Boxted: Church

Pages 65-67

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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In the earlier 12th century the church was split into moieties held by the lords of Boxted Hall and Rivers Hall respectively. Hugh of Boxted gave his share of the church to St. John's abbey, Colchester, between 1163 and 1181, and Robert of Horkesley and Beatrice his wife gave theirs to Little Horkesley priory before 1135. Both religious houses had apparently appropriated their shares by 1254 when there was a vicarage. In 1237 St. John's abbey gave its share of the advowson to the bishop of London and c. 1250 Little Horkesley priory exchanged its half with the bishop, who thus became sole patron. (fn. 1) The advowson of the vicarage has remained in the hands of the diocesan bishop, (fn. 2) passing to the bishop of Rochester in 1846, to the bishop of St. Albans in 1877, and to the bishop of Chelmsford in 1914. (fn. 3) The bishops presented regularly, except during episcopal vacancies when the crown presented as in 1361, 1405, and 1596. (fn. 4) In 1975 the benefice was combined with Langham. (fn. 5)

The church, presumably the rectory, was worth 5 marks and the vicarage 4 marks in 1254, (fn. 6) and the church was valued at £7 6s. 8d. in 1291. (fn. 7) In 1535 the vicarage was valued at £7 13s. 8d. (fn. 8)

In 1610 the impropriate rectory was said to have stripped the vicar 'stark naked', without glebe, wood, hay, or corn. (fn. 9) That may have been an exaggeration, for by 1650 the vicarage glebe was worth £4 and the tithes £41, (fn. 10) and in 1661 the living was said to be worth £60. (fn. 11) In 1720 the vicarage was augmented with £100 from Bishop John Robinson of London and £100 from Queen Anne's Bounty, and an estate of c. 27 a. at Pebmarsh was purchased. (fn. 12) In 1723 and 1810 three or four small farms claimed to be tithe-free. (fn. 13) In 1835 the vicarage was valued at £190 a year. (fn. 14) In 1838 the tithes were commuted for a rent charge of £225, (fn. 15) which remained almost the sole income of the living in 1851 and 1887. (fn. 16)

The vicarial glebe in Boxted increased from only 1 a. with 1½ a. of garden and orchard in 1610, (fn. 17) to c. 4 a. including an allotment on Boxted heath in 1838. (fn. 18) In 1887 there was 1½ a. of garden, 1 a. glebe opposite the vicarage, and 2 a. on Straight Road let as allotments, as well as the Pebmarsh farm, (fn. 19) which was sold in 1920. (fn. 20)

There was a vicarage house in 1610, described as 'rough-cast and tiled' in 1810. (fn. 21) It was so neglected by 1836 that it was demolished and replaced by a neo-classical brick house of two storeys and three bays. (fn. 22) It was sold after the union of the benefice with Langham in 1975. (fn. 23)

Robert, priest of Boxted, was recorded c. 1180. (fn. 24) Henry, vicar in 1332, may have been the Henry Ray who resigned in 1357, and vicars are known from that date onward. (fn. 25) In 1524-5 there was a parish guild. (fn. 26) The 'gild' recorded in 1598 may have been a guildhall. (fn. 27)

Two Boxted Lollards, one the holy water clerk, abjured in 1505 and two other Lollards were arrested in 1531. (fn. 28) From 1528 heretics, probably Lollards, from Colchester and Steeple Bumpstead met at a Boxted house whose owners were arrested in 1534. (fn. 29)

In 1555 and c. 1560 vicars were deprived, presumably for Protestantism and Catholicism respectively. (fn. 30) Philip Silgate or Gilgate (vicar 1578-96), was reported as an unpreaching minister in 1584 and c. 1593. In 1590 the churchwardens accused him of brawling and slandering, of not wearing a surplice nor making the sign of the cross, and of procuring the parson of Langham to preach without licence. (fn. 31)

George Phillips, a nonconformist divine later prominent in Massachusetts, was curate of Boxted c. 1617. (fn. 32) Nathaniel Kirkland, vicar in 1621 and 1633, failed to keep the parish registers and in 1633 the church lacked a surplice, pulpit, and communion table. (fn. 33) John Hubbert, vicar 1644-c. 1651, was a puritan who signed the Testimony in 1648 and the Watchword in 1649. (fn. 34) By 1655 the vicar was Nathaniel Carr who was perhaps the 'Mr. Lax' ejected in 1662; he was still living in the parish in 1664. (fn. 35) His successor was the controversial pamphleteer Edmund Hickeringill, whose incumbency was opposed by many parishioners led by the puritan John Maidstone. Hickeringill resigned in 1664, but he lived in the parish until his death in 1708. (fn. 36)

