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Church of S. Mary and All Saints, Langdon Hills - Page 2
by Rev. C.E. Livesey, B.A. Rector of Langdon Hills (1931)
     The present Church of S. Mary and All Saints, built on the old foundations of the previous Church, consists of Nave and Chancel structurally undivided, N. Transept, and S. Porch, with timber tower and broach spire at W. end, which was rebuilt in 1841. The total length is 48ft. and the width 14ft.

N. Transept
     The N. Transept was added in 1834. In the Parish Registar it is recorded that the Church was enlarged in that year by opening the arches on the N. side and adding a building 17 feet by 23 feet, which is fitted up with pews for the parishioners, and the old part is fitted up with one pew for the Rectory and free sittings in the Chancel. From this it may be learned that the two arches were already then in existence, and since these with the octagonal column and the two responds are built of old 17th Century bricks, the date above, 1621, indicates the year when this arcade was erected. But for what purpose it may be asked? In 1740 a writer (Salmon) states that the Chancel had a North Chapel, and Morant (1768) confirms this. Another later writer says "There was once a Chapel attached to the North side of the Chancel belonging to the Manor House, but even the foundations of it are scarcely to be traced"; and when the present addition was made in 1834 these foundations were noted. Mr. W. Gilbert, in an article in the Essex Review a few years ago, seems to offer quite a satisfactory explanation; he says that the above statements are confirmed by the will of Henry Archer, of Langdon Hills, in which he leaves the house (in the occupation of Hugh Fletcher) for "the maintenance of the Chapel which my father, Henry Archer, built on the East end of Langdon Hills Church." This will was dated 1624. His father, Henry Archer, who built the Chapel wrote his will with his "owne hand" in 1618, and this was proved in 1622. The explanation, therefore, seems to be that the Chapel was built by Henry Archer, sen., in 1621 shortly before he died, and was endowed by his son. The letters R.E. are probably the initials of the Churchwarden at that time - Richard Elleitt.

     On the W. wall there is a marble tablet with arms in memory of Miss Susanna Hatton, of Goldsmiths, who was the largest donor to the additions made in 1834, and on the S. wall above the arches a Hatchment repeating the arms on the tablet, placed there by her own request in her will. On the E. wall is a large Table of the Commandments, Creed, and Lord's Prayer, recently removed from above the altar in the Chancel, where it was set up new in 1834. Under the N. window a brick has been inserted, which was found during the late repairs, bearing the following inscription, "W. H. Tyrell, May 20th, 1834."

Nave and Chancel
     There are several interesting features to be noted in the Nave and Chancel. Until recently the East wall was covered with plaster, which has now been removed, showing the old 16th cent. brick work; and the two ogee niches, which no doubt originally contained figures of Saints, have been brought to light, unfortunately the hood moulds have been destroyed; and on the S. side another recess was discovered, evidently intended for a Credence. The ledge at the back of the Altar had also been blocked up to the level of the window sill, and on the back of this are some traces of ancient lettering. Other remains of mural decoration can be seen on the spandrel between the arches and on the oak wall plates, and also over the S. door.

Altar Rails
     The Altar Rails are a good substantial example of 17th century work. They are of oak, and have turned balusters with square posts, and rise slightly towards the centre on each side of the gate. They are also turned about, instead of running straight across the Chancel. The date 1686 is carved on the gate, and on one side the initials S. S. R., standing for Samuel Stanes, Rector, and on the other side W. E. C., standing for William Elloott, Churchwarden.

     In Fuller's "Worthies" we are informed that altar rails were specially ordered by Archbishop Laud in the early part of the 17th Century to exclude dogs from the Sanctuary.

     The Altar also is probably the same date.

     The East window of three lights is a good example of moulded brick work.

Rood Beam
     On the soffit or underside of the Rood beam can be seen the groove where the screen was fixed, which originally divided the Chancel from the Nave, and over this is a framing filled with plaster, upon which are painted the Royal Arms in colour with date 1660, to commemorate the restoration of the Monarchy, and beneath is the following loyal text, "My Son, Feare thou the Lord and the King, and meddle not with them that are given to Change," Pro. 24, 21, John Elliett, Church Warden. The subject is interesting as an example of decorative wall painting, though the lion and the unicorn must seem rather a strange substitution for our Lord in glory and the Final Doom which anciently occupied that position in many Churches.

     The names of Thomas Richardson and John Elleitt, with date 1666 on the N. wall of the Nave surrounded by a fancy frame in plaster, are the names of the Churchwardens, but what this date indicates is uncertain; certainly not the building of the Nave which had already been in existence for more than 100 years. It has been suggested that some work of restoration or rebuilding at the W. end of the Church was carried out at that time.

     The window underneath in the N. wall has been recently opened. This was blocked up in 1834 when a Vestry was added, used also for a School, to which the N. door gave access. This has since been demolished.

     The Roof of the Church is simple and early in character, its construction being that known as king post waggon; notice the peculiar inverted umbrella appearance of the king post, also the central purlin in the Chancel. During the war a shell fell through the roof.

     The Font came originally from Bulphan Church; it was given by the Rector to Langdon Hills about 38 years ago.

     For several years this was in use in the new Church. Its date is uncertain, possibly 15th century; the bowl is octagonal with moulded upper and lower edge, having trefoil headed panels in each face and on stem, with moulded base. The cover is of solid oak turned; the handle represents an acorn. The step consists of unusual shaped old bricks.

     A Font was bought in 1834 for £3.14, and this is now in the Church Institute.

     Along the N. wall is a rail with a number of iron pegs for men's hats, recalling the fact that it was the custom for the men to sit on the N. side of the Church, and the women on the S. side.

     The Pulpit was new in 1834, and is constructed on the old "Three-decker" plan, combining Desk for the Parish Clerk, Prayer Desk for Priest, and Pulpit; it is an interesting relic of a by-gone age. Some of the panels are 17th century oak.

S. Doorway
     The S. Doorway is early 16th century work, and at the base of the jambs there is some stonework being part of an earlier doorway of the previous Church; other traces of the old foundations may also be seen.

     The Porch which was originally half timbered, now entirely brick, was added about a century after the Church was built.

     In 1841 the Gallery was erected to provide for further seating accommodation; this can scarcely be regarded as an "improvement," but it is retained as being another interesting link with the past. At the same time some considerable restoration work was effected at the W. end of the Church, including the rebuilding of the Belfry, the cost of which was met by a Church rate of 3/6 in the pound; the date 1841 is recorded on the weather vane.

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Page added: 2003
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