|ST. PETERS CHURCH|
|All who knew Maura would agree that she would have been delighted to know that her work and interest in the Church and village is still being shared by others.|
|There is now a video introduction to the history of Peter's Church on YouTube. It includes a tour of the exterior and interior of the building and highlights the main historic features that are covered on this webpage. The video is approximately nine minutes long. It can be found within Youtube with a search for "St Peters Church Goldhanger" and is held at.... https://https://youtu.be/y98RsENRwOI|
|Information about past Rectors and extracts from Parish magazines are taken from Little Totham, The Story of a Small Village, published in 2005 and author Lorna Key has kindly given permission for these to be included. Acknowledgements relating to other short extracts from published material are given within the text.|
|654||St.Cedd founded a Celtic style community at Othona (Bradwell-on-sea) and built his "Cathedral" of St Peters-on-the-wall on the foundations of the Roman fort. There are similarities in building material and style with St Peter's, particularly the Norman windows.|
|Perhaps the two buildings originally had some similarity.|
|900s||Viking attacks left burial mounds on the marshes nearby.|
|1000s||Saxon religious settlements and burial grounds have been found in the village. St Peters has a sunken floor, which is a characteristic of Saxon buildings. Perhaps the original appearance of St Peters was similar to the Saxon buildings found at the Elms Farm archaeological site in Heybridge.|
|ministered to by Saxon priests
in buildings constructed only of timber and thatch.
So the original Church at Goldhanger could well have been thatched.
|1085||The Domesday Book refers to Manor of Goldhangre and a priest called "Eldred".||Domesday book entry for Goldhanger|
|1100s||Norman round topped windows were placed in the north wall and remain there.|
|1285||The first locally recorded Rector of Goldhanger was called "Nicholas" who spent time in Newgate prison for killing a man. The 48 other Rectors who have held the post are listed on the vestry wall.|
|The four carved stone wall plates in the nave, supporting the roof are of particular interest. We do not know who the stone heads may have represented.|
|1300s||Caen stone facings from Normandy were used in this period. This type of stone can still be found at the edges of the creek and estuary where it was deposited over board from sailing barges, having been used as ballast.|
On either side of the south porch doorway one sees a fine intricate stone carving of leaves and berries, each of the carvings containing a small animal. Whether these date from the early l4th century, when such carvings were carried out at Southwell, York and Lincoln, is uncertain.
|1348||The Black Death halved the number of Essex clergy and the benefice was probably vacant for some time.|
|1400s||Walls and roof of the
Church raised for the
|1400s||The tower was added at
the west end of the Church,
probably as a watch tower with one bell.
|1500s||The Hiegham family added the south chapel.|
|1522||Plays were performed
in the Church to raise
money to construct a new roof.
|1531||Date of a the brass
plaque in the Lady Chapel
to Awdrie Hiegham.
Interior of the Church was dramatically
changed by the Reformation.
|Of the Reformation Maura Benham wrote…The people of England found themselves ordered to change the interior of their Churches beyond recognition.|
|The Royal Injunction of 1547 had ordered "that they shall take away, utterly extinct and destroy, all shrines, covering of shrines, all tables, candlesticks, trindles or rolls of wax, pictures, paintings, and all other monuments of feigned miracles, pilgrimages, idolatry and superstition, so that there remain no memory of the same in walls, glass windows or elsewhere within their Churches or houses". We cannot envisage the interior of Goldhanger Church either before or after these changes, but the main structure as we know it was there at the time of the Reformation.|
|1549||An inventory of
"Church Goods" was made in this year and is held by the Essex
Records Office. The following is an extract. . .
One chalice all gylt weying viij. oz.
One other parcell gylt weying vij. oz.
A crosse of copper and gylte.
