Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Quendon, Essex

For some reason I have, to date, missed the bijou church of SS Simon & Jude. This is a heavily restored building packed with somewhat drab monuments the most interesting being the framed photographs of 25 men in the Quendon 1915 roll of honour.

I also took the opportunity to re-visit, and record properly, both Newport and Saffron Walden.

CHURCH (dedication unknown). The exterior looks all 1881, the date of the restoration and the rebuilding of the S side. Inside, arcade of three bays, with circular piers and arches with two slight chamfers, i.e. early C13, but also over-restored. - LECTERN. A large standing alabaster angel, 1906. - PLATE. Cup of 1638(?).

Roll of Hnour (1)

Chancel ceiling

Bell tower

QUENDON. It lies by the road to Saffron Walden, which runs in a valley made by a stream flowing to the River Cam. The road winds past a hundred-acre park in which the deer have roamed for centuries, and in it stands the timbered hall of Tudor days, now faced with red and blue bricks. We see it as the 17th century faced it, a handsome place with a front of six bays divided by pilasters which support a charming timbered cornice. In the grounds is an octagonal dovecot with a lead-capped lantern, and on the walls of the attics are remains of painted figures 300 years old.

The old church stands a little above the road, with six gabled windows and two arcades of the 13th century. Two of their fine columns have niches probably used for holding lights. The chancel was made new 400 years ago, but its arch is 13th century. One of the windows is in memory of John Collin, rector here for 60 years last century, and there is another with two angels in memory of a maid-of-honour to Queen Victoria.

Fine pieces of modern craftsmanship are the lectern, on which is an alabaster angel with flowing hair, and the screen given by Sir William Foot Mitchell in memory of his son-in-law; he was Captain Winter Rose, who gave his life for us, and as he lay dying made a thumbnail sketch of what he would like this screen to be. The font is modern, but the medieval font has been rescued from a ditch and is outside the door. There is a beautiful chalice of Charles Stuart’s day in the vestry, where hang two certificates recording burials in wool. From 1621 to 1792 this form of burial is in the register, and among the names of those buried in wool here we found that of Thomas Winstanley, whose son Henry built Eddystone Lighthouse. Henry’s uncle William, who also lies here, was famous in his day for his Poor Robin Almanacs. He also sold chap-books, and was a great character towards the end of the 17th century. He is said to have started as a barber in London, and then to have given up the razor to use the scissors for making up his books and almanacs.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Next two trips

I think my next two trips, next week weather permitting, will cover first the ten Colchester centre churches I'm interested in and then five north and north east suburb churches and some southern Colchester village churches - of which I've got, I think, 11 left to do which will more or less complete the north west quadrant.

I've got 4 to visit around Haverhill and some re-visits at some stage but the end of the initial idea is beginning to loom into sight.

Stanway, Essex

Standing in the grounds of Colchester Zoo are the ruins of All Saints church. British History Online (http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=15277) says of it:

The ruined church of ALL SAINTS comprises a nave with a north porch and a west tower. Nothing survives of the 13th- or early 14th-century church comprising chancel, nave, and bell tower, the nave of which collapsed in the 1380s or 1390s. The nave was rebuilt c. 1400, and the north aisle, whose arcade survives, and the west tower may have been built at the same time. There was an alabaster reredos behind the high altar in 1477, and the 'light beam' was painted in 1521. The church was repaired by John Swinnerton (d. 1616) as a private chapel; the chancel arch and north arcade were blocked with brick, and a brick north porch bearing the Swinnerton arms was added.  By the early 18th century the church was 'utterly decayed', and has remained so.

I didn't expect to be able to see the church without having to pay for full admission to the zoo, which I would have been unwilling to do as I was on a churching trip rather than an entertaining the youngest trip, but was able to park the car and then walk back to the entrance where you get an OK view of the tower, top of the north arcade and chancel arch.

I may use some clubcard points on a summer trip.

ALL SAINTS. In the grounds of Stanway Hall. In ruins. An interesting building, consisting now only of tower and nave. The late C14 tower is of bands of flint and brick, the brick not being Roman any longer. Early in the C17 the N aisle was removed and replaced by brick windows, the N porch was added, and the chancel arch blocked and provided with a three-light brick window.

All  Saints (1)

All  Saints (2)

STANWAY. Its name means the stone-way by which the Romans went westward from Colchester, and its church has grown from a wayside chapel used by pilgrims. White Hart Farm close by goes back to the 15th century, and is said to have been a hospice for their shelter. Only the nave of the church is ancient, half of it being Norman, and the other half 15th century, with the porch. Roman bricks are in the angles of the walls and round the Norman windows, and a very narrow Norman doorway is made almost entirely of them. Between the chancel and the chapel is a 15th century arcade brought from a Colchester church; the font is the same age. A huge tiebeam supports the wooden bell-turret, and one of the Norman windows has modern glass of an angel blowing a trumpet, a charming memorial by four little children to their father.

A mile down the lane we come to the Tudor hall which treasures a handsome stone fireplace; and close to it stands the ruin of the original village church, deserted for centuries. Most of the tower and nave are 600 years old, and the roof is thought to have been torn down to supply the parliament men with material at the great siege of Colchester.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

All Saints, Shrub End, Colchester, Essex

All Saints, Shrub End is a hideous Victorian red brick beast of a church; it was, as expected, locked. I'm afraid I can find no redeeming features.

All Saints (2)

Neither Pevsner nor Mee visited.


Fingringhoe, Essex

St Andrew is another out of place Suffolkesque church but this time well south of Colchester and so is even more incongruous. Simply put it has a stunning exterior and an interesting, though minimalist interior - wallpainting remains, unusual corbels, a 1655 monument to a rather scary looking George Frere and a brass to John Alleyne and his daughter are among the highlights.

The church is kept locked but is open on the first weekend of each month and between May and August on the 3rd Sunday as well. A keyholder is listed for those visiting at other times.

ST ANDREW. Visually quite exceptionally successful, owing to position, the view to the E, and the little pond with oak trees below to the W, and also to upkeep. The merit is that of not having done too much. A slight impression of neglect can be an asset. The nave is Norman, see the quoins on the N side and one complete and one fragmentary window (discovered in 1928), all with much Roman brick. Tower, S aisle and chancel C14. The tower has bands of stone and flint, flint and stone chequerwork at the base, added brick buttresses only below, and above a parapet but not battlements. Flint S porch with battlements of stone and flint chequer. Embattled S aisle. Large red, tiled roofs. White and plain interior. The S arcade is no more than a cutting of pointed arches through the Norman S wall. - FONT-COVER. Tall, octagonal, of wood, much repaired. Buttresses with pinnacles at the angles. Plain panels between ending in traceried heads. Plain second stage. Top stage with openwork ogee ribs carrying a finial. - DOOR in the S doorway, traceried, C14, badly preserved. - PAINTINGS. Unusually much still visible, even if only faintly. The most interesting remains are of a St Christopher above the N doorway, on the piers of the S arcade Virgin, St Michael and a seated Woman, Christ as Man of Sorrows. - MONUMENTS. Brass to John Alleyn, c. 1600. - George Frere d. 1655. Good frontal demi-figure, hand on a skull. In an oval niche framed by a wreath. Curly segmental pediment on top. No doubt the work of a good sculptor of the day.

