The Essex Churches Site

 

THE ESSEX CHURCHES SITE

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St Peter, Ugley

Ugley

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  It was the Historic Churches bike ride day, 2012. I took my bike on an early train to Elsenham on the Cambridge to Liverpool Street line just before Stansted Airport, and headed out to St Peter, Ugley. This is beyond the M11, a remote estate church with just the hall and farm for company. You have to walk the last 100 yards or so.
The ladies on duty were very nice. This and neighbouring Henham church describe themselves as 'welcoming conservative evangelical churches, committed to hearing God speak through the Bible and prayer'. Not really my kind of thing, but then again we are on the edge of the vast Anglo-catholic heartland of north Essex centred around Thaxted, with more liberal, colourful High churches in a concentrated area than in the whole of Suffolk and Norfolk. Perhaps they feel a little beleaguered.

This is a surprisingly large late medieval church with a red brick tower, heavily Victorianised inside but with the blessing of some lovely Burne-Jones windows by the William Morris workshop depicting the Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi and the Flight into Egypt, awkwardly reset in the east window..

angelic host by Burne-Jones nativity adoration by Burne Jones Flight into Egypt by Burne-Jones

When I shared these photographs with the stained glass expert Gordon Plumb, he pointed out to me that Charles Sewter in his 1975 catalogue of Morris windows does not have an entry for Ugley. He does, however, have one for a window at Oakley, Essex. It is not clear if this refers to Great Oakley or Little Oakley, but no William Morris workshop window survives at either of those churches. However, the Sewter entry records that the Oakley window had scenes of the Adoration, the Nativity, the Flight into Egypt and a choir of angels in tracery, which are exactly the same as the sunjects we have here at Ugley. It must be the same glass. Sewter dates the window to 1882. He also notes that repairs were done to the Adoration in 1905.

Gordon concluded that Oakley may be Sewter's mishearing of Ugley, but the panels are reset rather awkwardly at Ugley, and further investigation suggests that the windows were indeed originally at Little Oakley church in the suburbs of Harwich. The church there is now a private house, and so the glass was probably moved here in the 1970s when Little Oakley church closed.

Other than the Burne-Jones glass, there are some decent 20th Century memorials and a few other interesting details I was amused to see that the Mothers Union banner reverses the usual word order so as to read Mothers Union, Ugley rather than Ugley Mothers Union.

Simon Knott, September 2012

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Ugley William Morris
if I should die war memorial benefactor Ugley Mothers Union
for the poor

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home - index - latest - e-mail
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www.simonknott.co.uk