X sawsyrs of puter the Church vessel
iiij greate bells hanginge in the stepyll with lettell sauncfcus bell
|Sold by the hands of
John Tele and Edward Poste the Churche Wardens, onto Edward Leg of
Maldon 6 skore pounds of latten
kanstyks with it letell hand bells. The same churche wardens sold onto the
sayd Edward one byndyll of wax whyche was the bachelors and the maydyns
Sepnikar lyght xs. The same men solde sartan olde paynted clothey iis,
The same John Tele and Edward Poste hath in their hands of the churche monye for sarton thyngs whyche they sold as ys above to the sum of xxxvs. ivd. John Hyvyngham dothe owe to the churche iijs. iiijd.
|1550s||Maura Benham wrote…There was either a doorway or an alcove in the north wall of the chancel. Parts of a stone surround resembling a door were revealed during replastering of the interior in 1976, and the space was filled with narrow bricks of the Tudor period. One may wonder why it was closed up. Its position in the north wall of the chancel suggests that it could have been an alcove used as an Easter sepulchre, possibly incorporating a tomb.|
|Maura also wrote... The four stone carvings set by the windows in the north all said
to be 16th century, represent the winged beasts of the Revelation:
The human face
The flying eagle
|1554||Revd Thomas Downing was removed from office during the reformation.|
|1585||In 1585, Mr. Allyson, minister, caused an upset by refusing to "babptyse a child beyng base born weythin the paryshe beyng a vargrant person."|
|1589||Revd. John Knight excommunicated "for not wearing his supplisse".|
|1589||There was a prosecution for "camping" (playing football) on the Sabbath Day in Goldhanger.|
|1591||At a Court held in
Coggeshall in 1591 James Nicholson of Goldhanger, was brought before the
Archdeacon for declining to pay their proportion of a rate to meet the cost
of erecting a seat for the minister, and there seems some uncertainty as to
whether the churchwarden himself had contributed.
|Probably it was left for each parish to act according to its own requirements, until by the Canon of 1603 it was finally decided that "a convenient seat should be made for the minister to read the service in", and installed the clergy desk or pew as a permanent fixture and part of the recognised furniture of the parish Church.|
|1599||A Goldhanger witch was excommunicated.|
|1619||The obligation to
provide arms and pay for the militia, either by serving with them, or by
paying for a man and horse, to serve in their stead, was one of the burdens
imposed since feudal times on the owners property.The lands of the beneficed
clergy were subject to the same charge. However, the assessment on them was
imposed by their diocesan, the Bishop of London.
|In 1619, "for refusing to serve in person with his owne armes," John Througood of Goldhanger was "convented at the Privy Council Table and soe committed to the Fleete, until he submitted and promised future obedience."|
|1650||The Revd. Howes conversed by letter with the governor of Massachusetts about "a magneficall engine" which would enable him and the governor to sympathize at a distance. An attempt to invent telegraphy.Mr. Howes also published a book on a "new and brief arithmetic" which, he promised, would enable even a "mean capacity person" to attain skill and facility.|
|more about. . . The Revd Edward Howes|
|The Miles Graye foundry was in Colchester.||more about. . . the bells of St Peters|
|1696||From the Essex Countryside magazine of 1962...|
|1700s||The Iron bound almsbox
in the Lady Chapel dates
from this period.
|1707||The Creed, and Ten Commandments were painted or re-painted on the inside walls.|
|1721||A Curate was installed
to work in both Goldhanger
and Little Totham parishes.
|1780||A sketch in the Church of this date shows three gables.|
|1781||Two of the bells in the tower have this date.|
|1805||St Peters donated 2 shillings towards Nelson's victory.|
|1813||The Parish Poorhouse had 11 residents. The Churchwarden Accounts from 1750-1930 indicate only one direct payment to the Poorhouse in 1754: "A load of bushes for the poorhouse". However, the accounts show many payments of..."Relieve for Messrs . . . with apabs" (Apabs being Latin for food).|
|1836||The Revd Thomas Leigh Rector of Wickham Bishops, purchased the Goldhanger Benifice which included The Glebe and The Parsonage. The Leigh family also owned Pumphouse Farm and Follyfaults. He installed his son Edward as Rector, who remained until his death in 1946.|
|more about...the Leigh family|
|1839||42 children attending
school in the vestry.
Maura Benham wrote...
One may wonder where the large vestry was. The present vestry is a small enclosed area at the west end of the south aisle, and previously the base of the tower, now the ringing chamber, served as a vestry.
|See... Village School|
|The three gables shown in the 18th-century drawing may have formed some sort of gallery over the south isle, and this might have been the room in which the school was held, though no windows are shown in the gables.|
|1846||The Revd. Charles Brian Leigh was appointed Rector and remained until 1893.|
|The Leigh family provided free milk to all the village from their own cows.|
|1848||The Revd. Thomas Leigh, father of the Rector paid for the building of the new "Church of England" school.|
|1848||A letter sent to Sarah Leigh by the Church Wardens...|
|We the undersigned
Parishioners of Goldhanger beg most respectfully to offer our grateful thanks
for your kind and Liberal gift of a Silver Communion Service for the use of
the Parish Church.
