FARMS IN THE PARISH.
In the Record Office, are many thousands of parchments and books, throwing light on the days that are
past, and much information as to the (1) changes of ownership in land; (2) presentations, and (3) house property can be found there
recorded, not merely in the volumes labelled Cartularies, Treasury Rolls, Patent Rolls, Close Rolls, and Inquisitions, but in those
popularly called 'Feet of Fines.' Now, this title, to the lay mind, conveys nothing; therefore an explanation of the term must be
given. From the eleventh or twelfth century questions arose, from time to time, as to the rightful ownership or legal title to property;
so to avoid all future dispute an arrangement was made by the judges that, if a person wished to have a proper legal title to his
property - in case he wanted to dispose of it - all he had to do was to arrange a 'friendly lawsuit' with the intending purchaser, or
rather the purchaser with him. The case was duly tried in a public court, and as 'possession' at that time was nine points of the law,
the verdict was always given on behalf of the 'man in possession.' The chief value, however, of these lawsuits was that the lawyers
wrote the decision of the court on a long piece of parchment, divided into three sections, viz.: 'Head' (or 'top'), 'middle' and 'foot';
the same words occurring in each section. The first was handed to the applicant, the second to the defendant, and the third was
filed by the Court. This latter was called the 'Foot' of the fine, and the name 'fine' did not mean, then, a punishment, but a legal
record meant to confine all enquiries as to the title, to the date of that friendly lawsuit, at which the true ownership was established
firmly. These 'feet of fines' have been most carefully preserved to the present day, and in them are many references to the lands of
Vange, as they passed from hand to hand through the ages.
A few samples are here given:-
YEAR 1203. Friendly suit between Geoffrey de Cruse and Robert Fitz Salmon concerning 40 acres
of land in Fange.
YEAR 1223. Suit between Richard (Parson of Tilbury) and Savaric de Bohum concerning
'a fourth part of a knight's fee with appurts in Fienges.
YEAR 1257. Suit between John de Haulo and
William de Fengs-atte-Noke concerning 'one carucate of land with appurts in Fenges.' The owner agreed that the land should not
be alienated. The consideration was 'one sore sparrow hawk.' This evidently means a hunting hawk that could soar well, in the
In feudal times a 'sore sparrow hawk' was a bird 'in its first year,' capable of being
trained to strike and bring down smaller birds, such as could be used for the table. As there were no imports of fresh meat from
abroad then, and most of the English meat had to be salt cured for winter use, it was necessary to have good supplies of game
(both birds and beasts). Householderslikewise had dovecots for the supply of pigeons and made artificial fish ponds for the supply
of fresh fish. The manor moats were extensively used to breed fish of various sorts.
YEAR 1257-59. Suit by Master Peter de Newport (an Archdeacon), and Alfred de Chaldewell and Grecia
his wife, concerning rent in Fanges. After her death the rent was to go to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, London, 'in pure and
perpetual alms for ever.' It was in some such way as this, that the mediaeval colleges, abbeys, monasteries and cathedrals acquired
their vast endowments and multitudes of advowsons.
YEAR 1261. A suit by Sygar de Fange and his
relatives about 'five acres of lands with appurts in Fange.' The final arrangement was that 2s. per annum was to be paid for all
YEAR 1269. Suit between Isobel de Ramesden and Ralf de Septum Fontibus, about 'land
in Fenges at the yearly rate of one penny at Pentecost for all service.'
YEAR 1272. Suit between Thomas de Sancto Claro and his brother William, concerning '100 acres of
pasture, with appurts in Fenge.' The rent was settled at '£10 per annum for all service.'
YEAR 1275. Suit between High Fitz Oto and others against William Warin de Monte Caniso concerning
dues in Fenges and Stanford. The complainant stated that he 'unable to hold his own by force of arms * * as he was accustomed
to do in past time.' The court seems to have imposed a fine of £100 - a very stiff fine - amounting to about £1,400 of our present money.
YEAR 1285. Suit between Robert de Frekeburq and John de Stanford concerning ' 50 acres of land in
Feynge-atte-Noke, held by the yearly rent of one rose at the nativity of John the Baptist, doing other service to the chief
lords.' Consideration 'one sore sparrowhawk.'
