Thursday, 4 November 2010

Stisted, Essex

Sandwiched between a golf course and a pre-school All Saints is an obvious candidate  to be locked without a keyholder listed.

Why give golfers or pre-schoolers access to your church? Or anyone else for that matter - I can't be arsed to rant.

All Saints is a curious blend of north and south Essex and is rather enjoyable for it - I particularly liked the octagonal tiled spire, which is odd because this style does not normally appeal to me!

The church is not to a standard configuration nor is its external appearance typical of the area. It comprises nave and chancel, north and south aisle. The tower and spire are at the east end of the south aisle adjacent to the nave. The vestry is to the north east corner of the chancel with a boiler room below. There are north and south porches.

The roofs of the chancel and vestry are covered in plain clay tiles with pointed verges and overhanging eaves. The roofs of the nave, aisles and porches are generally lead covered with overhanging eaves. There are parapets to the east and west ends of the nave and aisles. The church spire is covered with cedar shingles. The walls are flint rubble including some conglomerate and with limestone dressings.

It is recorded that the church was begun in the late twelfth century, although very little of this period remains. The chancel was built in the thirteenth century, as was the south arcade.

The aisle and vestry generally date from the fourteenth century. The church was extensively 'restored' in the nineteenth century when the two porches and the tower were added.

Old foundations were dug up near the chancel indicating that the church may have been larger at one time, but no details are available.

On the ground floor of the tower is a wall tablet stating "The tower was rebuilt from the foundations by Onley Savill-Onley and at the same time the chancel was new roofed and restored by the Rev Charles Forster AD 1844". In the first floor ringing chamber there are several photographs and an oil painting. The bells are rung now on certain Sundays and special occasions but as recently as 1950-1960 the tower was often used for 'competition' ringing.

Descriptions of the church prior to the nineteenth century restoration works refer to a gallery at the west end. At that time Stisted had a church and village band. The band was replaced by a harmonium which was eventually sold in 1892 when it was replaced by the organ.

The nave was filled by box pews of different sizes and shapes. They were lined with green baize and studded with brass nails. The pew belonging to Stisted Hall was at the front and raised two steps above the others. The other pews followed in order of perceived importance with the farmers next.

The pews generally had doors and some were like four poster beds with curtains hung around. It is suggested some had fireplaces with poker, tongs and shovel.

The pulpit, based on the descriptions was a three-decker pulpit with an octagonal sounding board above and the clerk's desk adjoining the reading desk.

ALL SAINTS. A church of odd external shape; but it must be remembered that the tower, standing at the E end of the S aisle was built only in 1844. Chronologically the history of the church begins with the N arcade of five bays, or rather three with odd narrower arches at the W and E ends. The arcade is of c. 1180-90 and has short circular piers with very good square foliage capitals. The E capital is a little later; round with heads at the corners. The S arcade has in the corresponding place a capital of the same type. The others are without carving. The N and S arches have only one slight chamfer. The chancel belongs to the same time as the E capitals. It possessed a fine group of five (renewed) stepped single lancets; lancets also on the N and S sides. Finally there are the N and S aisle walls with C14 Dec windows of no special interest. - PULPIT with panelled sides, one with a coat of arms, early C18. - PAINTING. Adoration of the Magi, by Gaspar de Crayer. - STAINED GLASS. A whole collection of fragments in the chancel windows, mostly Flemish and mostly C16. In a S window some C14 tabernacle work. - MONUMENTS. Charles Savill-Onley d. 1843 with profile portrait in a medallion; by Gaffin - Caroline Savill-Onley d. 1845 with a soul in long garments rising to heaven; by Baily.

All Saints (2)

All Saints (3)
Flickr set.

STISTED. It is one of the places the traveller remembers for the charm of its setting, with moulded chimneys on its cottages, the rookery by the church, rolling meadows toward the Roman Stane Street, and the horizon lined with trees against the sky.

Stisted was a name on all men’s lips in the time of the Conqueror, for the overlordship here was the subject of the famous trial on Penenden Heath in Kent between the monks of Canterbury and Bishop Odo. The court sat in the open in the ancient Saxon way and the monks brought their old documents and proved their right. It was the fall of Odo the tanner’s son, half-brother of the Conqueror and owner of 200 houses.

