An anniversary launch at Hitchin history event for book telling village church’s story

Inside St Martin's Church, Preston

Inside St Martin's Church, Preston - Credit: Archant

There will be a whole lot of history in Hitchin on Saturday as heritage organisations come together to showcase the area’s long heritage, and the work they do to preserve and promote it.

Author Philip Wray

Author Philip Wray - Credit: Archant

The free event at Church House is being hosted by Histin Historical Society, but it reaches far beyond the town.

Hitchin’s past and present will be represented by the organisers, as well as the British Schools Museum and Hitchin Forum.

But there will also be stalls manned by Letchworth’s International Garden Cities Exhibition, the Three Counties Asylum Group which specialises in the history of the former Fairfield Hospital in Stotfold and its predecessors as well as village groups from nearby Pirton and Preston.

The North Herts Museum Service, primed to move into its brand-new home as part of the Hitchin Town Hall redevelopment, will also be there along with representatives from Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies and North Herts Archeological Society.

St Martin's Church, Preston - a new book by Philip Wray

St Martin's Church, Preston - a new book by Philip Wray - Credit: Archant

And if you’ve ever wanted to know more about Royston’s famous cave, the Royston and District Local History Society will be there too.

It’s a free event running from 10am to 4pm, but if you’d like to take the chance to scale the tower of St Mary’s Church next door you’ll be asked to pay £2 for the privilege.

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Preston’s contribution will focus on the village’s St Martin’s Church, the subject of a new 72-page booklet by history author Philip Wray.

By coincidence the day also marks the 115th anniversary of the church’s consecration.

The comprehensive publication includes an in-depth review of Preston’s religious history, the church at Preston School, events leading up to the building of St Martin’s and the laying of the foundation stone, and worship at the church during the 20th century.

It also covers prominent members of the congregation and a complete listing of marriages and burials/ashes laid to date as well as a note of the earliest baptisms.

Philip Wray, who also released A History of Preston in Hertfordshire earlier this year, said: “There was so much local interest in the history of Preston that I decided to write a series of booklets which examined the heritage of the village in more detail.

“St Martin’s Church in Preston is the first one in the series.

“Preston with its association with Minsden Chapel and nonconformity at Bunyan’s Dell in Wain Wood, has a unique religious history.

“I was amazed at how helpful present-day parishioners and residents have been in giving details and photographs which illuminate the text.

“There are more than 90 images in the booklet.”

Copies are £5 and will be available from the Preston stand at Church House on Saturday, or Philip can be contacted via

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