Blackmore Area Local History
Stondon Massey: Through Changing Scenes
|A history of Stondon Massey in words and music. Written by Andrew Smith, from a performance given in 2008.|
|Home||Stondon Massey||Through Changing Scenes: Blackmore|
A History of Stondon Massey in words and music
From a performance given at St Peter & St Paul Church, Stondon Massey (Essex), on 19 April 2008
An extended version of this script is available in two booklets entitled 'Stondon Massey: A Short History', available from St Peter & St Paul Church, priced £1.50 each or by post. Contact Andrew Smith for further information.
Reeve and Stondon Massey: the name and place.
by the Font):
Scenes’: a history of Stondon Massey in words and music. Edward Henry
Lisle Reeve was Rector here
from 1893 until 1935. He
was born 150
years ago this year, and was baptised, where I am standing, on 18th
April by his father, the Reverend Edward James Reeve.
Tonight we remember our local priest who in
his spare time researched and wrote a history of the village. His work was published
between 1900 and 1914. Here
he is now …
Vestry and climbs into the pulpit.
Voice moves to front of Reader's Desk
Stone-don is Saxon. It
is the stony or gravely hill or “dun” in
the language of our Saxon forefathers, and it is certainly well
the conditions of the place. To reach the summit of the Church hill
seems likely enough was the site of the earliest settlement) the
visitor has to
climb a succession of ascents from the valley of the Roding, and from
standing on a bed of good gravel he commands a pleasant view over Ongar
Weald and borders of Epping Forest.
There was a Stone-don before there was a Stone-don Massey, though this second name was added soon after the Norman conquest. The Marks family came originally from Marc, in
||This church was
the year 1100 and is dedicated to St Peter and
|Music:||Tu es Petrus – Palestrina|
||The manor of
Stondon was held
by a number of families. One
of the most
infamous, during the Reformation, was the Shelley family.
Shelley, a papist, seems
to have been an active-minded man, too active for the dangerous days in
he lived. One morning the tidings arrived that he had been attained for
The villagers knew of course that the lord of the manor had little
with the reformation, and that he could not be expected to give a
welcome to Elizabeth as his sovereign, but that he had been engaged in
conspiracy to dethrone her Majesty, and to set up Mary Queen of Scots
place came as a surprise to most of them. Yet this was the charge
him. Charles Paget,
one of the
commissioners of the Queen of Scots’ dower, was reported to
have landed in
committed to the Tower; and in 1585, ordered to be put to the rack. There, under torture, he
told who the
ringleaders were. He
was later charged
…“that he imagined and
compassed the deposition and death of the Queen, and the subversion of
established religion and government of the country”.
at his trial,
he was sentenced to be hung, drawn, and quartered.
But he must have had his conviction commuted
because he died a natural death in April 1597.
||He was deprived
of his lands. John
Norden in his “Description of Essex” in 1594,
writes of Stondon, “Here is
|Music:||Here's a health unto Her Majesty trad. 17th century|
Merchants and a Celebrity
||John Carre, who
died in 1570,
was of Stondon origin. When
man he was introduced to the Ironmongers Company. Later,
he figures as one of the earliest
members of the Merchant Adventurers Company, incorporated by
||John Carre was
because two ladies appear with him in the handsome brass to his memory. His nephew was Henry Giles
Charity” fame, still going strong in the village.
|Reeve:||The will is a
very lengthy one,
covering several pages of closely written folio. The …
“goods, chattels, money
owing to him, household stuff, plate, jewels, and ready
money” are to be
divided into three equal parts, of which, one part he bequeaths to his
Agnes, the second part to his daughter, and the third part
performance” of certain legacies.
|| These include £10 for
to be preached in the church of the parish where he dies, viz., one
for 20 years; £5 for a dinner to be made, at the discretion
of the executers,
by the parson and churchwardens of the parish of Stone-don for
and honest householders by way of gratification;”
£5 to the “poore man’s boxe”
of Stondon Parish; £15 in current money to be distributed at
of the executers “among the most honest of the Stondon
parishioners of the
poorest sort,” half the amount on the day of his burial and
half within the
next half year.
A further sum of £400 is given to the “Mystery of Ironmongers” on condition that for the next 21 years after his decease “two wardens of the said mystery or occupation, and two others of the same fellowship shall provide a preacher learned in Divinitie before the Feast of Pentecoste to ryde to Stondon in Essex, and at the same feaste in the Parish Church there shall be a sermon”. For their expenses yearly on this behalf £5 is specially given.
|Voice:||The total value
of his estate
was a massive £8,400.
||He was buried on the north side
of the Communion Table at the east end of the church, in the presence
members at least of his old fellowship, no doubt in full state-robes,
great entertainment of the villagers!