Henry Goodrick, resident vicar 1723-47, held regular services on Sundays and communion three times a year. (fn. 37) Robert Ingram, a noted Protestant divine, vicar of Wormingford from 1760, was also vicar of Boxted from 1768 until his death in 1804. (fn. 38) In 1770 he lived at Wormingford and Boxted church was served by a curate who lived in Dedham. Communion was held six times a year. (fn. 39) C. Norman (d. 1868), the popular 'low church' vicar from 1835, was instrumental in the creation of the Church school. It was said that over two thirds of the families belonged to the church in 1841 when the average number of communicants was c. 50. (fn. 40) In 1851 church attendance was 146 at the morning service and 210 in the afternoon, although the vicar claimed that it was below average due to influenza. (fn. 41)

The church known as ST. PETER since 1848, (fn. 42) formerly St. Mary, (fn. 43) has a chancel, nave with north and south aisles, south porch, and west tower. Built primarily of rubble with puddingstone and Roman brick, the nave, chancel arch, and tower are early 12th-century. The out lines of the original high windows remain above the north arcade. The aisles were probably added in the mid 14th century when the clerestory and the surviving crown-post nave roof were made. About the same time the small west window in the tower was replaced, and two windows were inserted in the east wall of the nave above the chancel arch.

The chancel windows were probably renewed in the late 1530s, after the dissolution of Little Horkesley priory, when the chancel was in such bad repair that the incumbent refused to hold services there. Perhaps at the same time the tower was repaired in brick with brick angle buttresses. The timber-framed porch was added after 1586. A timber dormer window in the south aisle is dated 1604, and another in the clerestory may be 18th-century, perhaps to light a former south gallery. A west gallery on iron columns was added in 1836 with a grant from the Incorporated Society for the Enlargement and Building of Churches and Chapels (later The Incorporated Church Building Society). It now accommodates the organ of the same date. (fn. 44)

Minor repairs were ordered in 1633 and 1705. (fn. 45) The church was restored c. 1870 by A. W. Blomfield, who extended the north aisle to form a vestry, refloored the chancel and tower, and reseated the chancel, nave, and tower. (fn. 46) The chancel was repaired in the 1930s, when the ceiling may have been replaced. The tower was restored in the 1950s. (fn. 47)

In 1684 there was a silver cup engraved Boxted on its foot, and a pewter flagon and paten. The flagon and paten had been replaced in silver by 1810. (fn. 48) In 1925 there was an unmarked cup, probably early-17th century, a copy of that cup dated 1836, a paten dated 1782, and two flagons dated 1778 and 1811. (fn. 49)

The surviving chest may be 17th-century. (fn. 50) The font has a modern bowl, on an apparently early 19th-century artificial stone stem.

Three bells were recorded in 1684 and 1845, but only two by 1870. In 1909 they were (i) Thomas Gardiner, Sudbury 1714 (ii) Thomas Mears, London, 1812. (fn. 51)

Monuments include five chancel floorslabs to 17th-century members of the Maidstone family, and a nave floorslab to Alexander Carr (d. 1681) and John Marr (d. 1683), servants of the earl of Oxford. (fn. 52) The arms of George III hang on the north wall of the nave.

The churchyard was expanded in 1868 by the addition of 36½ p. of land from Camping close. (fn. 53)


