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The Established Church in Humbershoe

Markyate Church January 2010
Markyate Church January 2010

Humbershoe had no church. Presumably, until the early 18th century, people living there went either to Studham, Kensworth, Caddington or Flamstead in Hertfordshire. Former County Archivist Chris Pickford produced a series of studies of Bedfordshire churches in the 19th century for Bedfordshire Historical Records Society and his volume (the Society's Volume 77) included a section on Markyate church from which some of this piece is taken.

The church of Saint John the Baptist was built a manorial waste ground near Markyate Cell and, being on the east side of the road, was always in Hertfordshire, albeit the Hertfordshire portion of the parish of Caddington. The church was built by John Coppin of Markyate Cell in 1734 for the benefit of the people of Markyate. For six years it was a chapel of ease of Caddington church (which, of course, was and is in Bedfordshire!) but in 1741/2 Coppin obtained an Act of Parliament making it a perpetual curacy, it was not a parish church, since Markyate was not a parish, but it was independent of any other parish church.

Markyate finally became a separate ecclesiastical parish, called Markyate Street, in 1877, being an amalgamation of the portions of the ancient parishes of Flamstead, Caddington (both Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire), Studham and a detached portion of Houghton Regis. At this time Markyate was still, for local government purposes, divided between the Bedfordshire civil parish of Humbershoe (created in 1866 from part of the ancient parish of Studham), the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire portions of Caddington, Flamstead and that detached portion of Houghton Regis. These disparate elements were not brought together into one civil parish of Markyate until 1897; the new civil parish was, and is, in Hertfordshire.

The ecclesiastical parish of Markyate Street was part of the Berkhamstead Rural Deanery from 1877 to 1907, then Saint Albans Rural Deanery from 1907 to 1930, Luton Rural Deanery from 1930 to 1970 and has been in Wheathampstead Rural Deanery from 1970 to date.