There is neither Saxon nor Norman stone here now, but the 13th century columns in the nave show that they were rebuilding here  when Thomas Becket was building the choir at Canterbury. The capitals of some of the columns are elaborately carved; on one are three grotesque heads and a dragon with a rose a bird is pecking at. There is much glass in the chancel by 16th century Flemish craftsmen; it is in five lancet windows which almost till the east wall and two windows facing across the sanctuary; and in it are the two Johns, Elijah in a bright cloak, the Last Judgment, and the Betrayal. The people are quaint and the trees are like those in a Noah’s Ark. A panel of the Madonna in a golden and deep blue dress, supported by two women, is of 1554, and in a side window is the Return of the Prodigal, a red-haired lad with ragged sleeves. Engraved in brass below these windows kneels an Elizabethan with her daughter at prayer, members of the Wyseman family.

Most of the wood of the fine roofs of nave and aisles is 500 years old, and the dug-out chest is older, in spite of the date on the lid.There are Tudor linenfold panels in a pew and the Queen Anne pulpit has a carved head very like Pocahontas, the beautiful Red Indian princess who saved the life of Captain John Smith in Virginia, and lies across the river at Gravesend.

A book called The Picturesque Beauties of Great Britain by Thomas Wright records the ownership thus:
The manor of Stisted, with other possessions belonging to earl Godwin, and Wisgith, the widow of a noble Saxon named Elfwine, had been given to the monks of Christchurch in Canterbury, sometime previous to the Norman Conquest; but, soon after that event, they were deprived of those possessions, by the rapacity of Odo, bishop of Bayeux, and earl of Kent; they were, however, restored at the great trial of Penenden-heath, and remained in possession of the prior and monks, till the dissolution of the house in 1539, when king Henry the Eighth made this manor part of the endowment of the dean and chapter of Canterbury.

From this appropriation it afterwards again passed to the crown, and was granted to sir Richard Rich, who disposed of it to Henry Pigott, esq., of Abington in Cambridgeshire, of whom it was purchased, in 1549, by Thomas Wiseman, of Northend, in Great Waltham, and it remained in possession of his posterity till the year 1685, when it was conveyed, by lady Mary, the widorw of sir Thomas Wiseman, knt. of Rivenhall, to her three successive husbands. 

It afterwards passed, by purchase, to the Lingwood family, of the counties of Hereford and Gloucester. The ancestor of this family, in Essex, was John Lingwood, settled at Braintree, where he died in 1571; he had three sons and two daughters, of whom Geofrey, the eldest son, married Elizabeth, daughter of John Sibthorp, of Great Bardfield, by whom he had several sons and daughters, and William his eldest son, who was a student in Barnard's Inn, and in 1629, made escheator-general for this county, to king Charles the First: he died in 1665, and his son William, by his first wife, Mary, daughter of Thomas Wilson, of Jenkins, in this parish, was the purchaser of Stisted Hall. He was of Gray's Inn, bred to the law, and many years in the commission of the peace for the county. He married, first, Bridget, daughter of Thomas Wynne; his second wife was Cicely, daughter of Paul Buckingham, esq., of Suffolk; and his third wife was Elizabeth, daughter of John Jones, esq., of Chiswick, to whom, on his death in 1700, without surviving offspring, he bequeathed this estate. This lady died in 1719, leaving Stisted Hall to John Saville, esq., counsellor-at-law; who dying a bachelor, in 1735, this estate descended to his brother, Samuel Saville, esq., of Colchester; of which borough he was one of the representatives in parliament, in 1741. He died in 1763, leaving by his wife, Sarah, daughter of Edward Husbands, esq., of Little Horkesley, two daughters, co-heiresses; the inheritance of Sarah was the manor of Great Fordham, with other possessions; and Anne, the other daughter, had Stisted Hall and other estates in this parish, and in 1763, was married to the Rev. Charles Onley, from whom it has descended to the present proprietor. Stisted Hall is forty-two miles north-east from London, and two miles from Braintree.

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