A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2001.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The advowson of the living, a rect ory, descended with the manor until 1629 when it was retained by the Crown as part of the duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 1) The duchy was still patron in 1976 when the benefices of Langham and Boxted were united; thereafter the duchy and the bishop of Chelmsford have presented alternately. (fn. 2)
The rectory was worth 12 marks in 1254, (fn. 3) £10 13s. 4d. in 1291, (fn. 4) and £17 10s. 8d. by 1535. (fn. 5) The living was relatively wealthy in the 19th century, being valued at £549 in 1835 (fn. 6) and £734 in 1851. (fn. 7) In 1887 it received two annual payments from Queen Anne's Bounty of £1 6s. 8d. and £1 11s. 9d. (fn. 8)
The tithes were worth 15s. in 1282, (fn. 9) 35s. 1d. in 1535 (fn. 10) and £60 in 1650. (fn. 11) In 1599-1600 the rector had tithes in kind of corn, wool, lambs, pigs, hens, and geese, and in money for cattle, for meadow and fen, as well as tithes in money or kind for hops and in kind for wood under 20 years old. (fn. 12) In 1610 he claimed tithe of the free- holders' milk. (fn. 13) In 1838 the tithes were commuted for a rent charge of £640. (fn. 14)
The glebe comprised 66½ a.in 1610 (fn. 15) and was worth £36 in 1650. (fn. 16) By 1769 it had grown to c. 70 a. concentrated west of Rectory Lane and in East and North meadows. (fn. 17) It was worth £70 in 1851 and £75 in 1877 when it measured 60 a. (fn. 18) Ten years later there was 62 a. 2 r. 5 p. of glebe, (fn. 19) which was apparently sold between 1917 and 1922. (fn. 20)
Glebe Farm, the rectory house recorded in 1610, was not occupied by 18th-century rectors and was a cottage in 1810. It was unfit for the rector in 1835. (fn. 21) The core of the surviving house is a hall and chamber-end cross wing jettied at the front only, of the earlier 14th century. (fn. 22) The hall is unlikely to have comprised more than two bays. A stack was inserted, the hall floored, and a lobby entrance arrangement created, probably in the later 16th or earlier 17th century. An additional bay with a catslide roof was added beyond the cross wing in the 18th or early 19th century, and a low kitchen at the back was added in the 1930s. It was converted back into a single dwelling in the later 20th century. To the east is a dilapidated 16th-century or earlier barn. (fn. 23)
A new rectory house, Glebe House, was built nearby in 1847. The main house is of gault brick, two-storeyed, and of three bays with a projecting central portico with Ionic columns. The end bays have giant brick orders and project slightly at the front; there is a two-storeyed canted bay at the rear. The painted red-brick service wing is of the same date. (fn. 24) The scale of the house may be explained by the rector's large family and household, 20 people in 1851. (fn. 25) In 1953 it was exchanged for a smaller house on Gun Hill which in turn was sold in 1975. The rectory of the united benefice of Langham and Boxted is a modern house in Wick Road, Langham. (fn. 26)
Rectors are known from 1258. Edmund Neville, who resigned in 1329, was presumably a relative of the lord of the manor. (fn. 27) Nicholas Strangman, a student at Oxford, received a papal dispensation to hold an additional benefice for life in 1458. (fn. 28)
In 1523-4 St. Peter guild's stock worth £4 was held by two wardens. (fn. 29) In 1534 a sidesman opposed the reading of new books approved by the king and called a sermon 'newfangled'. (fn. 30) Langham protestants were burnt at the stake in 1555 and 1557. (fn. 31)
Thomas Farrer, rector from 1572 and a mem- ber of the Dedham classis, was suspended c. 1586 for not wearing a surplice. (fn. 32) He apparently yielded for he remained rector until his resignation in 1607. (fn. 33) He was succeeded by his son, John Farrer (d. 1649), (fn. 34) a member of the classis in 1645 and a signatory of the Protestant Testimony in 1648. His successor Thomas Seaborne, curate from 1637 and rector 1650-69, was also a puritan but conformed in 1662. (fn. 35)
Thomas Bradshaigh, rector 1714-52, lived on his other benefice of Stratford St. Mary (Suff.) but held one Sunday service and administered communion three times a year at Langham. (fn. 38) There was still only one Sunday service in 1790 when the church was served by a curate for the absentee rector, John Fisher, later bishop suc- cessively of Exeter and Salisbury. (fn. 39) By 1810 there were two Sunday services, although the rector lived at Stanford Rivers and his curate at Dedham. (fn. 40)
