Friday, 28 June 2013

Blackmore: Cresset Stone

Cresset Stone in Priory Church of St Laurence, Blackmore

Essex Review
Extract from No. 185 Volume XLVII (January 1938)

A Cresset Stone at Blackmore
By John Salmon, B.A.

Some years ago I noticed a cresset stone among several fragments (including parts of the monument to Thomas Smyth, 1594) lying loose in the tower of Blackmore Church.  More recently I took the opportunity of revisiting the church while staying with friends near by, on which occasion I photographed and took some detailed notes of this particular stone.  That it is a cresset stone no one who is familiar with these objects will, I think, deny, more especially since Blackmore was a monastic church.  A cresset stone has several cup-shaped hollows or recesses varying in number from 5 to 12.  These recesses were filled with oil in which was placed a floating wick.  Cresset stones were generally used in monastic houses.  Blackmore was a house of Austin Canons founded in the middle of the 12th century.  The present church was always parochial and so was preserved at its Dissolution.  Of the eastern, monastic half of the church, nothing remains, the gardens of Jericho covering the site.  One of the commonest uses of cresset stones was to light the night stairs down which the monks came from the dormitory to the church for the night offices.  The ‘Rites of Durham’ mention three cresset stones, one in the church, two in the dormitory.

As far as I am aware the Blackmore specimen is the only cresset stone in Essex, though other examples are to be found elsewhere.  I recently noticed several in the museum adjoining the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey at York.  At Westow in the East Riding of Yorkshire is perhaps the most interesting cresset stone in England.  On its face are 12 of the usual cup-shaped hollows, but on the back is carved a well preserved and most interesting Crucifixion (of early, possible Saxon, date) with the attendant figures of the Virgin and St. John, also (at the top) the hand of God the Father and the Dove, presumably to complete the three persons of the Trinity.  This stone may have come from Kirkham Priory, only two miles distant.

To return to the Blackmore example.  As will be seen from the illustration the stone is square in shape with five recesses, one at each corner and a fifth in the centre.  The stone has been broken at two corners thus mutilating two of the recesses.  These recesses are just over three inches in diameter, the stone itself being some 13 inches in width.  The Blackmore cresset stone is more carefully worked than other examples.  Between each of the corner recesses is a slight carving in relief and the underside of each recess is capital shaped, all, however, uniting in one circular shaped base.

The term cresset was originally used to describe a metal cup filled with charcoal or other material for burning.  The was either attached to a pole and so used as a kind of portable lantern or it was placed in a fixed iron frame.  A cresset of the latter type was often placed in a framework on top of a church tower so as to guide travellers after nightfall.  A modern reproduction of such a beacon may be seen on the tower of Monken Hadley church in Middlesex.  A similar beacon with cresset cup is carved on the south porch of Sutton Courtney church in Berkshire, and four are also engraved on an early 16th century brass formerly in Netley Abbey Church, Hampshire, but now in private possession.  A fire beacon was a badge of the Compton family, two members of which this brass commemorates. 

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Essex Churches: Stanford Rivers

Essex Churches: Stanford Rivers: The rather unprepossessing rendered exterior of St Margaret conceals what is an interesting and lovely interior. Chief points of interest ar...

Essex Churches: South Weald

Essex Churches: South Weald: St Peter is a surprisingly large church which has been Victorianised to within an inch of its life but despite this I rather liked it. Curio...

Essex Churches: Shenfield

Essex Churches: Shenfield: A rather uninteresting exterior contains a fascinating interior not least of which is the wooden north arcade. At the back of the church is ...

Essex Churches: Shellow Bowells

Essex Churches: Shellow Bowells: SS Peter & Paul is a redundant church converted to a private residence. ST PETER AND ST PAUL. The whole church is of 1754, and C18 chu...

Essex Churches: Shelley

Essex Churches: Shelley: St Peter is another new build church apparently designed by an architect who combined Gothic with Handsel and Gretel - I rather like it but ...

Essex Churches: Roxwell

Essex Churches: Roxwell: St Michael and All Angels was an accidental visit in that I only came across it because I got lost (my sat nav went down) looking for Berne...

Essex Churches: Norton Mandeville

Essex Churches: Norton Mandeville: Other than its setting there is little or nothing of interest at All Saints; the exterior is pleasant enough, but nothing to write home abou...

Essex Churches: North Weald Bassett

Essex Churches: North Weald Bassett: Because of the nearby airfield St Andrew's churchyard is packed with CWC headstones commemorating, mostly, members of the RAF who fell i...

Essex Churches: Navestock

Essex Churches: Navestock: At first I thought St Thomas the Apostle was locked but applying more force to the latch I found it was open and was informed by the two flo...

Friday, 21 June 2013

Essex Plan in the 1950s

Essex Review
Extract from No 245 Volume LXII (January 1953)

The Plan for Essex
By Hervey Benham

“After three years’ work by the County Planning Advisor, Mr F Longstreth Thompson, and his staff … the County Plan has in the past three months been exhibited at Walthamstow, Ilford, Romford, Rayleigh, and, Colchester.  During the coming year a public inquiry will be held on it, and thereafter its provisions will control the next twenty years’ development within the county.