South porch

St George & the Dragon (1)

South door (2)

Corbels (4)

FINGRINGHOE. A cheerful village on a slope of the valley of the Roman River is this, with thatched cottages and oak trees in a hollow by a pond. One of its roads runs down to a ferry across the estuary to the quaint village of Wivenhoe. Here lived the Romans; many of their red bricks are mixed with the flint and limestone rubble of the walls of the church. We come into this old place by a porch with sculptures of St Michael and the Dragon in the spandrels of its outer doorway; its inner doorway shelters a splendid 500-year-old door with the original iron handle. Stepping down into the church the eye meets on the Norman piers the paintings that stood clear in medieval times, and we can still distinguish Michael and a seated figure with long hair, wearing an ermine tippet. On the walls, too, are traces of painting of the 14th and 16th centuries. More definite are grotesque white faces grinning down from the dark beams curving round the white barrel roof. Resting on a bier of the 17th century is a hollowed-out chest much older than the date on it, and there is a great treasure of oak in the font cover, 500 years old, rising in three stages to a richly moulded terminal high above our.heads. It has carving of the greatest delicacy. There is a brass with the portraits of John Alleyn and his little daughter, in Elizabethan clothes.

East Donyland, Essex

St Lawrence is one of the more extraordinary churches I've visited so far. Victorian built it is an octagonal brick building and looks more like a baptist meeting hall or a water tower than a church. Much against my better judgement I found myself rather liking its eccentricity. Locked of course.

ST LAWRENCE. 1838 by William Mason of Ipswich. Quite remarkably original. An  octagonal church of white brick, in the lancet style. Groups of five stepped lancets on three sides, entrances on two others, and three lancets above the altar. - MONUMENT. Elizabeth Marshall D. 1613. Frontally seated woman, full-length, flanked by obelisks. Below in the ‘predella’ one kneeling daughter and two babies in cradles. Long inscription which reads as follows:

Clotho: In tender armes thy tickle rocke I beare
Wherin consists of life this hemispher
Frayle flyinge fadeinge fickle sliperye
Certaine in nothing but uncertaintye

Lachesis: From of thy rocke her slender thred I pull
When scarce begun but yt my spoole is full
Then tyme begetts bringes forth & with her haste
Makes after tyme tymes former workes to waste

Atropos: I with my knife have cutt that thred in twayne
And loosde that knott not to be knitt agayne
What two wer one my knife hath both opposd
In heaven her soule in earth her corpes inclosd.

The verses are attributed to Gilbert Longe, then vicar of East Donyland.

St Lawrence (3)

EAST DONYLAND. It is an old village running down a slope to the compact little hamlet of Rowhedge on the tide-swept banks of the River Colne. Ships are built on its quay, and small yachts moored in its creeks. But in this old place is no ancient church, only a modern one built of brick, its pews curving on an octagonal floor so that it looks like a chapter house. From the church that has vanished comes the brass portrait of Nicholas Marshall and his wife of Charles Stuart’s day; we are told of his wife that she surrendered her soul "with alacrity of spirit." A neighbour they must have known, Elizabeth Marshall, sits with hand upraised expounding from a book, a sculpture in marble.


Old Heath Chapel, Colchester, Essex

On my way to East Donyland I passed, and stopped at, Old Heath Chapel which until then I'd never heard of. Old Heath Chapel was erected in 1869 as an outreach mission for Lion Walk Congregational Church. It is largely of corrugated iron structure and was known locally as the 'Tin Tabernacle'. The chapel was enlarged in 1888 and again in 1898. In the 1980s when Lion Walk became a United Reformed church, Old Heath became independent and retained its congregational status.

I'm rather pleased that this is the 500th church I've recorded.

Old Heath Chapel

 Neither Pevsner nor Mee mention it.

Wivenhoe, Essex

Wivenhoe, on the tidal banks of the River Colne, is utterly charming place particularly when the sun is out and it's 30 degrees in the shade! Its inhabitants, or perhaps it's the tourists, are plainly not to be trusted as St Mary the Virgin is kept tightly locked.

This is a run of the mill Victorian restored exterior (actually not  a restoration but a re-build following an earthquake) but the tower with its cupola is nice. I would have like to see for myself the brasses Pevsner mentions, not least because they appear in the family tree.

ST MARY THE VIRGIN. W tower of c. 1500 with diagonal buttresses. On top a wooden cupola, C18? The rest is 1860 (by Hakewill) and of no interest. - FONT. Octagonal, Perp, with quatrefoils and shields. - STAINED GLASS. A good deal that is evidently of c. 1860. - CHEST. Foreign, C16, with elaborate arabesque decoration and ornamental handles. - PLATE. Cup of 1562; C17 Paten; Flagon of 1709. - BRASSES. William Viscount Beaumont d. 1507, figure of c. 4 ft length but with a triple canopy with crocketed gables etc. which makes the whole plate 9 ft long. Same length the plate for Elizabeth, widow of Viscount Beaumont and wife of the Earl of Oxford d. 1537, The figure is larger, also in an architectural surround. - Thomas Westeley d. 1535, chaplain to the Countess of Oxford; in mass garments.

St Mary the Virgin (3)

River Colne

WIVENHOE. An old fashioned little town five miles down the Colne from Colchester, it has a quay facing the River Roman, a tributary from the west. Here they cultivate oysters and build yachts. The High Street has houses 300 years old, one or two with elaborate plaster decoration of foliage and trees. Overhanging storeys, gables, and carved bargeboards give charm to these old buildings, though it was sad to see Wivenhoe, a member of the Kent Cinque Port of Sandwich, fallen on hard times.

In the churchyard is a magnificent group of chestnuts. Most of the church was made new after an earthquake in 1884, but the bold tower of 1500 stood firm in the shock, and the 14th century arcades of the nave, some brasses, and a few old gravestones, and many moulded stones remain.

A splendid monument in the church is the brass portrait of Lord William Beaumont, who was buried here in 1507; his head rests on a helm bearing a lion crest and his feet are on an elephant which carries a castle. An elaborate triple canopy with gables and pinnacles shelters this great armoured figure. His widow married John, Earl of Oxford, and was laid to rest here in 1537. Her figure is also in brass, resplendent in a heraldic cloak and a pedimental headdress with a coronet; it has a triple canopy and an embattled super-canopy as well, a magnificent brass for so late a period. The countess lived in Wivenhoe Hall, and the wing with crowstepped gables built in her lifetime still stands. Toward Colchester is Wivenhoe Park, a well wooded estate in which deer wander over 200 up-and-down acres.

