Chipping Ongar: Church

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

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'Chipping Ongar: Church', in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred, ed. W R Powell( London, 1956), British History Online [accessed 20 July 2024].

'Chipping Ongar: Church', in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Edited by W R Powell( London, 1956), British History Online, accessed July 20, 2024,

"Chipping Ongar: Church". A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Ed. W R Powell(London, 1956), , British History Online. Web. 20 July 2024.


As is shown below there has been a church at Chipping Ongar since about 1100 if not earlier. In about 1254 the advowson belonged to the lord of the manor. (fn. 1) The institutions of rectors have been recorded from 1363 and show that the advowson continued to be appurtenant to the manor. (fn. 2) William Bourchier presented pro hac vice in 1409, the bishop by lapse in 1441, 1487, and 1557 and the Crown on several occasions during a minority. When the parish was temporarily united with that of Greenstead in 1548 (see below) the advowson of the new combined parish was vested in Richard, 1st Baron Rich, but after the revocation of the Act of union in 1554 the lord of the manor of Chipping Ongar again became patron of the living.

In 1635 Maurice Barrow and his wife presented to the living. (fn. 3) Barrow presented in 1658 and 1664. (fn. 4) Elizabeth Goldsborough presented in 1670, 1673, and 1680. (fn. 5) After this the advowson descended with the manor estate until the death of Lady Swinburne. In 1905 the Guild of All Souls acquired the advowson. (fn. 6)

In the account of Robert Peverel for the farm of Ongar in 1210 10s. was allowed 'to the mother church of Ongar in annual rent for the cemetery'. (fn. 7) In 1254 the rectory was valued at 4 marks. (fn. 8) Chipping Ongar was not included in the list of churches of Ongar deanery in the Taxatio of 1291, presumably because the rectory was worth less than 6 marks. (fn. 9) It was not even included in the list of smaller livings of the archdeaconries of Essex and Colchester. (fn. 10) John de Welde of Ongar, by his will proved in 1337, directed that his body should be buried in the church of St. Martin, Ongar. He bequeathed £5 to cover the expenses of his funeral, at which a brown 'turthel' cow with its calf was to be led before the body as a mortuary, and he also left a cow and 3 lb. of wax to maintain a candle burning daily at Mass in the church before the altar of St. Mary and St. Margaret. (fn. 11) In 1340 the taxable value of the living was stated to be £10, but this can hardly have been correct. (fn. 12) In 1428 it was reported that the church was assessed for subsidy on a tax de novo of 48s. (fn. 13) The taxable value was thus rather less than it had been in 1254.

In 1535 the rectory was valued at £6. (fn. 14) In 1548 it was united by Act of Parliament with that of Greenstead (q.v.) but the union was ended in 1554 by another Act which asserted that the Statute of 1548 had been brought about by the 'sinister labour and procurement of William Morris'. (fn. 15) According to the Act of Union the church of Ongar was 'dissolved' and that of Greenstead became the parish church of the joint parish. The site of the church and the churchyard of Ongar became the property of William Morris, previously the patron of Ongar. (fn. 16) This last provision was no doubt responsible for the charge against Morris. It is indeed difficult to believe that any worthy motives lay behind the Act of 1548: had it not been revoked the inhabitants of Ongar would have been deprived of their own church and compelled to journey a mile or more to the tiny church at Greenstead. The Act of 1554 was opposed by some of the inhabitants of Ongar, evidently those with a vested interest in the site of the church and churchyard. In that year the Privy Council ordered Sir Henry Tirell, Anthony Browne, and William Barneys 'to call before them the inhabitants of Ongar and the widow of William Morris and examining the parties that without authority of their own heads attempted lately to pluck down the church walls there, to set such order among them for their good quiet and stay of their friends doing therein'. (fn. 17)

