Blackmore Area Local History

Fryerning (Essex)
"Friars-ing: Friar's pasture"

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Boundaries of the Parish of Fryerning
Fryerning in 1845
Fryerning in 1861
Fryerning in 1887
Parish Registers
Views from the top of the church tower
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Ingatestone and Fryerning Parish boundaries

“Fryerning”, says Kelly’s Directory 1890, “is a parish, forming three-fourths of the town of
Ingatestone” … was amalgamated in 1889 to form one civil parish of Ingatestone and Fryerning.  Until then, writes Revd. Alfred Suckling (1845), “the greater part of its [Fryerning’s] population is crowded into a long and ill-built street on the London road, and which is generally known to travellers under the name of Ingatestone”.

The two parishes were oddly shaped, with the parish of Fryerning running from the north-west to the south-east of Ingatestone, bisecting the other parish. 

In this illustration, Frye
rning parish has been shaded orange and Ingatestone parish shaded yellow.

Hopefully this map will be of great assistance to family historians

Fryerning in 1887

The following is taken from ‘Durrant’s Handbook For Essex’ written by Miller Christy (Durrant & Co., Chelmsford, 1887).

Fryerning.  A. 1370; P. 704; Rectory, value £385; 1m. N.W. from Ingatestone.   

This parish, which contains two-thirds of the town of
Ingatestone, anciently belonged to the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem – hence, probably, its name, which is supposed to be a corruption of Frier’s Ing or Meadow.  The Church (Virgin Mary) is of great age and interest.  It is picturesquely surrounded by venerable yew and fir-trees, and consists of a tower, nave, and chancel, without aisles.  It was evidently founded in early Norman times.  The walls of the nave a chiefly built of pudding-stone, with a few flints, and the corners are of Roman tiles, which occur in bands.  The nave has four narrow, splayed, Norman windows, very high up on the walls, three on one side and one on the other.  These are wider than usual.  They have undergone some restoration, but over the N. door is another, now blocked, in its original state, with sides of Roman tile.  The N. and S. doors (the former now leading to the vestry) are opposite and similar to one another, each having two perfectly plain semicircular arches, one within the other.  In the N. wall is still a stairway that led up to the rood-loft.  The loop above is still open, but the door below is blocked.  Beside it is a shallow, pointed niche.  The larger windows of the nave are probably insertions of the 14th cent. About the year 1490 the church underwent considerable alteration.  The lofty pointed chancel arch was then constructed, and the chancel itself rebuilt, though probably of the old materials, as pudding-stone was largely used and a quantity of Roman tile is built into the E. end high up in the gable.  The 3-light, square-headed E. and other windows of the chancel are of this age (late 15th cent.).  Under the former, some years ago, were discovered traces of a fine fresco, apparently depicting a procession, but only the feet and lower parts of garments remained.  The very handsome red brick tower (like, but superior to, that at Ingatestone) was apparently built about 1500.  It is square and massive, with strong buttresses, and its cushion-like pinnacles and machiolated battlements are conspicuous from a distance.  Its windows are poor, some being round-headed.  It contains 5 bells, all of them inscribed by the founders’ names.  One bears the date 1500, the rest are of the 18th cent. The font is a plain, massive, square one, of much interest and of undoubtedly Norman work.  It is supported by five plain cylindrical pillars, one large one at the centre, and smaller ones at the corners.  Its sides are rudely and curiously carved.  One side shows the sun, moon, and stars; another bears large roses and flower-like patterns, resembling those at Springfield; while the other two sides exhibit a somewhat intricate knot or flowing foliage design.  On it (as also on the sides of the S. door, low down) a later hand has cut several crosses.  Next to the S. door is a very ancient tombstone, tapering towards one end, and carved with a floriated cross.  In the churchyard is the vault of the Disneys, of The Hyde, Ingatestone.  The Register dates from 1593.

Fryerning in 1861

The following is taken from ‘The People’s History of Essex’ written by D. W. Coller (Meggy & Chalk, Chelmsford, 1861).

FRYERNING – About a mile to the right of the town, on a hill top, which gives it delightful views, and in some directions makes it a conspicuous object for many miles distant, stands the church of Fryerning.  It is a structure of considerable antiquity, and is believed to have been erected soon after the conquest, as some of the original windows retain the round Norman arches; but it underwent great alterations in the reign of Henry VII., when the tower was erected, and a more modern air given to the old fabric.  On the ground in the chancel is a black marble stone, in which, eighty years ago, were brasses of a man and a woman, with the words proceeding from the mouth of the former – “Oh God, in Thee have we trusted;” and from the latter, “Lord, let us not be confounded.” Below, on a plate of brass, was the inscription, of which the following could only be deciphered:

“Here underlyeth buryed the body of Leonard Berners, late o…… Thyrde, sonne and heyre of Wyllm Berners, thelder, esquier, who deces…. bruary, in the yere of our Lorde God 1563, whose soule we truste A ….. Leonard had a wife Mary, Theldest dawter and one of the heire ….  Shenfylde, in the Countye of Essex, esquier, by whom she had yssue William A ….”

Beneath this, in brass, were two men in the habits of friars, and a woman; but these have disappeared, and the blank black stone alone remains.  The churchyard is thickly studded with venerable yews, whose dark foliage, says Sucking, “casts a sombre shade around highly in unison with the sacred character of the place:” and on the stone beneath their shadow is the following epitaph on Mr Perry, who planted them:

“Reared by his hand these ambient shades arose,
Midst which his relics now in peace repose,
And where this frail memorial stands to prove,
The parent’s merit, and his children love.”

