Abbess Roding: Church

Pages 193-195

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

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During the Middle Ages the advowson of the parish church of Abbess Roding was held by Barking Abbey. (fn. 1) The first presentation after the Dissolution was made by Edward Brook in 1541 by virtue of a previous grant from the abbey. Thomas Wiseman presented in 1565 and John Glascock in 1587. (fn. 2) Soon after this the advowson was acquired by (Sir) Gamaliel Capel and descended with the manor until 1680, when Prosper Nicholas presented pro hac vice. (fn. 3) William Turner presented in 1682. (fn. 4) In 1719 the advowson was conveyed to Richard Waylett by Samuel Pratt and Anne his wife and John Benson and Mary his wife. (fn. 5) In 1731 Richard Waylett conveyed it to Edward Hinton, Rector of Sheering and John Maryon, Rector of White Roding. (fn. 6) Hinton and Maryon presented in 1732 and Maryon alone in 1748. (fn. 7) The next presentation, in 1786, was by Thomas Dyer and Walwyn Shepheard. (fn. 8) The advowson remained in the Dyer family until about 1850. Two members of the family were rectors of Abbess Roding. (fn. 9) By 1854 the advowson had been acquired by Capel Cure of Blake Hall (in Bobbingworth, q.v.) who presented his son, L. Capel Cure, in 1858. (fn. 10) The latter was rector until 1912 and also held the advowson. He was succeeded as rector and patron by his son, C. L. Capel-Cure, who held the rectory until his retirement in 1948. In 1927 the benefice of Abbess Roding was united with that of Beauchamp Roding (q.v.). The advowson of the united benefice was vested in the Revd. C. L. Capel-Cure and the Bishop of Chelmsford alternately. The present patrons are the bishop and Mrs. L. J. Capel-Cure. (fn. 11) Since 1949 the united benefice has been held along with the vicarages of Good Easter and Berners Roding.

The rectory of Abbess Roding was never appropriated but about 1096 the tithes from the lands of Eudo dapifer (see above, Berwick Berners manor) were granted to the abbey of St. John, Colchester. In about 1254 it was stated that the Abbot of Colchester and the nuns of the priory of Stratford-atte-Bow (Mdx.) then received all the tithes of Oger Fitz Michael. (fn. 12) At some date, presumably after this, the Abbot of Colchester restored all the tithes to the Rector of Abbess Roding. (fn. 13) The rectory was valued at 10 marks in about 1254, 1291, and 1428 and a £14 10s. in 1535. (fn. 14) Tithes were commuted n: 843 for £455; there were then 19 acres of glebe. (fn. 15)

The original rectory house was immediately south of the churchyard. It was rebuilt in 1859 on or near the same site by L. Capel Cure. (fn. 16) The new building served as the rectory only until 1912. It is now called The Manor and is a large red-brick structure of three stories. In 1912 a smaller rectory was built on the opposite side of the road by C. L. Capel-Cure. This was sold to him on his retirement and has since been named Abbess House. It is a well-designed red-brick building in an informal Queen Anne style. There is now no rectory in Abbess Roding. The present (1955) rector is also vicar of Good Easter and lives there.

The parish church of ST. EDMUND consists of nave, chancel, west tower, north vestry, and south porch. The walls are of flint rubble, roughly coursed except where they have been restored, and the original dressings are of clunch. The plan indicates a 12thcentury origin and the dedication suggests that there was a church here before the Norman Conquest. The nave was probably rebuilt in the 14th century and the chancel in the 14th and 15th. The tower and porch were rebuilt in 1866-8 and the vestry was probably added before the end of the 19th century. The most interesting features of the church are the oak screen and the stained glass, both of the 15th century.

The position of the north and south doorways suggests that the nave was originally built in the 12th century. The font is of the late 12th century and is similar in type to others in the neighbourhood. (fn. 17) The square bowl, which is bound with iron, has vine ornament carved on two sides and conventionalized flowers on another. On the fourth side appear the disk, crescent, whorl, and stars which are characteristic of these fonts. The stem is circular and has small angle shafts.

The nave was probably rebuilt in the 14th century. There are two pointed windows with tracery of this date. They have been partially restored but retain their external label moulds and grotesque head-stops. The doorways are also 14th-century in style but the south doorway has been completely rebuilt. West of the doorways are single-light windows which are either modern or very thoroughly restored. A 14th-century piscina in the south wall has an ogee head on a square drain. The chancel arch, much restored, is of two moulded orders. The windows on the north side of the chancel have tracery of the 14th century, but the later rebuilding of the rear arches has blocked the spandrels. Between them is a small chamber or cupboard, projecting externally and having a pent roof. The opening to the chancel, now blocked, has a small doorway, probably of the 14th century, with a pointed head.

There is much 15th-century work in the chancel. The two south windows have moulded jambs and fourcentred heads. The east window, entirely rebuilt in the 19th century, has tracery in the style of the 15th century and may replace a similar window of that date. The late 15th-century south doorway has a fourcentred head with carved spandrels and a square label externally. The stonework has been partly renewed. The chancel roof has two tie-beams and a deep moulded and embattled wall-plate. Below the east tie-beam are moulded wall-posts and arched braces springing from modern corbel brackets. The nave roof, of similar date, has two tie-beams with traceried spandrels between the arched braces and the moulded wall-posts. At the west end are indications of the former bell turret, 'a little wooden turret with a spire'. (fn. 18) This is shown in an engraving of 1797. (fn. 19) In the same picture appears a large timber-framed south porch, also probably of the 15th century, having seven pointed lights along the sides. The turret and porch were both rebuilt in 1867 but there is still a 15th-century stoup outside the south door.

