Thursday, 4 November 2010

Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire

Sawbo, aka Sawbridgeworth, is, around these parts, a synonym for shit-hole, much as Harlow, in the vernacular Arlow, is a synonym for single teenage mum and sink-hole estates, but rather surprisingly contains a jewel - and what a jewel. I knew you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover and I've now learnt not to judge a church by it's exterior - I took 150 interior photos which reflects the quality of Great St Mary.

The Church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is thought to be called Great St. Mary's to distinguish it from St. Mary's, Gilston. During the second half of the 18th century and much of the 19th it was said, even in the Diocesan books, to be dedicated to St. Michael, though how this confusion arose is a mystery. Later it was said to be dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, presumably a misinterpretation of S. Maria Mag., "Mag." being short for Magna = great.

The earliest reference we have to the church in Sawbridgeworth is the entry in Domesday Book that the priest had one hide (about 120 acres). The church itself is not mentioned, but that need not surprise us, for in the whole of Hertfordshire only three churches are mentioned.

Sawbridgeworth was assessed at 241/2 hides, which is four or five times the size of an average village; moreover it was almost all good farm land, so the tithes would have ensured a large income for the priest. It was, in fact, one of the most valuable benefices in the London Diocese and for many years was reserved by the Kings of England as provision for some favoured official. The list of Rectors is a striking one and bears the names of many who held high office in church and state.

The early history of the church is somewhat complex. The Manor of Sabrixteworde, as it was then called, was given by William the Conqueror to Geoffrey de Mandeville, who founded the Priory of Hurley, which he endowed with a third of all his lands. When he died, Sawbridgeworth was given to Eudo Dapifer until Geoffrey's son William had paid a debt of £2210. Eudo had just founded the Abbey of St. John, Colchester, and he endowed it with another third of the tithes of Sawbridgeworth. Eudo died in 1120 and Henry I granted the manor to his favourite Otuel FitzCourt, who was later drowned in the White Ship; then Henry gave it to the monks at Westminster and it is thought that he probably stipulated that a number of the monks should live at Sawbridgeworth and pray for the souls of those who had lost their lives in the White Ship.

During the war between Stephen and Matilda, Geoffrey de Mandeville, grandson of the first Geoffrey, managed to regain possession of Sawbridgeworth and he gave it to the Priory of Walden, which he had just founded. At that time Walter, Geoffrey's chaplain, was Rector and he is the first Rector whose name we know. Later, about 1220, the Bishops of London claimed that they had been given the advowson by an agreement with the Abbots of Walden and ;Westminster, and from that time until 1356 there were continual arguments between the Bishops of London and the Abbots concerning their rights. In actual fact, neither Bishop nor Abbot had much part in the selection of the Sawbridgeworth Rectors; they might claim their right of presentation, but the choice lay with the
King, and the King saw to it that the living went to one of his household. So it is that among Sawbridgeworth Rectors we find the names of four Chancellors of England, a Chancellor of the Exchequer, a Papal Vice-Chancellor and other notables.

ln 1356 the tithes were appropriated to the Abbey of Westminster and a vicarage was endowed. As a result the living was no longer wealthy and we find no more great men among the incumbents.

The present church dates from the 13th century but it must replace an earlier building, though no trace of such a church has been found. There is just one possible hint of an earlier phase. ln pagan times sacred stones were much venerated, and the Venerable Bede relates how Pope Gregory told his missionaries not to destroy them, but to incorporate them in the fabric of their churches. As a result a number of mediaeval churches have pagan stones built into their footings. One well known example is St. Mary's, Chesham, which is built on a circle of boulders. A near example is Magdalen Laver which has two pudding-stones marking the corners of the North Wall. Sawbridgeworth has a puddingstone built into the south wall of the tower.

The church consists of a chancel 44 ft. x 23.5 ft., a nave 58 ft. x 28 ft., north aisle 59 ft. x 11.5 ft., south aisle 73 ft. x 19 ft., south porch 12 ft. x 10 ft., and tower 19.5 ft. x 17 ft., all inside measurements.

It is built of rubble with flint facings and stone quoins, the chancel walls being coated with cement, and is surrounded by a large burial ground containing some fine trees. The battlemented tower is of three stages, surmounted by a 'Hertfordshire Spike'. The spike and roofs are covered with lead, with the exception of the north aisle which is covered with copper, and the south aisle with stainless steel.

