The Essex Churches Site

 

THE ESSEX CHURCHES SITE

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St Michael, Woodham Walter

Woodham Walter

Woodham Walter first Anglican clock
door those who served in the war blocked door

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  Between Chelmsford and Maldon sits this small, interesting church in a county not short of small, interesting churches. Built in 1563, St Michael was the first parish church in England constructed for the newly reformed Church of England and looks entirely Tudor late Gothic, as if it was a bit fallen off a Cambridge college. Entirely red-brick, both ends have crow-stepped gables, although unfortunately a stupid north aisle was added by that local vandal Chancellor in the 1860s.

You step inside to a tightly-packed interior under half-timbered roofs. The arcade is Chancellor's of course, although at least he had the grace to use an early 16th Century style of arch for it. The current building replaced an earlier church on a nearby site of which a few remains survive here, including the font and a couple of angel heads in stained glass. There was obviously a fairly High Church reordering at the turn of the 20th Century, and the Ward & Hughes glass of the three archangels is surprisingly good. Good too in their quiet way are a number of memorials that tell us something about the life of the parish in the early years of last century, most notably one in beaten and pressed copper to Henry Ayrton Chaplin, who was of the West African Medical Staff. Born August 1876, died July 1905 at Salaga, West Africa while engaged in scientific research on behalf of the Government of the Gold Coast Colony. The memorial depicts Chaplin looking into a microscope, and was designed and made by the celebrated sculptor and goldsmith Herbert Maryon, best known today for his conservation work on the Sutton Hoo treasure. Memorably and unusually, the memorial includes a passage from Rudyard Kipling's 1899 poem 'The White Man's Burden': Take up the White Man's burden, The savage wars of peace, Fill full the mouth of Famine And bid the sickness cease.

Almost a century earlier in 1838, another stirring tale of Empire is remembered by the memorial to Henry Guy Bryan, who when accompanying Govr Gawlor on his perilous expedition into the unknown regions of South Australia, his generous endeavours to secure the Governor's personal safety were accomplished by the painful sacrifice of his own life. Bryan was just 18 years old.

Simon Knott, May 2020

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looking east looking west

St Michael (TF Curtis for Ward & Hughes, 1898) St Raphael (TF Curtis for Ward & Hughes, 1898) a dragon for St Michael (TF Curtis for Ward & Hughes, 1898) two angel heads, the sun and a primrose (15th Century)
Take up the White Man's burden - Henry Chaplin memorial by Herbert Maryon Charles II royal arms 1660 1563 JP
Killed in Action near Festubert in France at Salaga, West Africa while engaged in scientific research (by Herbert Maryon) of wounds received in the Battle of the Somme
as wife and mother of rectors of this parish a distinguished scientist accompanying Govr Gawlor on his perilous expedition into the unknown regions of South Australia

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home - index - latest - e-mail
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Norfolk churches - Suffolk churches
www.simonknott.co.uk