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All Saints Church - Vange

In the early 1960s the late local historian Jessie Payne pieced together a small 9 page booklet covering a potted history of All Saints Church, Vange.

The text below is a transcript of the booklet as it originally appeared. The booklet also contains a colour photograph of the interior of St. Chad's Church in Clay Hill Road.

All Saints' Church Vange
(Some notes on its history)


J. K. Payne

      All Saints' is one of the oldest buildings in the Basildon area. The nave is late Eleventh or early Twelfth Century and may have been built by Rolf, son of Turold, who held the manor at the time of the Domesday Survey. The great arch of the chancel is three feet ten inches thick. The south doorway is 500 years old. The Fourteenth Century north doorway is now blocked. North doors were sometimes called "Devil's Doors" and the Devil is said to have escaped through them when the baptismal water drove him out of the infants being baptised. In the south wall is a blocked Norman window and a Fifteenth Century rood loft staircase, which formally led to the rood loft on which were figures of St. Mary and St. John on either side of crucifix. These were destroyed at the Reformation, but there are an Eighteenth Century east wall and modern east window.

      The chancel dates from the Fifteenth Century and contains monuments to the memory of David James, 1806, he was curate for 20 years and came from Handir in Cardiganshire; George Maule, Rector, who died in 1667, and Mary, Maule's wife, who died 1659. The last mentioned has the following quaint verse:-

"O let thy cinders warme that bed of dust for mee
Thy mournful husband till I come to lie by thee."

      The communion rails have Seventeenth Century uprights; the roof of the nave is Fifteenth Century and there is a Fifteenth Century window in the north wall and a similar one in the south wall. In the west wall is a Fourteenth or Fifteenth Century window. The front is Twelfth Century, whilst the single bell is inscribed, "Henry Roach, churchwarden 1761."

      In a transcript from the register of Fulk Basset, Bishop of London, 1244-1259 (see notes 2), contained in "Statuta Majora Ecclesie Sancti Pauli" (exact date not known), in the custody of the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's.

      "Fanges-Patrons the lepers of the Mount of St. Thomas of Rom' (? Rome). Estimate (value of Rectory) 100s. And it is charged to the same 100s."

      In 1565 the Visitation Book of the Archdeaconry of Essex records the choir was unpaved and "the place where the altar stood not white, but as it was when the altar was plucked down." The church was also unglazed.

      In 1685 the Visitations held in the Archdeaconry have a record that Vange Church had "a great crack in ye wall at the west end" and the "butterice" and cracks on the north side needed repair.

      In 1816 £240 was raised by the special rate for necessary work on the church and in 1837 the west wall was rebuilt and the present gallery erected to provide seventy additional seatings. Until then the nave only accommodated sixty-five persons. This cost £70 1s. 3d. A rate of 9d. in the pound realised £31 10s. and the Incorporated Church Building Society granted £35. The north door was blocked up and the original rood loft door and staircase discovered. T. Sneezum, an architect, of Billericay, was responsible for this work of restoration. In the 1890's the church was again restored and according to a contemporary news report "was converted from a whitewashed barn " into the prettiest church in the neighbourhood. The old box pews, which in olden days kept out draughts in the unheated church and prevented dogs, then allowed in church with their owners, from roaming around, were replaced by the present pews.

      On the front of the gallery are the Royal Arms of William III and Mary painted on wood dated 1689. After the Reformation the Royal Arms displayed in the form of a picture were set up in parish churches to emphasise the position of Henry VIII as the supreme head of the Church. Following the restoration of Charles II in 1660 it became compulsory by an Act of Parliament to display the Royal Arms in the parish church.

The Churchyard

      Three hundred years ago the churchyards fence was repaired by the holders of certain farms in the parish. In 1637 the Rector, George Maule, wrote in the register that the fence was repairable by ffange Hall on the south; on the west by the Lordship and Coggs; on the north by Mopsies and Shonks.

      The farmhouse of Shonks is the dwelling house at the rear of Bedwell Bros. in High Road, Mopsies was in Timberlog Lane, but the Lordship and Coggs cannot be identified.

      Sitting by the fire in the hall at Bigwoods (Merricks or Riverside Farm, recently demolished), Thomas Eve gave him this information.

      Later Edward Whitehead gave him further details, including the fact that William Saward, late the sexton, who lived in Coggs, had made or paid for making part of the fence.

      On November 14th, 1637, Maule met William Saward walking through the churchyard (there was a footpath) and asked him for particulars about the fence. William gave a detailed account, "Half the fence on the north, from the field called Apes westward to a little old rotten tree, was to be maintained by the farm called Shonks, and from the rotten tree northwards towards the Parsonage House (then near the church), the other half of the fence belonged to the farm called Mopsies."

      Ten years later Edward Whitehead told Maule that Bigwoods and Merriwigs (a marsh farm) made that part of the fence on the east side of the churchyard, "which leads from the stile in the middle thereof northwards towards the highway and Parsonage glebe." Paperills, another farm that has long disappeared, also helped to keep the fence in repair.