“The main feature of general county interest is, of course, the creation of the two new towns in Harlow and Basildon, each of which will have a population of 80,000.

“The Plan also shows these expansions of existing towns for purposes of accommodating what is picturesquely termed the ‘London overspill’:  Aveley, Grays, Tilbury, from 63,300 to 82,000; Benfleet from 19,570 to 25,000; Billericay from 7,100 to 15,000; Braintree from 15,200 to 21,000; Brentwood from 26,200 to 38,000; Chelmsford from 47,000 to 68,000; Colchester from 53,000 to 70,000; Epping from 5,900 to 8,900; Rayleigh from 9,300 to 14,000; Rochford from 9,300 to 15,000; Stanford-le-Hope from 8,600 to 20,000; Wickford from 6,100 to 14,000, and Witham from 6,200 to 21,000.

“It is certain that the National Farmers’ Union will be a principal objector … .

“Road improvements naturally bulk large in the Plan. The most important project is for a new ring road (the North Orbital) running from Hoddesdon north of Theydon Bois, and south of Brentwood to link up with the proposed Dartford Tunnel, and connecting with a new road into London at Noaks Hill, west of Brentwood.  Two existing main roads are drastically replanned, the London-Norwich-Newmarket (A11) over most of its length along the Essex-Hertfordshire boundary, and the London-Norwich (A12) by the provision of by-passes at Brentwood, Ingatestone, Hatfield Peverel, Witham, Kelvedon, Copford, Stanway, and Stratford St Mary.  Long-term rail electrification is shown to Colchester and Bishop’s Stortford.  The latter is likely to be first served, thanks to Harlow.

“Civil aerodromes are conspicuous by their absence … .”

Friday, 14 June 2013

Navestock: James Ford

Essex Review
Extract from No. 198 Volume L (April 1941)

James Ford, A Forgotten Essex Antiquity (1779-1850)
By the Rev G Montagu Benton, F.S.A.

The Rev John Ford, B.D., a fellow of Trinity College, Oxford, and for the last twenty years of his life vicar of Navestock, where he was succeeded by the Rev William Stubbs, B.A., afterwards Bishop of Oxford and the famous historian, appears to have received scant recognition in Essex.  the long inscription on his monument in Navestock church, which has been printed in the Essex Review (iv. 229), records that he founded and endowed the Professorship of English History in the University of Oxford, and in Trinity College, four studentships, one student thereof to be elected from Brentwood Grammar School.  But his researches into local history, of which he was a life-long student, seem to have been overlooked by Essex antiquaries, this, no doubt, being due to the fact that his work relates to Suffolk, where, in consequence, he is better known.  An excellent account of him appeared under the heading ‘Worthies of Ipswich – No 33’ in the East Anglian Daily Times of 22 June, 1935, and it is from this source that the following information has for the most part been derived.

Before coming to Essex, Ford was for 22 years perpetual curate of St Lawrence’s Church, Ipswich.  During this period he compiled The Suffolk Garland (1818); he was also the author of The Devout Communicant (1815), A Century of Christian Prayers of Faith, Hope and Charity, with Morning and Evening Devotion (1817, second edition 1824), and the privately printed Memoir of Thomas Green, Esq., of Ipswich, with a Critique on his Writings and an Account of his Family and Connections (Ipswich, 1825).  He was at the same time investigating, with tireless energy, the history of the district.  Two MS. volumes, in his handwriting, dealing with Ipswich, and another, with Woodbridge, are now in the Reference Department of the Ipswich Public Library.  They were acquired, we are told, with others, by W S Fitch, after Ford’s death.  Fitch declared: ‘I am bewildered and amazed at it and his work – all in Ford’s writing.  Plenty of work for the binder, the whole will make 20 volumes … Ford must have worked hard at the British Museum and Bodleian Libraries.’  Various contributions under his initials are to be found in The Gentleman’s Magazine, of which his friend, John Mitford, was editor from 1834 to 1850.

On 28 October, 1830, Ford was presented by the college to the living at Navestock.  He was a bachelor, aged 51, but on leaving Ipswich in the following month, he married, at St George’s Church, Bloomsbury, Letitia Jermyn, a spinster some ten years his junior.  From this time onwards it was natural that his interests should be mainly centred in the county of Essex.  According to the writer of the article previously referred to, he projected the Morant Society, the aim of which was to continue to the work of the historian of Essex, while he himself toiled assiduously at the history of the hundred (Ongar) in which he lived.  It is further stated that his Essex collections are preserved in the Library of Trinity College, Oxford.  This led me to communicate a few years ago with the Librarian, who, in reply to my enquiry, informed me that Ford’s Collectanea relate almost entirely to persons and matters connected with the history of Trinity College; but that there is also in the Library some material collected by him for the history of the parish of Ongar.  From the evidence adduced it seems likely that these papers deal with several parishes in the hundred of Ongar; for it is certain that his own parish of Navestock would have engaged Ford’s attention.  But it is, of course, possible that some of his Essex manuscripts are to be found elsewhere.  The matter requires further investigation.