During the Protectorate the minister of Chipping Ongar received an augmentation of income from the Trustees for the Maintenance of Ministers. (fn. 18) The church formed part of the Sixth Presbyterian Classis, called the Ongar Classis, formed in 1648. (fn. 19) In 1661 the rectory was valued at £40. Previous estimates in the 17th century had been £18 in 1604 and £50 in 1650. (fn. 20)

In 1723 the living was augmented by the addition of the present rectory house, with about 5 acres of glebe adjoining. This was bought for £409, of which £109 was contributed by the Revd. Jacob Houblon, Rector of Bobbingworth, £100 by Edward Colston, and £200 by Queen Anne's Bounty. (fn. 21) Before its purchase the rectory house had been the home of William Atwood and had been named 'Lovings'. (fn. 22) The north wing (now the kitchen, scullery, and pantry) had been built in the 17th century. (fn. 23) The main wing was added early in the 18th century. (fn. 24) It is a lath and plaster building of two stories with attics. The façade is symmetrical. The front door has pilasters and a pediment and there are two windows each side of it. The former rectory house had stood near the church on the north side. (fn. 25) In 1784, by a faculty dated 2 August, the rector was empowered to take down the old house, with the stable adjoining it, which had for many years been let as two 'poor ruinous cottages' at 50s. a year. (fn. 26) A terrier of 1810 describes the land upon which the house had stood. It was 105 ft. long and measured 35 ft. across at the western end, 25 ft. at the eastern end and 12 ft. in the centre. There was another piece of glebe at the east side of the church, running down to the pond. (fn. 27) By 1841 both these pieces of land had become part of the estate of Brook Hurlock, owner of the White House. (fn. 28) The Revd. R. I. Porter, who wrote his Notes on Chipping Ongar in 1877, could find no record of a quid pro quo. (fn. 29) The tithes of the parish were commuted in 1841 for £146. (fn. 30)

Richard Vaughan (1550?-1607) successively Bishop of Bangor, Chester, and London, was Rector of Chipping Ongar 1578-80. (fn. 31) John Lorkin, appointed minister of Chipping Ongar in 1659 or 1660, was ejected in 1662. (fn. 32) George Alsop, rector from 1670 to 1673, seems to have been vigorously orthodox, for in 1670 he was appointed by the bishop to read divine service at the Quaker meeting house in Gracechurch Street, London. (fn. 33)

