CREATING AND NAMING LANGELEI
The new Benefice of Langelei, (a Team Ministry), was formally created on 1 October 2009. It comprised those parishes which were in the team Parish of Chambersbury, i.e. Holy Trinity Leverstock Green; St. Benedicts, Bennetts End; and St. Mary’s Apsley End, plus the parish of All Saints Kings Langley.
To quote from the first Benefice newsletter: “Each Parish has its own Parochial Church Council (PCC) responsible for managing its own local affairs, and the Team Council is responsible for oversight of the whole benefice, determining policies on mission, ministry and pastoral care.”
Creating the Benefice had been on the agenda for some years, but (and again to quote from the first newsletter) “....now offers the churches the huge opportunity of working collaboratively, harnessing the considerable resources at the disposal of all the churches.”
Before the benefice could be formally instituted, it would need a new name. A meeting was called with at least two representatives from each of the four churches, plus any other church members who wished to express an interest. This was held at St. Mary’s in April 2009. As both local historian, and Archivist for Holy Trinity I attended this meeting. I had previously given the naming of the new Benefice considerable thought, and came up with two suggestions, based on the same premise i.e. KINGS ABBEY and LANGELEI, submitting “Kings Abbey” to the meeting (click here see a copy of the sheet I submitted at the time), but also suggesting Langelei as an alternative as the discussion progressed.
Studying Leverstock Green’s history had meant I had to also study the area around our village, not least because the Parish of Leverstock Green had been formed from parts removed from three other parishes: Hemel Hempstead, St. Michael’s St. Albans, and St. Lawrence, Abbots Langley. Prior to the early 19th century all official records, including Births, Marriages and Deaths, as well as the National Census, were referred to as being part of their parish. This meant that any research I or anyone else undertook tracing families, buildings, farms etc. in Leverstock Green, involved the records of three separate parishes, rather than just the one. In addition to that, as time progressed the Parish of Leverstock Green’s boundaries were changed, with Nash Mills and much of St. Mary’s being drawn into the parish of Leverstock Green (while the remaining part of these parishes becoming part of the parish of St. John’s Boxmoor).
I knew from my earlier studies, that at the time of the Doomsday Census, although Leverstock Green and Apsley End did not exist under that name, over ¾ of the area of Leverstock Green was within the parish of Abotts Langley. The 11th century Medieval Parish ( as shown in the Doomsday Book), – a large long narrow parish, was LANGELEI (meaning Long Meadow) and was later (13th century) split into the two parishes of Kings Langley and Abbots Langley.
St. Mary’s Apsley, was within the Medieval Parish of Kings Langley, and had been created from a largish slice of the 1850 Parish of Leverstock Green. Therefore a very large part of the new Benefice would actually coincide with the Doomsday Parish of Langelei. The two medieval parishes would have covered all of today’s Apsley and Kings Langley, and a large proportion of Bennetts End and Leverstock Green.
Altogether there were about nine suggestions for the name of the new Benefice, and therefore it was not surprising that whittling down the suggestions to one which everyone could agree, took well over two hours of discussion and prayer. In the end the name of Langelei was agreed by everyone at the meeting to not only be the most appropriate; its meaning “Long Meadow”, as referred to in the current Langelei website as “ to describe our location, roughly in a triangle between Hemel Hempstead, Watford and St Albans”; and in the website for St. Mary’s in 2011, it was described as “ Langelei (long meadow) was chosen to describe the valley flowing southwest from Hemel to Include Kings Langley, which had at that point recently joined the team” were only part of the reasons why Langelei was chosen in the end.
It was as I recall, and expressed by several of members at the meeting that, "we were being led by God" to accept the name Langelei, as it was taking the parishes back to its original routes as a single parish. It was also a name which didn’t immediately suggest the precedence of any one of the constituent four parishes.
I have to admit that I feel very proud that it was my research and initial suggestion which ultimately led to the name of the new Benefice. Barbara Chapman 26 May 2019