Elmstead, Essex

SS Anne & Laurence - a rather odd looking church - was, sadly, locked. I say sadly because I had wanted to see the wooden effigy of a knight therein contained and the rather nice glass which I'd seen on Flickr. The rest of the interior looked rather plain.

An unusual feature are two scratch dials side by side to the west of the south door - something I've not seen before.

ST ANN AND ST LAURENCE. The N side should be examined first. It has a display of a doorway and some windows giving a complete chronology of the church, from the Norman doorway with Roman brick surround by way of the two-light windows with Y-tracery (c. 1300) in the chancel, to the C14 and early C15. The church is essentially C14. Tower over the porch not higher than the nave roof; W window like those in the chancel. The best architectural feature is the S chapel, again early C14. It has an arcade of two bays with a quatrefoil pier and an arch of two quadrant mouldings and in addition wall-shafts and wall-arches against the S wall. Contemporary Piscina on demi-shafts. Also early C14 the Sedilia and Piscina in the chancel. The cusped arches have hood-moulds resting on heads of exceptionally fine quality and gratifyingly unrestored. The E window unfortunately has been reduced in size, see the outside. It must originally have given the chancel great breadth and dignity. Unusual features in the church are the quatrefoil squint S of the chancel arch and the three ‘low side windows’, one in the chancel and two in the S chapel. They have recently been fitted with C14 bits of STAINED GLASS from the E window. - DOOR (behind the pulpit) with C12 iron-work. - COMMUNION RAILS with C18 balusters. - Box Pews early C19. - IRON CR0ss with highly scrolly decoration; it was a hat-rack originally; the date perhaps c. 1800. - PLATE. Elizabethan Cup with bands of ornament and Paten on foot. - MONUMENTS. Oak efligy of a cross legged Knight. His feet rest against a female figure. - BRASS. Two hands holding a heart inscribed Credo. Dated c. 1500 by Haines.

St Anne & St Laurence (3)

Mass dials

ELMSTEAD. It has old cottages where the roads from Harwich and Walton meet, inns that have seen many centuries go by, a timbered hall 400 years old, and a roughly built church enshrined in trees. Begun in the 14th century, the church has a chancel nearly as big as the nave, and an unfinished tower with red tiles peeping out oddly among the trees. Here are fine stone seats with a king and a bishop carved on them 600 years ago, and a tablet telling us that an old vicar buried his little son the year before the plague came to London. The epitaph tells us that as careful mothers put their babes to sleep when they would play the wanton too long, so Nature put this little one to bed betimes to save his youth from harm. The chief possession of Elmstead is an old wooden figure, one of very few in Essex, showing a cross-legged knight with his feet on a woman, a strange piece of carving thought to be a memorial of Lawrence de Tony, who died about 1310. There are only a small number of these wooden figures in all England, probably a hundred.

Ardleigh, Essex

St Mary the Virgin is a decidedly Suffolkesque looking church quite out of keeping with it's nearest neighbours but more akin to the further north Dedham and Stratford St Mary. The south porch and tower are particularly fine but the interior suffered a Victorian makeover (with the chancel being transformed into my idea of d├ęcor from hell.

It was, however, open so I will cut it a major slice of slack for that and the exterior.

ST MARY. W tower of c. 1500: brick with diagonal buttresses and pinnacled battlements of flint and brick decoration. S porch of about the same date. Extremely elaborate East Anglian work, all flint inlay and stone. Decorated walls and battlements. Pinnacles with figures. Two figures of lions couchant as stops of the hood-mould of the doorway. In the spandrels of the doorway lively figures of St George and the Dragon. Above the doorway three niches. The inner doorway has angels in the spandrels and also a niche above. Side-openings of three lights with Perp tracery - the pattem identical with that of the aisles at Brightlingsea. The rest of the church by Butterfield 1881, except for the W bay of the nave. Butterfield enjoyed the ornate medieval parts, but his forms are bigger. In the interior he is here very restrained. - SCREEN. Dado only, with pretty traceried panels. - DOOR, c. 1500, elaborately traceried. -  PLATE. Cup of 1584; Paten probably of the same date; both with bands of engraved ornament.

South porch (1)

South porch (2)


ARDLEIGH. It must have been an ancient home of men, as it has enriched the great museum of Colchester with Stone Age relics; but we found it gay with flowers and glorious with cornfields, for it has great nurseries and many farms. Ardleigh Hall has fine medieval timbers. There is a timber cottage of the 15th century near the church, and many quaint buildings go back 300 years.

The splendid tower of the church is 15th century, and in it hangs a bell cast in the years that followed Agincourt. The flint and stone work of the south porch is medieval, but the three old niches above the richly carved doorway have modern sculpture, and in their spandrels are St George and the Dragon. Crowned lions flank the door and two beasts sit on shafts running up from the buttresses. The doorway itself has quaint sculptures of Adam and Eve, and the door, with traceried heads, has been on its hinges for 450 years. The church has fine tracery in the base of an ancient screen rich in carvings of foliage, grotesque heads, and dragons.

West Bergholt, Essex

I set off to cover the remaining villages surrounding Colchester with low expectations and wasn't disappointed - 6 out of 9 churches visited were locked and 1 was inaccessible unless I paid to visit Colchester Zoo.

First up was the old church of St Mary, now in the care of the CCT, which, despite a notice stating that it was open to all, was firmly padlocked (in my experience this is unusual for a CCT church). I'm not sure that I missed much as a peer through the plain windows showed a pretty stripped out interior.

ST MARY. Nave, lower chancel, belfry, and early C14 S aisle with Dec windows and low arcade of octagonal piers and double-chamfered arches. Early C18 W gallery on Tuscan columns with triglyph frieze.

St Mary the Virgin in Bergholt itself is an ugly Victorian chapel.

St Mary (2)

St Mary the Virgin (2)

WEST BERGHOLT. Stone Age men dropped implements here which our own generation has picked up, and signs of the Romans have come to light, so old is this village near Colchester. One of its farms has been using two doorways for 500 years, and another is 16th century. The church stands near a fine red house and most of it is 600 years old. Its wooden turret may be 15th century, but the work of the 14th century men is seen in the arches of the nave, the timbers ofthe porch, and the moulded plates in the roofs. There is an old door with ironwork by a long-forgotten smith, a font bowl possibly 700 years old, a quaint little gallery with the royal arms, a few scraps of glass as old as the church, and a big Tudor chest with six hinges. At each end of the building is panelling of the 17th century about the same age as the fine lectern with its elaborate decoration.