In style it is Early English and the chancel, nave and lower stage of the tower are generally thought to be late 13th century, the aisles being added in the 14th century. According to the Victorian County History there was a tremendous amount of rebuilding of Hertfordshire village churches at this time. This is attributed to two causes: it was a time of Church reform, and the whole nation was seized with an impatience of the old forms and a desire for new things. Added to this a number of churches had fallen into a sad state of disrepair, the drain of men and money to the Scottish and French wars being given as one of the causes. This may well have been the case in Sawbridgeworth.

The clerestory and the roofs of the nave and aisle are said to be 15th century, together with the porch and upper stages of the tower. The little brick tower staircase is 16th century.

The church has apparently suffered no damage from Cromwell's army and the only Puritan influence now visible is in the pulpit with its inscription 'Christe is all in all' and in a few erasures from one or two brasses. The historian William Cole who came here in 1763, records 'The Communion Railes, which were maliciously and illegally pulled down by a usurped power in the late Rebellious Times, were, according to law and for the Honour and Decency of Religion, and again erected before the Communion Table in the Chancele of Sabridgeworth, on Thursday before Easter viz April 17th ano 1674 by the order of John Warde vicar'.

During the Protectorate in 1656 the chancel was found to be in a ruinous state and, it being reported that the nave was large enough to accommodate the whole parish, it was at first ordered that the chancel be pulled down and the material used to repair the nave. Later this order was rescinded and the chancel was restored. By 1700 it was again in a very bad state, the Vicar reporting that 'the last
repairs amounted to £2OO and were done presently after the Reformation and the said Chancel is much out of repair and in great danger of falling to the Ground if timely care be not taken’. It was again repaired and re-roofed.

In 1845 the whole church was in a shocking state, windows crumbling and the roof letting in the rain, and some repairs were done to the chancel and it was again re-roofed.

In 1849 there was a major restoration and at various times up to and including 1872 further repairs and alterations were carried out. In 1951 because of the high cost of lead the north aisle was re-roofed in copper, which was treated to harmonise with the old lead roofs.

Before the Victorian alterations there were two large family pews, belonging to Pishiobury and Hyde Hall, blocking up the screen and the entrance to the chancel. A three-decker pulpit stood on the south of the nave, the aisles were filled with box pews, though the nave had pews of the present type and the whole of the west part of the nave and the aisles was filled with three large galleries.

The east window was smaller, and beneath it was a carved wood reredos and a much smaller altar. It is generally thought that the chancel is late 13th century, but it has been so much repaired that most all the visible material is modern. However, according to the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, at the west end of the south wall there is an original richly moulded two-centre arch, said to be c. 1200. The Chancel arch is probably 13th century, repaired, with modern capitals and bases. In the north wall is a blocked doorway which used to lead to a vestry, pulled down because it was ruinous in the 19th century.

In 1656 the chancel was found to be in a ruinous state, and was to be pulled down, but the order was rescinded and it was restored at a cost of 2200. In 1700 it was in a poor state yet again and was repaired and re-roofed. 1845 saw the chancel in a shocking state, so repairs were again undertaken. In 2001 the lead on the roof needed to be replaced. When the lead was removed it was discovered that it was near to collapse. Of the ninety rafters fixed to the main beams sixty-five had completely rotted away. The whole roof was properly repaired, restored and strengthened.

The windows were all renewed in 1845, and in 1859 the east window was enlarged, but it was not until 1866 that the stained glass was inserted in memory of B. B. Colvin, Esq., of Pishiobury. It represents the Five Principal Events in the life of Our Lord and is by Hardman.

Over the chancel screen is the figure of The Risen Christ, a sculpture by John Mills, commissioned by The Friends of Gt. St. Mary for the millennium.

The oak ceiling was put up in 1872, before that there was plaster. On the west side of the second beam across the ceiling is the inscription '1662. Thomas Russell repaired this chancel. On the east side of the first beam from the east wall is 'W Sharpe 1884'.

To the north of the altar is the tomb of John Jocelin (d. 1525) and 'Philip' his wife. William Cole in 1763 notes that it is already mutilated.

On the south side is a richly carved canopied tomb of Purbeck marble, with indents for brasses of a man, his two wives and children and an emblem of the Trinity. There is a tradition that this also belongs to the Jocelin family, but it has not been possible to confirm it. It is interesting that it is practically identical with Chaucer's tomb in Westminster Abbey.

