Bobbingworth: Church

Pages 14-15

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.

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It seems that Hamon de Marcy held the advowson of Bobbingworth in the early 13th century. (fn. 1) After his death, which occurred before 1244, his widow Denise held it in dower. (fn. 2) In 1244 it was agreed that at the death of Denise it should pass to Alice and John de Merk and to the heirs of Alice who, by another agreement, became overlords of the manor of Bobbingworth (see above). (fn. 3) In about 1262 John de Merk was patron of the living. (fn. 4). In 1280 Ralph de Merk, probably the son of John, granted the advowson, with ½ acre of land, to John de Lovetot for 30 marks. (fn. 5) Lovetot still held the advowson at his death in 1293, but by 1328 it was in the possession of Henry Spigurnel, tenant in demesne of the manor of Bobbingworth. (fn. 6) In 1332 Thomas Spigurnel granted the advowson as well as the manor to Robert de Hakeney. (fn. 7) In 1365 and 1368 John King presented to the living. (fn. 8) In 1389 Joan Morell was holding a life interest in the advowson which from that time descended with the manor of Bobbingworth until 1575. (fn. 9) In 1575, when Sir Thomas Walsingham and John Rochester divided Bobbingworth manor between them, they agreed that the advowson should remain in common and that they should present to the living in turn. (fn. 10) In 1582 Thomas Barefoot presented pro hac vice by concession of Sir Thomas Walsingham. (fn. 11) In 1598 Sir Thomas Walsingham granted his rights in the advowson to Robert Bourne, owner of Blake Hall (see above). (fn. 12) Afterwards the owners of the manors of Blake Hall and Bobbingworth had alternate rights of presentation. They sometimes sold their single turns. In 1669 John, 3rd Baron Digby, then life tenant of Blake Hall, granted his next turn to John Robinson of Stapleford Tawney. (fn. 13) In 1673 Robinson sold it to Sir John Archer, a Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, who presented in 1678. (fn. 14) In 1692 James Lordell presented Jacob Houblon. (fn. 15) When Charles Houblon, brother of Jacob, purchased the manor of Bobbingworth from John and Mary Poole in 1708 he also purchased their right to half the advowson. (fn. 16) At that time Mary Poole held a life interest in it with remainder to John Poole. (fn. 17) The advowson remained divided between the owners of the manors of Bobbingworth and Blake Hall until 1834 when Capel Cure of Blake Hall purchased the manor of Bobbingworth and the alternate right of patronage annexed to it. (fn. 18) In 1838 Capel Cure presented W. M. Oliver. (fn. 19) Since that time the living has remained in the gift of the Capel Cures. (fn. 20)

In about 1254 the rectory was valued at 5 marks. (fn. 21) In 1291 it was valued at £6 13s. 4d. (fn. 22) In 1428 the church was still taxed on this valuation. (fn. 23) In 1535 the rectory was valued at £13 6s. 8d. (fn. 24) Its 'improved' value was £60 in 1604, £81 in 1650, and £100 in 1661. (fn. 25) The tithes were commuted in 1840 for £455; (fn. 26) there were then 32 acres of glebe. (fn. 27)

The rectory was built by the Revd. W. M. Oliver in 1839 (fn. 28) near the site of an earlier parsonage. (fn. 29) It is a three-story square house of gault brick with a twostory wing on the north. A difference in brickwork suggests that the top story may have been a later addition.

The parish church of ST. GERMAIN consists of nave, chancel, vestry, and north tower. At different periods parts of the church have been rebuilt so that very little medieval work now remains. In particular subsidence on the south side has necessitated constant repairs.

The date of the original nave is not known but it may be indicated by a 13th-century piscina in the south wall, now reset, which has a pointed head and attached shafts. In 1909 Frederic Chancellor stated that during then recent work to the south wall ancient oak uprights were found embedded near its west end. (fn. 30) He suggested that these might have represented part of a pre-Conquest church, but in the absence of better evidence this must remain extremely doubtful.

The chancel, replaced in 1840, was probably of the 14th century. In 1835 (fn. 31) it is described as of ancient appearance and the east window as 'a good specimen of the decorated style of architecture'. The nave roof is of the trussed rafter type and may be of the 15th century. Probably also in the 15th century a wooden bell tower was added beyond the west end of the nave. (fn. 32) This appears to have been in two stages, the upper one of smaller diameter, and to have had a small shingled spire. (fn. 33) The church still had a small north porch in the early 19th century (fn. 34) and this may have been of late medieval origin.