|In making this acknowledgement we cannot refrain from declaring our affectionate remembrance of the eminent piety and virtue of your late Brother, the Revd Edward Morris Leigh, our lamented Pastor.|
|Permit us, Madam, to conclude this, the humble tribute of our gratitude and attachment to you, and your Family, by expressing our heartfelt hope that under the blessings of the great Dispenser of all things, you may live through many years of health, prosperity, and happiness, to join us in that Holy Communion, which as Christians, bind us together in "Unity of Spirit" and in the bond of Peace.|
|Signed by the Churchwardens and ten others|
|1851||The Revd. Leigh built the "New Rectory", now called Goldhanger House.|
|more about...the Victorian Rectory|
|1850s||The Leigh family carried out extensive refurbishment of the Church. 1853 and dedicated to CBL is cast into the down pipes.|
|1850s||The Revd. Leigh instructed that red brick walls be build around the Church and encouraged parishioners to build them along the streets. The stile through the wall at the back of the churchyard is still much admired by local artists.|
|more about the... red brick walls|
|view of the Pulpit|
|view of the Lectern|
|1850s||The Minton floor tiles in the Sanctuary and Chancel undoubtedly came from this period.|
|1854||The Chelmsford Chronicle reported that the Church had been "thoroughly restored"…"the whole of which has been defrayed by the rector, the Rev C B Leigh", and the parishioners have raised a subsciption to errect a hansome organ manufactured by Walker of London.|
|1891||Revd. C B Leigh was declared a bankrupt.|
|1895||The Revd. Gardner started the
Parish magazine. He wrote…
|...as some form of useful literature, which will be a welcome companion to your fireside when the day's work is over. Nothing will be found more interesting and more useful than the accompanying magazine.|
|1895||Later in the same year The Revd. Gardner wrote in the magazine…|
|Where are the men on Sunday mornings? I need not ask. They shuffle in at the fag end of an idle day and think this is fitting to the Lord.|
Revd. Gardner wrote again in the magazine on the same subject...
|Morbus Sabbaticus, or Sunday sickness, is a disease peculiar to non-Churchgoers. The disease comes on suddenly every Sunday; no symptoms are felt on Saturday night, the patient sleeps well, eats a hearty breakfast, but about church-time the attack comes on, and continues till the services are over for the morning, then the patient feels easy and eats a hearty dinner.|
|In the afternoon he feels much better and is able to take a walk on the wall and talk politics, but about church-time he gets another attack and stays home. He retires early, sleeps well and wakes up on Monday morning refreshed and able to go to work, and does not have further symptoms of the disease until the next Sunday.|
|1899||An extract from Kelly's Directory of this year…|
|The Church has been thoroughly repaired at the expense of the Leigh family and affords 270 sittings. The register dates from the year 1558. The living is a rectory, with that of Little. Totham annexed, joint net yearly value £554, with 35 acres of glebe and residence, in the gift of the trustees of G. D. Collins esq. and held since 1893 by the Rev. Frederick Thomas Gardner M.A. of St. Peter's College, Cambridge.|
|1899||Church bells upgraded to a peal of 6.||more about... the bells of St Peters|
|1900||The Revd. Gardner started a "coal club" to buy coal in bulk at lower prices for his parishioners.|
Totham – The Story of a Small Village" ...
The children went to a Sunday School Christmas treat at the Rectory in a horse and cart. "The repast being over, the curtains at one end of the room were drawn aside revealing the lighted Christmas tree laden with presents of which every child received one or two. Recitations were given and songs sung. Before dispersing the children were further regaled with cake, oranges, sweets and nuts.
|1906||Despite being confined to a wheelchair with motor neurone disease, with the encouragement of Dr Salter, the Revd. Gardner organised several "prospecting" expeditions to Spitzbergen accompanied by, Charles Mann, Ernest Mansfield and George Alexander.|
Totham – The Story of a Small Village" …
The Revd. Gardner wrote his monthly letter in the Parish Magazine from Spitzbergen and announced that 43 London Children would be coming to stay in Goldhanger and Little Totham as they normally did each year.
