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Unlike other churches in the Parish, The Hamlet Church has a relatively short history. Before the middle of the 19th century, Duddenhoe End villagers were expected to walk to St Nicholas, Elmdon, each Sunday, no matter the weather. The Squire Parson of Lofts Hall, Rev Robert Wilkes, converted the tithe barn into a church in 1859.
The barn existed in 1610, part of Lantern Thatch Farm (the farmhouse is now Church House, adjacent to the Hamlet Church). Funds were raised locally for the conversion, with the pews made from pine from the Lofts Hall Estate. When St Dunstan's closed, its locally crafted altar rail and classical marble font were transferred to Hamlet Church.
An unusual feature of the church is that the altar is set on the long, eastern, wall of the building, with the scrubbed pine pews set accordingly. The pew backs support turned pine candlesticks. The thatch is almost unique, with only one other thatched church in the Diocese.
Today, the ambience of the building is charming and welcoming, but in 1990 the building was in a very poor state of repair and the whole village clubbed together to pay for extensive renovations, including replacement of the thatch, a renovation of the porch and replacement of damp and rotten timbers. The defunct harmonium was replaced by an electric organ, electric heating was installed and the pews removed from around the font to create an open area suitable for Sunday School and after service coffees.
The church is one of seven in The Parish of The Icknield Way Villages, created in December, 2008. For details of services in the parish, go to www.icknieldwayparish.com and click on Services.
Off Essex Hill,
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