2. Early history

He that increases knowledge increases sorrow
Ecclesiastes, chapter 1 v 18


The arrival of William the Conqueror in 1066 was the first national event to find an echo in Stambourne’s history. Once the dust from the invasion had settled, William determined to establish what his new domains were worth and the results were recorded in the Little Domesday Book [LDB] of 1088. This is the first written record of Stambourne though it is likely that the massive Norman church tower was already being built. We learn from it that the village had been settled before the Conquest. The name suggests that it was originally a Saxon settlement; the root words from which the name was formed were the AngloSaxon stan & burn the name means stone brook or stony brook.

All earlier commentators, myself included, have referred to the village being made up of three manors; these came to be known after their Manor Houses. Doubtless this presentation derives from the three separate entries in the LDB naming Stanburna and which give us the names of the two major Norman landowners. The first entry is the largest for it is shared with Toppesfield; it records the lands of Hamo Dapifer. Hamo’s title was that of Steward, probably of the King, and he was also Duke of Kent. The next entry is of Geoffrey de Mandeville’s annexations and conveys to him the manor of Moone Hall. The third is another annexation of Hamo and is probably the central Stambourne manor itself. In the first the original Saxon owner was Goti and in the last a freeman called Alstan or Alestanus. The freeman who owned the third manor before 1066 tempore regis Edwardi or t.r.e. as it is written was not named. The details of these entries and an analysis of them is put into annexations 1 & 2 to this chapter this form of presenting data will be followed throughout this edition.

de Mandeville was the more important of the two Norman lords , his successors becoming Earls of Essex of which he was sheriff: he had most of his holdings in it & he held land in nine other counties as well. He was known as the “Companion of the Conqueror” but was of rather less significance to our village than Hamo. His holding was worth only 50 shillings compared with six pounds and 40 shillings for the properties of the latter. The great majority of the recorded population also lived on Hamo’s land. However it is unlikely that either de Mandeville or Hamo dwelled in the village, nominating their own supporters to run their estates. Hamo did have a vineyard either here or in Toppesfield: perhaps it was the one from which there are still some Roman remains to be found on the hill to the northeast of the church, so we may imagine that he found time from the affairs of state at least once a year to sample the vintage..

A fourth entry describes an annexation of Richard de Clare, son of Count Gilbert who owned much of Toppesfield. It is headed In Nortuna but is translated as Cornish Hall. I argue that this is really what came for centuries to be called Ridgewell Norton, though, confusingly, it is within our southern border. I have therefore included the records of this area in my calculations. I doubt whether it was legally an independent manor but as I have not been able to find any manorial records earlier than those of the MacWilliams, who unified the Parish in about 1420, cannot test if it were.

I thus identify four, not three, parts or areas of Stambourne village:
One of Hamo’s two manors in the joint entry with Toppesfelda as our later manor of Grenvilles, which is on the border between the two villages. The site of the manor house must be the cottages now known as Greenfields. When they were reassembled a decade ago, having been left derelict since the last war the remains of their moat was still to be seen. It was then filled in and some massive beams, far too grand for cottagers to have used, were seen to be incorporated.
de Mandeville’s manor will have been what was later to become Moone Hall, as the translator says, though I do not see he has any evidence to prove this. The original house must have been within the moat some 800 yards to the south of the present building; the one now standing dates from 1480 1500 AD.
These assumptions make Hamo’s annexation of Alstan’s holding to be the central Manor of Stambourne Hall. Uniquely, Alstan retained this tenancy, though he lost his holding in Scoteneys a mile away on the Yeldham border. It is probable that he accepted having to abandon the one to hold on to the other. He was, as we shall see, a rich important Saxon he had xii freemen here, many more on his lands elsewhere and there were five ” milites ” living in the village.
The fourth part of the village at its southern end, confusingly called ” Nortuna ” which had belonged to Britric is that which later belonged to the de Stanburns. Though, perhaps, it never was an independent legal entity, I am convinced from the deeds of Queens’ College, Cambridge to whom they eventually sold it in 1483, it was for centuries considered to be a unit of property.

This, then, is the basis for the hypothesis that the village was, even as early as 1088AD, divided into four parts, not three. The freeman Alstan, or one of his other xii neighbours, may well have been the forerunner of the Tebald de Stanburn who, in about 1160 some seventy years after the LDB, appears in Becket’s charter as giving land to the church. This person probably occupied & maintained the central manor of the village for Hamo. He may well have built the original hallhouse, though certainly was not responsible for the present Elizabethan structure.

