The interior is another matter. The walls are pure plain white (except for the pale blue shallow apse), and there's what seems like a forest of white Tuscan columns. All but two of them are what we might call normal size, and are grouped in twos and threes with the plainest possible little classical arches between them. The two exceptions, which support the flat roof of the transepts, are positively Brobdingnagian, well over twice as tall as the others. This results in thrillingly ever-changing vistas as you walk around; with every step a new angle is revealed, and every now and again the two titanic columns come into view, somehow giving you an inappropriately little shock each time. Lutyen's manipulation of space from a few very simple elements is masterful.
No expense was spared (I assume without evidence that Lytton paid for the church). Only the best quality bricks and pantiles were accepted, and the wood had to be 'Memel, Dantzic or Riga sawn die square, sound and well-seasoned, cut out perfectly.' The smaller columns are made of Portland stone, but the two large ones are actually not quite what they seem, as they have a brick core, coated with cement. (I'm sure that when I once tapped one of them it rang metallically, but perhaps I'm misremembering.)
The Portland stone vase-like font was (I again assume) designed by Lutyens. The organ pipes are arranged in a novel fashion, in a pair of ascending spirals, and date from 1965.
Lutyen's original plan for the nave, which would have been much longer than the structure as built and would have reached the end of the present car park, and terminate in a flight of steps (within a semi-circular wall) down to the road, is shown above. The aisles were to have continued all the way to the west end (maintaining the almost rectangular floor plan), which culminated in a narthex with a large central doorway surrounded by window openings. Terribly grand and over-ambitious for what was after all just a village church. The whole thing was verging on megalomaniacal (like his aborted plans for Liverpool's Roman Catholic Cathedral), and it's a wonder that anything got built at all.
* It's in what's now called Old Knebworth a mile or so from Knebworth and St Martin's, though surely the two distinct settlements should be called Knebworth and New Knebworth respectively.
** Knebworth station opened in 1884. Stories are often told of Victorian landowners refusing to allow the newfangled railways to be built across their estates, so it's pleasing to learn that the 1st Earl actively arranged for the Great Northern Railway to traverse his land (though not too close to his actual house, it should be noted).
|The Parish Centre, 1993, by Morris & Weatherall, makes a creditable shot at imitating the style of the church|
|An apparently unfinished capital|