St Helen's Church
is the oldest church in Wheathampstead
although the exact date of its origins are unknown. The originally wooden Saxon structure pre-dated the Norman conquest
, but no records survive which establish the date upon which it was founded.
An ambitious scheme of restoration was begun during the early part of the 13th century, the original Saxon church having apparently become dilapidated. The Normans rebuilt and lengthened the chancel
in around 1238AD. The east window triple lancets which still survive in the structure today date from this time as do the window and doorway with its dog-tooth decoration on the north side of the sanctuary. However, from the Lincoln Cathedral
Registry (Wheathampstead fell with the See of Lincoln
up until 1845) the building of the central tower dates to about 1290AD, which is the first definitive date that can be ascribed to the church.
St. Helen's is built of flint rubble, or Totternhoe clunch
, with flint
facings and limestone
dressings. There being no stone of this type in the area, it is thought that the medieval builders used stone from the Midland quarries shipped down the River Ouse
and from there conveyed by horse and cart along the Roman roads to Wheathampstead.
Within the church is a statue dedicated to the memory of Apsley Cherry-Garrard
, the polar explorer.