Revd. Charles Brian Leigh

Rector of Goldhanger 1846 - 1893

Charles Brian Leigh was Rector of Goldhanger and Little Totham for 47 years between 1846 and 1893. His elder brother Edward Morris Leigh was Rector for ten years before him until his premature death in 1846. Other members of the family held clerical positions in churches in the area. His father, Thomas Leigh, bought the Goldhanger and Lt. Totham benefice or “Perpetual Advowson” in 1832. The family then owned Follyfaunts, Pumphouse Farm, The (old) Rectory, The Parsonage House, together with 3600 acres of farm land and many cottages in and around the village.  The Revd. C B Leigh and his family are perhaps best known for funding the major refurbishment of St. Peters Church, building a new Rectory in the 1850s, and the building of a new village school in 1875.

Here is a summary of the Revd. C B Leigh’s life with details following…

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1805

His father Thomas Leigh was appointed Rector at Wickham Bishops ……………

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1816

Charles Brian Leigh was Born ………………………………………………………… 

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1832

The family bought the Goldhanger and Lt Totham benefice ……………………….

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1834

Attended Cambridge University ……………………………………………………….

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1838

He attained a BA at Cambridge ………………………………………………………..

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1841

Was appointed curate at Wickham Bishops by his father …………………………

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1846

His brother Edward, who was Rector at Goldhanger, died …………………………

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1846

Revd C B Leigh was appointed Rector of Goldhanger ………………………………

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1847

Revd C B Leigh married Mary, daughter of MP Sir J T Bart and a widow ………..

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1848

His father Thomas Leigh paid for a school in the Pit Cottages at Goldhanger …..

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1848

His father Thomas Leigh died ………………………………………………………….

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1848

Sarah Leigh donated a silver communion service in memory of her father ……….

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1848

The Churchwardens and other wrote a letter of thanks to Sarah ………………….

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1849

Sarah Leigh built a new Wickham Bishops Church …………………………………

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1850

Revd Leigh’s wife Mary was killed in an accident with a cow at the age of 47 ….

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1851

The family built a new rectory at the top of Church Street ………………………..

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1852

Revd C B Leigh married Olympia Hanbury …………………………………………..

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1854

St Peters Church was restored at the expense of the family ……………………..

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1858

The Leigh family donated a stained glass window dedicated to Priscilla Leigh….

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1850s

Revd C B Leigh persuaded villagers to built red brick wall around the village ……

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1861

Rectory domestic staff listed in census ………………………………………………

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1863

Revd Leigh became a Justice of the Peace in Essex ………………………………

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1875

The family built a new school in Church St ………………………………………….

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1880

The family organised entertainment in the school …………………………………..

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1881

The marriage of the Rector’s youngest daughter took place in St Peters ………..

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1890

His father the Revd Thomas Leigh died ………………………………………………

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1891

Revd C B Leigh was declared bankrupt ………………………………………………

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1893

A presentation to Miss Leigh by Goldhanger parishioners …………………………

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1893

Revd C B Leigh retired as Rector ……………………………………………………..

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1905

The Rector’s wife Olympia Priscilla died ……………………………………………..

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1906

The Leigh properties in and around Goldhanger were sold ………………………..

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1907

Revd C B Leigh died at Brighton and was buried at Goldhanger …………………..

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there are some inconsistencies in the information that follows that have not been resolved

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A partial family tree of the Revd. C B Leigh’s family…

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In 1832 the Leigh family bought the Perpetual Advowson …

poster advertising the Benefice (enlarge)

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The following paragraphs are taken from Maura Benham’s Book: Goldhanger – An Estuary Village

The Revd. Charles Brian Leigh was a member of an ecclesiastical family from Wickam Bishops. The benefice at Goldhanger was bought in 1836 by his father the Revd. Thomas Leigh, Rector of Wickham Bishops, and he put in his older son Edward Morris Leigh as rector who had been his curate at Wickham Bishops.

The tithe records fro Goldhanger of 1839 show Edward Morris Leigh as owner and occupier of two properties, the Glebe including the parsonage house, and the Pump House Farm at the top of Church Street. He also owned and let Follyfaunts. The family also owned and let land near to Wash Bridge. After ten years Edward died and his younger brother Charles Brian Leigh look his place, remaining in the living until 1893.

The farther, the Revd. Thomas Leigh, died in 1848, and a great deal of the family money then seems to have been spent on the churches and rectories. Goldhanger church was thoroughly restored. The south porch and probably part of the south wall were rebuilt, and there was considerable reconstruction of the interior, the chancel arch being rebuilt, window tracery renewed, and stained glass put in. This sketch of the Church in the 1780 which hangs near the vestry shows what previously looked like…

A clean sweep was made of the fittings with replacement of font, pulpit, altar, choir stalls and seating. The Heigham memorials, evidently badly broken up, were put together to form one tomb with the remaining brass figure and inscription set in the top slab. By 1855 it had been 'thoroughly repaired and beautified'. Several memorials to the Leigh family can be seen in the Lady chapel and guttering outside the Church shows the initials 'C.B.L.' for Charles Brian Leigh…

The Rev. C. B. Leigh had a good residence, but which ever house this was it does not seem to have been satisfactory, as in 1851-2 the Leigh family built a large red-brick Rectory at the northern end of Church Street (now called Goldhanger House). The 1861 Census gives details of the occupants and staffing at the new rectory. The household consisted of the Rector, his wife and three children, a governess, two nurses, and four domestic servants. People living in the village remember their grandparents and other old residents speaking of the Leigh family in the latter part of the century. They kept cows and provided free milk daily to all the village, and if anyone was ill dinner was provided as well. There were regular times when people could go to the house for advice, many being illiterate, and Mrs Leigh saw the women thrice weekly. Later the sons were said to be “wild” with big parties at the house and some guests staying at the Chequers.

