The church of St Lawrence in the tiny village of Ayot St Lawrence in Hertfordshire (the last home of Sir George Bernard Shaw), is like a Greek temple, with Doric portico and two colonnaded wings leading to pavilions on each side, a perfect example of the Paladin style. The front of the church is stuccoed, but the back has been left in plain brick, whilst the roof is of copper sheeting. The very fine interior is in keeping with the structure and the altar is at the west end.
Sir Lyonel Lyde of Ayot House and Lord of the Manor in 1778, was responsible for this curious edifice, having decided to build a new church for the village. Actually, he decided that the old medieval church obstructed the view from his house and decided to demolish it and to build the new church to the west of his house where he could see and admire it from a distance. Before he could demolish the old church, the Bishop intervened with an injunction, but the old building was never restored and was left in ruins as seen today.
The appearance of the exterior of the new church is due to the fact that Sir Lyonel could only see the front of the building and this also explains why the altar is at the west end of the church, i.e the opposite end to the front.
The tombs of Sir Lyonel and his wife are under the two side pavilions, one on each side. It is said that these unusual separate mausoleums were the outcome of a life of nuptial discord. Sir Lyonel had apparently vowed that since the church had united them in life, it should make amends by separating them in death.
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Photo taken in Ayot St. Lawrence, Hertfordshire, UK