On the north wall is a charming painted alabaster monument to Sir Walter Myldemaye (d. 1606) and Marie his wife (d. 1605). They are shown kneeling, facing each other across a reading desk, while their son Thomas kneels behind his father. This is not, as is sometimes stated, the Sir Walter Mildmay who was Chancellor of the Exchequer and founder of Emmanuel College. He was also Sheriff of Herts from 1589-1590 and inherited Pishiobury from his father. He is buried in St. Bartholomew the Great.

Nearby is the brass of Jeffrey Jocelin (d. 1470) and his two wives Katherine and Joan. Further west, but still on the north side, is the large and flamboyant memorial to George, Viscount Hewyt (1652-1689). The trophies and architectural background are heavy and undistinguished, but the figure of Lord George himself and the head of the cherub above the inscription are beautifully done.

On the south wall is a large tablet to the Hon. Henry Lumley (1659-1722), his wife Anne (1669-1736) and his little daughter Frances. The inscription says that he was in every battle and at every siege as Colonel, Lt.-Colonel or General of Horse in 29 campaigns in Ireland, Flanders and Germany. Frances, his only child, was born when he was 55 and his wife 45, but she died in her sixth year. No wonder they say of her Sometime ye joy then ye anguish of her fond parents'.

The hatchment is one of the Jocelin family; the quarterings are Castelain, Batell, Hide and Bardolf.
The nave walls are probably 13th century and the arcades with their two-centred moulded arches 14th century, but the arches were much restored in 1849 when the nave was re-roofed and the clerestory windows renewed. Some of the carved heads at the stops of the arch mouldings date from this time and represent Bishop Wigram, Bishop Claughton, H. R. Rivers Esq. (Churchwarden), and the vicar's youngest son Oliver Cromwell Field. At this time the church was in the diocese of Rochester, and was transferred circa 1866 to the Diocese of St Albans. Bishop Claughton became the first Bishop of St. Albans, his tomb, a magnificent white marble monument may be found in the north transept of the Cathedral.

The roof is 15th century, with moulded beams and traceried spandrels, on carved stone corbels. As with the chancel, the roof was in a terrible state and had to be extensively renewed. This was started in 1849 under the direction of Harry Rivers, the vicar’s warden at the time. This was completed in 1872. The quinquennial inspection in 1997 showed that the nave roof was due to be re-leaded. In 2001 the old lead was stripped off to reveal that most of the timber was severely affected by dry rot, and was deemed to be in a dangerous condition. Consequently scaffolding had to be erected, not only over the roof but inside the whole of the nave whilst ends of the main beams were replaced together with the support arches. This of course added considerably to the cost, and a total amount of £300,000 had to be raised. This work was completed in December 2002. Generous support was given by various means, in particular by The Historic Churches Preservation Trust.

The screen of traceried oak is 15th century and above it there used to be a rood loft, the entrance to which can be seen in the east wall of the nave. This was no doubt taken down at the Reformation.

Above the chancel arch are four panels, showing the Lord's Prayer, ApostIes' Creed and the Ten Commandments. The letters were all cut out of cardboard, and covered with gold silk thread, and nailed on to blue velvet by the family of A. Wiseman, Esq. Vicar’s Warden, in 1878. Restored by ‘The Friends’ in December 1999. Work on the panels was carried out by National Trust conservators.

When the three-decker pulpit was taken apart, cleaned and scraped, it was found to be an old Jacobean oak pulpit with the date 1632. This is thought to have been added by the Puritans, and reads "Christie is all in all 1632". The Pulpit is now not in its original position, and was sited in front of the doors to the screen, which, together with the high sided Family Pews (now gone) virtually blocked out the view to the chancel. Several of the pews are early 16th century, the others 19th century copies.

On the east wall, above the lectern, is the black and white marble monument of Sir William Hewyt (d. 1637) and his wife Elizabeth (d. 1646). With its air of quiet devotion it is in marked contrast to that of Sir William's grandson, Lord George, in the chancel. Above the pulpit is the fine monument of Robert, Viscount Jocelyn (1688-1756), for 17 years Lord Chancellor of the Kingdom of Ireland. It is signed by John Bacon and is considered one of his best works. Viscount Jocelyn is shown wearing his robes and wig as Chancellor, while below is the weeping figure of Justice mourning his loss.

Near the entrance to the chancel is an incised floor slab with the almost obliterated figure of a woman. When seen in an oblique light it is just possible to make out the head, the hands and some folds of the garments. The inscription is in Lombardic letters but is too worn to read. The date appears to be late 13th century, so this is probably the oldest memorial in the church.