By the time Henry II gave Stambourne manor to Paulinus de Pever in 1262 it may well have already reverted to the crown. If, as seems likely, the de Stanburns were in locum tenens of the manor house, they could well have moved then to the lands of my fourth division in the south of the village. They probably did obtain them about this time they certainly retained them until 1483.

The building of the church

We have no early written record of the construction . The massive, squat typically Norman tower is uncompromisingly plain to the eye, a vivid reminder of the energetic warriors who ruled Stambourne a millennium ago. It has some Roman bricks and some fragments of tegulae embedded in its south & west walls; the window openings are said to be saxon in style. Presumably Norman agents were responsible for the work but there can be little doubt that the labour involved in erecting such a massive structure will have been provided by Saxon slaves & others treated little better. It seems probable that there was a Saxon building of some kind on the site, for it is so central, but no remnants of it or of a Norman nave, if indeed there ever were one, has been found. The closed off door opening in the East wall of the presence chamber, some 20 feet from the ground level, was probably for a rope ladder which could be hauled up; this supports the suggestion that the squat uncompromising solid building was built primarily as a defensive structure. Ecclesiastical and social use of the ground floor would originally have been incidental.


The first known owner of St Peters, as it was called around 1170 AD, is Robert de Greinvill; this is some 80 years after it was built in about 1085. As he had probably not held his Stambourne lands for more than a few years unless his family provided the landowner cryptically recorded as G. in LDB, it is unlikely he was involved in the building of the tower. He is recorded in a Stoke Charter of about 1174 as giving the advowson to the Convent or Priory of John the Baptist at StokebyClare who retained it till the dissolution. The relevant charters are listed in annex 3

The first recorded priest, John the Chaplain, is from this same time and known from the same Charters; the full list of Clerics is appended and examined in chapter 8.
Annex 1: The entries in the Little Domesday Book for Stambourne = Stanburna, Toppesfield, & adjacent villages
My Phillimore edition has parallel texts. On the LH page are what is called a photographic reproduction of the specially designed type made for the 1783 edition of Abraham Farley the type itself was destroyed by fire in 1808. Mostly it is fairly easy to read but there are half a dozen consistent abbreviation marks for which I can find no key. My interpretations are :

A sign like a gallows leaning to the R & twice the size of the text. It is the Tindman nota used by AngloSaxon scribes and adopted by the Norman clerks. I will use § to represent it

A capital sized is the medieval gaelic Agus [written oygus] for &

A slightly ornate X ends and may begin a line

A lower case ‘h’ centred above an abbn is nonspecific it converts ac into acres & ten. into tenuit; there are 3 of these ciphers written above t.r.e.

A similar ‘z’ converts, e.g, qs into quis

A similar short wavy line ~ converts hnt into habet

A similar straight superscript converts dnio into domino

A mark like a figure 9 in the same position mainly represents the ending us but in one place it seems to convert p. into ‘then and later’ It appears on both Alestan(us)[sometimes] & Goti(us) [always]

A wiggle on the back of the downstroke of p makes it into per

The bold chapter numbers are on the top R H corner of the appropriate page.

The three entries mentioning Stanburna are:
28.11 and This is a compound entry with Toppesfield
90.26 & 33
The entry for Nortuna, indexed by the translator as being part of modern Cornish Hall End is:

Section A on Stanburna
Chapter 28 is the LAND OF HAMO THE STEWARD
Section 11 on Stamburn and Toppesfield reads:

