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Flaunden’s current village church of St Mary Magdalene is of simpler design than its ancient, long-abandoned predecessor down in the valley between Latimer and Chenies.
Erected in 1838, it consists of a nave-only, porch and turret. The compact plain structure of flint, with brick quoins and dressings is thought at be the first church to be designed by Sir Gilbert Scott R.A., and was largely funded by former rector Rev Samuel King.
Font, bell, and floor tiles in the porch were brought from the old church – as was an historic chalice, which is still used on special occasions. Hallmarked 1577, this chalice was reputedly gifted to Flaunden parish by Queen Elizabeth I.
The centre-section of one of St Mary Magdalene Church’s three stained-glass windows was gifted in 1958 by the Moore family in memory of their parents, buried in the churchyard. And side-panels were added later from money raised by villagers.
Moores Motorcycles began business in the village at the Old Forge, Hogpits Bottom, in 1920, and still trades in Hemel Hempstead.
Classically picturesque, surprisingly remote, yet less than 30 miles from Charing Cross.
It is these ingredients, this combination of character-istics, that makes the Dragon’s Domain such an attractive choice of location for motion-picture and TV-series makers as well as for walkers.
The scene is set by the many half-timbered and mellowed-brick buildings dotting the villages and winding lanes. There are, too, the peaceful rural footpaths and safe bridleways. Then for the more adventurous, there are demanding walks across open farmland and through the steep wooded valley-sides leading to the shallow but fast-flowing River Chess.
And at the epicentre of this domain – comprising Flaunden and the neighbouring villages and hamlets of Bovingdon, Chipperfield, and Belsize in Herts, plus Latimer and Chenies across the border in Bucks – is, of course, the Green Dragon itself.
Flaunden Village
'St Mary Magdalene'
The Church that moved.
'Of an unusual Greek-style cruciform design, it dated from about 1230AD and, like its successor, was dedica
Flaunden, still often pronounced ‘Flaarnden’ locally, was originally sited down in the adjacent Chess Valley. But constant flooding from the River Chess caused the villagers to re-locate over 200 years ago – moving up the hill right into the very heart of The Dragon’s domain.
Still to be seen there alongside the river bank – though now hidden away among a clump of fir trees – are the fast-vanishing ruins of the original tiny village Church.
The Green Dragon, Flaunden, Hertfordshire, HP3 0PP. Tel: 01442 832269. Website creation: Mike Barnes. Text & original photography: David Sowter.