“Every foot of old England has a history if only some one would be at the pains to unearth it”.
Edward Henry Lisle Reeve (1858 - 1936) was Rector of Stondon Massey in Essex from 1893 until 1935, succeeding his father in the role. In his spare time he researched and wrote what is regarded as a “model parish-history”.
“Mr Edward Reeve [Edward’s grandfather], who purchased the advowson [the right to appoint a Rector to the parish] in 1849, had for some little time been seeking a suitable parish as a sphere of work for his only son. The choice finally lay between Stondon and a village in Kent, and on Stondon the selection fell. A wave of Church life was then passing over the country and the young Rector entered upon his ministry with all the enthusiasm which youth and earnestness could inspire. Naturally he was not satisfied with the condition of the church, and he can scarcely have unpacked his effects when he began to move for a thorough restoration. Only instituted on May 22nd 1849, we find him calling a Vestry Meeting on July 30th “to consider the proposed repairs”.
“For the first few years of his incumbency the young Rector had his father and family living with him, and after his marriage the old gentleman would often come over from Ongar and delighted with identifying himself with any of the parochial festivals”.
The 1851 Census shows Edward James as ‘Rector of Stondon Massey’ (aged 29) with his father, mother and two sisters living at the Rectory. They had five servants. On that night they paid host to a visitor. The burial Register confirms his father’s later place of residence as Chipping Ongar. Edward James personally baptised his children. Following Edward James’ death, the 1901 census shows Edward Henry, a single man (aged 43) as Head of the household. Living with him was his elderly mother, his three spinster sisters and three servants. His sisters never married and all died as octogenarians. Perhaps the story is true that their father forbade them to marry. Anna died at Orchard Cottage, Marden Ash, Elizabeth at Manor House, Danbury, and Edith also at Danbury. All were buried at Stondon Massey.
From 1856 till his death in 1893 Mr Reeve acted as a Magistrate for the county.
“In 1893 he passed away. The advowson being left to me as his only son I had no alternative but to present myself as the new Incumbent to the Bishop and was duly instituted on Sept. 28th, 1893.
Reeve wrote of himself: “I may perhaps mention that I graduated at Oriel College, Oxford. After Ordination by Dr Thomson, Archbishop of York, in 1881, I held the Curacy of Scrayingham, near Stamford Bridge, 1881 – 1885 under the Rev. Sir George W Cox, Bt.; and in 1885 I migrated to St Botolph’s Colchester, where with the Rev. J R Corbett I spent nine very happy years”.
Revd. (later Canon) Reeve stayed as Rector of Stondon Massey until 1935, a year before his death. The advowson was bequeathed by him to the Bishop of Chelmsford.