A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.
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The advowson of Kelvedon Hatch descended with the manor until the 19th century. John Wright presented to the rectory in 1607. (fn. 1) His successors as lords of the manor were Roman Catholics. As such they were disqualified by law from presenting, and their rights of patronage vested in the Chancellor of Cambridge University. (fn. 2) It is not clear how far the law was observed in this case. There was at least one presentation (1760) by the Chancellor of Cambridge. Other presentations in the 17th and 18th centuries were made by various persons who had perhaps bought the right pro hac vice. (fn. 3) By 1848 the advowson was held by W. H. Ashpitel. (fn. 4) Owing to the long incumbency of the then rector, John Bannister (1833-70) he did not live to exercise it. It passed to his son and was sold in 1864 to E. Slocock. (fn. 5) From him it descended to his son the Revd. Samuel Slocock who presented himself in 1870 and remained rector until 1889. (fn. 6) The advowson was then sold to E. W. Puxon of Croydon (Surr.). (fn. 7) After his death in 1896 it remained in the hands of his trustees for some years. (fn. 8) He had presented his son-in-law, D. W. Peregrine. in 1889, (fn. 9) and the advowson had by 1912 come to Mrs. C. M. Peregrine. (fn. 10) She gave it in 1928 to the Revd. William Tirrell who has been rector and patron ever since. (fn. 11)
The rectory of Kelvedon Hatch was valued at 6 marks in about 1254. It was then stated that the rector of the church of (Magdalen) Laver received part of the tithe from the demesne of Gilbert de Breaute and Ralph de Asevile. (fn. 12) The value of the rectory was stated to be 10 marks in 1291 and £12 in 1535. (fn. 13) In 1838 the tithes were commuted for £438; there were then 28 acres of glebe. (fn. 14)
A terrier of 1610 mentions a rectory house of two stories, part newly built, 'with several rooms in it both above and below'. (fn. 15) The north end of the old rectory (now Kelvedon Grange), consisting of a gabled crosswing and part of the central block, may well be the 'newly built house' referred to in the terrier. There is a massive stop-chamfered beam in the present kitchen and the principal chimney has grouped diagonal shafts. Early in the 18th century the south end of the central block was rebuilt and the roof level raised. The groundfloor hall retains sash windows of this date with wide glazing bars. Further alterations were probably made about 1800. During the incumbency of the Revd. D. W. Peregrine at the end of the 19th century the house was enlarged and altered at a cost of about £4,000. (fn. 16) The cost was borne by E. W. Puxon, father-in-law of the rector, and by his widow. (fn. 17) A new wing was added at the south end and several smaller additions were made on the garden side. Mullioned and transomed windows were inserted and the older house was encased with ornamental timbering. Much of the interior detail is of the same date. In 1931 the present rector moved to a new rectory and the old house became the property of Mr. J. W. B. Jones.
The present rectory was built in 1931 immediately to the west of the modern parish church. It is of dark red brick. The builders were Messrs. Trigg & Moore of Chelmsford. (fn. 18)
The former parish church of ST. NICHOLAS stands in the grounds of Kelvedon Hall. There was a medieval church on this site, but a complete rebuilding took place between 1750 and 1753. (fn. 19) The font and a 15th-century bell were preserved from the old church and many of the floor slabs appear to have been left in situ. Four bells were sold to help defray the cost of rebuilding. (fn. 20) In 1873 the church was restored at a cost of £380, (fn. 21) but twenty years later it was decided to build another church on a more convenient site near the centre of the parish. The new building, to which many of the fittings had been removed, was consecrated in 1895. (fn. 22) The old church, dismantled and derelict, became overgrown with creeper and was further damaged by a German rocket bomb in 1945. (fn. 23)
The building is of red brick, plastered internally, and had a tiled roof, much of which has fallen down. It consists of nave and chancel with a small weatherboarded bell turret at the west end. Both Morant (1768) and Wright (1835) mention a south aisle, but it is probable that their information is out of date and that they are referring to the medieval church. (fn. 24) The chancel arch is slightly pointed and the glazing of the windows has a gothic flavour, but in other respects the details are purely Georgian. At the east end is a threelight Venetian window, the other windows being round-headed or circular. The flat ceiling has a modillion cornice. Classical pilasters, formerly at one of the south entrances, (fn. 25) are now missing.