Then, three years later Rainold Hollingsworth, the Rector’s old friend and patron, was laid to rest. Both these graves were in the due course covered with memorials and handsomely-executed brass work which have survived till our own day.
The gentleman appears in the esquire’s armour of the period, with a pointed beard in the fashion of his day. The dress of the lady is cited as “an early example of the ornamentation of the underskirt, or petticoat, those found on brasses up to 1572 being quite plain”. Certainly John Carre’s ladies in 1570 appear in unornamented petticoats, only three years previously!
the famous Elizabethan
composer, lived for the last thirty years of his life at Stondon Massey.
He was a composer of sacred music in both Latin and English, writing madrigals and sonnets, and keyboard pieces. He was quite an all-rounder. He once wrote:
“There is not any Musicke of Instruments whatsoever, comparable to that which is made of the voices of men, where the voices are good and the same well sorted and ordered. The better the voice is, the meeter it is to honour and serve God therewith; and the voice of man is chiefly to be employed to that end”.
|Music:||Non nobis Domine [Not unto us, O Lord, but onto Thee be the glory] - Byrd|
William Byrd: "Our Shakespeare of music"
||William Byrd was a remarkable
man. He was bred up
to music and was
appointed organist of Lincoln Cathedral probably as early as 1563, when
only about 20 years of age.
||He was appointed gentleman of
the Chapel Royal following the death of Robert Parsons, and shared the
post of organist with Thomas Tallis, a composer of some note.
members of the Chapel
Royal, though outwardly he conformed, he appears to have remained
his life a papist at heart. It was probably on account of his religion
lived all his life some way out of
friend and abettor of those
beyond the seas”. Byrd
made no secret of
his Catholicism but Queen Elizabeth the First loved his music, so he
quite literally to keep his head.
1575, so smitten was The Queen that she granted Tallis and Byrd the
right to publish music for life. They
became the Lennon and McCartney of their day.
||In 1585 Tallis died, and the
patent granted to the pair became Byrd’s monopoly. His first
important work was
published in 1588, and is entitled “Psalmes, Sonets and Songs
of Sadness and Pity,
made into musicke of five parts”. He was a voluminous writer,
and some have
ventured to claim for him the composition of the first English madrigal.
||Byrd wrote very
little for the
new Anglican church but Tallis, ever the pragmatist, wrote some famous
tunes. One of them became
known as the
Tallis Canon. So
let us stand and sing
|Music:||ALL Tallis’s canon ~ Glory to thee, my God, this night|
William Byrd at Stondon
friendship with the
Petre family at Ingatestone is well known and he certainly visited
in Christmas 1585 and 1589. It
there that he wrote Mass settings for three, four and five voices. If he had been caught
either saying or
hearing the Catholic liturgy, he would have been in big trouble. This was a treasonable
Byrd and his family moved to
||It must have somewhat nettled
the Shelley family to reflect that, while Elizabeth had dealt so
them, she had filled their place at Stondon with one who would have
equally with themselves in seeing her throne occupied by a papist
death in 1597, his widow tried in vain to get the property back. Her son gave up the
pursuit and sold it to
the Byrd family in 1610. We
the family lived there until 1651.
||Byrd made his
will as an old
man of 80, in 1623, leaving the place to his daughter-in-law Catherine
Bryde. He died,
probably at Stondon, on
title which however may
refer as much to his age as to the veneration in which he is held by
contemporaries. He desired that …
||“I may live and die a true
perfect member of His holy Catholic Church without which I believe
there is no
salvation for me. My body to be honestly buried in that parish and
it shall please God to take me out of this life which I humbly desire
if so it
shall please God may be in the parish of Stondon where my dwelling is:
to be buried near unto the place where my wife liest buried, or else
God and the time shall permit and suffer”.
A copy of Byrd’s Will hangs in the Vestry. Unfortunately, because our Parish Registers do not survive before 1708, we have no record of his burial. But we, and the BBC who recently made a television programme here on the life of William Byrd, believe that he is buried in our churchyard.
||Very possibly the fact of the
family having been persistent papists may have militated against any
being raised to the great composer in the church or churchyard.
|Music:||Byrd ~ Justorum
Crime in the 16th and 17th Centuries
can judge for ourselves the personal appearance of the talented
made a home in our village. His reputation as a musician served no
doubt in a
large degree to shelter him. A very stringent regulation was passed by
parliament in 1593, entitled …
Act to retain her Majesty’s subjects in their due
by which means an obstinate and prolonged refusal to attend public
now reformed was made a capital felony, and this was embodied by James
I in the
Canons of 1604. Now
from the year 1605
it was regularly recorded that the Byrde family were
and Mrs Byrde in particular, if the reports of the minister and
are to be believed, seems to have been very zealous in making converts.