Monday, 23 July 2012

Stanstead Abbotts, Hertfordshire

St James, a CCT church, is open on Sundays from 2.30pm to 5.00pm between June and September and is well worth a visit. As the church guide says: As English country churches go the exterior of St. James' is pleasant but hardly exceptional. It is only when he walks through the south door and sees the inside of the church for the first time that the visitor realises that he is looking at an unusual and interesting building. For St. James' has a largely untouched 18th century interior. Perhaps because of the building of St. Andrew’s in the centre of the village the Victorian inhabitants of Stanstead Abbotts appear to have found it unnecessary to remodel the interior of the church in the way that Victorians in so many other English parishes remodelled their churches.

The aisle of the nave is stone slabbed and has high box pews on either side. The pews themselves are on concrete bases and it is said that there are brasses under the concrete. The bare concrete at the back of the nave also used to have box pews on it. The pews are of greatly varying size, are said to have been constructed in
1710 presumably by local craftsmen, and are made of deal.

The three tiered pulpit is perhaps the most unusual feature of the church not only because of its construction but also because of its position. It is 16th century and made of oak. At the bottom level is the parish clerk’s pew. At the next level is the reader’s pew and finally up a further four steps is the octagonal pulpit itself. The pulpit is backed by a heavily moulded oak Jacobean screen which used to support a sounding board or tester. The tester is now incorporated in the door of the west screen behind the organ.

This is a very special church.

ST JAMES. The interest of the church is its open timber s porch, original C15 work, and its N chancel chapel added in brick in 1577. The windows are still entirely Perp (E window three four-centred lights under one four-centred arch, N two-light straightheaded under hood-moulds). The arcade inside also with its octagonal piers does not betray any consciousness of the new Italian fashion. - Inside there are few churches in the county which have so well preserved an C18 village character. Whitewashed walls, a C15 kingpost roof plastered, a three-decker PULPIT and high BOX PEWS. - TOWER SCREEN. Tall and solid; C17. - MONUMENTS. Brass to a Knight, late C15 (chancel). - Brass to W. Saxaye d. 1551 (chancel). - Brass to a man and woman, c. 1550, holding each other’s hands (nave). - Sir Edward Baeshe d. 1587, wife and children; the usual kneeling figures facing each other across a prayer-desk. The children small below. Lavish strapwork cartouche behind the main figures. - Robert Jocelyn d. 1806, by the younger Bacon, with two urns, anchor, gun, and Sphinx (he commanded a ship at the taking of Manila in 1762). - Four epitaphs in the nave; a study in females mourning over urns: Philip Booth T 1818, by Manning; H. T. Baucutt Mash d. 1825, by Kendrick (two females); Mrs Booth; d. 1848, no doubt by Manning; Sir Felix Booth 'of 43 Portland Place', d. 1850, by Manning.


Nave looking east (1)

C15th Knight (2)

South Porch (1)

Stanstead Abbots. Here lies a man whose name is on the map of one of the most romantic spots in the world, but we have a long hill to climb before we find him, for the old village (where the Romans left a pavement 15 centuries ago) is on the northern slope of the Stort Valley, and the church, with its spiked 15th century tower, is at the top of the hill.

As we wind our way up through the trees a group of Elizabethan almshouses comes into view with a cedar and a pine towering beside them on a knoll. They were founded by Sir Edward Beash, son of the man who looked after the food supplies for Elizabeth I’s navy. He also added a chapel to the 13th century church. There they laid him to rest in 1588, and there we see him kneeling in stone facing his wife, with one son in armour and two in black cloaks on a ledge below him, and the royal arms of his queen in the window above. One of his neighbours, William Saxaye, who died in 1581, has his brass portrait here, and three others show an unknown knight in 15th-century armour, and a Tudor husband and wife with clasped hands.

We may imagine that these folk of long ago must have smiled at the quaint heads of men and animals outside the windows of the nave; they must have pushed open this medieval door in the 13th-century doorway, sheltered by an open timbered porch. There are 500-year-old tie-beams in the roof of the nave and a three-decker pulpit of the 16th century. It has lost its canopy, though the carved support for it still forms a background for the preacher, who may think it just as well that he is so high up, for otherwise he could scarcely see the congregation in the high box pews. Dwarfed by the lofty tower arch is a screen with much Elizabethan ornament on its door and cornice, and incorporating part of the 15thcentury rood beam.

Two reliefs showing a sphinx and emblems of war are in memory of a naval captain, Robert Jocelyn, who died at 82 the year after Trafalgar, and his son John, who had already fallen in the hour of victory at Alexandria. Another relief shows a woman gazing on the medallion portrait of Sir Felix Booth, the London merchant who was made a baronet by William IV for fitting out at his sole cost the ship which discovered the Magnetic Pole. The Endeavour set out in 1829 under Sir James Ross to make the North-West Passage, but made this discovery instead on the northernmost point of British North America, which is named Boothia Felix after the man who lies in this Hertfordshire village. Thanks to his generosity a great stride forward was made in geographical science, and in addition to the point Boothia Felix Commander Ross named after his patron a gulf, a cape, an isthmus, and two harbours.


Sunday, 22 July 2012

Great Henny, Essex

Upon leaving Middleton the heavens opened with a serious deluge which may have biased my view of St Mary - but I think that even on  the brightest day she wouldn't have a lot to offer. I liked the roof angels with two grotesques in the east end but that was about it - a soulless, aisless over-restored church, although I did enjoy the newspaper articles about the woodpeckers who'd declared war on the wooden spire.

ST MARY. Nave and chancel without division; W tower. The lower parts of the tower are Norman, the diagonal buttresses and the broach-spire C15 or later. The rest of the church is C14, except for one Early Tudor brick window in the S side and the absolutely plain brick S porch. The only things calling for attention are the Sedilia, two seats with cusped pointed arches on detached shafts, and the nave roof with tie-beams on shallow arched braces, and queen-posts. - STAINED GLASS. E window, 1860, looks as if it might be Hardmans. - BRASS to William Fyscher and wife, c. 1530, with children; small figures, the parents only c. 10 ins.

1918 QM Army Aux Corps Amy Coote Galley 21


Roof angel

GREAT HENNY. Much of its tower is Norman, and one of the bells has been ringing 500 years. The church was refashioned in the 14th century, and given a new brick porch 200 years later. In the opposite doorway a 15th century door is still opening and closing.There is a sanctuary chair 300 years old, finely carved, and a table in the vestry as old. A chest thought to have come from Italy in the 16th century is now the altar of the children’s chapel; and on the chancel wall are brass portraits of William Fyscher, his wife Anne, and their 15 children, all in the costume of Henry the Eighth’s day. With windows jutting from its thatched roof is the quaint village hall, a pair of cottages transformed for this good purpose by the men of the parish themselves. One who must have loved all these things in the 18th century was Jacob Brome, rector for 57 years.

Middleton, Essex

I've tried to find All Saints a couple of times previously without success but armed with a postcode I finally tracked it down and, to be honest, was seriously disappointed at first sight.