Some floor slabs remain, many from the medieval church. A slab having indents for a figure and for four shields of arms has no inscription but probably dates from the 15th century. (fn. 26) An indented slab which formerly held brasses of a kneeling man and woman has an inscription to Francis [sic] Wright, formerly Waldegrave (d. 1656). The inscription was probably cut at this date on an older slab: the woman's figure, of which a drawing remains, is shown in the dress of about 1570. (fn. 27) An epitaph mentioned by Morant (fn. 28) to John Wright (1551) has now disappeared. An inscribed brass to another John Wright (1608) recorded in 1920 (fn. 29) is also missing. Other slabs to the Wrights of Kelvedon Hall include those of Ann (Suliard, 1617) and two John Wrights (1654 and 1656). There are many 17th-century slabs to members of the Luther family, some with shields of arms. An inscribed brass plate to Richard Luther (who died 1638) (fn. 30) and his brother Anthony is undated. Other slabs are to Robert Thurkettle (1679) and his wife and to Elizabeth Purca (1727) and Mrs. Ann Westwood (1742).
No wall monuments survive from the medieval church. In the chancel is a handsome marble tablet to John Wright (1751) who rebuilt Kelvedon Hall. There is also a tablet to his son-in-law, Marrock Strickland. A white marble cartouche shield in the nave commemorates Charles Dolby of Brizes (1755) and a gothic tablet, now fallen, is to William Dolby (1819). On the south wall of the chancel are marble tablets to John Luther, M.P. (1786), and Rebecca and Amy Luther (1780 and 1782). A painted board giving a list of the parish charities hangs in the nave. Among the many headstones in the churchyard is one carved with an hour-glass, skull, and crossbones, inscribed to Jonathan Wingrue (1704). (fn. 31)
The present parish church, also dedicated to St. Nicholas, was built in 1895 at a cost of £2,000. (fn. 32) The site had previously been acquired for burials. (fn. 33) Funds were raised by appeals and subscriptions and John Thomas Newman, F.R.I.B.A., of Kelvedon Hatch gave his services as architect. (fn. 34) The building is of red brick, left exposed internally, and consists of chancel, nave, organ chamber, vestry, and south porch. Above the porch is a small bell tower with a louvred belfry and a shingled spire. The church was throughly restored in 1927 when the roof was partially renewed and the pipe organ, which had been damaged by rain, was taken away. (fn. 35)
The font, removed from the earlier church, is octagonal and probably of the 15th century. On one face is carved a mitre and on the adjoining faces are children's heads. The position of the carvings suggests that the font has been wrongly orientated. The seating, much of which came from the old church, is of the 19th century.
The single bell, which also came from the old church, was cast about 1460-80 and was probably by John Kebyll; it is inscribed 'Sancte Andree Ora Pro Nobis' and has a shield of arms. (fn. 36) The church plate consists of a silver cup and paten of 1674, with the arms of the Luther family and probably given by them. There is also a silvered copper paten, undated but fairly modern. At one time there was an electro-plated flagon, also modern, but this has been missing since at least 1926. (fn. 37)
The former Church Room, previously the nonconformist mission hall and now the village hall, was bought by the rector, D. W. Peregrine, (fn. 38) who sold it in 1905 to certain parishioners who in 1912 made it over to the then rector, W. S. Mavor. The consideration of £100 was to be repaid and then the house would be handed over to the church. By 1930, however, the money was only partly repaid and the building was in disrepair. It was therefore sold for £115 and after the repayment of Dr. Mavor the balance was devoted to church work. (fn. 39) The former Church House, now Reed's Stores, was built late in the 19th century. Early in the present century the house was used as a Working Men's Club and coffee house. (fn. 40) From 1906 to 1909 the curate lived there. (fn. 41)