Thursday, 27 August 2009

Great Burstead: 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 etymology of this name plainly refers to works of Roman construction, though it is now impossible to determine their precise appellation. Camden, however, has not scrupled to fix the Caesaromagus at this place, though in this opinion he is unfollowed by a single antiquary, and totally unsupported by the discovery of ancient remains.

It is most probable that the Romans had merely a fortilage here to protect their military way, which proceeding from Tilbury to Ongar, passed through this village. But of this inconsiderable fortification, if such did actually once exist, no traces are now perceptible. About a mile, however, westward of Billericay, and crowning the summit of a gentle swell, stands a modern farm-house, retaining the name of a more ancient structure, called Blunt’s Wall, and which, a few years since, is said to have shown some faint traces of a vallurn and ditch, enclosing about four acres. This would therefore seem to be the most probable site of the long sought Roman operation in this village - a supposition much strengthened by the peculiar name which the spot still bears.

The word wall is evidently a Saxon corruption of the Roman vallum, and was unspecifically applied by the former people to any military work of their predecessors in this island.

Upon the partition of the kingdom by the followers of William the First, the village of Burstead was appropriated by a Norman family of the name of Le Blond, who, in all likelihood, finding the Roman fortilage in a condition still capable of defence, adopted as a residence a position so well adapted to protect them from the violence of a people who were as yet but partially subdued.

Hence, without any violent contortion of language, may be obtained a name, at once indicative of Roman occupation, and of subsequent Norman possession.

THE CHURCH at Great Burstead is a plain and unpretending structure of Norman origin, thou much altered, and probably nearly rebuilt at subsequent periods. It now comprises a nave and chancel of the same width, with a south aisle running the entire length of the edifice, and divided from the former portions by a series of pointed arches, resting on octangular shafts, which have plain capitals. The tower, which contains five bells, is square, and crowned with a spire. Windows of various eras occur in the walls of this building, though undistinguished by peculiarity of tracery or design. A general gloom pervades the whole interior, the result of tastelessness and sordid parsimony, which, pocketing the impropriated revenues of this benefice, have grudged the small sums requisite to keep in repair the chancel window, and have, in accordance with this narrow feeling, closed it with brick and mortar. It may be fairly inquired in this place, how far those, to whom the care of our sacred structures is committed, conscientiously discharge their public duty, by permitting such innovations in the first instance, or by allowing their continuance. These observations on Great Burstead church may be closed by noticing an octagonal but plain font, a curious old chest of oak, well banded with iron, and a few fragments of stained gIass, amidst which appears the central coat of arms, as represented.


In the church are the following, amongst many others:-

1. Near this place lye all that could die of Joseph Fishpoole, who departed this life the 23 June, 1703, aged 56 years.
Also, of Rebecca, his wife, who died 9th Decr. 1741, aged 87 years.
Likewise of J. Fishpoole, their son, who departed this life 19th March, 1755, aged 73.
And lastly, of Ann Abbutt, widow, their daughter, who died 3 December, 1759, aged 75 years. She bequeathed by her will £100 to be laid out in the purchase of land, or invested in one of the public funds, and the interest of it to be equally distributed between five poor widows of this parish, who are members of the Church of England, annually for ever, and directed the same to be called Fishpoole’s gift.

2. Felton Nevill, Esqre, late of this parish, departed this life September the 28th, 1780, aged 59 years.

3. In memory of Mrs. Eleanora Sterry, relict of the Revd. Wasev Sterry, formerly Vicar of Henham, in this county, who died the 24th of January, 1829, aged 80 years

4. M. S.
Georgii Porter’, M.A.
Aliquandiu Capellae apud Billericurn Ministri,
Pii, comis, humani,
Conjugis fidi,
Benigni Parentis
Inopino morbo afflictus obdormivit
Vij Kalend. Decembrium,
Anno Satultis, MDCCCXIX
Aetatis LVI.

No comments: