Sunday, 30 March 2008

Stondon Massey: Byrd on the box!

Programme three in the series ‘Sacred Music’, entitled 'Tallis, Byrd, and the Tudors', will be broadcast on BBC FOUR at 8.00pm on Friday 4 April. (and repeated at 1.30am on Saturday 5 April; 7.00pm on Sunday 6 April; and 2.05am on Monday 7 April). The programme is an hour long.

The following is taken from:

Simon Russell Beale reaches the religious turmoil of Tudor England as he continues his exploration of the history of Western church music. He tells the story of Thomas Tallis and William Byrd, two Catholic composers writing for a Protestant queen, who were at the centre of England's own musical Renaissance.

Tallis's career spanned the reign of four monarchs - Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth I - and his music reflects the religious upheavals and bewildering political changes that affected English church music as the nation switched between Catholicism and Protestantism. He began his career as an organist in Dover, moved to Waltham Abbey in Essex, then, after Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries in 1540, was appointed organist at Canterbury Cathedral. In 1543 he was made Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, a position he retained until his death in 1585.

Most likely born in Lincolnshire in 1543, William Byrd was a student of Tallis and the relationship between them was close. They jointly published 34 motets dedicated to Elizabeth I in 1575. When the older composer died, the music Byrd wrote in tribute was among the most beautiful and heartfelt of his prolific career. Appointed organist of Lincoln Cathedral in 1563, by 1572 he had joined Tallis as Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, sharing organist duties.

Byrd excelled in almost every musical form cultivated in the England of his time and, perhaps more than any other, his work is a musical record of one of the most challenging times in the history of sacred music.

Music is performed mainly at Waltham Abbey by award-winning choir The Sixteen, conducted by Harry Christophers, with a smaller group singing at Ingatestone Hall, Essex, (photo above) where Byrd risked his life taking part in secret worship. There is also music from the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace.

The Open University, who co-produced the series, has created a website linked to the programmes. The site features background information, programme summaries and a selection of music along with expert commentary. There is also space for viewer’s feedback. Go to:
The following is taken from:

“Through a succession of period documents and manuscripts Simon Beale tells the story of Thomas Tallis and his younger colleague William Byrd, the composers at the centre of England’s own musical Renaissance in the Tudor Age. He discovers the uncertainties of the life of a church musician in the sixteenth century, subject to numerous shifts of religious doctrine and worship from one monarch to the next.

“His journey takes him to some of England’s great cathedrals – Canterbury where Tallis was a singer, to Winchester where Mary Tudor was married and to Lincoln where Byrd started his career as the organist. In the account book of Lincoln Cathedral library he discovers one of William Byrd’s elaborate signatures and reflects on the composer’s powerful personality and sense of faith. He also visits many of the places in London and the Home Counties associated with Tallis and Byrd - attempting to find the houses they lived in, the churches where they worshipped
(see note) and, ultimately, their graves.”

Records suggest that William Byrd and his family did not worship at his local church at Stondon Massey.

For example:

In 1615 Byrd “was summoned with his children to appear, to give account concerning their profession” [ERO D/AZ/1/4 f202].

In 1616 at the Ecclesiastical Court at Romford, “William Birde, gent, for a Recusant Papist and for absenting himself from church a long tyme and for standing excommunicate seaven yeares”. His daughter-in-law, Catherine, was reported as “similar” and a neighbour Charles Clark also recorded as “a Recusant” [ERO D/AZ/1/6 f81].

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Ongar: Community Tree Strategy

The title of this work might sound off-putting but its content is certainly not. The ‘Ongar Community Tree Strategy’ was commissioned by Ongar Town Council and various local interest groups have made a significant contribution to this booklet. The work (32 pages, A4 size, in colour with photos and maps) gives an outline of the landscape history of the area before considering ‘special’ trees in Ongar, worthy of preservation, civic protection or simply enjoyment. With the declining use of timber for buildings during the twentieth century and pressure for more road building, airport expansion and housing, the Strategy concludes that safeguarding “an environment that supports a green landscape is crucial in the face of these challenges”. Locally, it is a “wake-up call to preserve not only the present tree stock, but perhaps more importantly, ensure that by community action in our own homes and gardens, we leave a healthy tree-filled legacy for future generations”.

