Wakes Colne: Church

Pages 126-128

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.

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The surviving church dates from the 12th century. (fn. 1) The living remained a rectory. The advowson followed the descent of the manor from 1349 or earlier, (fn. 2) until 1719, when it was retained by the Grimston family, later earls of Verulam. (fn. 3) In 1938 it passed to the Diocesan Board of Patronage. (fn. 4) The patrons presented regularly until the earls of Oxford granted turns in 1548 and 1554. (fn. 5) In 1640 the patron was Robert Jacob, who may have acquired the turn granted to trustees by William Tiffin before 1635. (fn. 6) In 1938 the benefice was united with that of Chappel. (fn. 7)

The rectory was not valued in 1254. In 1291 it was worth £10; in 1535, £12 0s. 4d. (fn. 8) In 1650 the glebe was worth £10, the tithes £86. (fn. 9) A dispute over the payment of tithe in kind in 1710 (fn. 10) suggests that the rector was trying to increase his income. In 1835 the living was worth £476 gross, £458 net. (fn. 11) The tithe was commuted in 1839 for a rentcharge of £580 ayear, and in 1851 the living was worth £606 10s. (fn. 12) In 1889 the net value was only £300- £325, and the rector reported that it was still lower in 1898, but in 1911 the gross value was £603. (fn. 13)

Robert Malet gave the tithe of his demesne to Eye priory c. 1085. (fn. 14) In 1337 the rector agreed to pay the priory 13s. 4d. a year for the tithe, and the pension was still paid in 1535. (fn. 15)

There was c. 12 a. of glebe in 1768, and in 1839 the rector held a total of c. 17 a. probably all glebe. (fn. 16) Part of the land was sold to the railway, presumably the Colchester, Stour Valley, Sudbury, and Halstead Co., c. 1848, but 15 a. remained in 1887; that was sold in 1908, 1909, and 1912. (fn. 17) There was presumably a medieval rectory house, perhaps repaired in 1405 when the rector bought timber. (fn. 18) The house was certainly recorded in 1541 and 1662. (fn. 19) In 1736 the rector found it too damp and unhealthy to live in, and by 1747 he had rebuilt it. It was repaired in 1778. (fn. 20) In the 1840s the timberframed housewas encased in grey brick and enlarged by the addition of an entrance hall, staircase, and drawing room on the east. Then or a little later a three-storeyed service tower was added to the north-west. The work was probably carried out for F. S. Grimston, rector 1847-66. (fn. 21) After the union with Chappel in 1938 the house was sold, the rector living in the former Chappel vicarage house until a new house was built next to the church in the early 1960s. That house was itself sold after 1980, when the church was served from Great Tey. (fn. 22)

Robert Northburgh, rector in the 1340s and 1350s and perhaps a relation of Michael North- burgh, bishop of London 1354-61, seems to have acted as a trustee for St. Botolph's priory, Colchester, and the Hospitallers. (fn. 23) William Okeham, rector 1399-1416 and a former rural dean of Cambridge, leased part of the manorial demesne in 1402 and 1404. (fn. 24) John Harrington (1504-48) was accused in 1528 and 1529 of adultery and of keeping his illegitimate son in his house. (fn. 25) In 1540 he kept hogs and cows in the churchyard, and so neglected the cure that many parishioners died without the last rites. (fn. 26)

Before 1546 one parishioner gave land and several others gave cows to endow obits. (fn. 27) The Lady chapel and St. Mary's guild were recorded in 1524. By 1548 the churchwardens had sold 6 old vestments, 1 cope, 5 banner cloths, 1 altar cloth, and some church plate, but the church retained 3 vestments, 2 copes, and 1 canopy cloth from its preReformation equipment. (fn. 28)

John Colley, presented in 1548, was deprived, presumably for marriage, in 1554, but restored after Elizabeth 1's accession. (fn. 29) In 1560 he was a particularly diligent, resident, incumbent. (fn. 30) His puritan successor Robert Monk (1565-1601) was a pluralist. (fn. 31) The curate in 1592 did not wear the surplice and conducted services negligently, his successor in 1596 did not beat the bounds. In 1593 parishioners were not properly seated in church according to their rank. (fn. 32)

Samuel Withers (1601-40) was commended for living in the parish, where he leased a small farm, in love and peace. (fn. 33) His royalist successor Edward Layfield lost another living in 1645 but retained Wakes Colne throughout what he described as 20 years of calamity. (fn. 34) In 1684 the church was reasonably well equipped, but continuing puritan influence was reflected in the placing of a chest instead of the communion table against the east wall of the chancel. (fn. 35) Most 18th- and early 19th-century incumbents were nonresident or pluralists. (fn. 36) James Brome(1729-64) at first served Wakes Colne from Pebmarsh, conducting one service each Sunday and communion four times a year. (fn. 37) The pattern of services, with communion sometimes administered only three times a year, was continued by his successors until 1812 or later. Parishioners sometimes attended services at Chappel or White Colne. (fn. 38)