“For Popish Recusants. He is a gentleman of the Kings Chapel, and as the minister and churchwardens do hear the said Will Bird with the assistance of one Gabriel Colford who is now in Antwerp hath been the Chief and principal seducer of John Wright son and heir of John Wright the Elder. And the said Ellen Bird as it is reported and as her servants hath confessed have appointed business on the Saboth Day for the servants of purpose to keep them from church and also done her best endeavour to seduce Thoda Pigbone her now mayd servant to draw her to popery as the mayd has confessed and believes hath drawn her mayd servant from tyme to tyme those 7 years from coming to church and the said Ellen refuseth conference, and the minister and churchwardens have not as yet spoke with the same Wm Birde because he is from home”.
||Byrd himself is said to have
actually been excommunicated from 1598 onwards!
In 1612, Bryde is presented “for that he will not pay the rate for his land lying in the parish to the reparation of the Church and bells, which sum is 20 shillings.”
“Catherine Bird. Widow” at Romford in 1624 as a
the Archdeacon are scattered up and down the Visitation Registers.
||In 1590, Sarah Kempe, “the
of John Kempe of Stonedon” was accused that “she
abuseth and slandereth his
neighbors and the churchwarden Pleadest ‘She hats not abused
any of the parishe
in any manner of speache’”.
sentence: “The next Sunday she shall come to the minister
into the churche of
Stondon in the tyme of divine service and shall publicly ask God
that she hath both abused and slandered her honest neighbors and also
neighbors forgiveness for her abuse towards them”.
withholding the sexton’s wages, which was due for half a
yeare at midsomer last
past.” Robert Gurnett (1614) is presented as a
“papisticall recusant, which
came not to his Parish Church these two yeeres past, lyeing disolutelie
disorderlie, being an alehouse keeper; while Gurnett is excommunicate
Chancellour of the Lord Bishop of London for abusing the Minister and
||Henry Whyte of Stondon was
cohabiting with Christiana Witthams of High Ongar in 1593, something
not approved. “She admits kissing him”, the Court
heard. “Two years ago she had
child by John Kirby of Stondon who is since dead”. The sentence was:
“Public penance …
|Music:||And then he kissed me………|
||We must now
pass on to our 35th
known rector. Nathaniel
Rich was at this
time Lord of Stondon Manor, and he it was who in all probability
Nathaniel Ward to the benefice.
The two men were in very much the same mind in religious matters, holding Puritanical views.
Unfortunately for Ward’s peace, Bishop Laud was most conscientiously determined to strengthen the traditional and Catholic position of the Church of England as a true branch of the
In 1632 Ward was suspended; then excommunicated for non-obedience to the Canons, and on 16th Dec. he was deprived.
On his expulsion from his living, Ward determined to visit
The pulpit in
|Voice:|| “Christ is All in
||… the text of the famous
discourse of his brother Samuel, “preacher of
|Voice:||“Preach the word in season
out of season”,
|Reeve:|| … which no doubt was a
favourite Apostolic injunction with the Puritan divine.
|Revd Thomas Smith|
||If you were someone who after
a while could not get on with the clergyman, then Stondon was not the
live. Between 1735
and 1935, the parish
was served by only five Rectors beginning with Thomas Smith.
father, and once settled at Stondon remained for 56 years. He had
engagements to make him a busy man. In addition to being Rector of
and a Surrogate, Mr Smith was also Rector at Aythorpe Roding and from
Curate of Blackmore!
I wish the Rector had known how to take a little more care of the Parish Registers! We find entries in his handwriting inserted here and there apparently just where space seemed to offer itself, quite regardless of dates; and, while he gives us abundant information in some cases, he makes a note of others with a brevity which is, to say at least, timesome and perplexing.
||Mr Smith was twice married. His
first wife was buried in December, 1779; while the second survived him
years, dying in 1825. The silver chalice now in use in the church was
her in his memory.
||I confess to having a warm place
in my heart for the old man who ministered to the people of Stondon for
long a term of years, and who, like myself, was born at the Rectory
baptised in the old Church, and brought up in the village in which he
subsequently to serve.
|Music:||Monsieurs Alman ~ Byrd arr (for organ) Hatt|
The Stondon Ghost
||I may perhaps
be permitted to
digress a moment at this point to say a word or two about the
|Voice:||the nineteenth …
century. There is no
authentic record of his appearance since about 1845 when he is said to
seen flitting silently past the Rectory to disappear among the trees in
vicinity of the
|Music:||Some enchanted evening – Hammerstein arr TA|
Thomas Smith was
the Reverend John Oldham. He
Rectory, now Stondon Massey House, on the other side of the road to the
in around 1800.
||He was very
particular, too, to
have everything of the very best. The timber brought for the new house
to have been twice sent back to the builders as not sufficiently
the Rector’s mind.