The nave is said to have been rebuilt in red brick in 1680. (fn. 35) In 1770 considerable work was done to the interior of the church including the erection of a west gallery presented by Jacob Houblon. (fn. 36) The nave walls were again largely rebuilt in 1818 and fitted with oak windows. (fn. 37) In 1840 the chancel was rebuilt in gault brick at the rector's expense. (fn. 38) The 14th-century style of the demolished work was probably copied, particularly with regard to the east window. In 1840 a north tower and porch were built, a Mr. Burton being the architect. (fn. 39) They are of gault brick and the style is again inspired by the 14th century. The tower has three stages with pointed openings and a castellated parapet. The lowest stage combines the functions of a ringing chamber and a north porch to the church. The red-brick vestry was built in 1864 at the expense of the Capel Cure family. (fn. 40) It occupies the same position as the wooden bell tower demolished in 1840. In 1902 seven new nave windows with stone tracery were presented by the Revd. W. M. Oliver after his retirement. (fn. 41) These replaced the wooden windows of 1818. The nave roof was restored in 1907. (fn. 42) In 1931-2 repairs were carried out to the roof and the south wall of the nave and the 18th-century gallery was removed. (fn. 43)

The stone font is of the 15th century with an octagonal bowl and a moulded shaft. In 1770 the bowl was removed and a new one fitted to the pedestal. (fn. 44) In 1936 the original bowl, carved with the initials 'J.P.', was discovered in the churchyard at Little Parndon. It was presented to Bobbingworth by the Netteswell and Little Parndon Parochial Church Council and now occupies its original position. (fn. 45) There is an iron-bound chest with two locks of the 17th century. The pulpit has early 17th-century arabesque ornament. The panelling and reading-desk in the nave appear to have been made up of woodwork of various dates, the oldest probably of the early 17th century. The seating in the nave is of early 19th-century date, the more elaborate pitch pine pews of the chancel probably date from 1840.

The plate includes a cup of 1635 inscribed with initials
, also a paten inscribed 'Bovinger 1684'. The plate now in use is of 1933.

Six bells were presented by the Revd. W. M. Oliver in 1841. (fn. 46) In 1834 an acre of land in the parish called Bell Acre formed part of the glebe; by tradition the rector was supposed to provide bell ropes and hassocks for the church from the rent it yielded. (fn. 47) The then rector, however, refused to observe the tradition since there was no documentary evidence to support it. (fn. 48) The custom appears never to have been revived.

In the chancel are two reset brass inscriptions, one to William Bourne (1581) with an achievement of arms and one to Robert Bourne (1639) with two shields. Before its rebuilding in 1840 there were several inscriptions in the chancel to members of the Bourne family and others which have now disappeared. (fn. 49) These included an unusual incised slab bearing the arms of the City of London and of the Grocers' Company together with a standing figure of William Chapman (1627) who married a daughter of Robert Bourne. (fn. 50) In the nave are several tablets to the Capel Cure family including the first Capel Cure of Blake Hall (1820) and his two wives (1773 and 1804). On the nave roof are painted hatchments of the Capel Cures and Pooles.


  • 1. Feet of F. Essex, i, 148-9.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. E.A.T. n.s. xviii, 19.
  • 5. Feet of F. Essex, ii, 28.
  • 6. Cal. Inq. p.m. iii, pp. 131, 133, vii, p. 124.
  • 7. E.R.O., D/DB T96/6.
  • 8. Reg. Sudbury (Cant. & York Soc.), i, 244, 260.
  • 9. Feet of F. Essex, iii, 211; Newcourt, Repert. ii, 66.
  • 10. E.R.O., D/DB T98.
  • 11. Newcourt, Repert. ii, 66.
  • 12. CP25(2)/138/1750.
  • 13. E.R.O., D/DB T98.
  • 14. Ibid.
  • 15. Newcourt, Repert. ii, 66.
  • 16. E.R.O., D/DB T98; D/DWv T51.
  • 17. Ibid.
  • 18. E.R.O., D/DCc T1/1-3; D/DCc T2; D/DCc T4; J. Ecton, Thesaurus, 270; J. Bacon, Lib. Reg. 615.
  • 19. Sepulchral Mems. of Bobbingworth, ed. F. A. Crisp, 38.
  • 20. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1874 f.); Chel. Dioc. Year Bk. 1952.
  • 21. W. E. Lunt, Val. of Norwich, 336.
  • 22. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 21b.
  • 23. Feud. Aids, ii, 205.
  • 24. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 437.
  • 25. E.A.T. n.s. xxi, 78, 83.
  • 26. .R.O., D/CT 38.
  • 27. Ibid.
  • 28. E.R. xiv, 186.
  • 29. Chapman and Andre, Map of Essex, 1777, sheet xii.
  • 30. E.A.T. n.s. xi, 175.
  • 31. Wright, Hist. Essex, ii, 359.
  • 32. bid. 'The Steeple and the steeple end of the building is of wood.'
  • 33. Drawing on a Blake Hall estate map of 1804. Photosta tat E.R.O. (T/M 213).
  • 34. Ibid.
  • 35. Inf. from Canon E. H. Gallop, Rector of Bobbingworth.
  • 36. E.R.O., D/P 127/25.
  • 37. Vestry book 1808-1922.
  • 38. Ibid.
  • 39. Ibid.
  • 40. Ibid.
  • 41. Ibid.
  • 42. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1929).
  • 43. Inf. from Canon E. H. Gallop.
  • 44. E.R.O., D/P 127/25.
  • 45. Inf. from Canon E. H. Gallop.
  • 46. Ch. Bells Essex, 181-2.
  • 47. Rep. Com. Char. (Essex), H.C. 216, p. 218 (1835), xxi (1).
  • 48. Ibid.
  • 49. Wright, Hist. Essex, ii, 359.
  • 50. E.A.T. n.s. xii, 321-2.