The Ongar Millennium History Society organised a lecture (“The Marion Slade Lecture 2008”) given by Jon Stokes, Director of Rural Programmes for The Tree Council (28 March 2008 at Great Stony). The subject was “Our Heritage of Trees” in which he put forward a convincing case that important trees need to be listed in the same way that buildings receive such recognition. In the forward to this booklet, Pauline Buchanan-Black, Director of The Tree Council, says that "veteran trees should be regarded as Green Monuments in their own right".

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Stondon Massey: William Byrd - links to other sites

The BBC FOUR series, ‘Sacred Music’ screened over the Easter season in 2008 features the lives and works of Thomas Tallis, organist at Waltham Abbey, and William Byrd, the Elizabethan Composer who lived for the last thirty years of his life at Stondon Massey in Essex. The Open University, who co-produced the series, has created a website linked to the programmes. The site features background information, programme summaries and a selection of music along with expert commentary. There is also space for viewer’s feedback. Go to:

Tallis and Byrd are featured in programme three (of four) on Friday 4 April (8.00pm to 9.00pm).

Much is written on the internet about Byrd (apart from this blog). These are just a selection of links:

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Stondon Massey: BBC TV / Open University series to feature St Peter & St Paul Church

Details have been released of a TV series, ‘Sacred Music’, which comes to our screens (if you ‘do digital’ that is) over the Easter period. The programmes will be broadcast on BBC FOUR.

And Stondon Massey, Essex, will appear in the third programme on 4 April 2008.

Stondon’s claim to fame is that William Byrd, a catholic and gentleman of the Chapel Royal, lived at Stondon Manor, from 1593 until his death on 4 July 1623.

Last October, Stondon’s Churchwardens were present at St Peter & St Paul Church during filming, which lasted for over five hours. One of them was interviewed and participated in a re-enactment of Byrd’s burial at night in the churchyard. Byrd is thought to have been laid to rest there - according to his Will - but without a surviving burial register for the period this cannot be proved. No memorial was erected at the time to the Elizabethan composer, no doubt because his Catholic conviction which brought him into conflict with the protestant locals.

In fact, it was not until the 1920s that Byrd received official local recognition, thanks to the efforts of the Rector and local historian, Canon Edward Reeve. On the south wall is a tablet commemorating the tercentenary of Byrd’s death, describing him as ‘A Father of Musick’ (see picture). The proceeds for the Tablet were paid for from the surplus received from Tercentenary Celebrations in London in 1923. The unveiling of the memorial, during a special Service on 12 March 1924, was attended by choristers from the Chapel Royal.

'Sacred Music', the TV series, (described as a history of 600 years of European Sacred Music from its roots in 12th Century Paris to the works of Johann Sebastian Bach), is an Open University documentary series which includes performances by conductor Harry Christophers and his world-famous choir, The Sixteen.

The series begins at St Paul’s Cathedral in London and journeys to Paris, Rome and Leipzig charting the political, social and musical developments of the time.

There is also a one-off 90-minute concert of music from the series which will broadcast on BBC FOUR on Easter Sunday.

Simon Russell Beale, the presenter, said in the press release: “I had a wonderful time making this series, travelling to extraordinary places, meeting fascinating people and above all listening to some of the most beautiful music ever written.

“The history of Sacred Music is an intriguing story and I hope the programmes will be a feast for both ear and eye.”

As well as London, the series also visits Dover, Waltham Abbey, the Cathedrals of Winchester, Lincoln and Canterbury, Stondon Massey in Essex where Simon visits the parish church of St Peter & St Paul, Ingatestone Hall and Harlington in Middlesex which features the parish church of St Peter.

The series will be broadcast on Friday evenings from Friday March 21 for four weeks on BBC FOUR. The accompanying concert will broadcast on BBC FOUR on Easter Day, Sunday March 23.

