Friday, 15 May 2009

Margaretting: 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). The author, a Suffolk man by origin, became Stipendiary Curate of Margaretting in 1834 so the length of the item is unsurprising.

Had this little village received a translation instead of an inversion of its Saxon impounds, its appellation at the present day might have sounded less harshly to our ears. Ging Margaret (as it is written in Domesday Book) signifying literally the Meadow of Margaret. As the church is dedicated to a female saint of that name, and the greater part of the parish lies on the banks of the little river which flows onwards towards Chelmsford, no derivation can be more accurately defined, or more justly applied, yet St. Margaret’s Meadow must be allowed to be a more euphonical, as well as a more intelligible appellation, than that which it at present bears of Margareting. It is a straggling village, extending along and in great part bisected by the London and Chelmsford road, for above three miles; while breadth, which varies much, is in no part of a similar magnitude. The soil may certainly be considered fertile, though of a deep and clayey quality, and its surface is agreeably diversified by gentle swells and undulations. The purity of its air may he demonstrated from the age and rigour of it inhabitants, many of whom are at this day (Jan. 1834) verging fast towards ninety years and in the enjoyment of their mental and corporeal faculties in a degree very unusual at such an advanced period of life. That Margareting was possessed of more then ordinary village importance in the Saxon era, may be fairly premised from the existence of a church at that period, but whether that structure occupied the site of the present edifice, or stood more in the centre of the parish, is a question which cannot now be determined. The acquirement of this comparative consequence originated probably in some military transactions which appear to have taken place here in days still more remote: what were the objects of contending parties, or whether victory united herself to the cause of the injured or the aggressions of the invaders, have hitherto eluded my researches; but a very large tumulus, near the eastern extremity of the parish, would probably dispel some portion of this uncertainty, were its interior submitted to the examination of the antiquary.

This tumulus is situated close to the road leading towards Chelmsford, and from its elevated site and great extent was chosen about a century since as a good situation for a windmill; hut this disfigurement has long been removed, and its original character restored.

Margareting possesses many very respectable houses and an increasing population, as appears from the several returns made at the various periods of the latest enquiries. These returns are as follow:-

“The total of the population of Margaretting in the year 1811 was 399; males, 184 ; females, 215; inhabited house 86; inhabited by 87 families. No house was building in that year, 1811; one house was uninhabited; families, agricultural, 74; families, handicraft or trading, 17; other families, 5.

“Population, &c., of Margaretting, according to the census of 1821, males 237; females, 242; inhabited houses, 91; inhabited by 94 families; no house building or uninhabited; agricultural families, 59; trading or handicraft families, 21; other occupations, 14; total 479.

“Population, &c., of Margaretting, according to the census of 1831, males, 282; females, 263; inhabited houses, 106 ; inhabited by 106 families; no house building or uninhabited; agricultural families, 67; trade or handicraft families, 16; other families, 22; total of population, 545.”

From these statements it will evidently appear that the population of this village very nearly one third during the last twenty years.

The parish contains two thousand acres, of which about one fourth only is grass land; the rates and tithe of these are fixed for the present year (1834) on the following scale:-

Poor rate, including the county rate, at 4s. in the pound; the amount of county rate in the above is about £40 yearly.

Churchwarden’s rate, 6d. in the pound.

Highway rate, about 2d. in the pound, and work half statute duty.

Rectorial tithe £500; vicarial tithe, £155; drawn tithe, £30.

Land tax exonerated, £128 10s. 8d.; ditto, not exonerated £88 13s. 4d.