|1906||The organ was installed in this year.|
|1908||The parish magazine
The brake conveyed a party of Little Totham and Goldhanger choirs to D'Arcy station where they caught the 9.35am train to Tollesbury pier. The steamer, the Woolwich Belle was in readiness to take them aboard. After calling at Clacton and Walton, it reached Felixstowe on a calm blue sea with perfect weather overhead at 12 o'clock. Dinner was immediately served, after which a brake conveyed them to the grounds of the Suffolk show. At 5 o'clock a return to the steamer was made, tea being taken on board. An equally enjoyable journey home was in store for all. Tollesbury pier being reached at 9.30pm and D'Arcy station half an hour later, and from thence the drive home.
|The lower part of the Ellacombe Chimes frame was a cupboard used to store the hand bells. The hand bells date from about this period and were probably a gift from the Gardner family.|
|1910||A plaque in the tower commemorates the first peal on 6 bells by local ringers. The ringers were given a silver medallion by the Revd. Gardiner.|
|The Essex Association
On Monday November 7th 1910, in 2hours and 34 minutes
was rung in this Tower
A PEAL OF MINOR (5040 changes)
Being 720 each of Double Oxford, Plain Bob, Double Court
College Single, Woodbine, Kent, and Oxford, Treble Bob.
John D Buckingham - Treble Frederick White - 4th
Charles J. Mann - 2nd George H Neville - 5th
John Owers - 3rdArthur Appleton- Tenor
Conductor J. D. Buckingham
This was the first Peal on the bells by a local Company
Rev. F.T.Gardner, Rector,- G.H.Payne, Churchwarden
Rev. B.H.D.Field, Curate, H.Buckell, - Churchwarden
|more about. . . the bells of St Peters|
|1910s||The photograph below was taken before the war memorial was built and shows that the Churchyard at the front of the Church was clear of grave stones even at this time.|
|1911||The Parish Magazine reported that a temporary Chancel screen has been erected "as the previous one has been much missed on its removal". It will remain in its place "until such times as a permanent Chancel screen may be given which the Church really needs".|
|1913||The Parish Magazine reported that a new organ was installed. The builder was Mr. Dalladay of Hastings. It has two manuals, nine speaker stops, other accessories and 448 pipes.|
|more about... the War Memorial and The Great War|
|1924||The organ blower's wages were increased from 5 to 6 shillings.|
|1925||Extracts from: Church Plate of Essex, dated 1925
St Peters, Goldhanger
Alms dishes..10 oz............8........1846( a pair)
|and have the sacred monogram:|
|more postcard scenes of the Church|
|1930s||The Rev Gardner and the Methodist preacher Stanley Wilkin exchanged information on Church and chapel attendances, and agreed which should approach the non-attenders.|
|1936||Mains electricity installed in the Church at a cost of £36 and the oil lamps were removed. The Rev Gardner refused to allow overhead electricity cables to cross his land or be used around the village. Underground cables had to be installed at much greater expense. However, an overhead cable crosses the front of the Churchyard, presumably to avoid digging in the graveyard.|
|1937||The Parish Magazine reported that a new vestry has been erected at the west end of the south aisle. Cupboards and bookshelves have been removed from the ringing chamber.|
|1937||The Parish Magazine reported that the "stencilled canvas on the walls of the Chancel and Lady Chapel is very dirty and worse for wear". It will be removed and "the walls given several coats of good distemper".|
|1939||Extracts from the same article in the East Anglian Daily Times of June 1939…|
|The ancient walls of
St.Peters bear the tiles one associates with the days of the Romans. Most of
the building, however, dates from early English times, but the south porch
and the tower, the latter exceptionally broad and imposing, are about two
|Partly because of the tower, the building seems singularly striking, and is rendered even more so by a stone Calvary facing the village, an affair impressive and noble of aspect, which is Goldhanger's memorial to the men of the parish "who fought and died in the Great War".|
|An early survivor is a piscina in the usual position to the south of the chancel. Although restoration has occurred even so the old workmanship seems very apparent.|
|A really ancient monument takes the form of a tomb. It retains a brass showing an inscription, but unfortunately, as one so often discovers, the effigies and two shields have been removed. In spite of this, the tomb is in a very fine state of preservation indeed, and from the epitaph we find that here is interred Antony Heigham whose death occurred in 1557.|
|The font, circular in shape and supported by nine broad shafts, is modern, but even in this case a link with the past reveals itself, for this font appears to be a copy of one constructed in Norman times.|
|1942||The Rector was appointed as an RAF chaplain.|
|1947||The graveyard was extended.|
|1947||The 1850s built Rectory was sold
re-named "Goldhanger House"
|1947||The last Curate left the village
and the Parsonage was sold.
|1950||The Parish magazine
was re-launched after a gap
of several years.
|1950s||An electric blower was
installed on the organ.