Programme Three, featuring Stondon, will be broadcast on Friday 4 April. This edition centres on London, where two great Catholic musicians of the 16th century composed for a very Protestant monarch, Elizabeth I. Against a background of religious upheaval and political change, Thomas Tallis and William Byrd served as gentleman of the Chapel Royal, the musical powerhouse of the monarchy, and their music was fundamental to the development of the English choral tradition, regarded today as the finest in the world. Despite their own deeply held Catholic beliefs, they composed some of their finest music for the Anglican church. The singers of “The Sixteen” illuminate through rehearsal and conversation not only the music itself but the sheer clarity of sound with which the tradition is associated.

Locally, of course, more about William Byrd can be heard at the ‘Through Changing Scenes’ event, to be held at the church on Saturday 19 April. Tickets are available now.

A booklet will also go on sale in aid of Church Funds, entitled 'William Byrd: Some Notes".

Meanwhile, across the Internet and in magazines, the name 'Stondon Massey' is appearing in connection with the TV Series.

For enquiries about the church, its events etc, click on 'Aask Andrew' under 'Labels' (left hand sie) and add a comment or use the Comments field below. Both will reach my E mail box.

Sunday, 9 March 2008


Blackmore Area Local History forum.

Do you have a question about the history and heritage of the Blackmore area of Essex?
Did your ancestors live in Blackmore?
Were your relatives buried at Blackmore after 1893?
I might be able to help or put you in contact with someone who can.

Why not ‘Ask Andrew’?

Contact me
- privately via my E mail (which you will find on my Profile) or
- publicly by clicking ‘comment’ below. This will E mail my home address and I will be able to read, moderate (if necessary*), publish (on the blog) and respond (on the blog).

To view comments, click title ‘BLACKMORE HISTORY - Ask Andrew!!’.

Some notes
* I have set my Google Blog to allow anyone to send a ‘comment’. However it will not be automatically published but sent to my personal E mail box first. This should eliminate spam and safeguard the site from those who would want to post unsuitable material or comments. I want this to be a friendly site, suitable for school children doing projects and for parents to be happy with the integrity of everything posted.

Stondon Massey: School

These items were first published in the Parish Magazine for Stondon Massey

Friday, 7 March 2008

Stondon Massey: William Byrd - Last Will and Testament

An extract from the forthcoming book ‘William Byrd: Some Notes’

William Byrd, composer and resident of Stondon Place, died on 4 July 1623.

His Will, a copy of which may be seen in the Vestry of St Peter and St Paul Church, Stondon Massey (with permission), reads as follows:

In the name of the most glorious and undivided Trinity, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, three distinct persons and one eternal God, Amen.

I, William Byrd of Stondon Place in the parish of Stondon in the County of Essex, gentleman, do now in the 80 year of my age, but through the goodness of God being of good health and perfect memory, make and ordain this for my last Will and Testament.

First: I give and bequeath my soul to God Almighty, my creator and redeemer and preserver: humbly craving His grace and mercy for the forgiveness of all my sins and offences; past, present and to come.

And that I may live and die a true and perfect member of His holy Catholic Church without which I believe there is no salvation for me. My body to be honestly buried in that parish and place where it shall please God to take me out of this life which I humbly desire if so it shall please God may be in the parish of Stondon where my dwelling is: And then to be buried near unto the place where my wife liest buried, or else where as God and the time shall permit and suffer. And where I have been long desirous to settle my poor estate in the farm of Stondon place according to an award lately made between Catheren Byrde my daughter in law and me by a very good friend to us both.

