ceremonies.
Polly and Cornelius Smith, the parents of Rodney "Gypsy" Smith, the famous international evangelist, are buried in the churchyard at Norton, Polly having died from smallpox while the family was passing through the parish. Cornelius Smith was also a well-known evangelist, often preaching the Gospel with his two brothers. 'Gypsy' Smith maintained contact with Norton, visiting his parents grave as often as he could.
The graves of many of Letchworth’s Belgian community can be seen in both Letchworth St. Marys and Norton St. Nicholas Churches, identified by the Belgian flags on the headstones.
The published coordinates take you to the church's lychgate where you will find an engraved memorial stone.
How many men of the parish "fell in the war 1914-19"? (Answer D)
Then move into the churchyard and find the section of the grounds with at least 3 Belgian soldier graves.
Soldier THONISSEN was born 23 April B8A9 and died 2C January 1FE8.
The cache container and log can be found close by at N 51 59.ABC W 000 12.DEF, but you might need some tweezers to get at the log book. If you are a little squeamish then you might want to take a photo of yourself with the cache and send it to the CO in lieu of signing the log.
For full information on how you can expand the Church Micro series by sadexploration please read the Place your own Church Micro page before you contact him at churchmicro.co.uk
See also the Church Micro Statistics and Home pages for further information about the series.
Many thanks to:
- Sadexploration for maintaining the Church Micro series
- HowarthClan for the cache hide idea
FTF honours go to ryo62. Well done!