The parish church of ST. MARTIN consists of a nave, chancel, south aisle, north vestry, and west porch, with a western bell-turret surmounted by a shingled spire, and a gallery at the west end of the nave. (fn. 34) The chancel and nave were built at the end of the 11th century. The walls are of coursed flint-rubble with the quoins and jambs of the north doorway of bricks, possibly Roman, and some courses of tiles in the walls. In the chancel there are two original round-headed windows, one at the east end of the north wall, the other opposite to it on the south wall. Between the windows on the north wall is a round-headed recess pierced by a small opening or hatch with external hinges and bolt-socket, perhaps originally an anchorite's cell. Flanking the present window in the east wall of the chancel are traces of four single light lancet windows showing that there was an original arrangement of six windows in two tiers under a higher gable. The original doorway on the south of the chancel is now blocked. On the north wall of the nave there is one original round-headed window; another, to the west of the present west window of this wall is now blocked; there are traces of a third original window near the east end of the wall. Between the third and fourth windows (counting from the east) is the original north doorway, now blocked. On the west wall of the nave there is another original round-headed window, and there are traces of two more. The western window on the south wall of the chancel dates from the 13th century: it has three grouped and graduated lancet lights. About the middle of the 14th century the chancel arch was rebuilt. The splays of the east window also date from this century, which suggests that the original arrangement of six small windows was then first replaced by a large window. The roof of the nave probably dates from the 14th century; it is of four bays with king-post trusses. In the 15th century the weather-boarded bellturret and spire were added. Early in the 16th century the present westen window was built in the north wall of the chancel. It is of three lights of brick with fourcentred heads. It may have replaced an earlier window which matched the opposite window on the south wall of the chancel. It is not possible to trace any of the effects of the supposed attempt in 1554 to pull down the church walls (see above). It does not seem likely that much damage was then done. The roof of the chancel is mainly Jacobean. (fn. 35) In 1752-3 two dormers were added on each side of the nave roof in order to give light to the gallery. (fn. 36) An engraving published in 1796 shows the north side of the church. (fn. 37) There was a north porch, apparently of brick. A path leading to a north door in the chancel shows that the door was then in use. At the east end of the north wall of the nave there is depicted a two-light window approximately in the position of the present east window. Another window is shown, partly obscured by the roof of the porch. This was apparently in the position now occupied by the second window from the east. Although little can be seen of it the window appears to be large and pointed. It is not unlikely that both these nave windows were contemporary with the 13th-century window in the chancel. It was probably soon after this that the main entrance was moved from the north to the west end of the nave, for in May 1814 the parish vestry, which had for some time been considering plans to provide additional seating accommodation, resolved that the north door should be closed and a pew placed across the entrance, and a new west door be opened. (fn. 38) In 1860 the church was restored and refitted at a cost of £700, defrayed by voluntary contributions. (fn. 39) At the same time a stained-glass window by Chater & Son, St. Dunstan's Hill, London, was placed on the north side of the nave in memory of Richard Noble, at the expense of his family. (fn. 40) In the following year the vestry was built. (fn. 41) In 1876 the pavement of the chancel in front of the altar rails was relaid with encaustic tiles, interspersed with white marble, at the expense of the Revd.T. M. R. Barnard, a parishioner. (fn. 42) In the same year memorial glass was inserted in the western window on the south wall of the chancel by Edward Sammes in memory of his wife. (fn. 43) In 1884 the south aisle was built. It is divided from the nave by an arcade of four arches. (fn. 44) The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings opposed the alterations. Their objections were answered in a vigorous letter by the architect, C. Rolfe. (fn. 45) This correspondence shows that the old south wall of the church contained two 'ancient' windows and a doorway of original Norman work, an injured 14th-century window and a piscina at the south-east corner of the nave.

In 1908 a stained glass window was placed in the west end of the aisle in memory of Lilla Tanner. (fn. 46) Miss L. W. Tanner (d. 1920) left her residuary estate in trust, the income to be paid to her aunt for life, and thereafter towards the beautifying of the parish church. In 1935 the capital amounted to £3,240 and in 1950 the income was £113. (fn. 47) In 1929 the glass in the east window was installed in Miss Tanner's memory. (fn. 48)

A new organ was installed in 1896, replacing one that had been in use since 1835. (fn. 49) The present vestry was built in 1917. (fn. 50)

In 1284-5 John the clerk of Ongar was killed by the clapper of the church bell, which fell upon him while he was ringing. The value of the bell and clapper as a deodand was returned as 8s. 2d. (fn. 51) The church now has two bells. The first was cast in 1672 by Anthony Bartlet, the second in 1737 by Richard Phelps. (fn. 52)

There is a paten dated 1705, and a cup and a paten dated 1728. All these are of silver gilt and were given by Elizabeth, wife of Richard Turner and daughter of Thomas Goldsborough. There is also a silver-gilt flagon, dated 1729, and a brass almsdish which was the gift of Miss Groves. (fn. 53) The parish registers survive from 1559. (fn. 54) In the chancel there is a monument to Nicolas Alexander (1714) and floor slabs (1) to Robert Hill (1648) and Anne (King) his second wife (1668) and Anne Greatherd his daughter (1683); (2) to Jane, wife of Tobias Pallavicine and daughter of (Sir) Oliver Cromwell of Hinchingbrook, Hunts. (1637); (3) to Horatio Pallavicine (1648). In the nave are floor slabs to (4) John King (1657) and Elizabeth his wife (1661) and Joseph King, his son (1679). The later monuments include one of 1776 by Nollekens. Among the graves in the churchyard are those of many members of the Boodle family, including that of Edward Boodle (1722-72) founder of Boodle's the club in St. James's Street, London. (fn. 55)


