HertfordshireAYOTSTLAWRENCEPalladianChurch(peteroconnorCC-BY-SA2.0)1 PeterOConnor

Palladian Church

A temple to Apollo where George Bernard Shaw played the organ.

Ayot St Lawrence, Hertfordshire

Opening times

Usually open from 10am to dusk, email us to confirm.


Church Lane
Ayot St Lawrence

We are a very strange place to find in the fields of Hertfordshire: down narrow, winding lanes, we were built as an 'eye catcher' for the manorial home of Sir Lionel Lyde.

His architect, Nicholas Revett, was a leading exponent of neo classical architecture in the Grecian style, and based this design on the Temple of Apollo on the istand of Delos in the Cyclades. The give away is the fluting detail on the top and bottom of our Doric columns: quite unique and what earned the church its Grade I listing.

Inside, the influence is more Roman in style, with a coffered ceiling modelled on the Pantheon. The little pavilions at either end of the church contain the bodies of Sir Lionel (north side) and his wife Rachel (south side). 'What the church united in life, let it keep separate in death', he decreed in his will, apparently reflecting a life of nuptial discord!

You can also see, a short walk away, the medieval church which was deliberately 'ruined' by Sir Lionel, perhaps in his attempts to create a contrast between old fashioned Gothic tradition and modern, pure thought as embodied in the Greek tradition and much admired in the Enlightenment period in the mid 18h century.

The old church is very close to refreshment at our 16th century village pub, the Brocket Arms, which once housed the monks from the church. Shaw's Corner, the Arts & Crafts house home for 44 years of George Bernard Shaw and his wife Charlotte, is also a short stroll. Owned by the National Trust, check their website for current opening arrangements.

  • Wildlife haven

  • Social heritage stories

  • National heritage here

  • Fascinating churchyard

  • Famous connections

  • Enchanting atmosphere

  • Captivating architecture

  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

  • Steps to enter the church or churchyard

  • Ramp or level access available on request

  • Dog friendly

  • Car park at church

  • Café within 500m

  • Accessible toilets nearby

  • We have a varied programme of events: check our website for details.

  • We have an important Art Show in June each year, drawing artists from across the country (www.ayotartshow.co.uk).

  • In October we host a choir from St Petersburg who thrill their audience with a short programme of Russian sacred and folk music.

  • We stage professional theatre (often with a GB Shaw association), opera and other musical performances.

  • Church of England

  • Partnership Grant, £5,000, 2011

  • Our Partnership Grants funded a range of repair projects, recommended by County Church Trusts, to help keep churches open.

Contact information

HertfordshireAYOTSTLAWRENCEPalladianChurch(peteroconnorCC-BY-SA2.0)1 PeterOConnor

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