Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Downham, Essex

For no discernible reason St Margaret, built in 1871, is kept locked.

ST MARGARET. Big sturdy brick W tower of c. 1500. Diaper pattern of vitrified headers. Diagonal buttresses with four set-offs. Battlements. The church is of 1871 but has a few original windows from its predecessor. - PLATE. Small Cup and Paten of 1562. - MONUMENTS. Under the tower several handsome minor epitaphs of the C18 and early C19.

Dovecote (2)

DOWNHAM. It lies on the hills above the River Crouch, the red medieval tower of its church standing out among the elms at one of its beauty spots. The church has been refashioned, and the 13th and 14th century doorways have been reset in the nave. A brass inscription in French has been saved from the old church, and a little old glass with some golden crowns has come from the 14th century. On an altar tomb in the tower is a name recalling a thrilling period of our history - Benjamin Disbrowe, whose father led the Parliamentary cavalry at Bristol, was General of the Fleet during the Commonwealth, and suffered at the Restoration because he was suspected of plotting the death of Henrietta Maria and Charles the Second. He was released, however, and lived to see his son refashion the Elizabethan gabled house of Fremnells, a mile away over the hills. It was at this house early in last century that the whole of the Desborough family perished of smallpox.

An interesting record of a vicar of Downham is on the wall of the tower, where we read that Peter Beauvoir was here for 61 years to 1821, so that he lived here through the longest reign of any king in England’s history.

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