Friday, 29 May 2009

Stock: 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).

By considering the present name of this village as a corruption of the Saxon word Stoke, I think we shall be nearer the true derivation than Mr. Morant, who fancies it has obtained this appellation from a log of wood, which, I confess, conveys to me no distinctive or peculiar signification. My own derivation seems confirmed by the circumstance that soon after the Norman Conquest this village was called in modern language, the place of the steward. I have not learnt, however, whose steward resided here, though it was probably the officer of some of the great barons who had obtained large grants of lands in this part of the kingdom. The church at Stock stands on an elevated site, commanding very beautiful and extensive views, and is conveniently situated for the parishioners, whose houses form a long and continued street at no great distance. It comprises a nave with a north aisle, and a chancel, much modernized, but kept in very neat condition. The octangular pillars, which support the pointed arches of the nave and aisle, are remarkably short in proportion to the height of the arches themselves, and have assumed a fearful inclination to the northward. The only window deserving notice for its tracery is that at the east end of the aisle, but even this is stopped with masonry.

Mr. Morant informs us, that a tradition exists amongst the inhabitants that their steeple has been destroyed by fire. If this calamity really occurred, it must have been at a very distant period, for the present tower, which is of timber, and framed with exquisite skill, like that at Margareting [Margaretting], bears very evident marks of considerable age. Its ornaments, and the shape and tracery of its windows, which are all carved in oak, point out the fashion of the latter portion of the fifteenth century: the upper part is plain and more modern, and sustains a spire of wood. On a bracket, inserted into the north side of the tower, are the letters R R. and E H. with the date of 1683.

Attached to the south wall of the nave, in the interior of the church, is a shield of arms, on which the following bearings present an instance of false heraldry, viz.: Sable, three greyhounds current argent, paleways; within a bordure gules.


1. The monument to the memory of Twedge, mentioned by Morant, has disappeared: on it was recorded a donation of twelve pence weekly for the maintenance of four poor aged men for ever - two to be inhabitants of Stock, and two of Boreham.

2. Zephaniah Peirse, A.M., hujus parochiae Rector, ob. 22 Jul .A.D. 1703, aetat, 60. Elizabetha uxor ejus ob. 26 Nov. AD, 1727, aetat 72.

3. In memory of Mr. John Cox, who departed this life the 17th of May, 1801, aged 81 years. Also of Mrs. Elizabeth Foster, who died 12th Dec. 1803, aged 84 years.

4. Here lieth the body of Elizabeth, the wife of John Mason, and daughter of Mr. Thomas Angier, who departed this life Mar 25th, 1741, in the 26th year of her age. To whom God grant rest. Amen.

The font is placed near the west pillar of the aisle, and though plain is very ancient.

There was lately residing at Stock, a boy, named Hills, the son of an industrious labourer, who had five grandfathers living. This extraordinary fact is thus explained: Farrow, who had a father living, married a young woman named Waldon, whose father was alive also, they had a daughter who married Hills, the father of the boy, who had a father and a grandfather living, thus Hills, sen., Hills, jun.; Farrow, sen., Farrow, jun., and Waldon, make the five, Their united ages amount to 332 years. I do not know whether the boy was favoured with a like supply of grandmothers.

This village has been celebrated by the Poet Cowper in one of his humorous pieces, entitled “The yearly Distress, or Tithing-time at Stock in Essex; - Verses addressed to a Country Clergyman, complaining of the disagreeableness of the Day annually appointed for receiving the Dues at the Parsonage.”

The piece is too long for insertion here, containing seventeen stanzas; but the lovers of merriment will not be disappointed who trouble themselves to search for it in Cowper’s printed works. Stock is, moreover, entitled to notice as having been the preferment of the Rev. Charles Hoole, whose life will be found in Wood’s Athena Oxon.

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