Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Ingatestone, Essex

SS Edmund & Mary was the big disappointment of the day. Situated in the middle of Ingatestone, which was extraordinarily busy, the church was firmly locked - sometimes I think these locked churches are asking to be vandalised. I have no idea what sort of town Ingatestone is but to me it felt like a nice place and I'm bewildered as to why the church was locked - this, as the following shows, seems to be a shame.

ST EDMUND AND ST MARY. A truly magnificent W tower of red brick with black diapers. Tall, with angle buttresses, a three-light brick W window with Perp panel tracery, and two-light windows in two tiers above it. Stepped battlements on a corbel frieze. Behind the tower the small and shortish N wall of the nave, obviously Norman, with walls of puddingstone and Roman brick. The projecting N chancel chapel is C17 brick. S aisle and S chancel chapel C15 to early C16. The S chapel is of brick and was built by the Petre family. Three-light E window with a transome and two- and three-light S windows. Inside, the impression is somewhat disappointing after the glory of the tower. Three-bay S arcade with short piers of the well known Perp four-shaft-four-hollow section, and double-chamfered arches. Three-bay brick arcade to the Petre Chapel, with octagonal piers and triple-chamfered arches. Nave roof with tie-beams, octagonal king-posts with capitals and four-way struts. - FONT. Perp, octagonal with quatrefoil panels bordered by friezes of small quatrefoil panels. - HOUR GLASS of iron, early C18, fixed to the pulpit. - PLATE. Cup of 1675; Paten and two Flagons of 1725; two Cups and covers of 1728. - Three HELMS of c. 1570. - MONUMENTS. Between chancel and S chancel the alabaster tomb-chest of Sir William Petre, Secretary of State to Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary, and Privy Councillor, d. 1572, and wife, with recumbent effigies on rolled-up mats. Very fine quality. The tomb-chest with shell-headed panels separated by columns. - In the chapel itself Robert Petre d. 1593, monument with the usual kneeling figure; between columns of touch. - Also John Troughton d. 1621, with an outstandingly good portrait bust in an oval niche. Relief, in an informal demi-profile. - In the N chapel John, Lord Petre d. 1613 and wife. Standing wall monument of triptych composition with two kneeling figures in the wings, and two kneeling figures on a higher step in the centre. These are under a coffered arch. The parts are separated by black columns. The whole is straight-topped with obelisks and achievements. On the base in relief nice figures of kneeling children.

 SS Edmund & Mary (2)

INGATESTONE. A landmark for 200 years, its windmill is still at work crushing oats and beans with stones turned by wooden cog-wheels, the wooden cap swinging round to the wind on a massive brick tower. The red-roofed houses of the old town crowd on the narrow road, and behind them looms another landmark, the 15th century church tower of black and red bricks and white-capped pinnacles, which dwarfs the little nave and the three gabled roofs. There are Roman bricks set in the walls by Norman builders.

Under the arch between the chancel and the chapel he built, Sir William Petre lies on his tomb with his wife, a stately alabaster figure in armour, looking up at the coat-of-arms suspended above him. Delicate ironwork rails off this ornate pillared tomb, a fine example of Elizabethan craftsmanship.

Sir William lived through 67 years of the 16th century, serving Henry the Eighth and his three children on the throne. He grew rich as one of the destroyers of the monasteries, and it is said that his reward was as much as 36,000 acres. Yet he is remembered as a man of great moderation, and one of the stories told of him is that of a French oflicial at Boulogne in 1550 who said, “Ah! we could have gained the last 200,000 crowns without hostages had it not been for that man who said nothing.”

Sir William’s youngest brother Robert appears as a kneeling figure on a wall in the chapel, and a portrait in relief shows Captain John Troughton wearing a sash across his richly ornamented armour.

A brass tablet tells us of a distinguished soldier of three centuries later, Algernon Wood, who went through the Boer War and the first Gallipoli campaign, and was shot dead in a Gallipoli trench within a fortnight of being awarded the DSO.

The noblest of all the monuments here is one raised by the second Lord Petre to his wife and parents; it is a masterpiece in black and white, almost filling the west wall of a chapel built for it. Three generations are here, the grandparents (the first Lord Petre and his wife) kneeling opposite each other in the central bay, both in rich fur-lined cloaks, the grandchildren carved in relief along the base, eight boys and four prim girls in full skirts and fashionable Stuart hats, and their father, a very dignified figure in one of the side bays, looking towards the wife whose death started the building of this superb monument.

Their old home, Ingatestone Hall, with its many delightful stepped gables, was altered in the 18th century but has still a pleasant look of Elizabethan days about it, and is now a Roman Catholic retreat.

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