History of the church of St Leonards, Sandridge
By Daniel Hill
According to a pamphlet from the church, the church had been renovated at some point in its history. It references Revd. Dr. Griffith, who himself kept records of the Churches history. He described the Parish of Sandridge itself as “young”. He notes how it was included in the Kingdom of Mercia in the 8th Century, during which time the ruler, King Offa 11, founded the abbey of St Albans. Offa referred to different parts of the parish in different ways, he called the manor house, and he called the living area and habitable farmland “enclosure”, and areas such as the Heath and Nomansland as the “Waste”. In 793, Offa then built a monastery, in tribute to murder of King Ethelbert of East Angles. In 796, the Son of Offa gave the manor of Sandridge to St Albans Abbey. After dissolution of the church in 1539, it was “given into Gods Service”. From then on, the Abbot and his monks were responsible for those living in the manor. Church building was revived post-rapture (1000). Under Edward the Confessor church rebuilding began again. However, later on, King William of Normandy took land from the abbot of St Albans, as they disagreed on a number of subjects. The Church did not consecrate the church of St Leonard till 1116, despite being built by Norman’s in the eleventh century. It was rebuilt in the twelfth century, at the peak of Norman architecture. The Monastery of St Albans were meant to look after Sandridge church, and unlike others, they actually did provide for the upkeep of this church. Then, during the Black Death, the Abbot of St Albans died of the plague, as did the majority of the monks. John Balle was then appointed; he is the first vicar we know of as vicar of the parish, during the Black Death.
HALS Library “St Leonards Church Sandridge, ‘The Rock whence ye are hewn'” by HR Wilton-Hall