Ayot St Lawrence Old Church
History of the Old Ruined Church
The Old Church (the ‘Ruined Church’) in the village is dedicated to Saint Lawrence. It was replaced as the village's parish church by the new St Lawrence Church, built in parkland belonging to Sir Lionel Lyde, the local squire, in its neoclassical style.
The old church is protected as a Grade II listed building, and dates back to the 12th century. The building was partially demolished in 1775 by Sir Lionel, who had acquired a country home, Ayot House, close by. According to legend, Lyde has a strong dislike for the building and was only stopped from completely demolishing it by the then Bishop of Lincoln.
You can catch up with the story by viewing the video on the page “History of the Palladian Church’.
The Bishop issued an injunction to prevent the church being further despoiled but nothing was done to repair the damage. Many years later (1920) the 10th Earl of Cavan rebuilt the arch between the Chancel and the North Chapel. It was not until 1999 that, under the supervision of the Ayot Old Church Preservation Trust, work began on stabilising the ruin with the help of grants from English Heritage, Heritage Lottery Fund, villagers and a significant contribution from a kind benefactor.
The old church dates from around 1150AD and was originally a nave and short chancel only. It was remodelled in the mid-13th century and a small north aisle was added. A north chapel was added in the early 14th century and the chapel was extended. The present tower was finally added over the north aisle, probably in the late 15th or very early 16th century.
The church is quite separate to the “Palladian” church, on the other side of a field, and is run by a Preservation Trust. Like the Palladian church, it relies entirely on donations and village volunteers to maintain it. It is available for hire for a variety of private functions and photo shoots. Please contact the Trustees in the first instance at firstname.lastname@example.org.