Nearby in the central aisle is the floor slab of Master Thomas de Aungerville, rector of this parish from 1333. Though the brass letters of the inscription have long ago disappeared the indents remain and are nearly all legible The language was Latin, the letters Lombardic. Translated the inscription reads 'Here lies Thomas de Aungerville, sometime Rector of Sabrichesworth' (an old form of Sawbridgeworth).

In front of the Iectern is a broken brass of 12 boys (there used to be 16) and one of six girls. This is all that remains of the brass of John Chauncy (d. 1479) and his wife Ann (d. 1477), sister of John Leventhorpe. The missing figure of John was long thought to be at Goodrich Court and a plate of eight children in Saffron Walden Museum was also said to belong to it. These were returned in 1949 and will be found in the south aisle, but as explained in the 'Notes on Monuments in Great St. Mary's' they cannot in fact be part of this brass.

On the south wall is a hatchment of the First Earl of Roden. His peer's robes are used instead of the usual mantling. On the north wall are, east, the hatchment of Jeremiah Milles, whose monument is in the south aisle, and west, that of an unmarried female member of the Gardiner family.

In 1967 the organ, which used to fill the arch between the chancel and the south aisle, was moved to its present position above the tower arch. Experiments then started to find the best place for the choir. The north aisle was tried, utilising some of the pews in the nave, but it finally joined the organ at the west end.

On the walls round the choir will be seen some of the brasses of the Leventhorpe family. On the south of the west wall are the brasses of Edward Leventhorpe (1514-1551) and his wife Elizabeth (d. 1592). Edward wears early Stuart armour, and Elizabeth's garments are also those of the end of the 16th century. On the north side is the heraldic brass of Joan, wife of Thomas Leventhorpe (d. 1527) whose brass has been lost. Originally Joan's mantle would have been coloured red with an ermine canton, and her headdress would also have been coloured.

On the north wall are the brasses of John Leventhorpe (1400-1488) and his first wife Joan (d. 1488). They are shown in their shrouds, and in their hands they hold their hearts inscribed with the prayer Jhu Mcy' (Jesu mercy).  Later the prayer was scored through, probably at the Reformation, when prayers for the dead were considered Popish. The inscription that belongs to these brasses is mounted below. It used to be on the east wall of the south chapel:

Beneath lie dust, decay and gnawing worm:
Death's lackey now he is, as life is his no more;
He nothing knows, nor has, nor are his virtues seen.
Look-meaner than the mire, the terror horror stench,
Disgrace of all the world, and common refuse he.
Here, brother see thyself and breathe a prayer for me.

The church used to be lit by two large chandeliers which hung from the roof of the nave and by long wooden candlesticks which fitted into the tops of the pews. The holes in which they fitted can still be seen.

Formerly the men used to sit on the south side of the nave and the women on the north side, but this was discontinued in 1879.

The lower stage of the tower is 13th century, the two upper stages 15th century. The tower arch is 14th century and so is the west doorway but both have been repaired.

In 1857 ‘the tower was re-cased in flint and during the course of the work the two lancet windows in the 2nd stage were rediscovered: they had been covered with plaster. They were repaired and the four 3rd stage windows were renewed. It was also at this time that the entrance arch and west windows were partly restored, but it was not until 1895 that the stained glass window was put in. The upper part of the centre light shows Our Lord appearing to the Disciples after the Resurrection, the lower His meeting with Mary at the raising of Lazarus. The right light shows Timothy with his mother Eunice, and the left David before Saul. The glass was given by J. T. Mann of Hyde Hall in memory of his second son.

In 1859 the gallery in the nave was removed and the tower arch was opened up. The big memorial to Sir Thomas Hewyt was also brought from the chancel and placed under the tower.

On the North wall is a list of the Benefactors for Charities connected with the Parish which dates back to 1732, and it is interesting to note the change in the lettering of the money. The pounds shillings and pence is denoted as 1 f d and the figure 1 is shown as a J. This must have changed during that year to read the usual £ s d.

Towards the end of the completion of repairs to the Nave roof in December 2002 it was discovered that part of the Tower was bulging and in a dangerous condition. Work was started to dismantle the East face, N. East and S. West corners and gradually re-build the whole of the East face. This took a long time as the walls are 4ft thick. The bulging was caused by the rotting of part of the original 16th century scaffolding called "put lugs" (similar to wooden railway sleepers). This, together with the weight of the bells and steeple had caused enormous cracks right to the top of the Tower. Further repairs to the West face and every corner were completed in June 2004.