The very drab exterior conceals a seriously exciting Norman carcass - the first hint of which is the fantastic south door and inside the chancel arch is equally good. To the west of the arch is what appears to be an old doorway and in the nave are two similar recesses - purpose unknown.

The chancel has four good, modern, poppyheads, an elaborate ledger stone to Sire James Samson d.1349 and a wooden Bas relief Tudor coat of arms.

ALL SAINTS. Nave, chancel and belfry. The church was at the time of writing in a very neglected state. The S porch had fallen in and the spire was reduced to a timber skeleton. Yet the church is of some importance, especially for its Norman features. The S doorway has colonnettes with scalloped capitals and two orders of zigzag. The chancel arch has columns also. The inner order is of a remarkable design. Polygonal shafts decorated down each side by a chain of triangles. Another such column is now (re-used?) in a C13 recess at the E end of the S aisle. The capitals are scalloped or with volutes and slight leaf decoration. The chancel arch above the columns has decorated abaci. The arches are provided with a zigzag moulding and another with zigzags and a kind of stylized tongues lapping into them. In the nave N and S walls two identical C14 recesses on short triple shafts. - DOOR with traceried panels, C15; in a bad state. - STAINED GLASS E window, in the style of Warrington. - PAINTING. Annunciation, by a follower of Titian. A good picture, and ought to be looked after. - MONUMENT. Incised slab to James Samson, a priest d. 1349, 7 ft long. The style is Flemish rather than English, with an elaborate architectural surround, but the slab is of Purbeck marble, and we know too little of such pieces to decide against English authorship. The head of the figure unfortunately is renewed.

James Samson 1349 (1)

South door

Chancel arch capital

Elizabethan arms

MIDDLETON. It clusters under a hill in the Gainsborough country, its small church with the rectory shaded by the fine beeches of the park. The 19th century spire, rising above the old timbered turret, looks down on the Norman walls of the chancel and the nave; we come into them through a doorway much as the Normans left it, with their round shafts, their zigzag on the arch, and their handsome capitals. Still swinging on its hinges is a door with the beautiful tracery of a medieval carpenter. There is a 16th century chest with quaint ironwork, and a painting of the Annunciation of the same age. In the floor of the chancel is a stone engraved with the portrait of James Samson, a rector of nearly 600 years ago, under a pinnacled canopy. The oak reredos is in memory of a rector who followed him after 500 years and stayed for over two generations. He came in 1823 and was rector till he died in 1889, aged 95. It is one of the most remarkable cases of long service we have come upon, for this rector, Oliver Raymond, followed his father Samuel who was rector for 54 years before him, so that father and son preached in this church for 120 years, through all the life of Napoleon and the French Revolution, through all the rise of modern England till after Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.


Assington, Suffolk

Storm clouds were gathering as I arrived at St Edmund which I found locked but with, seemingly reluctant, keyholders listed and a notice advising that due to a string of burglaries it was now only open on weekends - this actually seemed fair enough as it's very isolated (let's not re-visit that debate) and only had Llamas as guardians...I assume they're are not very efficient watchdogs.

I might make the effort to re-visit.

ST EDMUND. Close to the Hall, and handsome in the contrast of its flint colour to the brick of the Hall. Chancel rebuilt c. 1830. Restored and W tower rebuilt in 1863. What survives of original work is all Perp, including the four-bay arcade. - SOUTH DOOR. A splendid Perp piece with tracery and a border of foliage trails. - PLATE. Set of 1843-4. - Monuments. Brass to a Knight and Lady, c. 1500 (nave floor). - Robert Gurdon d. 1577 and wife, and John Gurdon d. 1623 and wife. Double monument of c. 1625 with two pairs of the usual kneeling figures facing one another across a prayer-desk. Children in the pre-della. - Brampton Gurdon, dated 1648. His demi-figure and those of his two wives; represented frontally. He is flanked by columns. Top with a handsome pedimental arrangement. - John Gurdon d. 1758 and his wife d. 1710. The tablet must be nearer her death than his. Good cartouche with a cherub’s head below. - Philip Gurdon d. 1817 and wife. Tablet by the younger Bacon.

St Edmund (1)

Gurdon memorial


ASSINGTON. Standing in a park with magnificent cedars, the ivy-clad home of the ancient family of the Gurdons has for its neighbour the ideally situated 15th century church. The tower, 75 feet high, has been remade from the old materials, among which we may still see the long-and-short work of the Saxons, built into the interior. The fine porch has a magnificent old door with carvings of an angel, little animals, and birds pecking grapes clustered on the vine. In the church we found a robin blithely singing. Two 15th century portrait brasses in the nave floor show the figure of an armoured man with hair to his shoulders, a great sword by his side and a quaint dog at his feet, his wife in fur sleeves and with a handsome girdle about her gown. They are unknown.

The rest of the memorials are mainly to the Gurdons who rose to wealth and influence when Sir Adam Gurdon, defeated in single combat by Edward the First during the Barons War, was pardoned and made the royal friend and confidant. A wall-monument in the chancel, linking the 16th and 17th centuries, is to Robert Gurdon and his kinsman Sir John. Both wear armour and baggy red breeches, both kneel on cushions facing their wives, and below each pair kneel a son and daughter, wearing ruffs.

On a huge 17th century tomb, under a classical canopy supported by marble shafts  and enriched with heraldry, is the dignified figure of Brampton Gurdon, his curly head bare, wearing a cloak and holding a handkerchief and a knobbed stick; his two wives are with him, one carrying a book and wearing a big ruff, the other, aged and stern, in a cape and with a headdress reaching to her shoulders.

There is a tablet to Sir William Brampton Gurdon, who, born in 1840 and living into our own time, was proud to describe himself as a farmer. He was twice private secretary to Mr Gladstone. So particular was he concerning public money that as secretary of a Conference in Paris he deducted half-a-crown from the allowance for an illustrious member who had asked his son to the lunch provided for the Commissioners. Another tablet on the walls records a heroic triumph over physical disability; it is to William Francis Warner, blind organist at this church for 55 years, dying in 1926.

Note to self - having read Pevsner and Mee I probably should make the effort.

Polstead, Suffolk

Without a shadow of doubt St Mary was the church of the day; the setting is stunning, the rather odd stainless steel nave roof with dormer windows - peculiarly attractive - and when you step inside the interior of the church is given a unique appearance by the use of brick and tufa blocks in the construction of the nave arches, the Norman clerestory windows and the chancel arch. Norman arches of brick are very rare; there is no other church like this in the whole of Suffolk and even where, as in St Alban’s Cathedral, brick arches were built by the Normans, the brick was Roman material re-used.

There has been some difference of opinion concerning the origin of the Polstead Bricks; it has been maintained that they are Roman and that this may be inferred from the presence in the walls of much geuine Roman brick and tile and in the arches themselves of the tufa blocks (which it is known were used for hearth-building in Roman villas).

