St Andrews, Belchamp St Paul
Belchamp St Paul Church
It is not known when the first church was built. There was a church, however when the Dean of St Paul's, Ralph de Dicto, visited Belchamp on 15th January 1181. This early Norman church consisted of a nave with north and south doorways and a chancel. It was dedicated in honour of St Andrew the Apostle who is the patron saint of missionaries, mariners and fishermen. All churches dedicated in honour of St Andrew are usually near rivers.
When Dean Ralph de Baldock visited the church on 9th October 1297 the chancel was in need of repair. The most remarkable feature of the church in those days was a wooded altar in a loft at the west end of the nave, with images of St Giles and St Edmund. There were twelve other statues of SS Andrew, James, John the Baptist, Catherine, Laurence, Margaret, Nicholas, Peter, Mary Magdalene and Osyth. The Church was also well supplied not only with all the eucharistic vestments but also two silver chalices. There were also an ivory comb for the priest’s hair.
It would seem that after the visitation of Dean William Say in 1458 a major rebuilding of the church took place which was completed in the year 1490. The building which we now see consists of a chancel, nave, north aisle, tower and south porch.
The chancel was rebuilt in 1490 when it was widened and the east window, of five cinquefoiled lights, restored. The western most window is continued down below a transom (beam of timber), the lower lights being fitted with modern shutters. The sill of the south-east window of the chancel is carried down low to form a sedilia; the west splay of this window is cut back and cinquefoiled (dates from 1440). Between the windows in the south wall is a doorway with a two-centred arch dating back to 1490. The roof dates from 1490 and is of the trussed rafter, beam type, often found in Essex churches.
In the centre of the floor, just in front of the altar rail is a floor brass. This consists of two brasses, the first being to Elizabeth West second wife of George Golding, 1591, and depicting two groups of children and three shields and an inscription. The second brass is to William Golding, 1587 , consisting of a gentleman in plate armour, two groups of children, two shields and a figure of a woman. The foot inscription to this brass has been lost. Both of these brasses have been re-set in the same slab and disarranged.
On the Chancel flour is a black marble slab with two shields inlaid in white marble being the tomb of Freere, son of Christopher Layer. The tomb of his wife Suzanne is on the North side of the sanctuary.
The chancel has two choir stalls 15th or early 16th century, five on either side with grotesque and foliated misericords, the fronts are elaborately decorated with poppy heads and foliated scroll mouldings and two standards with elaborately carved figures of a seated king and a monk both holding a book. There is a story that the choir stalls came from Clare Priory , after the dissolution in 1538 , but the Rev Robert Flynn was of the opinion that the carving of an ecclesiatic in doctors robes was perhaps the effigy of parson Loker, who was also rector of Upper Yeldham, Rector of Fairstead and Great Henny. This suggests the seats to be original to the church. The only other certainty about them is they are the only misericords in Essex apart from Castle Hedingham.
The chancel was restored by the dean and chapter of St Paul's in 1870/1 . The nave has a north arcade of three bays. The easternmost arch dates from c1450 and two-centred. The shafts supporting the arch are semi-octagonal with moulded and embattled caps on moulded bases. The arch opens into the north transept. The two western arches date from c1490. In 1853 the timbers in the roof of the nave were opened out and ceiled between the rafters with plaster at a cost of £25. It was at this time that the singers gallery at the west end of the church disappeared. The north aisle includes the former north transept which has a wall thicker than that of the rest of the aisle. Here may be seen traces of a former window and doorway.
The tower dates from 1490 and is of three stages with an embattled top and a south stair turret. There are six bells in the tower inscribed:
Miles Graye made me 1626
Miles Graye made me 1682
Miles Graye made me 1683 (re-cast in 1902)
John Thornton made me 1716
Thomas Gardiner, Sudbury, fecit 1745
Honour is the reward of Valour, Hung in 1920
The latter bell was provided by public subscription and in the same year a chiming apparatus was placed in the belfry in memory of the Reverend Hugh John Flynn, dd. In 1901 the tower was restored and the five bells re-hung at a cost of £875.
The font dates from 1490 or possibly a little earlier. It has an octagonal bowl, two sides are plain and the rest with sunken panels. Two of the panels enclosing saltires (St Andrews cross). A new font cover was made in 1995 by Mr Ivor Neeson from oak donated by the grower at Pauls Hall.
The window in the north chapel bears the arms of Arthur Golding who died in 1606 and lived at Paul’s Hall. He was a renaissance scholar, a translator into English of Ovid, the institutes of john calvin and the theological treaties of Beza, the Swiss theologian. Arthur Golding was also known as being a friend of Shakespeare, who it is though was a visitor to the area.
The Organ is by Hunter & Sons of Clapham, and is late 19th century. It was rebuilt by cedric Arnold of Chelmsford, Essex in 1927.
The oak Tower screen was finished in 1999 in thanksgiving for two thousand years of Divine Grace and to mark the beginning of the third Christian era. It was dedicated by the Bishop of Colchester, the Right Reverend Edward Holland, on May 9th 1999 being the feast of the translation of the Relics of St Andrew. The screen was designed by Terry Daniel, the architect to the Church, and built by Bryan Rooke a local craftsman living in Clare. The lower portion of the screen is surmounted by three engraved glass panels depicting Our Lady and Child supported by St Andrew and St Edmund. These were designed and executed by Richard Bawden, a well known Essex born artist.
