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Unlike the other villages within the benefice, Bayford was a private village between 1757 and 1945, owned initially by William Baker, although in time the family changed its name to Clinton Baker. The estate was sold by the family in 1947.

The Parish Church of St Mary stands about a quarter of a mile north of the village. Prior to 1867, Bayford was one parish with Essendon though separated geographically by the parish of Little Berkhamsted. There was certainly a chapel in Bayford before 1366 when the inhabitants petitioned the Bishop of Lincoln concerning the difficulties of transporting bodies for burial at Essendon. Floods meant it was frequently impossible to negotiate the stream on the parish boundary with Little Berkhamsted. The Bishop was sympathetic and the chapel at Bayford was licensed to enable the dead to be buried there. A plain brick church was built in 1804 to replace the previous chapel. This church was replaced by William Robert Baker of Bayfordbury with the present grander building faced with Kentish ragstone in the style known as Victorian Gothic, which was built in front of the old church and consecrated in 1871.

The church retains memorials from both of the previous churches including a 15th-century font and the tomb of Sir George Knighton who died in 1612 and now forms part of the north wall of the chancel. 


The elegant interior includes some beautiful stained-glass windows. William Yarrell (1784-1856) whose extensive writings on natural history are now kept in the British Museum is buried in the churchyard.

The open well-maintained churchyard has a surrounding wall and ha-ha ditch which are listed and in need of repair We ask that you climb on neither to preserve the remaining structure. There is a fully consecrated extension to the churchyard that has yet to be used. The church has toilet facilities, heating and a sound system and is open daily to visitors. There is limited parking.

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