On the other hand, the Polstead Bricks much more closely resemble the bricks used to build Little Coggeshall Abbey, in Essex, which are known to have been made on the site within ten years of 1200 A.D. Both the Polstead and Little Coggeshall bricks are of dark red, rough texture and about the same size, (viz., 10-11 in. long, 5-7 in. wide and 1 3/4 in. thick). It seems likely that here we have a very early instance of post-Roman brick-making in East Anglia and that the Polstead Bricks ante-date the Coggeshall bricks by some half-century.

Personally I found St Mary as architecturally exciting as Waltham Abbey but add in a murder, old glass, interesting monuments, brasses and the setting then this has to be a top ten church (she makes SJ's 1000 Best but only merits a ludicrous 1 star).

ST MARY. Close to Polstead Hall. The age of the church can only be recognized inside. Originally the church was aisleless and shorter to the W than it is now. Norman extension by aisles and a further W bay. Arcade of three bays. Square Norman piers with nook-shafts at the angles. These have small capitals.  Rough, single-stepped Norman arches of brick. Clerestory windows over, also of brick. In addition the W bay remains separated. It has a brick arch on Norman responds and yet one more clerestory window. The bricks are most puzzling. They are in size 10  to 11 in. by 5 to 7 in. by 1 3/4 in. So they cannot be Roman: the Roman size is 18 by 12 in. On the other hand the earliest accepted English bricks, those at Little Coggeshall in Essex, are 12 by 6 by 1 3/4 in., and that would go well with Polstead. But Polstead is earlier in all probability, and that would give it the distinction of having the earliest surviving English bricks. Norman also are the plain chancel arch and its imposts and the elaborate W doorway, now leading into the tower and the window above. The doorway has to the W two orders of shafts and divers zigzags in the arches. So there was no W tower originally. The next part in order of time is the W tower of c.1300 with later spire. It has lancets and Y-tracery. The W arch of the S arcade may also belong to this period. Of the Dec style the s doorway, the s aisle E window with reticulated tracery, and also the N aisle E window with a depressed arch. Most of the rest is Perp. - FONT. Octagonal, C 13, on five supports. - WALL PAINTING. Fragment of a Bishop, nave, N wall. - COMMUNION RAIL. Three-sided, C18.- STAINED GLASS. Many fragments, C15 and later, in the chancel. -  PLATE. Set 1816. -  BRASSES. Priest of the C15, 18 in. figure, chancel N wall. - Civilian, wife, and children, late C15, 21 in. figure, in front of the pulpit.

St Mary (2)

South arcade

Nave looking east

Norman capital (3)

POLSTEAD. It was here that they laid poor Maria Marten, whose mysterious disappearance over a century ago led to one of the most sensational murder trials ever known. We can still see her thatched cottage, and the gabled home of her murderer. The Red Barn in which she died stood near the church, and her grave is in the churchyard, but her stone has been chipped away by louts until it is only a stump of a few inches.

We turn with relief from this most gruesome memory. Standing near the grave is the famous Gospel Oak, among fine trees between the church and the hall. It is said to be 1000 years old, and to mark the spot where missionaries stood preaching to the Saxons before the village had a church. It is now, alas, a most forlorn sight, hardly a tree in the accepted sense of the word. Far younger and more beautiful are other trees belonging to the hall, some shading a deer park of 90 acres, and others shading a beautiful well garden.

But a thousand years will not bring us to the beginning of things in Polstead, the pool-stead or pool-place named from the lake to which the steep village street descends. How old the name is we do not know, but it cannot be older than the thin red Roman bricks which the Norman builders picked up and used again when they were fashioning the round arches in the church. They used them for the nave arcades, the chancel arch, and the tower arch. Above the nave arches are red brick clerestory windows which have been blocked since the height of the aisles was raised about 1300. At that time, too, the big north porch was built, and it has kept its original oak door, with two long iron straps and a round iron handleplate.

The tower has the only old stone spire in Suffolk (14th century), and the tower arch has two pairs of pillars and three rows of zigzags.

The church has an old timber roof; and rather rare among its woodwork are the baluster rails of Shakespeare’s time, which enclose three sides of the altar. The tapering font cover is Jacobean, but the font itself is in the later Norman style. In the chancel are old glass fragments showing parts of a Crucifixion and a bishop. Eight 15th century people are here in brass, a priest in his robes, a father with bobbed hair and wide sleeves, a mother with furred sleeves, and their five children in long gowns. Still more attractive is the delightful little classical monument above the pulpit, where a 17th century Jacob is kneeling with one hand on the head of his Benjamin, a youngest son, like the Benjamin of the Bible. The rosy-cheeked boy is wearing a long green cloak and holding a skull, and his death in 1630 was a tragic one, for he fell from one of the windows of the hall on to the stone steps below. The father is bare-headed and black-bearded, with a red cloak and white sleeves; the two of them are very charming under an arch crowned by a coat-of-arms.

The village has a memory of one of the most important happening in our history, something which took place not long before this monument was set up; it is enshrined in the archives of the church, which have entries giving the names of people who went out in the Mayflower to seek a new world.

At the bottom of the churchyard a dignified cenotaph looks out over the countryside; it is carved with an armoured knight in the act of slaying a dragon, the everlasting symbol of the heroism of those who went from this green and pleasant land to die for us.

The Mystery of the Old Red Barn

WILLIAM CORDER was the son of a wealthy farmer and a man of some education who, being involved in a love affair with Maria Marten, the beauty of the village, proposed a secret marriage. With her mother’s consent he arranged that she should go disguised in male attire to the old Red Barn on his mother’s farm. From there, after she had changed her clothes, he would take her to Ipswich and marry her.

During the day Corder was seen to approach the barn with a pick-axe on his shoulder. Maria duly appeared, dressed as a boy, and was never seen alive again. Corder went to her parents and declared that the marriage had taken place and that Maria had gone to stay with friends of his at a distance so that the wedding should not be known. From day to day Corder visited the barn, and then, five months having elapsed, he pleaded ill—hea1th and the need for a holiday abroad and left Polstead with money obtained by a trick from the Manningtree bank.

Time passed, and letters from Corder bearing an Isle of Wight address but a London postmark reached Maria’s parents, telling them that the girl was living happily with him. Never did they hear from her. Her mother dreamed repeatedly of the Red Barn, and a year after Maria’s departure the building was searched. Eighteen inches below the floor the body of Maria was found.

Corder was traced to a house at Brentford, where he had married a woman of good family and was keeping a School for Young ladies. His trial at Bury St Edmunds aroused such excitement that The Times gave a quarter of its whole space to it. The court was so crowded that solicitors fainted in the crush.

The case, after a year of mystery, was brutally simple, and having made a full confession in his cell Corder was executed before ten thousand spectators. A guinea an inch was paid for the rope which was used to hang him; a book recording his trial has been bound in his skin; his skeleton is preserved in West Suffolk General Hospital at Bury St Edmunds; and while this book was being written the old melodrama of Maria Marten, founded on the crime, was drawing half London to see it.