The fine oak screen is of the late 15th century. It has evidently been brought from elsewhere and cut to fit the present chancel arch. There are three full bays, one of which forms the entrance to the chancel, and an extra half bay at the south end. The upper panels have four-centred heads and are filled with elaborately cusped perpendicular tracery. The principal mullions are carved with buttresses and crocketed finials. The rail is enriched with a running vine ornament and the lower panels have tracery carving. The cresting is modern.

In one of the 15th-century chancel windows is some painted glass of the same period. It includes tabernacle work and two figures, one being a bishop in mass vestments and the other a woman, probably St. Margaret.

Above the pulpit is a fine early-18th-century sounding board with an inlaid soffit and an enriched cornice. It is supported on a fluted Doric pilaster in the angle between the south and east walls of the nave. The octagonal oak pulpit may be partly of the same date, altered later. The wrought-iron hour-glass stand near the pulpit is probably also of the 18th century.

In 1866-7 the church was restored and refitted at the expense of Capel Cure of Blake Hall. The work included the rebuilding of the tower and the south porch. The present tower is of flint rubble with freestone dressings and is of three stages surmounted by a castellated parapet. Its style is mainly of the 14th century. The south porch is of timber. At the same time the east wall of the chancel was completely rebuilt, there were repairs to windows and roofs, the nave was repaved and new seats and new stained glass were installed. The total cost of the restoration was about £2,000. (fn. 20) The north vestry was probably added later in the 19th century.

The carved oak reredos, which has traceried panels and other enrichments, is the work of the late Miss Capel-Cure and was added in 1938. (fn. 21)

There are three bells. Two are probably of the 15th century, one being by John Walgrave. The third is by John Hodson, 1665.

The church plate includes a plated paten, cup, and flagon of the 19th century and a silver paten of 1869. The plated paten was probably bought after an archdeacon's visitation of about 1816 when the church was ordered to sell a pewter paten and flagon and provide a paten for bread and offerings. (fn. 22)

On the north wall of the nave is a fine carved and painted wall tablet of alabaster and black marble. It is in memory of Sir Gamaliel Capell (1613) and has figures of himself and his wife kneeling at a prayer desk. Below, also kneeling, are six sons and three daughters. The monument was formerly in the chancel. (fn. 23) On the opposite wall of the nave is a tablet in similar materials but of very unusual design. It commemorates Mildred (Capell) wife of Sir William Lucklyn (1633) and shows a lady looking out from a curtained recess, the curtains being held back by cherubs. Behind her, angels are descending to place a crown on her head. Above is a segmental pediment and an achievement of arms. Also on the south wall of the nave are two mounted brass tablets having an achievement of arms and a rhymed inscription to Edward Humberstone of Cockerells (1622). There are marble tablets to Thomas Dyer (1852) and L. Capel Cure (1912), both rectors of the parish, and there is also a memorial tablet to those who were killed in the First World War.


  • 1. Newcourt, Repert. ii, 498.
  • 2. Ibid. Between 1541 and 1565 the advowson was the subject of several royal grants: Cal. Pat. 1550-3, 13, 326; ibid. 1558-60, 460.
  • 3. Newcourt, Repert. ii, 498-9.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. CP25(2)/1013 Mich. 6 Geo. I.
  • 6. E.R.O., D/DC 23/560.
  • 7. Morant, Essex, i, 139. For Maryon see J. E. Maryon, Recs. of Family of Maryon (E.R.O., pamphlet).
  • 8. P.R.O. Inst. Bks., Ser. C. i(1).
  • 9. Cler. Guide, 1819-36; Clergy List, 1845 f.
  • 10. Clergy List, 1854 f.; E.R. xxi, 226.
  • 11. Crockford's Cler. Dir. passim; Chelmsford Dioc. Year Bk. 1952.
  • 12. E.A.T. n.s. xviii, 19. For Oger Fitz Michael see Berwick Berners. No other reference has been found to the Priory of Stratford in this connexion.
  • 13. Cart. of St. John's Abbey, Colchester, ed. Stuart Moore, 522.
  • 14. E.A.T. n.s. xviii, 19; Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 21b; Feud. Aids, ii, 205; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 437.
  • 15. E.R.O., D/CT 292.
  • 16. E.R. xxi, 226.
  • 17. Cf. Moreton, Little Laver, and (outside Ongar hundred) Fryerning.
  • 18. Morant, Essex, i, 139.
  • 19. E.R.O. Prints, Abbess Roding.
  • 20. E.R.O., D/P 145/5; tablet in church tower.
  • 21. Inf. from the Revd. R. T. K. Griffin, present rector.
  • 22. Ch. Plate Essex, 146. Cf. E.A.T. n.s. xviii, 207.
  • 23. T. Wright, Hist. Essex, ii, 344.