The whole of the parish formerly belonged to the Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem, and it remained in them until the suppression of the monasteries.  Afterwards it was purchased by Dorothy Wadham, a daughter of Sir William Petre, who conferred it on
Wadham College, Oxford, in completion of the endowment which her husband had begun.  Close to the church is the old manor house, the hall now occupied as a farm house; and within the circuit of a mile are the pleasant seats of many of the gentry – Huskards, occupied by Tindal Atkinson, Esq., Maisonette, the seat of captain Jesse; Furz Hall and St. Leonard’s, the estate of Captain Kortright, and the mansion of Mr Grant, with their extending parks and pleasure grounds.  The charities consist of the interest of £250 left by W. G. Coesvelt in 1841, in trust, for clothing the deserving poor; and there are distributed in bread, &c., £3 from Bright’s, £1. 10s. from D’Oyley’s charities; the interest of £100 Three per Cents. left by Dr. Sorrell in the same year.

Photographs: (Top Right) St Mary The Virgin, Fryerning. (Bottom Right) Roman tiles on south east corner of church. (Top Left) Disney Mausoleum. (Bottom Left) Fryerning Church from north west, showing tower and new toilet facility (2008).

Fryerning in 1845

The following is taken from Revd. Alfred Suckling’s book, ‘Memorials of the antiquities and architecture, family history and heraldry of the
County of Essex’ (John Weale, London, 1845).

Fryerning, or the Fryars’ Pastures, obtained that appellation from having been appropriated, at a very early period, to the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem. It is a pleasant village in the hundred of Chelmsford, but the greater part of its population is crowded into a long and ill-built street on the London road, and which is generally known to travellers under the name of Ingatestone, although the latter place claims scarcely one third of the dwelling-houses.

The church stands nearly a mile to the northward of this street on a rising ground, which commands an extensive and delightful view in all directions, and is closely planted with firs and venerable yew trees, whose dark foliage casts a sombre shade around the churchyard, highly in unison with the sacred character of the place.

The church, which comprises merely a nave and chancel, without aisles, is an edifice of considerable antiquity, and was probably founded soon after the Norman Conquest; a few of its original windows are remaining with round arches, and placed very high up in the wall, but they are much wider than any I have met with of that period. About the time of Edward the First, considerable alterations were made in this structure, when several windows of more ample dimensions were inserted in the walls; but it was in the reign of Henry the Seventh when Fryerning church received its last and most important restoration, the whole tower, with its cushion-like pinnacles and machicolated battlements – a strangely inappropriate ornament for a sacred structure - was then raised; the chancel was rebuilt, and the very expansive arch between that portion of the building and the nave, was probably executed; these alterations have given a new air to the interior, and the older features of its architecture are most likely to be overlooked by the greater part of those who compose its congregation. Besides these peculiarities in this church, we must not suffer to pass unnoticed the curious staircase leading from the interior to the rood loft, and the ancient square font, the carving on the eastern side of which represents a kind of foliage; on the other sides, which vary, are cut stars, crescents and knots.


On a loose brass, lying in the vestry, is the effigy of a female; but as the inscription and arms are no longer attached, the name of the person intended to have been perpetuated is consigned to oblivion but the most remarkable circumstance connected with this memorial is, that on turning the figure, we perceive that it has been cut out of a larger and more ancient effigy - a cheap, but very exceptionable method of placing a monument to the memory of a departed relative. The female figure, as appears from the costume, belongs to the time of Elizabeth, but the destroyed effigy was of a much more early date, and was a larger and more elegant monument, as is evident from the remains of gilding with which is seems to have been originally covered.

Here lieth the body of’ Mrs. Margaret, the wife of Henry Oates, who departed this life July 21, 1763, aged 35 years.

Against the north wall of the chancel is a large shield containing Disney and his quarterings, impaling Fitche. Members of this family are interred in a vault in the churchyard. 

A board against the organ gallery, which was erected in 1736, at the expense of Charles Hornby, Esq., presents us with the following list of benefactions:

“The Reverend Robert D’Oyley, M.A. rector of this parish, bequeathed by will, A.D. 1733, thirty shillings per year, to be expended in the purchase of bread, to be distributed to the poor of this parish at Christmas and Easter for ever.

“Mr. William Bright bequeathed by will, A.D. 1777, one hundred pounds, to be invested in the 3 per cent. Consols, and the interest thereof to be expended in the purchase of bread, to be distributed to the poor of this parish at Christmas and Easter for ever, payable at the Corporation House, £4 10s., Number 2, Bloomsbury Place, London, due at Christmas. The Reverend Mr. D’Oyley’s at the same place.  

“Mrs. Rosamond Bonham, of this parish, bequeathed by will, A.D. 1803, one hundred pounds stock in the Three per Cent. Reduced; the interest (£3) thereof to be expended in the purchase of bread, to be distributed to the poor of this parish annually. 

“Mr. Robert Sorrell bequeathed by will, A.D. 1825, one hundred pounds stock, in the Three per Cent. and Half Reduced, the interest thereof to be expended in the purchase of bread, to be distributed to the poor of this parish at Christmas and Easter, £3 10s.”   

It appears that the organ was erected in 1824, by voluntary contributions, it. R. Michell, D.D., being at that time rector. Too much commendation cannot be passed upon the Rev. George Price, the present incumbent, the churchwardens, and all concerned in the management of this church, for the very neat and reputable manner in which it is kept.

Views from the top of the church tower
Photographs taken in May 1990
View eastwards. Just in view are the houses at the top of Fryerning Lane. Just a little towards the south east, the lychgate and field is in view over Ingatestone Road. Down the hill is Ingatestone.
Looking south towards Ingatestone. The church tower can be seen towards the left of the photograph. Over the Ingatestone and Fryerning Parish Cemetery, looking towards the Old Rectory.
Looking north Fryerning Hall to the east adjoins the church. 
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Last updated: 17 October 2009