Which award we both gave our Christian promises to perform, but having been let and hindered therein by the undutiful obstinancy of one whom I am unwilling to name: do now ordain and dispose of the same as Followeth. First, the whole Farm to remain to my self and my assignees during my life; and after my decease, I give the same to my daughter in law Mrs Catheren Byrd for her life; upon the conditions following, viz: to pay Twenty eight pounds, fifteen shillings and fourpence yearly to mr. Anthony Lutor or his assignees for the fee farm rent. And to pay to mistress Dawtry of Doddinghurst 15 shillings yearly for the quit rent of Maleperdus freehold: Also to pay unto my son Thomas Byrde Twenty pounds yearly during his life: And to my daughter Rachel Ten pounds a year during her life. And the same payments to begin at the next usual Feasts of payment after the day of my death: And after the decease of my said daughter in law mistress Catheren Byrde and of the aforesaid lives: I give and bequeath the whole Farm of Stondon Place to Thomas Byrde my grandchild, son of Christopher Byrd my eldest son by the said Catheren; and to his heirs lawfully begotten for ever: And for want of such heirs of the said Thomas Byrde son of the said Christopher: I give the same Farm of Stondon Place to Thomas Byrde my son to his heirs lawfully begotten: And for want of such heirs: I give the Inheritance of the said Farm to the four sons of my daughter Mary Hawksworth wife of Henry Hawksworth gentleman as they are in age and seniority viz: First to William Hawksworth and his heirs lawfully begotten and for want of such heirs to Henry Hawksworth his second brother his heirs lawfully begotten, and for want of such heirs to George Hawksworth and his heirs lawfully begotten, and for want of such heirs to John Hawksworth the fourth son of the said Mary Hawksworth my daughter: And to his heirs lawfully begotten. And for want of such heirs of the four sons of Mary Hawksworth my daughter and her husband To William Hooke son unto Rachel Hooke my daughter and to his heirs lawfully begotten and for want of such heirs: To the right heirs of me the said William Byrde for ever: Item I give and bequeath to the four sons of Mary Hawksworth my daughter and her husband To William Hooke son unto Rachel Hooke my daughter and to his heirs lawfully begotten and for want of such heirs: To the right heirs of me the said William Byrde for ever: Item I give and bequeath to my daughter in law mistress Catheren Byrde and her son Thomas Byrde all my goods moveables and unmoveables at Stondon Place. And also all the woods and Timber trees wheresoever they are growing in and upon the said Farm: upon this condition only to see me honestly buried and my debts truly discharged, to which end and purpose; I do make and ordain Catheren Byrde my said daughter in law and Thomas Byrde her son whole executors of this my last will and testament. Item I give and bequeath unto my son Thomas Byrd all my goods in my lodging in the Earl of Worcester’s house in the Strand: And where I purchased a perpetual annuity or rent charge of 20 £ a year of Sir Francis Fortescue knight unto 200 £ be paid in which annuity I have given to Elizabeth Burdet my eldest daughter for her life: I do now declare how it shall be disposed of after my said daughter’s decease, first if my said son Thomas Byrde concur with this my last will and Testament and accept of his annuity according to the same: Then I give the one half of the annuity being Ten pounds a year or one hundred pounds if it be paid in: to the said Thomas Byrd his heirs, executors and assignees. And the other half of that annuity I give and bequeath to Michael Walton with marriage of his wife Catheren Hooke my grandchild for her marriage portion. Always provided that if my son Thomas Byrd do seek by law or other ways to disturb or trouble my executors and not agree to the same: Then I do hereby declare That my will and intention is: That the said Thomas Byrde my son shall have no part of the said annuity: but I do hereby give that part of the annuity That I had given to my son Thomas Byrd: to Thomas Byrd my grandchild to him and his heirs for ever.

And having now by the leave of God Finished this my last will according to the true meaning of the said award and our Christian promises: I do now by this my last will and Testament utterly revoke and annul all former grants, writings and wills as far as in me lieth whatsoever is contrary to this my last will and Testament:

In witness thereof I, the said William Byrd have set my hand and seal the Fifteenth day of November in the years of the reign of our Sovereign lord James, by the grace of God King of England, France and Ireland the Twentieth and of Scotland Fifty six defender of the faith re 1622:

By me Wyllm Byrde

Sealed and delivered in the presence of Henry Hawksworth.