The screen was entered for the Chelmsford Diocesan Advisory Committee design Awards in 1999 and was awarded ‘highly Commended’, being the highest award in its category. The award was announced by the Bishop of Chelmsford on 23 March 1999 in the presence of the Chancellor and other dignitaries. English Heritage also congratulated the parish on commissioning such a high quality and original work of art. As part of the scheme the church was completely redecorated in 1999 in time for the dedication of the screen.
For almost a thousand years the Dean and Chapter of St Pauls Cathedral were the patrons of the living. This lasted until 28 June 1870 when Queen Victoria gave her consent to the exchange of patronage between the Dean and Chapter of St Pauls and the Dean and Canons of Windsor whereby the Cannons of Windsor surrendered to St Paul’s the Rectory of St Peter le Poer and St Benet Fink in the city of London in return for the entire patronage of Belchamp St Paul. The parish enjoys close relations with the dean and Cannons of the College of St George at Windsor and is proud to be one of St George's parishes.
The Vicars of the Parish have always played a leading part in village life. For 150 years from 1700 the important and influential Pemberton family of Trumpington Hall, Cambridge held the living in uninterrupted succession. In the later 19th century the Reverend Doctor James Pulling, Master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge was vicar of the parish. Later the Reverend W R Tindal-Atkinson was vicar – his son became the Public Prosecutor.
The Church is always worth a visit and for every Church festival, Easter, Harvest and Christmas, the Church is beautifully decorated.
St Ethelbert and All Saints, Belchamp Otten
Belchamp Otten Parish Church
The church of St Ethelbert and All Saints consists of a Nave, with a turret at the West End, a Chancel, a Vestry and a South Porch. Here we have a church built originally in the Norman period with many alterations and additions in the 14th Century.
The church is of Norman origin, the Nave walls are certainly of that period, and the South Door indicates the date to be about the early or middle of the 12th Century. This doorway, for so small a church is a very good example of the period. It consists of two orders of columns, which are ornamented with the spiral device common to the period, whilst the arches springing from them have the ordinary zig-zag upon them. All the original Norman windows have disappeared, or rather have been removed to make way for the two-light decorated windows on the South side, and the three-light decorated window on the North side of the Nave; in two of which there are still fragments of the original painted glass. In these decorated windows it is thought we see the hand of the FitzOthos or of Sir John de Boutetort. There is a modern two-light window at the West end.
At the West end of the Nave are four massive oak posts which form part of the original construction of the Bell Turret. Two of these posts are decorated with a flowing pattern similar to the Roman Guilloche carved on the face. The remainder of the construction of this Bell Turret is so plastered up inside and outside and encumbered with partitions and ceilings that none of the old carpentry is visible.
In many of our old churches, where the original Turret remains, we have left some most interesting specimens of English carpentry, and probably if this Turret were stripped of internal plastering and other modern additions, we should find a picturesque piece of work, unless indeed the old word has been annihilated altogether. All that is now visible of the roof of the Nave are the moulded wall-plates and tye-beam; all the other timbers are concealed by plastering. This Turret was built in 1800.
As to the Chancel walls, it is difficult to say whether they are of the Norman period, or whether they have been in part or in whole rebuilt; their thickness would denote the Norman origin. The Chancel is lighted on the South side by two two-light rather late decorated windows with fragments of old glass still left. On the North side also by two two-light decorated windows, similar in character to those on the South side, and by a rather poor three-light decorated East window. Only the moulded wall-plates of the roof were visible, all the other timbers being plastered over. In 1965, during restoration, this plaster was removed to reveal the scissor-beaming.
There is a very interesting octagonal Font of the decorated period. On each side of the bowl is worked a quatrefoil and the top is embattled. The faces of the base are decorated with sunk panels with traceried heads. The Pulpit is of the Jacobean period, and the Altar Rails of the date of Queen Anne or William the Fourth. The Gallery is Georgian, as is the Royal Arms of cast iron on the tye-beam. The Vestry is a modern addition in white brick.
During restoration a Norman coffin of Barnack stone was discovered ten inches below the floor on the South side of the Aisle under the box pews. This indicates that, with the Piscina by the Pulpit, the Sanctuary was under the Nave Arch, and the Chancel was added after the original building. The coffin was laid in the Chancel by the North wall with the carved lid above the level of the brick floor.
As we leave the church by the South door, with its Norman Arch, we pass through what was once a good specimen of a stone porch. The entrance is formed by a bold arching springing from shafts with moulded bases and caps, and on either side is a two-light window; all of the late decorated period.
The roof, from what is still visible, must have been very massive, but all that is left to view are the very bold moulded and embattled wall plates. A flat ceiling concealed the other timbers.
Revd. Sally Womersley
Tel: 01787 279334
(not normally available on Mondays)
Revd. Margaret King
Tel: 01787 269385
(not normally available Fridays)
Tel: 01787 460214 or 07970 037804
Tel: 01787 278174
Belchamp St Paul:
Tel: 01787 277550
Tel 01787 277795