  • 1. E.A.T. n.s. xviii, 19.
  • 2. Newcourt, Repert. ii, 449-51.
  • 3. Ibid. 451. For Barrow see above, Manor.
  • 4. Ibid.; E.A.T. n.s. vii, 57.
  • 5. Newcourt, Repert. ii, 451. She was probably the widow of Thomas Goldsborough (d. 1664).
  • 6. Inf. from the Guild of All Souls.
  • 7. Pipe R. 1210 (Pipe R. Soc. n.s. xxvi), 206.
  • 8. Lunt, Val. of Norwich, 336.
  • 9. Cf. Rose Graham, Eccl. Studies, 298.
  • 10. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 23.
  • 11. Cat. Anct. D. i, A. 466.
  • 12. Inq. Non. (Rec. Com.), 316.
  • 13. Feud. Aids, ii, 205.
  • 14. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 437.
  • 15. 1 Mary c. 10 was the repealing Act. The Act of 1548 has no number. Cf. E.R. iv, 241; L.J. i, 336b, 455a, 456b.
  • 16. Newcourt, Repert. ii, 288.
  • 17. Acts of P.C. 1554-6, 34.
  • 18. E.R. xxx, 173-5; H. Smith, Eccl. Hist. Essex, 202, 213.
  • 19. Davids, Evang. Nonconf. in Essex, 277.
  • 20. E.A.T. n.s. xxi, 78, 83.
  • 21. R. I. Porter, Notes on Chipping Ongar, 12.
  • 22. Ibid.
  • 23. Hist. Mon. Com. Essex, ii, 55.
  • 24. Ibid.
  • 25. R. I. Porter, Notes on Chipping Ongar, 12.
  • 26. Ibid. 13.
  • 27. Ibid. 14.
  • 28. E.R.O., D/CT 262; R. I. Porter, op. cit. 14.
  • 29. Op. cit. 14. It is possible that this part of the glebe was that which the parish vestry agreed in 1795 to accept in exchange for another piece previously occupied by the poorhouse (see Parish Government and Poor Relief).
  • 30. E.R.O., D/CT 262; Porter, op. cit. 14.
  • 31. D.N.B.
  • 32. E.A.T. n.s. xxi, 78, 83.
  • 33. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1670, 314. He was violently opposed and had to escape.
  • 34. Hist. Mon. Com. Essex, ii, 52.
  • 35. The date 1647 is carved on one of the principals: E.R.O., T/P96: Ongar W.E.A. Survey 1951.
  • 36. Vestry Bk. 1743-75, at the rectory.
  • 37. Gents. Mag. Feb. 1796, p. 113.
  • 38. E.R.O., D/P 124/8/2. Cf. White's Dir. Essex (1848), 431: 'at the west end a new porch has recently been erected'.
  • 39. R. I. Porter, Notes on Chipping Ongar, 10.
  • 40. Ibid.
  • 41. Ibid.
  • 42. Ibid.
  • 43. Ibid.
  • 44. E.A.T. n.s. xiv, 115.
  • 45. Letters at the rectory, Chipping Ongar.
  • 46. E.R. xviii, 165.
  • 47. Char. Com. Recs.
  • 48. E.R. xxxviii, 151. The glass was designed by Mr. Leonard Walker: E.R.O., T/P 96: Ongar W.E.A. Survey, 1951.
  • 49. E.R. v, 67.
  • 50. E.R.O., T/P 96: Ongar W.E.A. Survey, 1951.
  • 51. E.A.T. n.s. vii, 188-9.
  • 52. Ch. Bells Essex, 350.
  • 53. Ch. Plate Essex, 139.
  • 54. Essex Par. Recs. 166. Those for 1559-1750 have been published by F. A. Crisp, Parish Regs. of Ongar (1886).
  • 55. N. & Q. 29 Apr. 1939, 301.