(Proved by Thomas Byrd and Catherine Byrd 30 October 1623)

We cannot know for certain whether Byrd was buried at Stondon, but it is unlikely that he travelled between the date of his Will and his death.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Stondon Massey: William Byrd - Our Shakespeare of Music

An extract from the forthcoming book ‘William Byrd: Some Notes’

William Byrd and Thomas Tallis were the great composers of Elizabethan England. In 1575 they were granted the exclusive right to produce printed manuscripts. Byrd, we know, lived for the last thirty years of his life at Stondon Massey. He was one-time organist at the Chapel Royal and Court Composer to the Petre family at Ingatestone Hall.

A Roman Catholic in a very Protestant era, Byrd was an unpopular man in the parish. The Churchwardens, who had significant power in those days, presented his name before the Essex Archdeaconry courts for failing to attend church and take communion, and for failing to pay church rates. This was a compulsory local tax intended to pay towards the upkeep of the church building and to provide for the poor of the parish.

We know that Byrd wished to be buried at Stondon Massey, but there is no evidence since no headstone was erected – in common with the early seventeenth century – and the Parish Registers for the period have been lost. St Peter and St Paul’s Church has a memorial to him commemorating the tercentenary of his death: he died on 4th July 1623. It bears the inscription “A Father of Musick”.

Much is written on the internet about Byrd. Other links:

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Stondon Massey: Sacred Music on BBC FOUR

Those taking the following Open University courses will be glued to BBC FOUR on 4 April when William Byrd of Stondon Massey will be featured.

- A214 An Introduction to Music
- AA317 Words and music
- A179 Start listening to music
- AA100 The Arts: past and present

Information on William Byrd and the small village on Stondon Massey, Essex, can be found on this blog.

Stondon Massey: John Carre

An extract from the forthcoming book ‘Stondon Massey: A Short History’, which draws on Revd. E. H. L. Reeve’s work of 1900.

I have still, however, to speak of the most illustrious of our merchant connections, John Carre, who died in 1570, was of Stondon origin. His godfather was John Hall, brother of Richard, and from him I dare say he derived his name. When a young man he went up to London under the kindly protection of Richard Hall who introduced him to the Ironmongers Company, and for whose memory he entertained to the last with affectionate regard. Later, he figures as one of the earliest members of the Merchant Adventurers Company, incorporated by Elizabeth in 1564. I gather that he was twice married, for two ladies appear with him in the handsome brass to his memory in Stondon Church, and while he bequeaths a third part of his property to his daughter Margery, he makes a smaller bequest in the event of her death to his “wife’s children”. He was uncle to Henry Giles (of “Giles’ Charity” fame) and to his brother Thomas, and refers to them both affectionately in his will as his “sister’s children”. The will is a very lengthy one, covering several pages of closely written folio. The “goods, chattels, money owing to him, household stuff, plate, jewels, and ready money” are to be divided into three equal parts, “according to the use and custom of the said city of London”; of which, one part he bequeaths to his wife Agnes, the second part to his daughter, and the third part “for the performance” of certain legacies. These include £10 for sermons to be preached in the church of the parish where he dies, viz., one each year for 20 years; £5 for a dinner to be made, at the discretion of the executers, by the parson and churchwardens of the parish of Stondon for “the inhabitants and honest householders by way of gratification;” £5 to the “poore man’s boxe” of Stondon Parish; £15 in current money to be distributed at the discretion of the executers “among the most honest of the Stondon parishioners of the poorest sort,” half the amount on the day of his burial and half within the next half year. Also £10 for a stock “to be employed in or for cattle or otherwise for the most comfort of the poorest inhabitants at the discretion of the parson and parishioners”. A further sum of £400 is given to the “Mystery of Ironmongers” on condition that for the next 21 years after his decease “two wardens of the said mystery or occupation, and two others of the same fellowship shall provide a preacher learned in Divinitie before the Feast of Pentecoste to ryde to Stondon in Essex, and at the same feaste in the Parish Church there shall be a sermon”. For their expenses yearly on this behalf £5 is specially given.