Thomas Henderson, nonresident rector1831-42 and 1842-7, held Wakes Colne for the patron's brothers, E. H. Grimston (1842) and F. S. Grimston (1847-66). (fn. 39) The church was apparently well served by a curate who claimed in 1841 that over 80 per cent of the 444 people in the parish belonged to the church, and that communicants averaged 42. (fn. 40) On census Sunday 1851 congregations numbered 124 in the morning and 140 in the afternoon, including 39 and 40 Sunday School children, out of a population of 499; (fn. 41) in 1862 there were 40 communicants. (fn. 42) Edward Bartrum (rector 1887-1906) published tracts, including Helpful Hints for Hard Times (1895), for his poorer parishioners. (fn. 43)

A parish room, made from a railway carriage, was sold in 1923. (fn. 44) In 1978 an 'alleged breakdown in pastoral relationships' between the parish and the rector reduced congregations. (fn. 45) Since 1980 the united benefice of Wakes Colne and Chappel has been held with Great Tey. (fn. 46)

The church of ALL SAINTS, (fn. 47) of flint rubble with limestone dressings, comprises chancel with south vestry and nave with north porch and west bell turret. The 12th-century church comprised nave, central tower, and small chancel, of which the nave, with its south doorway and several windows, and the north and south tower walls survive. In the 14th century the upper part of the tower was demolished and the lower part was incorporated into a rebuilt chancel with a chancel arch in the old west wall of the tower. (fn. 48) Two windows were inserted in the nave walls. The new nave roof, of scissor brace and collar construction, survives, underceiled as a barrel roof. Early in the 15th century the timber bell turret was built at the west end of the nave, and the timber north porch was added. (fn. 49) Early in the 16th century a squareheaded, brick window was inserted into the south wall, and the surviving north door made. In 1684 the bell turret, chancel roof, and buttresses needed repair. (fn. 50)

The bell turret or 'steeple' was rebuilt and the porch repaired in 1807. A partition, complete with door and bell, was made in the church in 1815, perhaps to create a vestry. (fn. 51) Before 1839 buttresses had been built or enlarged to support the east wall. (fn. 52) A west gallery was enlarged c. 1859. (fn. 53) In 1862 the church was repaired and reseated. A vestry was built on the south side of the chancel, and a new doorway to it cut through the chancel wall; stairs in the north wall of the chancel, perhaps made for a Lenten veil screen, were blocked. The surviving brick east wall was probably built at the same time. (fn. 54) About the 1890s the small window in the west wall was replaced. In 1902-3 the bell turret was heightened, the plaster removed from the outside walls, and perhaps the twolight window inserted into the enlarged opening of thewesternmost 12th-century window in the south wall of the nave. (fn. 55)

The late 12th-century font, given in 1846 by the rector Thomas Henderson, probably came from his other church at Messing. (fn. 56) On the east wall of the nave is a fragment of 16th-century wallpainting, a diaper of black roses. The east wall of the chancel was painted c. 1911. (fn. 57)

The three bells, (i) Henry Pleasant 1707 (ii) Henry Jordan mid 15th century (iii) Miles Gray 1662, (fn. 58) were rehung in 1987. The plate includes a cup of 1702 bought in 1703 to replace a stolen one; it was itself sold or lost in 1876 and bought back for the parish in 1912. (fn. 59)

The churchyard was enlarged in 1908 with land given by C. P. Wood of Wakes Hall. (fn. 60)