Newton Green, Suffolk

Just as I was beginning to think that this was going to be a locked church trip along came All Saints. In an unusual arrangement the chancel is managed by the CCT and the nave is run as a community centre by the village; the two are separated by a glass screen. In the chancel is a fine monument to Margaret Boteler d. 1410 and in the nave is an earlier one to an unknown wimpled lady.

The two true glories of All Saints, a fine pulpit and very good wallpaintings, are also in the nave. On top of all this throw in a Norman north door, some old glass and a picturesque setting and you end up with a very fine church indeed.

ALL SAINTS. Norman N doorway. Two shafts with scalloped capitals. Zigzag in the arch and the hood-mould. Nave of c.1300, see the S doorway and the windows. Chancel Dec with reticulated E window. Dec also the Sedilia, simple, but with a pretty ‘two-light’ Piscina. - FONT. Octagonal, Perp, simple. - PULPIT. Perp, with tracery. Inscription referring to its being a gift of Richard Modi and his wife Leticie. - LECTERN. Handsome C17 piece, with mostly consciously used Gothic motifs. - MONUMENTS. Nave s side. Lady of the early C14 in low early C14 recess. - Chancel N. Lady of c. 1400. Under an ogee arch with straight cresting.

Margaret Boteler 1410 (1)

Wallpainting Angel with censer


NEWTON. The village is spread about a splendid green half as big as St James’s Park, and from the green a lane runs off to its church. The flint tower is 500 years old, but the nave has a Norman doorway with zigzag ornament, now blocked and framing a window. Some of the windows have fragments of ancient glass with heraldic shields and foliage. The 15th century pulpit, with lovely panelling and a trumpet stem, has an ancient inscription with the names of its donors, Richard Modi and his wife Letticie. The font is also 15th century, the wooden lectern 17th. In the nave, under an arch, is a 14th century lady in a wimple, wearing a long dress from which her tiny feet peep out like mice. The chancel has another woman’s figure under an arch, resting calmly here since the 15th century in her long gown and corded cloak, her head on a tasselled cushion, her hands in prayer, a little dog at her feet.

Borley, Essex

Having previously researched Borley church (as noted in my Liston entry its dedication is unknown) I knew that it was kept locked and that no keyholder would be listed. This is because, somewhat odd as it may seem, the church is reputed to be Britain's most haunted church and as a consequence they shun the public.

The church is surrounded with yew topiary and sits in a beautiful spot - the view across the Stour valley towards Long Melford is stunning.

CHURCH (Dedication unknown). A topiary walk to the porch is the most notable feature of the church. The nave may be C11, see the sw quoin. The chancel and the W tower are Late Perp, the tower with thin diagonal buttresses and stepped battlements. - MONUMENTS. Sir Edward Waldegrave d. 1561 and wife d. 1599. Tomb-chest with recumbent effigies under a six-poster. The columns have shaft-rings. Straight top with big achievement. - Magdala Southcote d. 1592; with big kneeling figure; not good. - Black marble floor slab to Humphrey Burrough d. 1757, rector of Borley and Gainsborough’s uncle.

Dedication unknown (1)

Across to Long Melford

BORLEY. Its people look across the Stour valley into Suffolk from the churchyard, which has some remarkable clipped yews, like umbrellas with round frills and huge round bases. The church tower, like the chancel and the porch, is Tudor, but the
thick south wall of the nave may be 400 years older. There is a bell old enough to have rung for the defeat of the Armada, a 17th century doorway made of wood, a 15th century nave roof with embattled wall-plates, and a little bench with two poppyheads carved 500 years ago. In the chancel we see Magdala Southcote of 1598 kneeling at a desk, and in the nave is the great canopied tomb, 14 feet high, of Sir Edward Waldegrave and his wife Frances, who outlived him by 38 years. At her feet sits a squirrel with its paws to its mouth, and kneeling round the tomb are three sons and three daughters. The canopy rises on six Corinthian columns. Sir Edward was a Tudor Master of the Wardrobe. As an officer of Mary Tudor’s household he was put in the Tower in King Edward’s reign for refusing to prevent the princess from celebrating mass, but was set free on account of his health. On Mary’s coming to the throne he continued to serve her but objected to her marriage with Philip of Spain, so that his feelings were overcome by a pension of 500 crowns. On the accession of Queen Elizabeth he was thrown into the Tower again for allowing mass to be said in his house; and in the Tower he died, being buried in the chapel.

Liston, Essex

Onwards to Liston and its church whose dedication is unknown - strangely this applies to both Liston and Borley - which I found locked with no keyholder named. Quite why this should be is beyond me but ours is not to wonder why.

I'd have liked to gain access as the Norman door and C15th glass sound interesting.

Pevsner: CHURCH. Nave and chancel Norman, see the masonry at the E end, and the plain, blocked N doorway. The chancel was widened in the C13, but the windows are all renewed. W tower, not too big, early C16, of brick with blue brick diapers, diagonal buttresses, a three-light brick W window, and stepped battlements on a trefoiled corbel frieze. The stair turret reaches higher than the tower. The S chancel chapel was added in 1867. - FONT. Octagonal, Perp, traceried stem, and bowl with cusped panels and shields. - BENCH ENDS with two poppyheads. - STAINED GLASS. N window, in the tracery, several small C15 figures. - PLATE. Large Plate of 1683; Paten on foot probably of 1683; Flagon of 1702; Cup probably of 1702. LISTON HALL has been demolished.

Dedication unknown

LISTON. Its fine red tower is Tudor brickwork, and stands in a churchyard with neatly trimmed yews, by the side of Liston Hall park. One of the two bells is older than the tower, but far older than both is the Norman nave, which has a small doorway ornamented in the 12th century with zigzags and flowers. The chancel was made wider in the 13th century, but has kept its Norman wall at the east. A Tudor door is still swinging in the porch, and inside are handsome roofs 400 years old, that in the chancel having four angels looking down. A 15th century beam takes the place of the chancel arch, and there is a 15th century font, poor battered thing. The chancel has a medieval wooden seat, and the organist has a 17th century stool. One of the windows is delightful with glass new and old. It has nine charming roundels of Bible scenes, and in the tracery are figures coloured 500 years ago, the clearest being the Madonna holding a palm leaf and an orb. The others are probably St Anne, St George, Mary Magdalene, and St Michael. The church has a pathetic link with one of the most tragic events in the history of the Empire, the Massacre of Cawnpore. We read here how  Robert Thornhill, his wife, their two little ones, and a faithful nurse, were cruelly massacred after 66 days and nights of extreme suffering; and how Henry Thornhill and his family had already been murdered at Neetapore in those bitter days of the Mutiny.