Carre left bequests to the Wayte Players of some of the city Companies; they had perhaps pleased him on the occasion of some civic functions. Wait-players are mentioned at Exeter in 1400 as parading the streets and calling the hours. Our Christmas “Waits” are probably the only representatives of the profession still extant at the present day.

This would bring the total value of his estate to £8,400 or thereabout, a substantial sum in the days of Elizabeth. No fewer than 16 persons are mentioned for whom memorial gold rings are to be made at £3 6s 8d apiece, while his eight executers and overseers are to be similarly cared for.

At Stondon the inscription on his tomb records his munificence as follows, it being his special desire to be buried here.

“John Carre citezen of London, an Irenmonger free,
also a Marchaunt venturar, in grave heare lyeth hee.
Heare in Stondon was he borne whose soule god toke to rest
the first of Julie in the yeare of Christ above exprest
Of earnest zeale amonge the rest, in lyfe he had regard
to this parrishe his native soyle and gave a large reward
To it and unto other mo that neare aboute it be
And eke in london wheare he dwelte full lyberall giftes gave he”.

He was buried on the north side of the Communion Table at the east end of the church, in the presence of four members at least of his old fellowship, no doubt in full state-robes, to the great entertainment of the villagers! One can picture Rector Fering receiving this imposing funeral party in our little church with a certain amount of anxiety and trepidation.

The Will is dated June 28, 1570, and proved July 15, while the brass monument records Carr’s death to have taken place on July 1. It is pretty evident, I think, that the good man must have prepared the lengthy and intricate testament long before, though he left the actual signature till nearly the last day of his life. Commission was given to Henry Giles alone to administration, his brother Thomas Giles renouncing his position as executer.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Stondon Massey: Durrant's Handbook For Essex (1887)

The following is taken from ‘Durrant’s Handbook For Essex’ (Durrant & Co., Chelmsford, 1887).

Ston’don Massey. A. 1155; P. 261; Rectory, value £500; 3 m. S.E. from Ongar.

Literally Stone-dune Marci, the stony or gravelly hill of the Marci, or Marks, its owners in former times. The Place is a good mansion. The Church (SS. Peter and Paul), though small, is a remarkable example of a Norman church. It consists of a nave and chancel, to which a modern N. aisle and mortuary chapel with vaulted stone roof have been added. A timber framework in the W. end nave supports a tower with 3 bells and a spire. On the N. side were, until recently, two round-headed Norman loopholes, placed very high in the wall. Opposite were two similar windows, one of which, in the 16th cent., was replaced by a large square-headed 3-light (Perp.) window. In the chancel are two more loopholes like the others, not more than 2½ in. wide externally, but splayed internally to 3 ft. The S. door is a rude, plain, round-arched one, with square capitals, of Norman age, or possibly older. The rood-screen and pulpit (both perfect) are of fine 16th cent. carved oak. The E. window is poor; that at the W. is Perp., with a narrow lancet window over it, which is possibly original. The font is octagonal, with rose ornaments. There is a floor brass, with effigy and long inscription to John Sarre [Carre](1570), citizen of London ironmonger and merchant venturer, who was born in the parish ; and another to Rainold Hollingworth (1753). The Register begins in 1708.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Stondon Massey: Revd. A Suckling. Memorials (1845)

The following is taken from Revd. Alfred Suckling’s book, ‘Memorials of the antiquities and architecture, family history and heraldry of the County of Essex’ (John Weale, London, 1845).