The great tithes having been appropriated by the neighbouring Priory of Blackmore, were obtained in 1525 by Cardinal Wolsey, who settled them on his colleges of Christ’s Church at Oxford, and at Ipswich. After the Cardinal’s disgrace, they reverted of course to the crown, and were then granted to the Abbey of Waltham Holy Cross. Falling into the hands of the king a second time, in consequence of the general dissolution of monastic institutions, they were bestowed by Henry the Eighth, in 1540, upon a Mrs. Elizabeth Hill, and are at present the property of a Mr. Baker, who resides in the parish, at a house called the parsonage. As this place is surrounded with very extensive offices of red brick, bearing the most decided evidence of the architecture of the fifteenth century, it is more than probable that the monks possessed a grange here for the collection of their tithes, which were always at that period taken in kind, a practice pursued by the present impropriator.

The patronage of the vicarage is enjoyed in alternate succession by two families; the present vicar, the Rev. William Jesse, having been appointed by the latter possessor. To the liberality of the last vicar, the Rev. Charles Frederick Bond, the present and future incumbents must owe much gratitude, that truly good and active minister having erected the vicarage house, in 1822, at his own charge and cost. He is said to have expended in its building a sum amounting to the aggregate of what he had received in payment for tithes during the whole period of his incumbency. The old house, of which I have copied a sketch from a pencil drawing made just before its demolition, was highly inconvenient, and in a most wretched state of dilapidation. Mr. Bond did not long enjoy the comforts of his munificence, dying in the year 1827, at the age of 62 years, twenty-six of which had been spent in the faithful discharge of his pastoral duties. The parish of Margareting is still further indebted to Mr. Bond for the bequest of £8 per annum for ever, to be expended in charitable purposes, the particulars of which donation will be specified when we come to speak of the church and its monuments.

There are three manors in this parish, namely, Margareting, Copisfold-deale, alias Cold Hall, and Shenfield, now called Killegrews but for the latter no court is kept.

In Saxon times, the chief estate here was in the hands of Siward, Edwin, Grut, Selva, Top, and Anschill; but when Domesday was compiled, Robert Gernon and Matthew Mauritaniensis were the principal proprietors. In the twelfth of Henry the Second, the manor of Margareting was held by John de Sandford, under the name of Ginge. Alice, his daughter, married Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford, and thus conveyed this property to that noble family. It has subsequently passed in succession through those of De Warren, Arundel, Scot, Berdfield, Reade and Daniel jointly, and Petre, where it is yet vested.

By some persons, the Prior and Convent at Blackmore are said to have held this manor; but this is erroneous. They had indeed at their suppression a good estate in this parish, but possessed no manorial rights. The property comprised a messuage, probably on the site of the present parsonage, a hundred acres of arable land, the like quantity of pasture, thirty acres of meadow, twenty of woodland, and the great tithes and advowson of the church.

The manor house or Old Hall is a respectable dwelling, adjoining the church, but does not possess a very high antiquity; it is the property of Lord Petre, and has been rented these last fifty years by Mr. John Tabrum, now in his eighty-second year, - a worthy man, from whom the writer has experienced many acts of kindness and attention, and which he thus acknowledges with gratitude and pleasure.

I cannot learn that this manor enjoys any peculiar privileges, or possesses any remarkable customs.

The manor of Coptfold, Copisfold-deale, or Cold Hall, was held in 1250 by Ralph de Gings, and afterwards by John Lamborne; it has passed in rapid succession through the families of Chene, Clovile, Tanfield, Burgess, Gatton, Hoy, Bishop, Benyon, Holden, Vachell, and Stone. The Tanfields appear to have obtained it by marriage, as William Tanfield is said by Morant to have married Elizabeth Cloville.

The third manor in Margareting is that of Shenfield or Killegrew; the former designation is most probably derived from the Saxon words [meaning] pleasant field, while the latter appellation is said to have been obtained from the name of a favourite mistress of Henry the Eighth, whose residence it was. What truth there is in this tradition I know not, but the architecture of the turrets at the inner angles of the moat correspond well enough to the period of the alleged intrigue. A modern farm-house has risen within these last few years on the site of the older mansion; though the moat, with its facings of brick, is still entire, no traces of the former house are discoverable in the present building, but one room is fitted up with the ancient wainscot; this is divided into small square compartments, totally divested of ornament; except a portion over the fireplace, and this is scarce deserving of notice either for workmanship or design.

