Colne Engaine


Victoria County History



Janet Cooper (Editor)

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'Colne Engaine: Church', A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10: Lexden Hundred (Part) including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe (2001), pp. 114-116. URL: Date accessed: 29 November 2014.


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The church building dates from the 12th century, and there was a chaplain at Colne Engaine c. 1170. (fn. 6) The advowson belonged to the lords of Colne Engaine manor from 1248 or earlier, and in 1998 the governors of Christ's Hospital were patrons of the rectory. (fn. 7) The lords presented regularly, except in 1446 when Henry VI presented. (fn. 8) From 1988 the church was held in plurality with Earls Colne, and in 1995 the benefices were united. (fn. 9)

In 1254 the church was valued at 15 marks (£10) with an otherwise unrecorded vicarage worth 3 marks (£2); the prior of St. Faith, Horsham (Norf.) had two thirds of the tithes of the Engaine demesne. (fn. 10) In 1291 the living was worth £8 13s. 4d., and the prior's tithe had been commuted for a pension of £2. (fn. 11) Horsham's pension was in arrears in 1326; by c. 1530 it had been reduced to 25s. and had been granted for life to a layman. Payment was last recorded in 1544, when it was disputed. (fn. 12) The rectory was valued at £13 16s. 8d. in 1535, the value of the great tithe in 1329. (fn. 13) In 1650 the glebe brought in £35 and the tithe £70. (fn. 14) In 1765 the living was worth £200; by 1835 it was worth £700 gross, £680 net. (fn. 15) After some dispute, the tithes were commuted in 1840 for a rent-charge of £750 a year. (fn. 16) In 1851 the gross value of the living was £835, which had apparently fallen slightly by 1887. (fn. 17)

By 1610 most of the c. 47 a. of glebe, part of which had been recorded in 1429, lay in a single block near the rectory house. The same glebe was described in 1810, but two small fields seem to have been added before 1838 when 56 a. was recorded. (fn. 18) In 1887 there was 57 a. of glebe. (fn. 19) Forty acres was sold to Miss K. M. Courtauld in 1921, and 7 a. was sold with the rectory house in 1953. (fn. 20)

The parsonage house south of Boose's green was first recorded in 1610. In 1723 it was unin- habitable, but shortly after 1727 the rector re- paired it for his own use. It was probably repaired again c. 1790. (fn. 21) The house was almost completely rebuilt in 1824 and 1825; further repairs and remodelling were done in the later 1860s. (fn. 22) It was sold in 1953 and replaced by No. 11 The Green, which was itself sold in 1988. (fn. 23)

The chaplain of Little Colne was accused of arson in 1227. (fn. 24) Rectors were recorded from 1219. (fn. 25) In 1497 the rector, a monk of Colne priory, was dispensed to hold a second benefice or office. (fn. 26) A successor who resigned in 1524 reneged on a promise to make his benefice over to the prior in return for a corrody. (fn. 27) The church had an endowed guild in the early 16th century, probably dedicated to St. Christopher, and statues of its patron, St. Andrew, and of the Virgin Mary. Several parishioners endowed obits. (fn. 28) Before 1552 a blue damask cope, a red vestment, statues, four stained cloths, and 13 brass candlesticks were sold and part of the money spent on a lectern and chained bible. (fn. 29) The pluralist Christopher Greening, presented in 1524, held the living throughout the Reformation, until 1563 or later. He was in debt in 1549, and the living was sequestered c. 1550 for non-payment of subsidies and tenths to the king. (fn. 30) John Parkinson served from 1572 until his death in 1628, even though by 1625 he was very old and weak. (fn. 31)

From 1629 until 1953 and again from 1962 to 1980 rectors were former pupils or masters of Christ's Hospital. (fn. 32) Thomas Brackley (1629-53) signed the Essex Testimony in 1648. His successor, John Clark, presented by Christ's Hospital in 1654, resigned or was ejected in 1662. (fn. 33) In 1684 the church was fairly well equipped although it needed some books, including a new bible and prayer book. (fn. 34)