With the church of Stondon Massey commences my eleventh volume of “Antique and Armorial Collection;” - and I hope opportunity sufficient will be afforded me to devote its entire contents to the county of Essex, in which it is situated. Few districts offer subjects of higher interest; and although I must admit the want of the beauties of a stately cathedral, yet its remains of Roman castrametation - its castellated and its monastic ruins - its ecclesiastical and domestic structures - present, in singularity of design and construction, unparalleled examples of ancient art. The Roman works at Chesterford, considered by some as the most entire in England; the castles of Colchester and Hedingham; the Abbey of Waltham and the Priory of St. Botolph, both exceedingly curious specimens; the round church of Maplested; and above all, the wooden church of Greensted, perhaps a genuine instance of Anglo Saxon Architecture; the houses of Layer Marney and Audley these, and various others that might be justly adduced, will, I think, bear me out in asserting that the county of Essex is not to be surpassed in the possession of those curious and interesting remains which constitute the riches of architectural antiquities. Nor will the church of Stondon Massey, upon a close examination, be considered as unworthy addition to such a list. Although its south side makes a drawing of but little apparent interest, yet its northern façade, uninjured by modern innovation, presents a remarkable display of the peculiar architecture of Anglo-Norman times, than I have hitherto met with. Three small round-headed loop-holes placed, with the most jealous precaution, in the very uppermost portion of the wall, alone admit light from this side of building; while a similar number, in a situation exactly corresponding, originally pierced the south wall, of which two still remain ; the third has disappeared, having given place to a larger window in the nave, of a much more recent era. These six apertures, then, with one at the east and one at the west end, most likely of equal dimensions, afforded all the light which the devotees of that turbulent period thought it prudent to enjoy. The east end, I grieve to say, is now filled with a modern sash-window : the lancet-window, to be observed in the drawing, placed high up the gable, may he original, and was, perhaps, at first, round-headed, but I can offer nothing positive on this point, as recent masonry is apparent in this part of the edifice. Below are correct drawings of the interior and exterior of one of these loop-holes; the Saracenic or horse-shoe termination of which must not be suffered to pass unnoticed.

Though Stondon may he inferior in its masonry and finish to the celebrated church of Barfeston in Kent, it far exceeds that edifice, in my opinion, as an example of Norman Architecture. A reference to the drawings will show that the church of Stondon comprises merely a nave and chancel, of nearly the same width: its eastern termination was originally circular I cannot determine, as a modern brick wall forms the present gable.

In the interior are a few monuments, which may be thus briefly noticed. First, at the foot of two small figures, in brass, are the following lines in black letter: -

Who liste to see and knowe himselfe may loke upö this glase,
And view ye beaten pathe of death We he shall one day pase;
Wc way I Ramold Holingworth w pacient mind have gone;
Whose bodi here, as death hath changd, lieth covëed w this ston:
Thus dust to dust is brought againe, ye earthe she bath her owne,
This shall ye lot of all men be, before the trumpe be blowne.
Obiit 17 Aprilis, A°. 1573. Mors michi vita.

To the memory of Johanna Hollingworth, Spinster, Lady of the Manor of Stonedon Massey who died April 12, 1829, at Stonedon Place, in this parish, and was buried in the family at Thundridge, in the county of Herts.
On this monument are the arms of Hollingworth.

A mural tablet, inscribed to the memory of the families of How and Taylor, who resided at Stondon Place upwards of a century.

John Leigh, of Stondon Place, Gent., died 3rd of October, 1650.

Hic jacet Jacobus Crooke nuper hujus ecclesiae Rector, qui vitam Deo resignavit suam l die Mensis Martij, A.D. 1706, annoque aetatis suae 67.

At the west end of this church is a stone octagonal font, with the rose ornaments commonly met with in this shaped ornament; while a screen of wood divides the nave and chancel, which is in good preservation, but does not exhibit any peculiar tracery.

A frame of oak timber, however, which occupies a considerable portion of the western end, and sustains the present tower and bells, is entitled to observation, on account of its singular construction.

The north and south doors of the nave are perfectly plain, having neither column nor moulding in any part.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Blackmore: Parish Registers

Some notes for family historians who may have ancestors from Blackmore in Essex.

Blackmore’s old Parish Registers are kept at the Essex Record Office ( ) in Chelmsford.

Records for Blackmore survive from 1602.

Baptism Registers cover the period 1602 to 1961.
Marriage Registers cover the period 1602 to 1992.
Burial Registers cover the period 1602 to 1893.

Records since that date are kept in the Church Safe.

I have a transcription of burial records for the period 1893 to 1920.

For information relating to any of the above, click on the ‘comments’ section below.