§ Hund de hidingfort. In Scanburne {sic. this is the only place with this error} 7 in Topesfelde ten &
In Stambourne & in Toppesfield holds
Hamo.I.hid[h].in dnio. p Man. qd tenuit Goti(9)t.r.e.(with 3 superscript hs) Tc (line above the c)7p(9)
Hamo 1 hide in lordship as a manor which Goti held before 1066. Then & later
IIII car(h).in dnio.m.III.Sep()III. car(h). hom(h).XIIII vill.7.x.bord.7.
4 ploughs in lordship, now 3. Always 3 men’s ploughs. 14 villagers; 10 smallholders
[From here I shall omit the abbn marks
I. fer. Silu. XL .porc. XV. ac. pti. Sep. III. runc. Tc. XXIIII
6 slaves. Woodland, 40 pigs; meadow, 15 acres; always 3 cobs (my dictionary suggests weeds)
an. m. XIII. Tc. XL. porc. m. XX. Tc. CXX ou. m. C. IIII uafa.
Then 24 cattle, now 13; then 40 pigs, now 20; then 120 sheep, now 100; 4 beehives
apu. Et XV foc. sep. adjacent huic manerio. tenentes dim.
15 Freemen have always belonged to this manor, who hold one half of a
hid.X.ac.min.7 hnt III. car. 7. XII. ac. pti. 7. V. bord. I. arpen.
hide less 10 acres & have 3 ploughs, meadow 12 acres, 5 smallholders, 1 arpent of vines
vineae. hec tra fuit in. II manerijs t.r.e. Tc. ual. Stanburna
This land was in 2 manors before 1066. Value then of Stambourne
.C. sol. Post. 7. m. VI. lib. 7 Topesfelda uelabat. tc. VII. lib. Post
100s; later & now £6. Value then of Toppesfield £7; later
7.m. VIII. lib. De hoc man tenent. V. milit. LVIII.ac.7.ual.XX. fol. i. cod. ptio.
and now £8. Of this manor 5 men at arms hold 58 acres. Value 20s in the same assessment
Chapter 90, sections 20 to 28 are titled GEOFFREY DE MANDEVILLES ANNEXATIONS
section 26 on Stanburna reads:

In. Stanburna. dim. hid. ten. lib. ho. t.r.e. tc. 7. p. II. car. in dnio. m. nult
In Stambourne a freeman held half a hide before 1066. Then and later 2 ploughs in lordship, now none
Sep.dim.car.hom.7. III. bor. 7. I. fer. XII ac. pti. TC.7.tc.ual. XL. fol. m. L
Always half a man’s plough; 3 smallholders; I slave; meadow, 12 acres; value then & later 40 shillings, now 50 [shillings].

Note 90.26 reads: STAMBOURNE. The Manor of Moone Hall there, V.C.H.568,n.11. It does not explain this extraordinary statement

Sections 31 to 33 relate to HAMO THE STEWARDS ANNEXATION but are not actually so titled
section 33, inserted in tiny print & presumably added later, is on Stanburna & reads:

7 in Stanburna. X
+ xl. ac.(h) qs.(z) ten.(h) Alestan(9) lib. ho(). xii (or xxi, or xxx) libi. hoes. t.r.e. 7 adhuc. hnt Sep. ii. car. 7. iii. bor. 7. ual. xl. fol.
In Stambourne 40 acres, which Alstan (sic; not Alestanus), a free man, and 12 free men, held before 1066 and still have [JBE emphasises this point]. Always 2 ploughs ; 3 small holders. Value 40 shillings.

Note 90.33 reads: STAMBOURNE. See 28.11 for Hamo’s land there [& on the next line]
40 acres … 40s. Interlined in the ms. [this relates to my note in the heading above]

Section B on Toppesfelda
see also 28.11 above & 20.33 under Ridgewell

Sections 49 to 78 relate to the ANNEXATION(S) OF RICHARD of Clare s.o. COUNT GILBERT. In Toppesfield these are :
20.33 below

90.56 is of 15 ac. worth 30s. held by Count Ralph himself which Alstan, a freeman, held t.r.e.

90.57 is of 15 ac. + 8 ac. of woodland value 60s held by G. [probably Count Gilbert, but could be either Goti or de Greinvill] which Dove [duue] held t.r.e.

90.56 + 57 could be the manor (now farm) of Scoteneys on the border with Yeldham

Section C In Nortuna (translated as Cornish Hall)

90.58 In Cornish Hall Mascerel holds 55 ac. which Britric, a freeman, held t.r.e..
woodland 40 pigs; meadow 10 ac.; 13 men; value 40s
Section D Ridgewell (Rideuuelli) v.s. Toppesfield

Sections 1 to 80 (i.e. the whole) of Chapter 20 of LDB relate to LANDS OF COUNT EUSTACE of Boulogne (probably de GRENVILLE, a brotherinlaw of King Edwardin Essex

20.23 Godwin, a freeman, held Ridgewell as one a manor t.r.e. of 2 hides 3 virgates with 31 men & 61.5 ac. + 6 ac. & 14 freemen worth £24. [This is the only entry for Ridgewell; there is no mention of Ridgewell Norton.]