I have before observed, that no court is held for this manor.

The church now alone remains to be noticed. This building is most inconveniently situated, being placed at the western extremity of the parish, and at a considerable distance from every house except the hall and vicarage. With regard to the architecture of this sacred edifice, although at first sight it appears an humble fabric, it is entitled to considerable attention. In its general form, it comprises a nave, south aisle and chancel, with a square tower of timber, supporting a spire of the same material. The interior of this tower demands more than common notice; it is composed of noble balks of oak, darkened by age, yet undecayed; these are arranged in of Gothic arches of the highly pointed style, with angular braces, and external of flying buttresses: this composes the belfry on the ground floor. A second series of timber frame work supports the bells, and on this rises the spire. The whole may be regarded as a piece of very superior geometrical carpentry.

The south aisle is divided from the nave by slender clustered columns, probably of the age of the latter part of Henry the Third’s time, or early in the succeeding reign of our first Edward; the arches, however, resting on these, are remarkably flattened for that period. Standing near the font, the eye looks up the aisle and glances obliquelv across the nave; the form of one of the north windows is clearly developed, and the general features of the interior displayed. The church is entered, both from the north and south side, through wooden porches of elegant construction; the tracery work is much injured.

But the principal boast of Margaretting church is the very beautiful window of stained glass which ornaments the nave. The three compartments of this window are entirely filled with this splendid ornament, except a small portion of the lower end of the eastern light. This has suffered considerable damage, but the window is protected from further mischief by a verv close grating of wire placed on its exterior. Each light is divided into several compartments, and each of these contains two figures of the personages most celebrated in the Old Testament. A scroll attached to each figure explains the character and name of the person pourtrayed, as “Ecce radix Jesse, Rex David,” &c. It is impossible to conceive an idea of more splendid colouring than some of the draperies of these figures display. My attempts to do lineate this elegant window have hitherto been defeated by the difficulty of the subject.

The first erection of this church was evidently in the middle of the thirteenth century, as a lancet window and some other details prove. A very considerable alteration, however, took place in the form of these lights during the reign of Henry the Seventh, and a careful examination of the chancel seems to indicate that that portion of the edifice was rebuilt at the same period, for the north wall is formed of squared stones placed indiscriminately and without order, amidst round pebbles, lumps of old mortar, and red bricks: the east end, too, presents very nearly the same appearance. Here the old materials seem to have been expended, for the south side is entirely built of brick, as is also a small chapel, projecting like a transept, and belonging to the same era; this chapel now forms a small but convenient vestry. The entire edifice is covered with tile, supported by a fine roof of oak, the principals of which rest on corbels of stone, carved in imitation of couchant animals.

The lower portion of the ancient screen is remaining in its original situation, where it serves as a partition between the pews: it is not distinguished by any remarkable carving.


John Tanfield, of Coptfold Hall, Esq., by his will, dated April 30th, 1625, bequeathed to the poor of this parish, ten dozen of bread to be annually for ever distributed by the owner of the manor of Coptfold Hall for the time being, twenty penny loaves to be given away every Sunday in Lent, and he charged the payment thereof on his two crofts within the said manor, called Spooner’s and Broom croft.

Charles Frederick Bond, Vicar of Margareting, by his will, dated January 30th, 1827, directed his executors to vest in the names of the vicar and churchwardens for the time being, £100 bank stock, and that the proceeds thereof should he annually expended by them in maintaining a Sunday school in this parish; and also in purchasing prayer books and religious tracts, testaments, &c., to be by them distributed among the poor parishioners.


The first which claims our notice is a very ancient floor-stone, lying just without rails, around which has been inlaid a circumscription with brass letters in the Longobardic characters. The violence used in removing these has broken the matrices so much, that but few of the letters can be decyphered.