From the various Norman names in the foregoing items, it can be plainly seen that William the Conqueror
left little or no land in the hands of the Saxons; but distributed it between his nobles and adherents from Normandy, who continued
to come over in great numbers and secured the best portions of the land, almost enslaving the former occupants.
YEAR 1291. Suit between Robert Fitz Simon and William de Sancto Claro concerning 'rent in Fange.'
YEAR 1294. Suit between Robert de Sancto Claro and John de Hatfield concerning 'rents in Fange'
in which one agreed to render to the other yearly 'one clove of a gillyflower at Easter, and other services to the chief lord.'
At first sight this looks a very cheap rent indeed, but the 'other services' made it tiresome, for the
tenant was liable at any time to be called out to fight for his landlord, either at home or abroad, as well as to give up a good deal of
his time and hard labour during harvest.
YEAR 1308. Suit between John de Shipwrighte and Thomas Malegray and Hagelina, his wife, concerning
'one messuage and five acres of land in Feyngge.' The consideration was £5 in this case.
YEAR 1309. A suit by Thomas de Wallden and Robert de Frekeberghe about 'lands in Fange-atte-Noke,
20 marks yearly as rent.'
YEAR 1317. A suit between Richard de foraidere and Simon de Taillur of Horndon concerning 'ten acres
of land in Fange.'
YEAR 1325. A suit between Humphrey de Walledene and John de Wydyton concerning 'lands in
There are numerous other settlements at subsequent periods, but we will stop at the year 1325, because
the remaining Feet of Fines are not yet properly indexed.
We saw that the end of the 16th century and the early part of the 17th were troublesome times. For a
century previously (i.e., the 15th) many of the clerical appointments left much to be desired. In fact, the state of the church would
be considered totally incredible were it not that we have the details in black and white as tabulated by Milman in Latin
Christianity Vol. VI., p. 259); in Stubbs's Constitutional History (Vol. III., p. 373), and above all others by Wilkins in his
Council, Vol. III., p. 360 and following pages. One need not be much surprised then to find, even in Reformation times, strange
doings. Essex was no exception to the other counties except in point of stubbornness. In David's Annals of Evangelical
Nonconformity in Essex (p.p. 78, 121-263, etc.) we read of the evangelical or puritan ministers suffering very severely in the time
of Archbishop Whitgift (i.e., about the year 1584). Strype on 'Whitgift' (Vols. II. and III.) reports that about fifty evangelical ministers or
rectors in Essex were deprived of their livings and men of quite another type put in their places. Goaded to extremities by such
hardships, David, in his 'Annals,' tells us that at least twenty-seven of the Essex clergy appealed to the Privy Council for
protection. Now, amongst them was the then rector of Vange, viz., Camillus Rusticus or Rustren (see our list of rectors for 1581 to
1639). The petition, signed by these twenty-seven, pointed out that in place of the deprived rectors - whose obstinacy in not
conforming appears to have been their only crime - men were put in 'Notoriously unfit persons neither of learning nor of good
name. Many lived charged or chargeable with great and erroneous faults and drunkenness, filthiness of life, gamesters at cards,
haunters of ale houses and such like.' From such charges our Rector of Vange was clearly free, but nevertheless on p. 121 David
says 'Mr. Camillus Rusticus, Pastor of Vange, was suspended for eight weeks or thereabouts for not subscribing, and being
restored, hath been of late suspended again for the same cause.' Observe his obstinacy (said to be characteristic of the
county). 'He was instituted to the Rectory of Vange 1581 on the presentation of William Wiseman of Canefield Hall, and deprived
before April, 1609.' Doubtless the unfortunate man was again restored when the times changed, but at any rate in 1639 Dr. George
Maule 'an able and godly minister' was instituted (see Lansdowne MSS., p. 459) and so the chain of good and proper Rectors
was continued to the present day. Dr. George Maule's wife (Mary) died in 1659; his infant child, Charles, died also. Inscriptions on
the walls of the church seem to show that their bodies lie in the churchyard. The inscription on the tablet of Mary Maule bears the
following words, in quaint doggerel verse, yet more quaintly spelt, and concluded with the following words (a pious wish): 'O let
thy ashes warme that bed of dust for mee - thy mournefull husband till I come to ly by thee.'