Up until this date the pump would have been hand operated.
|1951||Tower Captain Bernard Mann organised the upgrading of the bells to a peal of 8 and a new steel frame was installed. One of the bells came from the redundant Church of St Giles in Colchester. To raise funds for the refurbishments, house to house collections were organised using a payment card. When money was collected, the amount was entered onto the card so that a record of total contribution was maintained.|
|The Tenor bell was cast in in this year and is inscribed in the memory of the Revd. Gardner and his wife Ethel Mary.|
|Bernard Mann also organised the installation of glass plates between the nave and the ringing chamber. The glass came from a disused shop in Colchester.|
|more about... the bells of St Peters|
|1954||From Buildings on
England - Essex, by Nikolaus
The north side of the Church shows its 11th century origin: one chancel window, the nave east angle, and one nave window. Much re-use of Roman brick, 14th century south aisle mostly of flint, but also incorporating Roman bricks.
15th century west tower with diagonal buttresses and some flint and stone decoration. The south arcade inside is of the 19th century. Stained glass: south chapel, south and east windows of 1858, typical of their date. Monument: Tomb-chest with black cover-plate, one brass to a woman and indents of other brasses. The monument was to Thomas Heigham 1531.
|1955||The Maldon & Burnham Standard reported that Church belfry and tower restoration was complete and paid for with £1,600 raised in the Parish over the previous 5 years.|
|When this photograph was taken, probably in the 1930s, the vestry had not yet been built in the south west corner and the oil lamps can still be seen.|
|1966||Arthur Mee wrote in
"The Kings England - Essex" of St Peters…
There is no doubt that the Romans were here, for their bricks are in the Church walls, set here by Norman hands. The deeply splayed windows of the Normans have now brilliantly coloured portraits of the saints. The bold tower, the chapel, and the three-bayed roof of the nave are mediaeval.
In the chapel is the altar tomb of Thomas Heigham and his three wives; one of their portraits is still in brass on the tomb, showing her in Tudor costume. The big Churchyard, with its many chestnut trees, is a pleasant place to linger in on an autumn day, when creeper clothes the porch in a glowing mass of red and gold.
|1967||The Maldon & Burnham Standard reported that the choir boys "did their bit to help rid St Peters Church Goldhanger of black watch beetles at a church bazaar on Saturday". They raised £130.|
|1968||Norman Scarfe in “A Shell Guide to Essex” wrote of St Peters…|
|1974||In "Church Carpentry" Cecil A Hewett wrote...
The nave at St. Peter's, has a crown-post roof with collar-purlin (lengthwise beam) and seven cants (a partial polygon shape). Three composite tie-beams that are mounted on wall-pieces with traceried spandrels, and mouldings of unusual interest.
Perhaps the most remarkable feature is the chamfering of every constituent timber of the roof, including the smallest and least important. The date for this should be sometime during the final quarter of the 14th century.
|1985||Extract from: List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, dated 1985|
|Features and fittings: 12th century round-headed window in north wall of chancel and one in north wall of nave; possible 12th century doorway in north wall of nave, much altered now with a 15th century arch; late 15th century arch in south wall of nave; partially restored 14th south doorway in south aisle.|
|1990||The organ was dismantled and overhauled.|
|1992||A flower arrangers cupboard was installed at the rear of the Church in memory of Henry and May Webb.|
|1992||The one hundredth peal was rung at St Peters to mark Bernard Mann's 80th birthday, 40 years since the upgrade to 8 bells and the 30 years Bernard had been tower captain.|
|1999||Parts of the ceiling plaster fell down damaging the lectern. A Pipistrelle bat colony was found during the repair work and was protected.|
|2006||Crumbling plaster work was removed from the internal walls of the ringing chamber in the tower and the stonework was revealed and pointed. An early stonemason's mark has been exposed.|
|2010||A new Community Room was added to the north side of the Church with access through the existing north door. This provides a small meeting room, a kitchen, disabled toilet facilities, and disabled access to the Church.|
|© The Goldhanger Digital Archive 2013|