20.33 Bernard holds TOPPESFIELD from the Count which one freeman held t.r.e. 15 ac. + 6 ac.
3 men . 20s. [though a small holding the wording suggests it was the most senior one]

Section E Birdbrook [Bridebroc]

LDB Chapter 37 Land of Ranulf, brother of Ilger

37.11 1 freeman held it as a manor t.r.e. 2 hides 20 men Value £9
this is the [sole entry for Birdbrook it ; cannot have encompassed any of Stanburna]

Section F Finchingfield

Lands of Chapter area men held by modern acres
The king 1.12 2.5 h + 16 ac 21 Otto the Goldsmith 324

Count Eustace of Boulogne in Essex 20.30 0.5h + 10 ac 3 Guy 75
20.31 37h + 4 ac 3 Walfric & Guy 62

Count Alan 21.4 2.5h + 16 ac 59 Hervey 324

21.7 38.5ac + 2 ac 2 The Count 61

Richard s.o. Count Gilbert 23.5 48ac + 6.5ac 8 Elinant 82
23.9 38ac + 4.5ac 5 Arnold 64
28.13 36ac + 7 ac 8 2 men at arms 65
23.22 60ac + 3 ac 11 they are all freemen 95

Annexation of Richard s.o. Count Gilbert from Brictric who held it t.r.e. 90.50 80ac 11 Arnold 120

Totals men modern acres
131 1289 acres
x4 = 524 people 2.2/acre
Compare with Stambourne 48 233 acres
x4 = 192 people 1.2/acre

These sizes & numbers seem to be in about the right proportion to the present number of modern acres

This analysis of our Southern border was done to assess whether Cornish Hall [End] was included in Finchingfield or Stanburna by the LDB assessors. I see no clear answer but the overwhelming probability is that the Nortuna of LDB is the Ridgewell Norton of XVIII & XIX c maps & church parish and so is properly part of XX c Stambourne. The old parish boundaries are not clear nor have I discovered when Cornish Hall first appeared.
Annex 2; Analysis of LDB entries
The four entries in L D B related to the present size of Stambourne

Reference Ch 28 Sn11 Ch 90 Sn26 Ch 90 Sn33 Ch 90 Sn58
Title Hamo’s land De Mandeville’s annexation Hamo’s annexation ditto
Description Two manors Manor of Moone Hall None Nortuna
Notes by JBE Includes Grenvilles Agreed Manor of Stambourne Hall Ridgewell Norton
Owner t.r.e. Goti [Gotius] A freeman Alstan [Alestanus] Britric
Occupied by: Hamo G de Mand’l Hamo Mascerel
Hides 1 = 120 acres half = 60 acres 40 ac.=60 acres 55 ac.=83.5
Ploughs 4 2 + 1 2 1
Villagers 14 5
Smallholders 10 3 3 5
Slaves 6 1 3
Woodland 40 pigs 40 pigs
Meadow 15 ac.=22 12 ac.=18 nil 10 ac. =15
Cobs (runc.) 3
Cattle 24
Sheep 120

Smaller owners 15 freemen 12 freemen
Hides ½ hide less 10 ac.
= c. 50 acres
Ploughs 3
Meadow 12 ac. =18
Smallholders 5
Arpents of vine 1, say 3 acres

Men at arms 5
Their ac.[s] 58=87 of value 20s

Stanburna £6 50s 40s 40s
Topesfelda £7
£13 Total value excluding Topesfelda £10.10s
[this factor of 6/13 is used to identify the fraction of joint entries appertaining to us]
No of men in Stanburna 56 x 6/13 = 29 5 16 14=64 men
Approx: x 4 = population = 256 people
Hides + ac.s 297×6/13=137 78 60 98.5 = 374
arpents 3 3
total of modern acres 377

The village in 1996 is roughly rectangular in shape and is located along a NE axis. It is some 3 x 1 miles with a protrusion to the SW of some half a mile square; this last part was later known as Ridgewell Norton. The boundaries are irregular and follow field outlines; they are not defined by any natural features .