  • 1. Newcourt, Repertorium, ii. 77-8; Reg. Regum Anglo- Norm. ii, p. 338; V.C.H. Essex, ii. 94, 137; Early Chart. St. Paul's Cathedral, Camd. 3rd. ser. lviii. 66, 70-5; E.A.T. n.s. xviii. 25, 122; E.R.O., Acc. C235 (uncat.), box 4, pp. 137-8.
  • 2. Grants of the advowson to St. George's chapel, Windsor, in 1532, to Thomas Wolsey, and to the holders of the rectory in 1545, appear to have been made in error: L. & P. Hen. VIII, v, p. 579; ibid. xx (1), p. 227; Feet of F. Essex, iv. 290, 296.
  • 3. Lond. Gaz. 4 June 1852, p. 1578; Kelly's Dir. Essex (1878 and later edns.); Chelm. Dioc. Yr. Bk. (1997/98); E.R.O., T/A 547/1/2.
  • 4. Newcourt, Repertorium, ii. 79-80; Cal. Pat. 1361-4, 136; 1405-8, 29; Reg. Sudbury, i. 226; E.R.O., T/A 547/1/2.
  • 5. Chelm. Dioc. Yr. Bk. (1974/75, 1975/76).
  • 6. E.A.T. n.s. xviii. 122.
  • 7. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 23.
  • 8. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 444.
  • 9. Guildhall MS. 9628, box 3.
  • 10. Smith, Eccl. Hist. Essex, 309.
  • 11. E.A.T. n.s. xxi. 75.
  • 12. E.R.O., T/P 195/11; ibid. D/P 155/3/1; C. Hodgson, Queen Anne's Bounty, 38.
  • 13. E.R.O., D/P 155/3/1; Guildhall MS. 25705/1.
  • 14. Rep. Com. on Eccl. Rev. [67], pp. 638-9, H.C. (1835), xxii.
  • 15. E.R.O., D/CT 43.
  • 16. Ibid. D/P 155/6/1; P.R.O., HO 129/8/205.
  • 17. Guildhall MS. 9628, box 3.
  • 18. E.R.O., D/CT 43.
  • 19. Ibid. T/A 645.
  • 20. Ibid. D/P 155/6/1.
  • 21. Guildhall MS. 9628, box 3; E.R.O., D/P 155/3/1.
  • 22. Guildhall MS. 19226/19.
  • 23. Chelm. Dioc. Yr. Bk. (1978/79, 1980/81).
  • 24. E.R.O., Acc. C235 (uncat.), box 4, p. 137.
  • 25. P. H. Reaney, Early Essex Clergy, 51.
  • 26. E.R.O., T/A 427/1/7.
  • 27. Ibid. D/DTs M50, rot. 1d.
  • 28. Davids, Nonconf. in Essex, 3-4, 10.
  • 29. L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv (1), p. 1859; (2), pp. 1790, 1984; ibid. ix, pp. 378, 383; J. E. Oxley, Reformation in Essex (1965), p. 90.
  • 30. V.C.H. Essex, ii. 33 n., 35.
  • 31. F. G. Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Ch. Courts, 202; Sec- onde Parte of a Register, ed. A. Peel, ii. 159; E.A.T. n.s. vi. 140.
  • 32. D.N.B.; V.C.H. Essex Bibl. i. 117.
  • 33. E.R.O., D/ACV 5, f. 36v.; ibid. D/P 155/1/2; Smith, 'Essex Parochial Clergy 1640-64', ii. 79 (TS. in E.R.O.).
  • 34. Davids, Nonconf. in Essex, 434; Smith, Eccl. Hist. Essex, 380; Calamy Revised, ed. A. G. Matthews, 281.
  • 35. Smith, Eccl. Hist. Essex, 158, 212, 366; Calamy Revised, 101, 319; Davids, Nonconf. in Essex, 354; E.R.O., D/P 155/1/1, f. 56 and v.
  • 36. D.N.B.; V.C.H. Essex, ii. 72; E.R. lviii. 127, 129; E.R.O., Q/SR 400/136-41; Q/SR 400/133-35; ibid. D/P 155/1/1, f. 57v.
  • 37. Guildhall MSS. 25750/1, 25751, 25753/1, 25754/1, 27755/1.
  • 38. D.N.B.; Gent. Mag. lxxiv (2), 882.
  • 39. Lamb. Pal. Libr., Lowth Papers 4.
  • 40. E.R.O., D/ACM 12; ibid. T/A 547/1/2; inf. from Boxted Local Hist. Group; below, this par., Educ.
  • 41. P.R.O., HO 129/8/205.
  • 42. White's Dir. Essex (1848), 117.
  • 43. F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Ch. Dedications, iii. 60. Dedication recorded 1500: E.A.T. n.s. xxi. 236, 250.
  • 44. E.R.O., D/DEl P1, p. 44; L. & P. Hen. VIII, vi, p. 201; R.C.H.M. Essex, iii. 9-10; Pevsner, Essex, 96; Carter, Short Hist. Boxted, 35; Dept. of Env., Building List.
  • 45. E.R.O., D/ACV 5, f. 36v; D/ACV 9A, f. 68.
  • 46. Ibid. D/AZ 7/1, p. 58; ibid. D/CF 9/2.
  • 47. Ibid. D/P 155/6/8; 'St. Peter's Church, Boxted: List of Memorials' (TS. in E.R.O.); W. and K. Rodwell, Hist. Chs. 98; Carter, Short Hist. Boxted, 45.
  • 48. E.R.O., D/ACV 9A, f. 19; ibid. D/P 155/3/1.
  • 49. Ch. Plate Essex, 206.
  • 50. Cf. H. W. Lewer and J. C. Wall, Ch. Chests Essex, 89; R.C.H.M. Essex, iii. 10.
  • 51. E.R.O., D/ACV 9A, f. 19; ibid. D/AZ 7/1, p. 58; Ch. Bells Essex, 185-6; Kelly's Dir. Essex (1845, 1870).
  • 52. R.C.H.M. Essex, iii. 10.
  • 53. E.R.O., D/P 155/8/1; ibid. D/CC 19/1.