He was his own Architect. He is said to have evolved the plan of his new Rectory during a tour in
|Voice:||He was a good
Priest who held
classes each Sunday at the Rectory study.
himself had but one
eye; - a glass substitute glistened from the other cavity. But his
that he could see as much with one eye as many persons could see with
family lived at Stondon
manor during the mid nineteenth century.
enlarged and improved
the cottages belonging to Henry Giles’ Trust, putting them
repair with good brick sides and fronts.
In 1861, he purchased Stondon House from Mr Richard
The lord of the manor Mr Meyer died in 1870, and his widow was anxious to leave the church some permanent memorial of him. Her proposals were:
||“to build at her own expense
mortuary chapel, to remove the gallery at the west end, build an
opening from the chancel, erect a new Vestry in lieu of the present one
will be taken down, and supply a heating apparatus for the warming of
||Mr Meyer took
great interest in
the lads and young men of the parish, and might often have been seen in
earlier days with the young rector, Mr Reeve, enjoying a game of
their youthful friends and parishioners.
|Music:||Laws of cricket
‘psalm’ – chant
The Reeve's Come To Stondon Massey
Reeve, who purchased
the advowson in 1849, had for some little time been seeking a suitable
as a sphere of work for his only son. On Stone-don the selection fell.
Naturally he was not satisfied with the condition of the church, and he
scarcely have unpacked his effects when he began to move for a thorough
restoration. Only instituted in May 1849, we find him calling a Vestry
July “to consider the proposed repairs”.
The south door was repaired and re-hung, and the north door was closed and plastered over outside, which personally I think is to be regretted, though probably the step was taken to secure warmth for the building. A useful cupboard now stands in the thickness of the wall.
||Even more useful now is a
toilet extension through the re-opened north doorway.
This was built in 2005.
rearrangement of the
seats was made throughout. In the nave, decent pews were substituted
pens of past years, and carried to the door of the church. An old inhabitant spoke of
them quite naively
as “the old calf-coops”.
The old oak
screen was repaired where necessary. The Font was placed upon a new
and the Jacobean Reading-desk and Pulpit were re-arranged. Previously,
had been one above the other in the form known as the
Church-clerk sitting in a special desk beneath his Rector.
Mr Hollingworth’s north gallery was taken down after a short life of 25 years, but on the other hand the humble “Singer’s Pew” at the west end was magnified into a west gallery, and adorned with a barrel organ, playing 20 sacred hymns tunes!
||This brings us to William
Wrenn, an agricultural labourer living on the Green near the
Bricklayers Arms, who
was, in 1853, appointed Parish Clerk by the Rector.
Wrenn took his duties zealously. He led the hymns and read the Psalms, and repeated the responses with much fervour. Frequently, when the preacher mentioned the ‘Sacred name’ during his sermon, Wrenn was known to add a fervent and loud “Amen”
He wore Reeves father’s cast-off clerical garments, arriving early on Sundays and, despite having a wife and several children, stayed all day at church bringing with him his dinner. He perhaps found the church a peaceful place to be.
He kept near him a hazel stick, with which he could prod youngsters who chose to speak, titter or misbehave during worship. During Wednesdays and Fridays in Lent, when the local school attended church, his stick was frequently in use: clouting the head of an offending culprit.
As a young man he played the flute in the church choir, later turning the handle of the barrel organ which superseded the players in the west gallery. Such was progress! Or was it??
|Music:||[Gallery Band] – All people that on earth – Kethe / Bourgeois|
|Voice:||Life in Victorian Stondon was
very different to today.
||Well, they were
the good old
days in many respects. The
of the labourer (a specimen of which it is difficult to find to-day)
common dress of the time, and Sunday after Sunday the little church was
with well-intentioned, if ignorant, worshippers, with a regularity
compare favourably with our manner in these later days. All the men sat
north side of the church, all the women on the south. The farmers
together in a large long pew immediately behind that of the lord of the
which was dignified by a lock and key, while their wives were
the parallel pew on the other side of the central passage.