The north arcade has rather richer mouldings than the south and is probably some 20 years older, though both are 14th century. So are the windows, though they were largely restored in the 19th century. The stained glass was put in in 1882 by Mr. Wiseman and represents some of the parables. The north doorway is also 14th century.

At the east end is the Memorial Altar dedicated to the men who gave their lives in two World Wars. The roll of honour was carved by the local firm of Walter Lawrence and Son, and the altar furniture was bought with funds from the wartime Forces Canteen.

Beside the altar is a large piscina, whose height shows that the floor of the old chapel which must once have been here was at least 18 inches higher than the present level.

The pews were installed in 1859, replacing the old box pews.

The roofs of both aisles are 15th century, with moulded ribs and carved bosses. They used to be plastered between the ribs, but the plaster was removed in 1951.

The south aisle is 14th century and in the south wall of the chapel is a blocked 14th century window, but all the other windows are either modern or greatly restored. The two windows in the south wall were put in in 1862, replacing one large and one small window. The stained glass in the more westerly one was put in in 1884 in memory of Mrs. Hiley of Hyde Hall and represents the Feeding of the Five Thousand; the other was added two years later in memory of Lieut. Hiley and shows the Raising of Lazarus. The brass inscription beneath this window can be translated: 'Not only in memory of a youth distinguished for rare physical and mental powers, but also to the glory of God who in mercy gave and with mercy hath taken away his life this window has been erected by a grief stricken father and a friend'.

Beside it is an interesting example of a modern brass. It is that of Cpl. Joseph Vick (d. 1888). He was one of the few survivors of the "six hundred" in the Charge of the Light Brigade. He had his horse shot from under him and was wounded in the head, rescued by holding on to the stirrup of a fellow soldier. He was buried in the churchyard with full military honours and the brass was erected by public subscription at the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

The roof is 15th century and most of the corbels are carved, the four more easterly ones being symbols of the four Evangelists.

The altar is a solid oak communion table, nearly square, of about the same age as the pulpit, and used to be the High Altar. It has had a chequered career. At some unknown period a new altar was installed and this one was relegated to the old vestry. When the vestry was pulled down, it was sold to a tradesman in the town and from there it passed to the Reading Room. The Reading Room was a failure, so a carpenter bought the table for a planing bench, and the vicar, the Rev. S. R Field, happening to see it, thought it looked ecclesiastical, traced its history, bought it back and restored it to the church. The next vicar lengthened it, and in 1939 it was placed in its present position, when the south aisle was blacked out and used for evening services.

Behind the altar two broken pieces of coffin lid will be seen leaning against the east wall. They are of similar type but do not belong to the same coffin, and one of them is inscribed. The letters are Lombardic, the language Norman French: only part of the inscription survives. Translated it reads 'William   lies here. God of his charity have mercy`.

This stone was found some years ago in a Knight Street yard being used as a chopping block. The other was found a little later in a Bell Street garden being used as a doorstep. Both are probably 13th century.

The south aisle is the original resting place of the Leventhorpe family's memorials, though some have been moved to the west end. In front of the altar is the magnificent brass of the founder of the Hertfordshire branch of the family, John Leventhorpe (d. 1435), and his wife Katherine (d. 1437). He was the second son of a Yorkshire squire, yet he rose to be King's Esquire to Henry IV and Henry V, Guardian of Henry V when he was a boy, Receiver General of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Executor of the Wills of both Henry IV and Henry V.

Nearby is the fine painted alabaster tomb of Sir John Leventhorpe, the 1st Baronet (1560 to 1625) and Joan his wife (d. 1627). Below them kneel their children. Charles, their fourth son, who was Rector of High Roding, is shown in clerical dress, and Arthur, who died in infancy, is shown as a child.

Near the porch is a floor slab, similar to that of Thomas de Aungerville in the nave, but so worn that it is impossible to read the inscription.

The chest is probably early 17th century. It is oak, with iron straps, and was fastened with five padlocks, one of which is wedge shaped, having the hole for the key at the side, and is very old. The lid has been sawn in half and a door made at one end. For many years it was used as a coal bin, which accounts for some of its damage.

The south door is particularly massive. It is of English Oak cut from Hatfield Forest, 11 ft. 6 in. by 5 ft. 2 in. and 4½ in. thick with traceried panels and most original ironwork. It is probably 14th century or early 15th century, but has been repaired. The huge old key has a stem 1 ft. long.

Near it is an old oak poor box with three locks, which probably dates from about 1600.

The font is octagonal, with quatrefoil panels and dates from c. 1400. It is very much repaired and is said to have been in 200 pieces.

