Monday, 13 September 2010

Abbess Roding, Essex

I haven't been posting updates due to the school holidays (which always lead to less time for personal pleasures) however I have managed to visit some churches and will resume from where I left off at the beginning of August.

St Edmund in Abbess Roding was a very pleasant surprise - an attractive exterior containing two lovely memorials; one to Sir Gamaliel Capel and the other to Mildred Lucklyn.

The fabric of the church dates from the 14th and 15th centuries but was extensively restored in 1867 under the direction of the Rev Laurence Capel-Cure and at considerable personal cost. To my, untutored, eye the restorative work was sympathetic.

The memorial on the north wall of the nave shows Sir Gamaliel Capel, who died aged 50 in 1627, his wife, Jane Brown (who was his first cousin), and their six sons and three daughters.

Here lieth Sir Gamaliel, knight, son of Henry Capel Esq., and Lady Katherine, daughter of the Earl of Rutland. He marryed Jane one of the daughters of Weston Brown Esq., by whome he had six sonnes viz:- Gamaliel, knight, Thomas, Anthony, Henry, Theodosius and Francis, and three daughters - Mary, Anne and Mildred - Ob. A.D.1627 aet fuae 50.

"We bragge no vertures, and we begge no teares.
O, Reader, if thou hast eyes and ears
It is enough; but tell me why
Thou comst to gaze? Is it to pry
Into our cost? or borrowe
A copie of our sorrowe?
Or dost thou come
To learn to dye.
To practice by?
If this be thy desire,
Remove thee one step nigher,
Here lies a President; a rarer
Earth never showed, nor heaven a fayrer.
She was... but roome denyes to tell the what.
Summe all perfections uppe, and she was that".

Almost directly opposite, on the south wall, is Mildred Lucklyn's memorial which shows her looking out from a curtained recess with her head reclining on her right hand while her left hand is on an open  book. Cherubs are holding back the curtains and two angels are depicted about to place a crown on her head.

ST EDMUND. Nave C14, chancel C15, E window from the restoration of 1867, W tower also 1867. The nave roof has tie-beams on arched braces with a little tracery in the spandrels. Inside the chancel on the N side a niche which was originally the opening into a closet recognizable on the outside. - FONT. Square, of the late C12, decorated on one side with a Norman foliage trail, on one with a trail of a rather unusual stylized shape, on the third with the sun, a whorl, and two rosettes, and on the fourth with two flowers and three small roses. - SCREEN. With two-light divisions, the mullion being carried up into the apex of the four-centred arch. Each light has an ogee arch with some panel-tracery above. - PULPIT. With an uncommonly fine, generously large tester; C18. - HOUR GLASS STAND. Wrought iron, early C18, near the pulpit. - STAINED GLASS. In a chancel S window. Good figures of a Bishop and a female Saint surrounded by tabernacle-work not in its original state; C15. - MONUMENTS. Sir Gamaliel Capell d. 1613, with the usual kneeling figures facing each other, the children kneeling in the ‘predella’. - Lady Lucklyn d. 1633, with frontal demi-figure, head propped on elbow and a book in front of her. Two cherubs, seated on the outer volutes, hold a curtain open. Flying little putti behind. The monument has been attributed to Epiphanius Evesham (J. Seymour). 

ABBESS RODING. Elms line the deep lane which brings us to its small medieval church, with a thin lead spire on a modern tower. Here are almost the best screens in the county for a church of its size, a deep band of elaborate tracery carved in the closing years of the 15th century and filling a third of the opening below the low-pitched arches. The panels have tracery at both ends and rich ornament along the rail. The roof of the chancel is 15th century; the rich woodcarving on the canopy of the pulpit is 18th. The oldest possession of the church is a square Norman font, but its chief  treasure is in the windows, which have medieval glass showing a bishop and a saint. The bishop stands with great dignity in his robes and mitre, his staff in his hand and two fingers raised in blessing - a little masterpiece said to have been saved from destruction by being buried in some time of danger. The saint is probably Margaret; she has golden hair and is shown thrusting her staff into the mouth of a dragon. Both figures are 15th century.

There are two brightly painted monuments to the Capel family with a span of 300 years between them, the older one showing Sir Gamaliel Capel kneeling with his wife at a desk with a cloth of green and gold, their nine children in Jacobean costume below; and the modern one in memory of Lawrence Capel Cure, who was rector here for 54 years. On his wall-monument is his gorgeous coat-of-arms in full colour. The old hourglass is still on his pulpit, half-full of sand; he must have turned it over many times, and perhaps heard the applause of his congregation as he did so, starting his fourthly and fifthly in those days of long sermons. On another monument a lady of Stuart times (Lady Lyckyn) is being crowned by two angels.

In this village John Thurloe was born in the year Shakespeare died; he rose to be Secretary of State to Cromwell. To him we owe most of our knowledge of the Commonwealth under Cromwell. He was one of the Commissioners sent by Parliament to treat with Charles Stuart at Uxbridge, and was Secretary of State during the Protectorate. A man of great ability, he played an important role in Parliament, but was chiefly valuable to the country as over­seer of home and foreign posts. So successful was he in detecting plots and plotters that it was  said that Cromwell carried at his belt the secrets of all the princes of Europe. Sincere friendship linked the two men, Thurloe being one of the few to whom Cromwell un­bent. Thurloe revered and loved him, and would have had him king. Under Richard Cromwell he was the one strong man of the nation, able, sincere, and selfless. When the Restoration came he was imprisoned for treason, but was released and took no further part in public life. Charles the Second desired him to return to his old position, but Thurloe answered that he despaired of serving him as he had served Cromwell, whose rule, he said, "was to seek out men for places, and not places for men."

He died at his chambers in Lincoln's Inn in 1668. Many years after his death his vast store of State papers was found hidden in a false ceiling of a garret above his room: letters, copies of Cromwell's speeches now first made known, and reports by spies. He betrayed no man, taking his secrets with him to the grave.

Flickr set.

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