On their way to church the labouring men would walk each one a few paces in advance of his wife, while the good women observed a decorous mien behind her master. The order is dying out, though it was still commonly kept in my boyhood. I only remember one exception, and this was more apparent than real. The woman walked the regulation distance in front of her husband, but she was undoubtedly the better man of the two, and probably he was well aware of it!
In harvest the largest of the three bells was tolled at eight in the morning and at five in the afternoon as a signal for gleaners to enter and leave the fields. This was to prevent any unfair advantage being taken by those who had no family ties over those who were not able to leave home so readily. The introduction of machinery for mowing and reaping, and the efficiency of the horse-rakes has made anything like general gleaning a thing of the past, and the bell has not been used for the purpose for many years.
In 1887 and 1897 Stondon loyally observed the celebrations in honour of her Majesty’s long reign, with a dinner to the parish, an afternoon of sports, tea for the children, and fireworks in conclusion.
|Voice:||This was the
Diamond Jubilee of Queen
|Music:||Stanford ~ Te Deum in B flat|
||All is changing, and with the
Parish Meeting to fulfil the functions of the ancient vestry, we have
little of the old order left. In
Post Office was established at Stondon, a great step in the direction
What will be the future of our little hamlet one cannot say. Our numbers have hitherto been wonderfully constant, varying only from 230 to 300 all through the more recent centuries. There are evident signs to-day that the great metropolis is drawing nearer. For several years the extension of the Ongar railway has been hinted at in the direction of
would have seen some startling innovations in the twentieth century and
gradual growth of the village. By
its population had more than doubled and today there are around 600
living in Stondon.
Many new houses appeared. Reeves Close was built opposite the Giles Charity Almshouses in 1947. These were nine pairs of ‘Airey’ houses constructed with steel and concrete. The site was rebuilt in the late 1980s. It retains the original name.
A telephone service arrived in the village in 1930. Electricity was laid on in 1938.
Stondon Massey Village Hall opened in 1919. The Blackmore, Stondon and District Ex-Serviceman’s Club, founded in 1922, had a Hall on the site of what is now the new Tipps Cross Remembrance Hall just outside the parish boundary.
At this Hall, three days a week, a Post Office operates. The local village shop closed a few years ago. But the Bricklayer’s Arms is still open. So as we raise a glass to Stondon residents past and present, we too wonder what the twenty-first century will have in store for this ancient parish.
|Music:||Everything’s up-to-date - Hammerstein|
William Byrd - A Legacy
||As an amateur
local historian Reeve
was particularly interested in the life of William Byrd and keen to
lasting legacy in the parish to this great English, but Catholic,
1923 marked the tercentenary of Byrd’s death. At that time there was a resurgence of interest in his music.
In a letter to The Times, published on 21 June, Canon Reeve noted the commemoration of Byrd’s life and work in many leading churches and cathedrals but brought to public attention the place where the musician lived and was buried.
||Is it not time
(in these broader-minded
days), that some local monument were erected to his memory? I leave the
in confidence to your readers.
|Reeve descends pulpit stairs and exits.|
had been formed the previous year found that following a concert of
in London that July and subscriptions received, there was a sufficient
to provide a tablet to the composer’s memory.
The memorial includes “the words, in raised lettering, “A Father of Musick”, these being taken from the Byrd entry in the ‘Cheque Book’ of the Chapel Royal”.
The unveiling of the memorial was marked by a Service in March 1924. It was attended by twenty men and boys of the Chapel Royal who sang a selection of Byrd’s work.
“Considerable local and general interest was taken in the historic event [on Wednesday] and the church was filled some time before the service started. An imposing touch of colour was provided by the long scarlet and gold-braided coats of the boy choristers, with the white laced ruffs as were used in Byrd’s time”.
“The service took the form of evensong, with sung responses by Byrd. Psalm 84, ‘O how amiable are Thy dwellings’. In the place of the Magnificat, Byrd’s anthem, ‘O praise the Lord, ye saints above’ was finely rendered. For the Nunc Dimittus, the anthem ‘Come to us we beseech Thee’ (Byrd) was substituted. After the third collect ‘Justorum Animae’ (Byrd) was sung, followed at the close by the hymn ‘For all the saints’, sung to the tune by Vaughan Williams. Practically all the singing was unaccompanied. The choir, led by Mr Stanley Roper, gave faultless renderings”. So let’s see if we can give a faultless rendering as we conclude with ‘For All The Saints’.
|Music:||For all the saints – Vaughan Williams|
|Last Updated: 26 December 2009|
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