The two hatchments are, east, that of Rose, wife of Jeremiah Milles and, west, that of her daughter, wife of Rowland Alston.

Mrs. R A. Esdaile, the great authority on English Monumental Art, has written 'The brasses at Sawbridgeworth, the admirable Church chest, the poor box, and the colossal mediaeval South door are well known. It is less commonly realised that the sculptured monuments are of quite exceptional importance. The Church in fact is a museum of English sculpture by great artists'.


Great Saint Mary (2)

John Leventhorp 1488

Sir Walter Mildmaye 1606.1

Henry Lumly 1722.1

Sir John Leventhorpe 1625

Sawbridgeworth. We turn from the Cambridge road into Bell Street, and it is like going back 300 years. The old cottages of timbered-and-plastered brick overhang the street on either side, and at the end is a church where the great folk of this small town live on in stone and brass.

They are nobly housed in this spacious medieval church, standing boldly on a wide expanse of lawn among pines and yews, with a view across the River Stort through a row of chestnuts. The nave and the chancel are 700 years old, the aisles and arcades 600, the spire, the upper part of the stalwart tower, the porch and clerestory were added 500 years ago, and on the bell outside the tower the hours have struck since Charles II got back his throne.

We enter by the massive iron-strapped door which has been opening and shutting for 500 years. Here is the traceried chancel screen and the aisle roofs with carved bosses all new in those days, the railed pews with linenfold ends, the poor-box into which the Elizabethans dropped their alms, the pulpit and the great chest with five locks, and the font to which rich and poor brought their babies 600 years ago to be baptised by Thomas de Aungervil, whose stone is in the floor of the nave. On another stone is cut the outline of a 14th-century nun, nameless, as is the grand 15th century canopied tomb from which the brass portraits have been torn.

The chief families portrayed in brass and stone are the Levenhorps, who were here for centuries, and the Joscelyns, who lived across the river at Hyde Hall, now replaced by a Georgian house. At Hyde Hall was born John Joscelyn, one of our first Anglo-Saxon scholars, who as Latin secretary to Archbishop Parker contributed the Lives of the Archbishops for his employer’s History of the British Church, published in 1572. John lies at High Roding in Essex, but here are buried his relatives: Ralph, twice Lord Mayor of London during the 15th century; John, who is sculptured with his wife on a tomb of 1525; and Geoffrey, pictured on a brass of 1470 with his two wives and 18 children. (this was the only inaccessible brass when I visited -to view it you have to make prior arrangements as several rows of chairs have to moved). Then come the Leventhorps: Sir John, an executor of Henry V’s will, with a fine brass portrait of himself and his wife; Joan, probably the brass lady of about 1500 who has lost her name and her husband but retains the Leventhorp arms; Mary of 1566, whose portrait is under the tower near those of a nameless 15th century couple in shrouds; Edward and his wife, with brass portraits made in 1600; and last of all Sir John Leventhorp, whose stone figure in jacobean armour reclines by his wife’s, while their eight daughters and six sons (one the jolliest little fellow) appear in relief. There are also figures of their neighbours, Sir William Hewett and his wife, and a small monument of 1606 where Sir Walter Myldemaye kneels with his wife and their bearded son. It was to this Sir Walter that Elizabeth I granted Pishiobury, the 250 acre park to the south of the town, but the noble mansion Sir Walter built there was burned down, and only some panelling and a few fittings were rescued for the house raised in its place beside the lake, a battlemented brick house reached by an avenue of oak trees nearly a mile long.


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  3. nice article, informative, enjoyable, interesting - esp. as I grew up in S'worth and got married there (almost half a century ago)! BUT why such an offensive comment right at the very beginning? Kindly remove the very ugly word beginning with "s". It spoils thge rest and nearly discouraged me from reading any more. Thank you. p.s. S'worth has lots more than just Gt. St. Mary's to explore in terms of history and architecture. It was a fine place to grow up in - I'm genuinely sorry if the town has deteriorated ... I know that lots of "outsiders" came to lice there some years back (and may not bothered about keeping the town clean & tidy?) and many new housing estates have sprung up (and the lovely old pubs have changed in character - and the cricket field is fenced off and private now, and walks by the river are not so nice, and quaint little shops have closed, but even so, please don't rubbish the place completely. I know that many of the very old family names (from many centuries ago) live on and there are still plenty in the town who are doing their best to make it a good place to live. As I said, remove that nasty word, please.

    1. Because you are commenting anonymously I'll reply in depth to your specific complaint - no, it's a shithole.