Within the communion rails lies a large stone with the mutilated figures of a warrior and his lady, carved in brass: the male effigy has lost its head, and one of the groups of children at the feet of the female is also removed. These spoliations are to be lamented, as the faces were probably all profiles, like those which remain, a singularity which I have rarely before met with. As the inscription is lost, unable to appropriate the armorial bearings, the names of the persons thus commemorated must remain, for the present at least, unknown. By the costume, we may refer to the period of their decease to the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and probably about the year 1570.

Against the east wall is a mural tablet of stone, in the wretched taste of the seventeenth century. It represents John Tanfield, Esq., and Catherine his wife, in attitudes before a small altar or faldstool, with several children kneeling behind them. At the lower part of the monument is a large shield with the arms of Tanfield and Clovile, with their respective quarterings: above appears a shield of Tanfield, single, impaling a coat which time and damp have obliterated. It was of Comey of Sussex, as John Tanfield married Catherine, daughter of George Comev, of Chichester, Esq. On one side of the tomb is an escutcheon, with Tanfield impaling Neville with the rosette, and several other similar ornaments seem to have been forcibly removed; indeed, the whole monument is in a highly mutilated state; these injuries are attributed to the late parish clerk, who, tempted by the value of the brass plate on which the inscription was engraved, privately removed and afterwards sold it for the trifle it produced as old metal.

John Tanfleld, Esq., died October the 6th, 1625, leaving by his lady, 1st, Clovile Tanfield, Esq., who married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Edward Ingram, Knt., of Goodneston in Kent, and two other sons and four daughters. This lady and gentleman lived fifty years in wedlock, and had nineteen children. Of these, however, there were but seven remaining at the time of their parents’ decease, viz., three sons and four daughters.

The remaining monuments are more modern.

1. To the memory of Richard Benyon, Esq., of Gidea Hall in this county, who was twice Governor of Fort St. George in the East Indies. He died the 27th September, 1774, etat. 77, having been thrice married. By his last wife, (who survived him, and was the widow of Powlett Wrighte, Esq., of Englefield House in the county of Berks,) he left an only son, Richard.

2. Near this place are deposited the remains of Richard Benyon, Esq., of Gidea Hall and North Ockendon in this county, and of Englefield House in the county of Berks, and Member of Parliament for the city of Peterborough. He departed this life on the 22nd of August, in the year 1796, in the 51st year of his age, esteemed and lamented by all who can value a sound and cultivated understanding, joined with an amiable and honourable mind. His virtues will ever be the pride of his numerous family; and his widow caused this monument to be erected in gratitude for his affection, and to perpetuate his memory.

3. To the memory of Mrs. Hannah Benyon, eldest daughter of Sir Edward Hulse, Bart., and relict of Richard Benyon, Esq., of Gidea Hall in this county. She was born December 17th, 1747, and died April 22nd, 1828, aged 80.
Arms: Benyon imp. Hulse.

4. Here lyeth the bodie of Margaret, late the wife of Peter Whetcombe, Gentleman, daughter and sole heire of John Dodington, Esq., livinge in Writtle Parke. She here died ye xvth daye of August, 1619.
Petre Wheteombe, Gent., above named. lyvinge and dyinge in Writtle Parke, was also here buried the first day of June, 1640, aged 86 yeares.

5. Here lieth the body of Mary Wheteombe, daughter of Janus Whetcombe of Margaretinge, Gent., who died in August, 1640, aged six years.

6. Sacred to the memory of Peter Whetcombe, late of Ingatestone. Esq., and Julian, his wife, marr. 42 yeares. Shee died Jan. 12. an. 66, eatat. 70. - Hee died 9ber 12, an. 67, aetat. 77.
She on this clayen pillow layed her head,
As brides doe use, the first to go to bed;
Hee mist her soon, and yet ten months hee trys
To live apart, but like it not and dy’s.

