The advowson of Stapleford Tawney was held by
the lords of the capital manor until 1925. (fn. 25)
It has subsequently descended with the
advowson of Theydon Mount (q.v.).
In about 1254 the rectory was valued at 9 marks. (fn. 26)
In 1291 it was valued at £6 13s. 4d. (fn. 27) In 1428 the
church was still taxed on this valuation. (fn. 28) In 1535
the rectory was valued at £15 8s. 8d. (fn. 29) Its 'improved'
value was £80 in 1604 and £200 in 1661. (fn. 30) The
tithes were commuted in 1838 for £384; there were
then 127 acres of glebe. (fn. 31) Since 1755 the rectory has
always been held along with that of Theydon Mount
but they have never been formally united.
Henry Soames (1785-1860), who held the united
living of Stapleford Tawney and Theydon Mount
from 1839 until his death, was a noted ecclesiastical
historian and was appointed Chancellor of St. Paul's
Cathedral in 1842. (fn. 32)
The former rectory was originally a two-story
timber-framed house built probably early in the 17th
century. In the mid 18th century two sides were
faced with red brick and a new roof with dormer
windows was added, and inside there are panelled
rooms and fireplaces of the same date. In 1771 it was
described as 'an exceeding good house'. (fn. 33) About 1840
a new staircase hall and a bay-windowed drawingroom were built. Since 1951 the rector has lived at
The parish church of ST. MARY consists of chancel,
nave with west bell-turret, south chapel, and vestry.
The walls are of flint-rubble with dressings of limestone.
The roof is tiled. The bell-turret is timber-framed and
weather-boarded and has a shingled spire.
The chancel was built about 1220. In the north
wall is a lancet window which may be original, though
the splay stones have been recut.
The nave was built shortly after the chancel. A
blocked north doorway with chamfered jambs and
two-centred arch, partly restored, can be seen externally.
The south chapel was built about the middle of the
13th century. On the east side are two wall-arches,
the smaller of which is partly original 13th-century
work. Enclosed under the larger is an original lancet
window. Three lancet windows in the south wall and
one in the west wall may also be of the 13th century,
In the 15th century a square-headed two-light
window was inserted in the south wall of the chancel;
the stonework of this is much decayed. The bell turret
at the west end of the nave was probably added in this
century. It stands on four chamfered oak posts with
tie-beams, curved braces, and diagonal struts.
Some roof timbers of the south chapel are of the
In 1862 the church was largely rebuilt and the north
vestry, organ chamber, and south porch were added. (fn. 34)
The three lancet windows in the east wall of the chancel
are of this date as well as the two-light windows of
14th-century design in the nave. The arcade of two
bays between the south chapel and the body of the
church was built or rebuilt at this time.
In February 1862 the vestry accepted an offer, made
by Sir Charles Cunliffe-Smith, Bt., of Suttons (see
above), of £300 towards the cost of restoring the
church. (fn. 35) It is not clear what the final cost of restoration was. In May 1862 George Carter of Hornsey
Road, Holloway (Lond.), offered to do the work
required 'at the Church and Chancel' for £526 of
which £105 was for repairing the chancel. He also
offered to supply new fittings for an additional £123
of which £24 was for seats in the chancel. (fn. 36) A vestry
held on 27 May 1862 seems to have accepted Carter's
tender for repairs and fittings in the 'Church and
Chapelry' at a cost of £520. At the same time it was
estimated that the fees of the architect, Mr. Turner,
and incidental costs would amount to about £200. (fn. 37)
It is not clear that this vestry accepted Carter's tender
for restoration of the chancel.
The organ, presented by Reginald Heber Prance,
was built in 1869. (fn. 38)
In 1884 a new roof of panelled pine was constructed. (fn. 39) Cusped and pierced boarding was inserted
to suggest a chancel arch.
There are two bells, one of 1611 by William Carter,
and the other of 1630 by Robert Oldfield. (fn. 40) At a
visitation held in 1611 it was reported that the bell was
broken and it was not known 'who pulled it down'. (fn. 41)
The date on Carter's bell indicates that the broken bell
was speedily replaced.
The communion rails date from the 17th century
and have unusual flat moulded and pierced balusters.
The font in the form of a Norman column dates from
the 19th century but the wooden cover is older. The
stone pulpit is of the 19th century. The mosaic
reredos, representing the Last Supper, was presented
by Sir Charles Cunliffe-Smith, Bt., of Suttons (see
above). (fn. 42)
The plate consists of two cups, one of which was
presented by John Luther in 1698; three patens, one
of which was presented by John Nicholson in 1698
and another of which bears the Luther arms; and
an alms-dish of 1685, also bearing the Luther
arms. (fn. 43)
On the floor of the chancel is a slab to William
(Scott) (1491) and Margery his wife (1505). (fn. 44) This
has a fine achievement of arms and cross in brass, and
also part of a marginal inscription. Near it is a slab to
Sir Edward Lowe, LL.D. (1684). Both in the chancel
and nave are floor slabs to many members of the
Luther family who died in the 17th and early 18th
centuries. Also in the nave are slabs to John Nicolson
(1710) and Gerrard Goebell (fn. 45) (18th-century date
partly worn away). In the nave and in the south chapel
there are tablets commemorating Charles Smith (1814)
and members of his family.
During the restoration of 1862 two stone coffins and
slabs, probably of 13th-century date, were found
below the chancel. (fn. 46) One of these is now outside the
church on the south side. The slab is said to be
amongst the finest in Essex. It is slightly coped, the
central shaft forming the ridge. On the shaft are three
crosses, those near the head and foot having triangular
arms. Between them on the shaft is a small circular
'cross-pate'. North of the church stands the second
coffin with a shaped head. The tapered threshold to
the blocked north doorway may be the slab belonging
For the Church lands see Charities, below.