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The Rectory was designed by well known Victorian ecclesiastical architect Ewan Christian, who won an award for the design and which is described in great detail with architectural drawings in the book entitled “Villa and Cottage Architecture”. Extracts from the book are in A history of the Victorian Goldhanger Rectory .  Pevsner suggested that Ewan Christian could also been involved in the restoration of St Peters Church.

one of the drawings from “Villa and Cottage Architecture”

Lewis Carroll was said to have been among the visitors to the Rectory at the time the story of Alice and Wonderland was being written around 1865. It has been suggested that the idea for the treacle mines in the story was founded on the legend of the Tudwick Road treacle pits learnt about by Carroll while staying with the Rector.

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In 1849 after their father’s death the Rector’s sister Sarah built the new church at Wickham Bishops also designed by Ewan Christian, and at a personal cost of £4,000. Her brother Charles Brian laid the foundation stone.

Wickham Bishops new  Church

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in 1846 - the death of C B Leigh’s brother, Edward…

a plaque in the Lady Chapel

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in 1847…

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In 1848 the Leigh family paid for a Church of England school in Goldhanger, which was probably located in the Pit Cottages on the Maldon Rd Triangle.  A completely new village school in Church Street was built in 1875, which was also paid for by the Leigh family.

a postcard view of the original school building

the classical Victorian symmetry of the building suggests

this could also have been a Ewan Christian design

At around the same time as the school was being built the Revd. Leigh had red brick walls built around the Church and encouraged parishioners to build similar walls along the streets in the centre of the village. They were probably intended to keep out the animals from the two farms located in the middle of the village. The wall appear in many old postcard scenes and most still exist (however they now need regular maintenance to cope with traffic fumes and salt).

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in 1848 - the death of C B Leigh’s father Thomas…

a plaque in the Lady Chapel

Also in 1848 a  silver communion service and a pair of silver alms dishes was donated to the Church by Sarah Leigh in memory of her late brother Edward.

the flagon, cup, and paten donated by Sarah Leigh

(The set is now kept in the vault of Chelmsford cathedral)

 

“Thank you”  letter written by parishioners (enlarge)

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From The Times of January 1850…

We regret to state that on Friday afternoon an accident of a very serious nature occurred to the lady of the Rev. C. B. Leigh, of Wickham-place, rector of Goldhanger, in this county, and sister to Sir John Tyrell, Bart., M.P. It appears that Mrs. Leigh, accompanied by her son, was walking in the Maldon-road, which leads into Witham, and when near the top of the road met a cow with its calf at the corner leading from Newland or High-street.

Upon seeing them a little dog, which Mrs. Leigh had with her, barked at the calf, and the cow, irritated thereby, immediately ran at the dog, which fled to its mistress for protection, and before it could be prevented, the cow had struck Mrs. Leigh in the back, driving her with considerable violence against the brickwork of part of the Angel Inn, in Witham. There every attention that medical skill could suggest was paid her by Mr. Thomas Tomkin, surgeon, and as soon as Mrs. Leigh was sufficiently recovered, she was removed to her residence in Witham.

Her face was severely bruised, but it was at first supposed that the injuries inflicted were not of a very serious nature; it was, however, subsequently ascertained that the blow had affected the spine, about the shoulders. Immediate paralysis occurred, and serious apprehensions are entertained of a fatal issue. Mr. W. Ferguson, the eminent surgeon from London, visited her on the following day and has been in frequent attendance since the lamentable occurrence, but we are grieved at not being now able to give a more favourable account of the patient. Yesterday there was no return of either sensation or motion in any part of the body below the part injured.

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1854 - restoration of the Church and organ donated by the parishioners…

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In 1858 the Leigh family donated the stained glass windows for the Lady Chapel which are  dedicated to Priscilla Leigh of Marks Hall, who died at the age of 28 in that year.

the Lady Chapel

a plaque in the Lady Chapel

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1863 - Villagers recommend the Revd Leigh as a magistrate…

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1879 & 1880 - Entertainment in the school…

  

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1880 - the marriage of Mary Leigh at Goldhanger…

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1887 - extract from “The Royal Lineage of our Noble and Gentle Families” …

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1890 - an obituary of his father Thomas Leigh…

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1893 - a presentation to Miss Leigh…

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1906 - extracts from the sales brochure of C B Leigh’s substantial property holdings in Goldhanger which were sold in 21 lots just before his death…

     

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1907…

        

 

A small painting of the Rector in the Church

a plague in memory of the Rector in the Church

 

 

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