J. T. Hurlock, rector 1829-47, tried to help the 'deserving poor' and was responsible for the erection of a school in 1832. (fn. 41) In 1841 he ran a lending library, arranged occasional lectures, (fn. 42) and claimed that about half the families in the parish belonged to the church. (fn. 43) On census Sunday in 1851 church attendance was 56 adults in the afternoon and 160 in the evening, although it was claimed that average attendances were higher. (fn. 44)
In 1863, on the initiative of J. T. Round, rector of All Saints' and St. Runwald's, Col- chester, an ecclesiastical district was formed to serve the increasing population of All Saints', St. Botolph's, Greenstead, Ardleigh, Langham, and Mile End parishes. About 104 a. of Lang- ham was taken into the new district and a tithe rent charge of £5 from Langham was granted to the new church of St. John the Evangelist. (fn. 45) About 1951 monthly communion services were held at Maltings Farm for the elderly or infirm who had difficulty travelling to Langham church. (fn. 46)
The church of ST. MARY (fn. 47) comprises a chancel, a nave with south aisle, north and south porches, and a west tower. A north chapel was in ruins by 1768. (fn. 48) The 12th-century church, incorporated within the surviving building, had a shorter nave and chancel. (fn. 49) The nave was lengthened before the tower was added in the 13th century. In the 14th century the chancel was lengthened, diagonal butresses were added to the tower, and the six-bayed south arcade and aisle were constructed. The moulded capitals, bases, and octagonal piers of the arcade are very similar to those at Fordham, and there is a large 14th-century tomb recess and piscina in the south aisle wall. The trussed-rafter roof, which was intended from the outset to be ceiled, was built at the same time. The asymmetrical chancel arch, which has half-octagonal piers and moulded capitals with tablet flower panels, may date from the late 14th or early 15th century. In 1633 the church roof lead and churchyard wall needed repair, and the pews and tower needed boarding. (fn. 50)
The church was restored c. 1863 and other repairs followed a fire in the tower in 1879. (fn. 51) The chancel arch appears to have been widened on the south when the west end of the south wall of the chancel was splayed out to remove the corner between it and the east wall of the aisle. The chancel door was moved several feet to the east, and a window in 14th-century style and virtually identical to that at the west end of the aisle was inserted in the splayed wall. The chancel roof is also 19th-century, and is similar to that at Boxted. The porches are 19th-century restorations. Underfloor heating was installed in the later 19th century. (fn. 52)
The church was extensively renovated c. 1956-61. (fn. 53) The exterior faces of the chancel and nave were restored between 1980 and 1988 and restoration continued into the 1990s. (fn. 54) An organ gallery designed by Nicholas Jacob, with a new organ, was built in 1997. (fn. 55)
The church contains a 12th-century dugout chest and a 13th-century chest. (fn. 59)
An English, oak, altar figure of the Virgin and Child of c. 1200-20, found at Langham Hall before 1925 and thought to have been removed from Langham church in the later 19th century, was bought by the National Art Collection Fund and donated to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1925. (fn. 60) Re-used 16th-century chancel seating has carved bench ends. (fn. 61) A Royal arms, dated 1660, was restored to the church in the 20th century. (fn. 62) An oak screen and a wooden font cover are later 20th-century, by H. & K. Mabbitt. (fn. 63)
In 1684 there were four bells, (fn. 64) by 1768 five. (fn. 65) A sixth bell was added in 1895 to the ring which in 1909 included one bell of 1618 by Miles Gray and one originally of 1708 by John Waylet. (fn. 66)
In the chancel are monuments to William Umfreville (d. 1679) and his son Charles (d. 1696). In 1896 the churchyard was extended southwards onto Church green. (fn. 67)
The small school erected in the churchyard in 1832 (fn. 68) was renovated as a church room c. 1981; toilets and a kitchen were added in 1992.