Blackmore History (1960s)
PRIORY CHURCH OF ST. LAURENCE, BLACKMORE
A Priory for Austin canons (Cassock and mantle black - these were clergy of cathedrals and churches who, like the monks, took a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience. They were like monks in so far as they lived communally and took religious vows, but they remained essentially parish priests, looking after their parishioners. There were 200 houses in England and there are still some left in Austria).
Founded by Adam and Jordan de Sandford 1152 - local lords. Quite possibly as an easing of conscience after the period of civil war and disorder in Stephen’s reign when the barons "ran riot”.
Norman West bay of nave and the west door inside the belfry - This is original priory. Also cresset stone (for oil lamps in the effigy corner).
Early English (1200-1300) North arcade and north door (usual entrance).
14th C 1300-1400 Chancel and canons window. Font.
15th C 1400-1500 ''Pagoda spire" 28 ft. high.
16th C Repaired piers - south arcade - dormer windows.
Building was more than twice its present size, but all eastern end pulled down for materials to build Smyths Hall where Robert Smyth built his house. The Smyths were mercers and one of them founded the East India Company later on. Together with many rich merchant families, they bought up monastery and priory lands at a cheap price from the King (Henry VIII) who was forced to sell them quickly on a buyers' market in order to pay his debts and stall of his persistent creditors.
The son of Robert Smyth (Thomas Smyth and his wife Margaret) are buried in S.E. corner date = 1594 when Elizabeth getting old.
Notice the Curious animal over the door which led to the cloisters of the Priory.
Connection with Henry VIII
It seems probable that the legend of Henry VIII has some basis in truth. No doubt the King - in his early days - had a hunting lodge hare and it is possible that his only illegitimate son - he was a strict church-goer and believer and was morally superior to most kings of his time in so far as he did marry the women from whom he desired a legitimate heir - was born here. Henry only had two mistresses, one the sister of Ann Boleyn and the other Elizabeth Blount (pronounced Blunt) who came from an Essex family and who gave birth to this son - named Henry Fitzroy (son of the king). Later when about 6 years of age it seemed likely that he might be the king's heir - he was created Duke of Richmond - but the plan fell through and the boy died in 1536. The present Jericho has nothing to do with Henry and the building was put up about 1720 by a Thomas Arkwright - who got his money by contracts with the Royal Navy.
Tombs and monuments
Simon Lynch d. 1660. “Persecuted by gog and magog” refers to the Cromwellian persecution of the Anglican clergy of Charles I. Simon died just too soon for him to be reinstated by Charles II.
Smyths Hall passed from the Smyth family to London merchants and bankers (some of their monuments are in the church) before it was pulled down over a hundred years ago and its bricks and stones carted away for building materials – a fitting end.