Foxearth, Essex

Inspired by my one off visit to Kelvedon on Tuesday last I planned a proper visitation for Friday going to Foxearth, Liston, Borley, Newton, Polstead, Assington, Middleton and Great Henny finishing off the area south and west of Sudbury.

I've been to SS Peter & Paul on a previous occasion but failed to post either a blog or a Flickr entry - perhaps I'd run out of camera disc space.

Both visits found it locked with no keyholder listed and both times I came away thinking the tower looked like a Victorian water tower and that this was a cold and bleak site. A quick Google search shows that the tower was added in 1862 (hence the water tower look) and that most of the interior is a Victorian re-hash.

Pevsner is scathing: ST PETER AND ST PAUL. The main effect is Victorian (1885 by J. Clarke): externally the rather over ornate W tower of 1862 with unusual bell-openings (fine tall cusped lancets in a row on each side), internally the decoration everywhere by wall paintings and under the tower even by mosaics. But the chancel is of c. 1340 with a three-light E window with flowing tracery, and the N arcade may be of the same date: slim octagonal piers and double-chamfered arches. The N windows are Perp, the s windows renewed or new. - SCREEN. Only the dado with over-restored painted figures of saints is original. -  STAINED GLASS. Mostly of c. 1860 and good of its date.

SS Peter & Paul (1)

Arthur less so: FOXEARTH. A little village in the countryside Gainsborough knew so well, it is notable for a moated 15th century hall that is now a farmhouse, a 15th century cottage that is now a post office, and a medieval church much restored last century when the porch and tower were built, but still keeping some fine old woodwork. The chancel roof is 14th century, the roofs of the nave and aisle are 15th century,and the screen (with figures of Christ,the Madonna, and ten saints painted on its panels) is a treasure 400 years old.

Despite it being locked both times I visited some of the interior has been shot (not by me) and can be found on Flickr here.

Kelvedon, Essex

After almost two months of rain enforced delay I grasped a window of opportunity last Tuesday to visit St Mary the Virgin which, to be honest, left me somewhat indifferent. An 1877 restoration rendered it somewhat sterile and although it retains some items of interest (some good gargoyles and roof angels for example) this, to me, is pretty run of the mill.

Pevsner: ST MARY THE VIRGIN. The NW angle of the nave is evidently Norman. Nothing else of the period is visible. Nave and aisles belong to the C13, see especially the arcades. They have circular piers, except for one N pier with a four-shaft-four-hollow section. The capitals are partly moulded, partly with some stiff-leaf and crocket decoration. The arches are of many mouldings. C14 W tower with diagonal buttresses, battlements and a recessed spire. Also embattled the two aisles. The C14 chancel has a Perp E window put in by Sir Arthur Blomfield in 1876. The N vestry is an early C16 brick addition with a stepped gable and a four-light window with intersected tracery applied to a depressed four-centred head. Between chancel and vestry a C14 window and a C14 doorway made out of the head of a two-light window. - STAINED GLASS. E window by Burlison & Gryll; s chapel, second s window from E by Clayton & Bell 1859; w window by Laver & Westlake 1896; s chapel E window by Powell (belated pre-Raphaelite; designed by L. Davis). - SCULPTURE. Small wooden panel in the Vestry, probably Flemish, early CI7. - PLATE. Cup of 1562; Paten also Early Elizabethan. - MONUMENTS. To the Abdy family especially Sir Thomas d. 1679 with inscription on a draped stone curtain (by W. Stanton?), and Sir Anthony d. 1704 (by Edward Stanton).

Organ pipes

Bell ropes

Roof angel (1)

KELVEDON. For about a mile it runs along the Roman road to Colchester from London, and under the road at the foot of Feering Hill the Blackwater flows through a five-arched bridge. We may wonder how many villages in England there are with sixty national monuments in them, for sixty old houses in Kelvedon are scheduled for preservation by the nation.

In this historic little place was born last century a boy who grew up to make his name known wherever men listen to sermons or read them, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, for whom no church or chapel in the world was too big to hold his congregations.

The 600-year-old tower of the church is joined on to Norman walls with Roman bricks in them; the tower has grotesques at the corners and we noticed a very comical face grimacing on the walls. Indoors the capitals on two nave columns are very beautiful with stiff leaves carved 700 years ago, among the best of that time in Essex. The roof, well lit up by clerestory windows, is magnificent 15th century work and has supporting it richly carved figures playing hautboys and holding shields, crowns, and books. The church has what is called a weeping chancel, built a little aslant, it is said, in keeping with the legend that Our Lord bowed his head on the Cross. In the vestry is a quaintly carved panel of Esther on her knees before Ahasuerus; it is 16th century, and was brought from one of Kelvedon’s old houses. The best window has the  Annunciation by Louis Davis, recalling Rossetti’s masterpiece in the National Gallery.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon of Kelvedon, son of a minister, preached his first sermon at 16; at 18 he was a Baptist pastor; at 20 he was offered a pulpit in London; and a few months later all London was talking of him.

No chapel could hold the throng which crowded to listen to his sermons; he filled the Surrey Gardens Music Hall, and in the end they built him his own great Tabernacle. It cost £3l,000, and every penny had been subscribed when he had been preaching there a month. Three times a week he preached, and nearly 7000 people pressed in every time to hear him. He spoke at the Crystal Palace at the time of the Indian Mutiny and 24,000 came to listen. But this was nothing to the size of his unseen congregation. He had the biggest unseen congregations before the days of wireless. Once a week a sermon of his was printed, till the sermons ran into thousands and their copies into a hundred millions, read all over the world.

For half a century a shop in Paternoster Buildings existed on the sale of these sermons at a penny each. They were reproduced in newspapers; they were translated into many languages. But when his publishers sent a boy late one night through a snowstorm to deliver the proofs of one of them he could spare the time to write asking them "please to blow somebody up for sending the poor little creature here late tonight in all this snow, with a parcel much heavier than he ought to carry," and then he added: "There was no need at all for it. Do kick somebody for me, so that it may not happen again."

Wit and homely speech forced home the fervour of his sermons. He was no actor carrying people on a wave of emotion, but a deep thinker whose printed word would send a man down on his knees. But his creed was that of the old Puritans, as narrow as the gate of heaven seemed to him. Yet Spurgeon’s sermons were not bought only by Nonconformists. High Churchmen and Low, Roman Catholic and Evangelical, read them, sure that no sermons they could preach were as rich in thought as these. The city man and the shop assistant, the coalheaver and the duchess, bought his penny sermons as now they buy their penny papers; and just as the crowd waits outside the cinema today so they would wait outside Spurgeon’s Tabernacle at the end of last century.

On his tomb at Norwood it is said that he "being dead, yet speaketh." For years that was true; and still his sermons are read, and there are many to say that none are finer yet. But his influence has died down like the lull after a great storm, and we are left wondering at the power of this man.