A piece of land was secured right in the centre of the village, almost at the junction of High Road and
Timberlog Lane, from Mr. William Annereau, at a cost of £60. Here a fine Hall, measuring 30 feet wide by over 100 feet long, was built
of steel and brick by Mr. A. P. Hedges, contractor, of Bowers Gifford, according to the plans of Mr. R. D. C. Baxter, architect, of
Vange, during the incumbency of the Rev. W. A. Lamb, at a cost of £1,325. The foundation stones were laid by the Lord Bishop of
Chelmsford, Dr. H. A. Wilson, and Victor Raikes, Esq., M.P., on December 12th, 1931, and opened by Dr. H. A. Wilson on February
27th, 1932. The Bishop was accompanied by the Rector of Vange, Rev. W. A. Lamb; Rev. S. J. Goldstone, Secretary to the Diocesan
Finance Board; Rev. W. C. Bown, Rural Dean; the Rector of Pitsea, Rev. E. W. Grevatt; Rev. J. S. Bryers, Rector of Bowers Gifford;
Rev. Canon H. R. Finnis, Rector of Nevendon; Mr. Stanley M. Barr, Hon. Superintendent of Gordon Hall Free Church; Churchwardens,
Dr. A. Cuffe, Mr. F. G. Bessent; and representatives of the Parish Council; the Church Council; Men and Women's section of the
British Legion; the local Salvation Army Corps; Mother's Union; 1st Pitsea and Vange Scouts and Guides; Vange Church Sunday
School; Pitsea and District Horticultural Society; Gordon Hall Free Church; R.A.O.B., and others. The Hall was packed with over
The Rector, handing the key to the Bishop on the doorstep, invited the Bishop to declare
the Hall open and to perform the dedication ceremony. Turning the key in the lock and opening the door, the Bishop said: 'I pray
that God will bless this venture to the eternal welfare of the people of Vange'. After the opening hymn there were a few moments
of silent prayer, after which Psalm 122 and 126 were read by the Rural Dean. Miss N. Purkiss and Mrs. Church sang, 'How lovely
are Thy dwellings O Lord of hosts' and 'He shall feed His flock like a shepherd.'
The Bishop said he would like to congratulate the Rector and his Church Council and indeed all the
people of Vange on the erection and opening of this beautiful Hall. He hoped they would all rally around their new Rector and
make this work for God a success. The Saviour said, 'I am come that ye might have life and that ye might have it more
abundantly.' Your Rector is here to proclaim this glorious truth. May many here find in Christ this life abundant and go forth to
serve Him throughout life.
The Rector thanked the Bishop for his kind presence and words, all the clergy, and representatives for
their support, the contractor, the architect, electrician (Mr. Hickley), and the builders, for they had all done well and indeed all who
had helped to make this ceremony such a success, to Miss Brown, for the lovely stained glass window, to the people of Vange,
who had given chairs, curtains, etc., S.P.C.K. for prayer books, etc. and, last but by no means least, the Diocesan Fund, who had
given £400 towards the Building Fund and lent £200 more, and Incorporated Church Building Society £50, and others.
He said he had a message to deliver to the people of Vange, namely, 'Christ and Him crucified.' Mr.
Stanley M. Barr welcomes the Bishop, Rector, Mrs. Lamb and daughter to the parish, and said he and his people at the Gordon Hall
would pray that their work would be a great success.
In 1933 the first confirmation service for nearly 40 years was held by the Bishop of Barking, Dr. T. Inskip,
when 16 candidates were presented by the Rector.
The churchyard was enlarged and consecrated by the Bishop of Barking, during the incumbency of
the Rev. St. John F.C. Metheun.
The Rector, Wardens and Church Council wish it to be understood
that the Church Hall dedicated by the Bishop is never to be used for dances or card playing, and no intoxicants are to be brought
into the Hall.
The Rectors of Vange were the pioneers of both religious and secular education in the village and for
many years the children met in the 'Old School Room' by the Rectory gate. In 1889 the 'Log Book' records the first Board School
and in 1906 the Essex Council School replaced it, which, with recent additions, holds about 350 children, under the control of Mr.
A.P. Curtis, J.P.