      Rector John Tooker in 1673 mentioned "a great old tree" on the north side of the church. Between 1815 and 1817 the Archdeacon of Essex personally inspected every churchyard in Essex. Vange then had eleven elms, eleven pollard elms and one ash.

      When the newest extension to the churchyard was made on the north, skeletons were dug up lying face downwards. They were in the unconsecrated glebe land and how they came there is a mystery.

The Rectory

      In 1810 the Rectory stood within one rood of the church and was built of timber with a tiled roof. It measured 40 feet by 14 feet 6 inches. It had a brewhouse, barn, cowhouse and stable. About 40 years ago two pear trees still grew on the right of the path leading up to the church, the remains of the garden or orchard. The farm buildings remained until about the First World War and only the horse pond is left.

      The house was pulled down and a new house built on the opposite side of the road in 1836. trees and shrubs costing 18s 6d. were planted round the new Rectory, some of them remaining to this day. The materials from the old Rectory were used to build the two cottages at the top of Paynters Hill. The second Rectory was sold in 1960, when a new one was built next to St. Chad's.


      Robert and Agnes Grene owned eight acres of land in Vange in 1405 called Brooklands. "Lying in length between the land formerly of Richard Frythman on the north and a small salt fleet called Fobbing brookes on the south, and in width between the land of Richard Frythman on the east and the commonway leading from Fobbing towards Vange on the west." A condition of their holding was that they were to pay 4s 6d. annually "for the benefit for the church of Vange."

      Walter Gyrsted, of Bowers Gifford, who died in 1487 left 12d. towards a cope to "ffange" Church.

      In 1503 the body of John Sawnder was carried to Vange Churchyard for burial and before it was driven a sheep. This curious medieval custom was known as the foredrove, an offering at death of an animal or animals to the church, which was driven before the funeral procession, and was peculiar to this part of England.

      John desired to be buried in the churchyard of "All halow" (All Saints'), Vange, and left 12d to the high altar and "a taper of halff a pounde be found afore or ladye the space of a vij month."

      Walter Boundock, or Bundock, in his will of 1518 bequeathed to the high altar of "Faynge" 12d. and 3s. 4d. to the reparations of the church.

      The monasteries had looked after the poor and with their going at the Reformation there was much distress, so a poor man's box became a feature of every church. John Sandell, of Vange, who wished to be buried in Vange Churchyard left 12d. to the poor man's box in 1563.

      In 1559 John Medous, a Vange cooper, left in his will 20d. to Vange Churchyard.

The Registers

      The registers date from 1558. The first book records baptisms 1558 to 1786, burials 1588 to 1787 and marriages 1588 to 1755. It measures 16 inches by 16½ inches wide and has been rebound in modern times.

      The first page is headed:-

          "Christeninges, mariages and burales within ye parish of Vange from the first yeare of the reigne of Oure Soveraige ladie Elizabeth by the Grace of God off Englande, France and Irelande Queen.
          In the yeare of oure Lorde according to the computation off the Church of Englande, 1558."

      Church registers were first ordered to be kept in 1538 and the entries were usually made in paper books. In 1598 it was ordered that in each parish all the names were to be copied into a parchment book from the beginning, but especially from the first year of Her Majesty's reign. At Vange the transcriber saved himself work by omitting to copy the first twenty years and complied with the last part of the order only. Camillus Rusticius, the Rector at the time, made the copy in 1602 and it is beautifully written.

      A small parchment covered book, eight inches by six and a half inches, contains the register of births from 1787 to 1812 and burials from 1788 to 1811.

      In the first book there are no entries between 1755 and 1767, a period of 12 years, and the following note appears:-

          "No entry in the register since the above til Jos. Cuthbert undertook the cure viz. March, 1767," Jos. Cuthbert was curate in charge; the then Rector, J. Hall, held other livings and did not reside in Vange. In 1758 there is a list of ten burials left unregistered from July 16th, 1753, to 1756.

      These are some of the more interesting entries:-

          "John fuller, of Stratford, the Bow thetcher buried 1564."
          The daughter of Matthew, "the marsheman," was buried April 25th, 1597.
          On April 12th, 1624, a burial is recorded from "Goldmans," now Goldings Farm.
          On February 4th, 1711, John Tulopp, "a black," was baptised.
          On December, 1624, "a poore woman" died in the Parsonage barn.
          April 8th, 1711, was baptised Rebeca, daughter of John and Mary Simmonds, "travellers."

      At the end of the first register is an inventory: "a bedsteade, a feather bedde, twoo blanketts, a coverlette, one bolster, two pillows, twoo pottes." Underneath is the date 1628 and some words that have been scratched out and are undecipherable.


      The earliest known Rector was John de Bampton in 1328. Roger Turner held the living for the longest period, thirty-nine years, from 1368 to 1407.

      One Rector who stayed in the parish for twenty-eight years, from 1582 to 1609, had the unusual name of Camillus Rusticens, or Rustren. Rusticens was a rebel. In 1588 he was presented at the Archdeacon's Court because he would not wear the surplice at any time, nor make the sign of the Cross at baptism. He was again in 1590 for "not wearing the surplesse."

