Friday, 25 October 2013

Inscription on Chelmsford Cathedral

Received: 13 October 2013

Hello Andrew.  I am trying to get the correct wording for an inscription found on the exterior of the Nave of St. Mary the Virgin’s cathedral in Chelmsford.  Can you help?  Thank you.

Al DeFilippo

Replied: 13 October 2013

Hello Al

When you mean the exterior of the nave (which is the main body inside in the church flanked by aisles) are you referring to the outside of the C15 building?  Also, what do you think the wording might be?

I have a very old book on St Mary’s Church Chelmsford as it was before 1914 so might, at a long shot, be able to help.

But I need a bit more to go on please.



Received: 13 October 2013

Thank you Andrew.  At British History Online they list it partially as the following:

Cathedral Church of St. Mary the Virgin (Plate p. 42) stands in the town. The walls are of flint-rubble intermixed with some blocks of freestone; the dressings are partly of limestone and partly of Reigate stone; the roofs are leaded. The old details are all of the 15th or early 16th century. The S. and W. arches of the North Chapel and the W. arch of the S. chapel are of c. 1400–1410, indicating that at that period the plan included at least a Chancel, North Chapel, North Aisle, and South Aisle. Probably c. 1430 the South Chapel was added or re-built. The South Porch was added in the second half of the century, and c. 1489 the N. and S. arcades were re-built and a clearstorey added to the nave. The exterior of the nave is said to have borne the following inscription: "Pray for the good estate of all the townsheps of Chelmysford that hath . . . good willers and procorers of helpers to this werke and . . . them that first began and longest shall continowe . . . in the yere of our Lorde I thousand IIII hundreth [LXXXV]IIII." 

Al DeFilippo

Replied: 20 October 2013

Dear Al

Thinking about your query a little more I remembered that the Nave collapsed in 1800 and was rebuilt.  So the inscription would no longer exist.  I happened to be at Chelmsford Cathedral last evening (at a concert of The Sixteen directed by Harry Christophers) and looked up as I queued before the doors opened.  No inscription now exists it seems.  The Historic Monuments List – which you refer to – mentions the nave collapse later in the paragraph.

I attach an engraving of the damage caused at the time.



Friday, 18 October 2013

Friday, 11 October 2013

Ingatestone: Foreman Family

Received: 27 August 2013

Just spent a lovely half hour reading about Ingatestone and Shenfield on your website.

Stephen Foreman who was baptised at Shenfield and lived at Wood Barns, Ingatestone for many years, and died there in 1887 was the brother of my 3* great grandmother (who lived in Great Baddow). Stephen and his wife Eliza (Windley) were witnesses at my 3* great grandparents’ wedding. Great to put more than just the facts to the story. There appear to be many Foremans in the Essex and Suffolk area over the years, so plenty more searching to keep me busy.

Deirdre (Cardiff)

Replied: 27 August 2013

Thank you. I’ll add your comment to the blog.



Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Blackmore: The Bull Planning Applications - Results

Campaigners against the alteration of The Bull Public House in Church Street, Blackmore have lost their plea to Brentwood Borough Council.  The Planning Authority has permitted the demolition of various "out-buildings" including the cellar, rendering the Listed Building inoperable as a Public House in the future many claim.  It remains to be seen whether the pub will reopen after a closure since 2010.  Other establishments are available is the clear message. The Bull had been an inn for over 400 years.

However, the crazy plan to erect two dwellings and a car barn facing The Green, using a large proportion of the (beer) garden has been given the thumbs down.  The application has been refused and is a victory to protect the heritage of the village conservation area.  Blackmore residents will remain vigilant against further applications. 

Friday, 4 October 2013

Book Review: Byrd, by Kerry McCarthy

Book Review: Byrd, by Kerry McCarthy (Oxford University Press, 2013)

An eagerly anticipated biography of Essex composer William Byrd (c.1540-1623) has just been published by Oxford University Press in their ‘The Master Musicians’ series – Byrd, by American musicologist Kerry McCarthy.   Naturally it brings together all the latest thinking on the composer’s enigmatic life as a Catholic living in Elizabethan England at a time of persecution. Recent discoveries of the composer include the books he owned – some being tirades against Papists – and his age: he was 58 or thereabouts in 1598, so did not die at the age of eighty as previously (i.e. before the 1990s) thought.

The book presents, for me, a fresh emphasis on Byrd’s religious beliefs suggesting a gradual sympathy and conversion to Catholicism.  He married a Catholic, and as an artist was appalled by the treatment of Jesuits such as Robert Campion so as to be moved to write a lament.  We read again of the protection he received from Queen Elizabeth I through her personal intervention into a case brought before Byrd of non-attendance at his parish church before his move to Stondon Massey, perhaps in January 1595.  But it was the Stondon Massey years, in semi-retirement from the Chapel Royal, where he advanced further his Catholic beliefs through the writing of Latin set text for the clandestine Catholic worship of his friends, for example the powerful Petre family of Ingatestone Hall.

As an amateur local historian I approach the life of Byrd through his life not works.  So whilst I would agree with John Milsom who in an appreciation writes that Byrd’s music is centre stage, I find Dr McCarthy’s approach to mixing historic detail seamlessly with musical theoretic description a distraction. My preference in presentation is John Harley’s earlier biography of 1997.

Christopher’s Howse’s review for The Telegraph, 20 September 2013, can be found here:

Andrew Smith