7. M. S. Under this marble resteth, in hope of a joyful resurrection, ye body of Elizabeth wife of Henry Borrit, of Stradbrooke in ye county of Suffolk, Gent., with ye bodie of Martha, one of their daughters, and lately ye wife of Edmund Tanfield, of Coptfold Hall in this parish, Gent. She died 28 June, 1669, aged 35. - Her mother died ye 19 of July, 1669, aged 58.

When time hath mar’d this marble and defac’d
The kind memorial which on it was trac’d,
‘Twill loose the virtue of the first intent,
No longer ours, but its own monument;
Yet then, when scarce a letter’s left behind,
‘Twill serve as now, posterity to mind
Of their mortality, for suer flesh must,
If solid marble, crumble into dust.

8. Here lies the body of the Rev. Mr. William Harman, who was vicar of this parish near sixty years. He was a sound divine, orthodox in his principles, of a quiet and peaceable disposition, well beloved and esteemed not only by his parishioners, but by all who had the pleasure him; in short, he was an ornament to the sacred function he had to bear. He departed this life December 22nd, 1737, in the 84th year of his age. Here also lies the body of Anne his wife, to whom he was married 54 years, and by whom he had ten children. She was a good Christian, and a virtuous wife. She died Nov. 21, 1730, aged 76. They were both tender and affectionate parents, loving to each other, sincere and constant in their friendship, and contented in every station of life.

9. Dorothy, eldest daughter of Sir Amos Merrydeth, Bt., died 8o 6t 1630.

In the churchyard are the following:-

Charles Frederick Bond, M.A., Vicar of this parish 26 years; died Feb. 20th, 1827, in his 63rd year. Mary Bond, his wife, died on Christmas day, 1825, aged 55 years.

Richard Vachell, Esq., of Coptfold Hall, died in 1828, aged 67 years. Margaret, his wife, died Julv 21st, 1828, aged 70 years.

The earliest registers commence in the month of February, 1627 but the second book, beginning in 1653 during the Commonwealth, is most entitled to notice. On the cover is written in a very strong and good hand these texts of Scripture. “Beati sunt ij qui dormiunt in Domino. Amen, amen, dico vobis, nisi quis renatus sit ex aqua et spiritu non potest introire in regnü coelorum”. And at the head of the first page is this notification:-

“ESSEX. January 27th, 1653.
“Accordinge to the election of the inhabitants of the parish of Margarettinge, I, Peter Whetcombe, Esq., one of the justices of the peace of the said countie, doe nominate and appoynte John Nurse of the said parish, to be the parish register of Margarettinge aforesayd. And he is sworne before me, to the best of his skill and power to execute the office of a parish register within the said parish, accordinge to the Act of Parlmt in that behalfe made, until he shall be then discharged by due order of law.

From the terrier it appears that there are belonging to the vicarage, besides the garden in which the house stands, adjoining the churchyard, four acres of glebe land divided into two small fields, situated on the right of the road leading from the village of Margaretting to Coptfold Hall.

“Item. - All small tithes, and the tithe of woodlands in the parish, the lay impropriator claims a modus, and pays fifteen shillings per annum.
“Item. - Rights of common.
“Item. – No pensions, stipends, or other charges payable out of the living, saving the svnodals.”
Subjoined. - ”The communion plate consists of one chalice and one flagon, of silver gilt, small and neat.
“The church is repaired by the parishioners, who keep up the fences of the churchyard.
“The chancel is repaired by the lay-impropriator.”

In a former page it is stated that the brass plate, bearing the inscription of John Tanfield, Esq., had been stolen from the monument by the late parish clerk. On the upper part, however, of the tablet are the following Latin verses:-
Prosapie nobilis scuta haec lateralia monstrant,
Virtue praeditis nobilitatis honos –
Per testamentum miseris pia bona reliquit,
Donatu letho sydera suma tenent.

The donation therein recorded is settled by a clause in Mr. Tanfield’s will, dated the last day of April, 1625, and now remaining in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.