  • 1. Below, this section.
  • 2. Cal. Inq. p.m. ix, p. 208.
  • 3. E.R.O., D/DHt T75/18.
  • 4. Ibid. D/CZ 33/2; Chelm. Dioc. Yrbk. (1915 and later edns.).
  • 5. Newcourt, Repertorium, ii. 190-1.
  • 6. E.R.O., D/DH VI B 16; Newcourt, Repertorium, ii. 190.
  • 7. Chelm. Dioc. Yrbk. (1938); E.R.O., D/P 88/7/1.
  • 8. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 23; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 444.
  • 9. Smith, Eccl. Hist. Essex, 310.
  • 10. E.R.O., D/P 88/1/1.
  • 11. Rep. Com. on Eccl. Revenues [67], pp. 642-3, H.C. (1835), xxii.
  • 12. P.R.O., HO 129/8/205.
  • 13. E.R.O., T/A 645.
  • 14. Eye Priory Cartulary and Chart. ii (Suff. Rec. Soc. xiii), p. 13.
  • 15. Eye Priory Cartulary, ii, p. 139; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iii. 477.
  • 16. E.R.O., D/CT 103A; ibid. D/DGw M9; Morant, Essex, ii. 224.
  • 17. E.R.O., T/A 645; White's Dir. Essex (1848), 145; Return of Glebe Lands, H.C. 307, p. 146 (1887), lxiv.
  • 18. E.R.O., D/DGw M1, rot. 10.
  • 19. W. H. Hale, Precedents, p. 117; E.R.O., D/DH VI B 20A.
  • 20. Guildhall MSS. 25751, 25752/2; Lamb. Pal. Libr., Lowth Papers 4.
  • 21. White's Dir. Essex (1848), 145; E.R.O., T/A 645; Dept. of Env., Buildings List.
  • 22. Chelm. Dioc. Yrbk. (1938, 1980-1 edns.); O.S. Map 1/10,000, TL 92 NW (1958 edn.); I. Stratford, Lost Chappel and Wakes Colne (priv. print. 1999), no. 7.
  • 23. E.R. 1. 35-6; Cart. St. John of Jerusalem, pp. 128-9, 516-17; Cal. Close, 1349-54, 350; Cal. Pat. 1350-4, 344.
  • 24. E.R.O., D/DGw M1, rott. 3d., 10; Cal. Pat. 1399-1401, 36; 1416-22, 8; A. B. Emden, Biog. Register Camb. Univ. to 1500.
  • 25. E.R.O., D/DGw M3, rott. 22, 23, 25.
  • 26. Hale, Precedents, p. 114.
  • 27. P.R.O., E 301/19, no. 191; E 301/30, no. 210; E.R.O., T/P 195/11; ibid. D/ACR 1, f. 27; D/ACR 2, ff. 158v., 174v.; D/ACR 3, f. 12; Cal. Pat. 1547-8, 341.
  • 28. P.R.O., E 179/108/154; E.R.O., D/ACR 2, f. 158v.; E.A.T. n.s. x. 229-30.
  • 29. Newcourt, Repertorium, ii. 190.
  • 30. E.R.O., Acc. A9415 (uncat.), box 29: notes on Corpus Christi Coll. Camb. MS. 122.
  • 31. Smith, Eccl. Hist. Essex, 13; Seconde Parte of a Register, ed. A. Peel, ii. 161.
  • 32. E.R.O., D/ACA 20, f. 8; E.R. xlviii. 86; li. 203.
  • 33. E.R.O., D/P 88/1/1; ibid. D/DU 594.
  • 34. Ibid. D/DH VI B 20A; ibid. D/P 88/1/1.
  • 35. Ibid. D/ACV 9B, pp. 50-1.
  • 36. e.g. Ibid. D/ACV 9A, f. 71v.; ibid. D/DH VI B 28.
  • 37. Guildhall MSS. 25752/2, 25753/1, 25754/1, 25755/1.
  • 38. Lamb. Pal. Libr., Lowth Papers 4, Porteus Papers 25, Randolph Papers 9; E.R.O., D/P 88/12/2, 88/12/8.
  • 39. Guildhall MS. 19226/24A.
  • 40. E.R.O., D/ACM 12; M.I. in church to Revd. G. Sims.
  • 41. P.R.O., HO/129/8/205.
  • 42. E.R.O., D/AZ 7/1, p. 150.
  • 43. E.R. xv. 96.
  • 44. E.R.O., D/P 88/7/1.
  • 45. Eve. Gaz. 31 May 1978; Guardian, 5 June 1978.
  • 46. E.R.O., D/P 88/7/1; Chelm. Dioc. Yrbk. (1938 and later edns.).
  • 47. So called in 1523: E.R.O., D/ACR 2, f. 147v.
  • 48. Below, plate 11.
  • 49. R.C.H.M. Essex, iii. 225-6.
  • 50. E.R.O., D/ACV 9B, pp. 50-1.
  • 51. Ibid. D/P 88/12/8.
  • 52. Ibid. D/CT 103.
  • 53. Ibid. D/P 88/6/1.
  • 54. Ibid. D/AZ 7/1, p. 150; ibid. T/P 175/12; R.C.H.M. Essex, 225-6.
  • 55. E.R.O., T/P 175/12; T/P 175/6/4; E.R. xiii. 251-2; E.A.T. n.s. xii. 62-3.
  • 56. W. N. Paul, Essex Fonts, 240; E.R.O., T/A 654; White's Dir. Essex (1848), 150; inscription in church.
  • 57. E.R.O., D/P 88/7/1.
  • 58. Ch. Bells Essex, 226-7; E.A.T. n.s. iii. 73.
  • 59. Ch. Plate Essex, 188; E.R. xxi. 166-7; xxii. 41.
  • 60. E.R.O., D/P 88/7/1; ibid. T/A 645.