Mrs Ford, who died in 1848, was also a woman of some note.  Her monumental inscription records that she was ‘the youngest daughter of George Jermyn, Gent., of the Town of Ipswich.’  Jermyn, who was a well-known local bookseller, having died, she was at the time of her marriage stepdaughter of John Raw – Ford’s publisher.  Thus Mrs Ford had certain literary associations; she was, moreover, the author of at least one small book, namely, The Butterfly Collector’s Vade-Mecum.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

High Country History Group Launches New Blog

The High Country History Group, covering the small Essex parishes of Greensted, Stanford Rivers, Stapleford Tawney and Theydon Mount, has its own dedicated blog. 

Blackmore Area Local History will be handing over coverage to this dedicated website.  Andrew Smith is the new Secretary and author of the site.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

ESAH160: High Country History Group

ESAH160: High Country History Group: The High Country History Group, covering the small parishes of Greensted, Stanford Rivers, Stapleford Tawney and Theydon Mount has a new...

Friday, 7 June 2013

High Country History Group: Coming soon ...

High Country History Group: Coming soon ...: The blog of the High Country History Group: covering Greensted, Stanford Rivers, Stapleford Tawney and Theydon Mount in Essex, England. W...

Essex Place Names

Essex Review
Extract from No. 226  Volume LVII (April 1948)

Essex Place Names
By Margaret Seals

Written in reply to Theodora Roscoe’s Buckinghamshire Place Names.

Come, travel through our Essex land
In mighty Caesar’s train,
And read in history’s living page
Of Saxon, Norman, Dane.

For Romans lived at Fingringhoe,
Near Colchester’s great camp,
And many a little village church
Still bears the Norman stamp.

There’s Margaret Roding, Stow Maries,
Mountnessing and Marks Tey,
Great Baddow, Foxearth, Colne Engaine,
And Layer-de-la-Haye.

See Shelley, Norton Mandeville,
The Lavers, Netteswell –
The ancient Cluniac Priory
That stands at Prittlewell.

There’s Tollesbury with its oysters
And Tolleshunt with its Knight;
Matching’s Marriage Feast Room,
The Notleys – Black and White.

Recall that Saxon children played
In Saffron Walden’s lanes,
And Maldon’s hero Brihtnoth, fell
In victory o’er the Danes.

Pass through our fields aglow with grain –
Or seek the North Sea’s tide,
Our place names, with our ancient bells
Sweet music will provide.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Willingale Community Archive Project

Willingale Community Archive Project celebrates three years' work with an open afternoon at the Village Hall.  Sunday 9 June, 2.00 to 5.00pm

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Essex Churches: Mountnessing

Essex Churches: Mountnessing: With St Giles I was back on the downward spiral of locked churches which was a shame as architecturally this is a most peculiar building and...

Essex Churches: Margaretting

Essex Churches: Margaretting: Having driven round in circles I finally stumbled across St Margaret down a tiny lane and stranded across the other side of a mainline rail ...

Essex Churches: Magdalen Laver

Essex Churches: Magdalen Laver: St Mary Magdalen is not, to my mind, an interesting church either architecturally or internally but it was nice to find this somewhat isolat...

Essex Churches: Kelvedon Hatch

Essex Churches: Kelvedon Hatch: There are two St Nicholas', a ruin in the grounds of Kelvedon Hall and the Victorian new build in the village. The new professes to be o...

Essex Churches: Ingrave

Essex Churches: Ingrave: I know on an intellectual level that I should dislike St Nicholas but I don't - it's splendid but sadly locked. ST NICHOLAS. The m...

Essex Churches: Ingatestone

Essex Churches: Ingatestone: SS Edmund & Mary was the big disappointment of the day. Situated in the middle of Ingatestone, which was extraordinarily busy, the churc...

Essex Churches: Hutton

Essex Churches: Hutton: All Saints was locked with a keyholder listed but as it looked to me a Victorian church I moved on and apart from the brass and the screen I...

Essex Churches: Highwood

Essex Churches: Highwood: St Paul was missed by both Mee & Pevsner which in many ways is fair enough - it's a template Victorian build (for example Cornish Ha...

Essex Churches: High Ongar

Essex Churches: High Ongar: I don't want to be rude but St Mary the Virgin is a monstrosity; an 1858 overhaul saw the addition of a truly ugly south tower and it w...

Essex Churches: Greensted

Essex Churches: Greensted: St Andrew lays claim to be the oldest extant wooden church in the world and possibly the oldest wooden building in Europe. It has recently b...

Essex Churches: Great Leighs

Essex Churches: Great Leighs: In and of itself St Mary is pretty run of the mill albeit the chancel is considerably larger than the nave and both are rather beautiful...