From 1690 or earlier rectors were required to deposit a bond with the Hospital undertaking to reside on the living and agreeing to resign it if appointed to another. Nevertheless, Edmund Massey (1719-65) lived in London in 1720 and did not move to Colne Engaine until c. 1727. (fn. 35) In 1723 his curate, who held two services on Sundays and four communion services a year, assured the bishop that the cure 'was never supplied more to the satisfaction of the parishioners.' (fn. 36) Massey, an eminent preacher, served other churches even after he became resident. (fn. 37) In 1766 there were 16 communicants; by 1778 John Lovekin had apparently raised the number to c. 50. (fn. 38) In 1782 Lovekin asked permission to leave the parish for his daughters' education, and he was non-resident in 1788. (fn. 39) He had returned by 1790 when there were only c. 30 communicants, and no one would come to a second sermon on Sundays. (fn. 40)

For much of the late 18th century and the early 19th the living, the richest in the Hospital's gift, was given to serving headmasters to provide for their retirement. James Boyer (1793-1814), headmaster until 1799, was in poor health by 1810. A. W. Trollope (1814-27) was headmaster until 1826, and John Greenwood (1827-65) until 1836. (fn. 41) In 1841 Greenwood claimed that 117 of the 133 families in the parish belonged to the church, and that there were 37 communicants. By 1860 he had increased communion services to one a month for up to 67 communicants. (fn. 42) Nathaniel Keymer (1870-9) suffered a complete mental breakdown within months of his appointment, and for the remainder of his incumbency the church was served by a curate whose high church practices apparently caused concern. Keymer nevertheless had time to initiate work on the restoration of the church. In 1894 illness prevented H. T. Armfield (1879- 96) from serving the church properly. (fn. 43)

By 1602 a house and land west of the church was assigned to the sexton. Part of it was given as the site of the school in 1845, but the sexton still held the rest in 1998. (fn. 44)

The church of ST. ANDREW (fn. 45) comprises chancel, nave with south porch, and west tower. The 12th-century church presumably comprised nave, of which the rubble and Roman brick walls with a blocked window and doorway survive, and chancel. The chancel was rebuilt in the 13th century, with lancet windows, one of which survives, blocked, in the north wall. In the 14th century the lower stages of the west tower were built, and the nave and chancel remodelled with new windows, and a crownpost roof in the nave. (fn. 46) A timberframed south porch was added in the 15th century. The upper stages of the tower were being built in brick in 1496, and shortly afterwards the south porch was largely rebuilt in brick. (fn. 47) Thereafter the church seems to have been well maintained, only minor repairs being ordered in 1684 and 1707. (fn. 48)

The church was restored in 1873 under the direction of Edward Swansborough. The floor of the east end was raised by two steps, the east wall underpinned and buttressed, and a vestry built on the north side of the chancel. The chancel arch was rebuilt, ceilings in both have and chancel were removed, almost all the window tracery was replaced, and two new windows were made in the north wall of the nave. A gallery, built by 1837, (fn. 49) was removed, and the tower arch opened up. All the furnishings were replaced. (fn. 50) The tower was restored in 1928. (fn. 51)

On the south pier of the chancel arch is a brass to Alice Hunt, widow, presumably of Thomas Hunt (fl. 1525). (fn. 52) Five bells were recorded from 1684. Two were by Miles Gray (d. 1649) and two by Miles Gray (d. 1686); the fifth was replaced in 1760. A sixth bell was given by J. J. D. Botterell in 1906. (fn. 53)

The small silver chalice recorded in 1684 had presumably been lost by 1781 when the church acquired another one. In 1789 M. R. Hills gave a silver chalice and paten and two flagons, and in 1902 J. J. D. Botterell a silvergilt chalice and paten. (fn. 54)

The churchyard, c. 1 a. in 1810 and 1887, wasextended in 1935 with land given by Miss.K.M.Courtauld. The lich gate at its west end was erected in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. (fn. 55)