Saturday, 1 March 2008


Following the success of ‘Through Changing Scenes’ at Blackmore, it’s Stondon Massey’s turn on Saturday 19th April, starting at 7.30pm. St Peter and St Paul Church (see photograph) will echo again to the words of their previous Rector and historian, Reverend Edward Henry Lisle Reeve, and will feature music by local Elizabethan composer, William Byrd. ‘Through Changing Scenes’ is a history of the church and village in words and music’. The music is provided by Tuneful Accord directed by Christine Gwynn, and the script, researched and written by me, told by members of the congregation. Profits will go to church funds.

Linked with ‘Through Changing Scenes’, two small books will be available telling the history of Stondon Massey. There will also be the opportunity to buy “Revd. E.H.L. Reeve. Chronicler Of The Great War” and “William Byrd: Some Notes”. All books are £1.50 each, more if posted.

Stondon Massey Church will also be featured on television. On 4 April, programme three in the series ‘Sacred Music’ will feature the life and work of William Byrd. Some of the programme was “filmed on location”. The series will be broadcast on BBC FOUR.

Will this mean a surge in visitor numbers this summer to our local parishes?

Over the next month, this ‘blog’ will feature aspects of Stondon’s history: not only some notes on composer William Byrd but also other local worthies.

Returning to the subject of books, I have written a number on aspects of Blackmore’s local history. A list is now included.

Here in this corner of Essex consultation around a Planning Appeal for the old school continues but in the meantime with Brentwood Borough Council approving a separate plan to extend the old building to permit conversion to a four-bedroom house. Letters associated with the Planning Appeal close on 7 March. My personal views are given on this blog.

As a parish, Blackmore covers about 2500 acres. In terms of housing, it may be divided into three sections: the old village, Hook End (or anciently Hooks End) and, Wyatts Green. The latter areas were scattered farms until the 1960s when estates were created. First Avenue, Hook End, were former ‘plot land’ dwellings, sold in the 1930s. In the old village (central Blackmore, actually towards the north of the parish) The Green and its surroundings lie within a Conservation Area. Essex County Council has recently undertaken an appraisal (the consultation period closed on 1 February) and this is of both historic and civic interest. This month I include a link to this and other Conservation Area appraisals.

Listed buildings are of importance to our history. Local Councils publish a ‘Buildings at Risk’ register. This includes Coachmans Cottage (Grade II listed) in Church Street but, a gold star is now required to its owner in that over the recent weeks it has been repaired. A link to Brentwood Borough Council’s register is now on this ‘blog’.

The landscape too is important to our heritage. This is illustrated in the nearby town of Chipping Ongar which has recently published its ‘Ongar Tree Strategy’. I include a short review.

I wrote last month that in terms of coverage Blackmore Area Local History will include the area roughly Epping to the west, Chelmsford to the north, Billericay to the east, and Brentwood to the south. I came across a map from 1848 which, being way out of copyright, I have included at the foot of the page. It gives a sense of relative location for those who are unfamiliar with this part of the county.

Coming soon to this blog
- Jericho Priory
- Early twentieth century postcards of Brentwood, Warley Barracks, Shenfield etc

Coming soon to Blackmore Village Website
- an index of Blackmore ancestors
- a transcript of the 1910 Electoral Register.
You can contact me by adding a Comment below, or better still, go to 'Aask Andrew' under 'labels' (left hand side) and add a comment under that topic.

Blackmore: Look Up Exchange. Burial Register. From 1893 (to 1920)

Family historians visit the Essex Record Office to check for the burial of their forbears. The Burial Register for Blackmore, Essex, after 1893, however, is kept in the church safe and not generally available for viewing. I have a transcript of the first 224 entries covering the years 1893 to 1920. Please send an enquiry, via the 'Comments' section if you think that I might be able to help (or so to 'Aask Andrew' - see 'labels' (left) and do the same).

(Years covered: 1893 (from 20 October), 1894, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919, 1920 (to 1 July). Extent: Persons buried at the Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore, Essex)