“I give and bequeath to the poor people of Margaretting aforesaid, ten dozen of bread, to he yearly distributed amongst them by the churchwards and overseers for the poor of the said parish for ever, in manner and form following: that is to say, twenty penny loaves on every Sunday in Lent, by the appointment of my heirs and assigns, which shall be owners of my manor of Coptfolde Hall, in the said parish.
“ltem. - I further give and bequeath to the poor people of West Hanningfield in countv aforesaid, yearly for ever, ten dozen of bread to be distributed amongst the churchwardens and overseers of the poor of the same parish for ever, or their successors, in this manner following, (that is to say,) on every Sunday in Lent, twenty penny loaves in the said parish church of West Hanningfield, by the appointment of my heirs and assigns, which shall be owners of my mannor of Coptfolde Hall aforesaid; and for the performance of the payment of eighteen dozen of the said bread to the poor as well of Margarettinge aforesaid, as of West Hanningfield, my will and meaning is that my tenement and two crofts of land, late by me purchased, called Spoone and Brome-crofts lying and being within the said parish of Margarettinge and mannor of Coptfolde Hall, now in the tenure of one Christopher Bersted, shall be chargeable therewith; and if the said ten dozen of bread, or any part thereof, be not yearly paid according to the true meaning of this my will, within six days next after lawfully demand thereof made at the said tenement by the said churchwardens or overseers of either of the said parishes, or by their successors for the time being, then my will is that it shall be lawfull for the said churchwardens or overseers and their successors, to enter into the said tenement and two crofts of land, and there to distraine for the same, and the arrerages thereof (if any shall be), and the said distress or distresses to detain until they be satisfied the same; and the other two dozen of bread, my mind and will is shall be provided and paid yearly for ever by the yearly rent of that croft of land called Hammonds, late William Spowlden’s, now Thomas Freemand’s, lying in Margaretting aforesaid, which rent being two shillings per annum, is, by antient right and custome, to be bestowed in bread yearly for the poor of Coptfold Hall in Margarettinge aforesaid, by the lord of the mannor, to be distributed in such manner as aforesaid, and to that purpose I do give the said yearly rent to the churchwardens and overseers for the poor of Margretting aforesaid, to make up the said twenty dozen of bread to the use of the poor there for ever, together with lawfull authority to enter into the same croft of land, and there to distrain for non-payment of the said rent, and the distress or distresses there taken to detain and keep till satisfaction be made in manner and form aforesaid, and to do every other thing for non-payment of the said rent and arrearages thereof (if any shall be), in as large and ample manner as I myself, my heir and assigns, might do, if payment be not made within six days after lawfull demand made at the same croft.

“Probatum fuit Testüm praed London coram Venbi viro Duo Henrico Marten, vicesimo die Mensis Novembris, 1630.”

In addition to the above remarks, added to the account of Margareting, I am enabled to supply the lost inscription, formerly placed on the tomb of John Tanfield, Esq. I accidentally met with it in a small history of Essex, printed in 8vo, and published anonymously by a gentleman. The tomb itself has been already described, and it will be remembered that the brass plate on which the inscription was engraved had been stolen by the late clerk.

Here lies interred the body of John Tanfield, late of Coptfold Hall, Esqr., son and heir of William Tanfield, late of Northampton, Esqre, and Elizabeth, his wife, sister and heir of James Clovile, Esqre, by Catherine his wife, daughter of George Comey, late of Colchester, Esqre, with whom he lived almost fifty years. He had nineteen children, whereof seven survived him, three Sons and four daughters; Clovile, his eldest son, married to Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Sir Edward Engtham of Goodneston in Kent, Knt.; William and Thomas, unmarried; Dorothy married to Thomas Denns, of Denns, alias Denhill, in Kent, Esqr.; Wilgiford married to William Hurst ; Elizabeth to George Ludlowe, and Mary to Henry Palmer, of London, Gent. He lived virtuously and died religiously, when he had served his prince long as a justice of the peace. He was born Janry 5th, 1547, and died October 5th, 1625.

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