6 Colne Cart. p. 42.
7 P.R.O., C 132/9, no. 3; C 142/34, no. 51; Cal. Inq. p.m. xviii, p. 113; Guildhall MS. 13545.
8 Cal. Pat. 1446-52, 3.
9 Clarke, Colne Engaine, 2; Chelm. Dioc. Yr. Bk. (1989/9 and later edns.).
10 E.A.T. n.s. xviii. 121.
11 Tax Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 23.
12 Cal. Mem. R. 1326-7, p. 204; P.R.O., E 321/20/80; E 315/127.
13 Hist. MSS. Com. 8, 9th Rep. App. 1; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 444.
14 Smith, Eccl. Hist. Essex, 309.
15 Gent. Mag. xxxv. 443; Rep. Com. on Eccl. Revenues [67], pp. 642-3, H.C. (1835), xxi.
16 E.R.O., D/DPr 581; ibid. D/CT 102A.
17 P.R.O., HO 129/8/207; E.R.O., T/A 645.
18 Guildhall MS. 9628, box 3; E.R.O., D/DC 9/7A; ibid. D/CT 102A.
19 E.R.O., T/A 645.
20 Courtauld deeds, bdle. 5; E.R.O., sale cat. D114.
21 Guildhall MSS. 13556, 25750/1, 25753/1, 25754/1; ibid. MS. 9628, box 3; ibid. map of 1612.
22 Ibid. MSS. 13553, 13555, 19226/43.
23 Colne Engaine: Story of an Essex Village, 36; E.R.O., sale cat. B7955.
24 P.R.O., JUST 1/229, rot. 16.
25 Hist. MSS. Com. 8, 9th Rep. App. 1.
26 Cal. Papal Reg. 1492-8, 537.
27 P.R.O., C 1/490, no. 43.
28 E.R.O., D/DU 307/13, p. 79; ibid. D/ACR 1, f. 16; D/ACR 2, f. 236; D/ACR 4, f. 210; Cal. Pat. 1569-72, p. 228.
29 E.A.T. n.s. iii. 50-2.
30 P.R.O., REQ 2/16, no. 38; ibid. STAC 2/7, p. 124; STAC 3/4/67; Newcourt, Repertorium, ii. 188; E.R. xlvi. 155.
31 Guildhall MS. 13556; E.R.O., D/P 193/1/1.
32 Guildhall MSS. 13553, 13556; Colne Engaine, Story of an Essex Village, 26.
33 Calamy Revised, ed. A. G. Matthews, 117, 554; E.R.O., D/DU 307/2.
34 E.R.O., D/ACV 9B, pp. 47-8.
35 Guildhall Ms. 13556; E.H. Pearce, Annals of Christ's Hospital, 281.
36 Guildhall MS. 25750/1.
37 Ibid. 25753/1, 25754/1, 25755/1; Gent. Mag. xxxv, 443.
38 Lamb. Pal. Libr., Terrick papers 15; Lowth papers 4.
39 Guildhall MS. 13556.
40 Lamb. Pal. Libr., Porteus papers 25.
41 Guildhall MSS. 13556, 13574; Pearce, Annals of Christ's Hosp. 282, 303.
42 E.R.O., D/ACM 12; ibid. D/P 193/1/10-11.
43 Guildhall MSS. 13553, 13775; E.R.O., D/AZ 7/1, p. 148.
44 Morant, Essex, ii. 220; Guildhall MS. 13568; E.R.O., D/DC 9/8; E.R. xv. 179; inf. from Colne Engaine Hist. Soc.
45 Dedication recorded in 1502: E.R.O., D/ACR 1, f. 47.
46 R.C.H.M. Essex, iii. 75.
47 E.R. ix. 180; E.R.O., D/ACR 1, f. 98v.
48 E.R.O., D/ACV 9A, f. 71; D/ACV 9B, pp. 47-8.
49 Ibid. D/P 193/8/6.
50 Guildhall MS. 13553; E.R.O., D/AZ 7/1, p. 148.
51 Kelly's Dir. Essex (1933).
52 P.R.O., E 179/108/154, 174.
53 E.R.O., D/ACV 9B, p. 47; D/AZ 7/1, p. 148; Clarke, Colne Engaine, 11; Ch. Bells Essex, 225-6.
54 E.R.O., D/ACV 9B, p. 47; ibid. T/A 645; Ch. Plate Essex, 221.
55 Guildhall MS. 9628, box 3; E.R.O., T/A 645; ibid. T/P 181/3/15.