      The evangelical or puritan ministers suffered severely in the late Sixteenth Century. Many Essex clergy were deprived of their livings and about twenty-seven of them, among them being Camillus Rusticens, appealed to the Privy Council for protection. He was suspended for eight weeks or thereabouts for not subscribing and was again suspended for the same cause later.

      Rusticens' signature as witness can be seen on the will of Vange and Pitsea people, as few could write he often wrote out his parishioners' wills.

      In a list of arms levied from the clergy in 1608 Camillus "Rustiteus" and Robert Rayment, Rector of Bowers Gifford, furnished a light horse between them.

      From 1585 to 1597 the baptisms of two sons and two daughters of Rusticens are recorded in the registers and the burial of a daughter in 1585.

      In 1639 George Maule, described as "an able and godly Minister," was instituted. He, too, was at Vange for twenty-eight years and is buried in the church. His son, Charles, was born in "the house called Hawkesbury (Hawkesbury Bush), Fobbing" at the beginning of the Civil war in 1643. He was baptised at Vange, but died when he was nearly four years old.

      Maule suffered through the landing of the Dutch in 1667 on Canvey Island, part of which was then in Vange Parish. He states in his will, "I give the residue of my goods and chattels and plate to be sold to get funds for the repair and rebuilding of my house and barn, lately burnt down by the Dutch on Canvey Island."

      In 1656 Maule had three sheep stolen from his grounds by a fobbing man.

      Besides Maule several other rectors died at Vange and rest in unmarked graves in the old churchyard. Among them are John Whitby, who came to Vange in 1407, Richard Taylor buried in 1625 and James Salmon in 1635.

      Many rectors did not live in the parish. A curate-in-charge often lived in Vange. The Rev. David James, whose monument is in the church, was curate for 20 years and died on April 18th, 1806, aged 45, and on the same day as his son, David, was baptised.


      Hardly any of the adults in Vange could read and write in 1839. There was only a Sunday School of eighteen boys and twelve girls taught in the church. A seraphine (wind instrument having a keyboard, wind-chest and bellows) accompanied the singing. Funds were difficult to procure; the Rector stated "a narrow and grudging spirit prevailed in the parish."

      In 1858 the Rev. E. Sendall received a grant of land from Sir Charles Smith, Lord of the Manor and patron of the living, on which to build a school and two cottages. These stand by the old Rectory gate. The tiny, one-storey building at the east end of the cottages was the first school. In 1886 Miss Roberts was the mistress and there were about twenty children. A Board School was built in 1889.

Church Hall, Timberlog Lane

      This was built by Mr. A. P. Hedges, of Bowers Gifford according to plans of Mr. R. D. C. Baxter, of Vange. Foundation stones were laid by the Lord Bishop of Chelmsford, Dr. H. A. Wilson, and Victor Raikes, Esq., M.P., on December 12th, 1931. It was opened by Dr. H. A. Wilson on February 27th, 1932. Later part of the hall was used as St. Paul's Mission Church.

St. Chad's Church, Timberlog Lane

      Architects Messrs. Humphrys and Hurst. The foundation stone was laid by Lady Whitmore on December 15th, 1957, and it was dedicated on December 17th, 1958. Consecrated November 17th, 1959, by the Lord Bishop of Chelmsford, Dr. F. Allison.

      The bell formerly hung in the ancient little church (now demolished) of Shopland, near Southend. For over 300 years it summoned the inhabitants of the tiny parish to church.

      St. Chad's seats 250 people and is situated nearer the main housing development in the parish

Parish of Vange

      Vange was one of the earliest settlements made in this area by invaders from beyond the North Sea. These heathen fen folk may have covered a wide area among the marshes of the Thames and left the name of Faenge "marsh district" to the part between Pitsea and Fobbing.

      Originally the village consisted of about ten farms and scattered cottages. About seven cottages were situated on the north side of the road between the Barge Inn and Paynters Hill.

      Early this century farms were sold for building and Vange began to grow and in 1949 the ancient village part of the area designated for the New Town of Basildon.

Title: All Saints' Church Vange (Some notes on its history)

Author: J.K. Payne

Comments: Booklet measures (H) 185 x (W) 141mm in glossy finish. Printed by John H. Burrows & Sons Ltd., Standard House, Cliff Town Road, Southend-on-Sea.

Page added: 16/12/2019
Other notes of interest:

1) The Domesday book is a survey of the Counties of England and parts of Wales carried out between 1085 and 1086 AD on behalf of King William I (William the Conqueror).

2) Fulk Basset (d. 21/05/1259). Elected Bishop of London circa December 1241.

3) Thomas Sneezum, carpenter and builder of Billericay, Essex.

4) Although the booklet does not carry a date the address of the Church Hall and that of St. Chad's Church are given as being in Timberlog Lane. In 1963 the southern section of Timberlog Lane between the railway bridge (formerly known as Gales Corner) and the Barge public house was renamed Clay Hill Road. Merricks or Riverside Farm in Wharf Lane, Vange is also mentioned as having been recently demolished. This followed a fire in 1961 which destroyed the then Basildon Development Corporation owned building.
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