It is surrounded on its four sides by Ridgewell to the N, Birdbrook & Toppesfield to the E & W and Finchingfield, of which Cornish Hall End is a part, to the South. All these villages are clearly described in L D B so it is most probable that Stambourne now is roughly the same area & shape as it was in 1088 AD.

Thus Stambourne now occupies some 2000 modern acres. This corresponds well with the tillable fields & meadowland in the listing accompanying the 1837 Tithe Map; they total some 1815 acres.
In 1088 the acre, which in this text of the LDB is written, ac. signified simply an arable space: there is no clear indication what full word or area the abbreviation represents. A comparison of the two valuations in chapter 90: viz.
Sn 26 50s for half a hide [60 acres] + 12 ac.
Sn 33 40s for 40 ac.
suggests that the ac.s of Stanburna were about one and a half times the size of modern acres. The modern English acre was standardised by K Edw I @ 40 rods long by 4 rods wide = 660 x 66 feet = 4840 sq yds. A square mile is 3097660 sq yds = 640 acres.

The taxable unit of area was the Hide which represented the average size of a farm and is estimated to be between 60 & 180 modern acres; commonly 120. The word carucate does not appear in our entry (though it does in Bridebroc).

The size & precise site of the single arpent of vine is unknown; it is simply described in the unit of French origin.

From these data it seems that the population is probably calculated correctly but that only a fraction of the total area of land was considered worthy of record. It is known that there was a large area of ‘Wast’ remaining in 1711. Already by 1088 most forest had been cleared, for only 15 % of England was covered in trees, much the same as Stambourne now. 35 % was tilled & 25 % was pasture again 1088 was much the same as now.

It is probable therefore that woodland supporting 40 pigs did account for most of 2000 x 15 % = 300 acres, though this figure would need also to include any that went unrecorded in the two smaller entries in chapter 90. Land called ‘wast’ was commonly found at the boundaries of manors: it may well have been in wide tracts separating those three manors traditionally held to make up the village. These manors could, in 1088, have corresponded to the three separate LDB entries. Even if this wast amounted to 50 % of the area, several hundred modern acres of usable land must be unrecorded in Domesday or accounted for by the unknown size of the abbreviation ac. [for ‘acre’ or some similar word] in the Phillimore version of the LDB text .

On these assumptions the area accounted for is
78 + 60 acres as hides = 138 acres
plus 39 + 12 + 40 +65 in Nortuna = 156 of the larger units equivalent to 234 acres
plus 1 arpent of, say 3 acres
giving a total of 375 modern acres .
There is thus good agreement between the two methods of calculation and, if the assumptions be correct, less than half of the land now usable is recorded.

Our main entry is of a mixture of our land with that of Toppesfield owned by Hamo. It is likewise their main record and they also have 3 smaller entries recorded in annex 1B

The entry 90.58 is translated CORNISH HALL and recorded in annex 1C. I cannot trace the authority for this. Mascerel was a brewer (c.f. mash). Reaney [EPNS 426427] says “ formerly ‘Norton’“ and the text clearly says In Nortuna. However, Reaney confuses the issue by attributing the name to one Henry Norton in his Stambourne section on pp 456 457 . This is probably the reverse of the error he made by attributing the origin of my name to Enticknap’s copse in Surrey. Nortuna also appears in Essex LDB for Norton Mandeville, near Ongar and for Cold Norton; in these two places it is not further qualified either. Ekwall records these latter two but not “Cornish Hall” and merely comments that Norton is very common & means ‘north tun’.

This large area could well be our present SW protrusion of 1/4 sq mile; at 97 acres plus some ‘wast’ and perhaps the adjacent area now called Stambourne Green it is not far removed in size from the 172 acres which later belonged to the de Stanburns in this part of the village.

I am sufficiently convinced that this is the correct interpretation to have included Nortuna with Stambourne & have not left it with the present village of Cornish Hall End (the church of which is Victorian) which is now in the civil parish of Finchingfield. It therefore appears in this story in five places:

It appears on the map in Chapter 1
On p2.1 in the introduction to this chapter there is a skeleton description
On p2.7 appears this description deduced from LDB 90.58
On p3.17 in the analysis of the Queens College deeds as they elucidate the history of the de Stanburns.
This section of Chapter 3; Annex 3 is the major geographical description of it.
On p6.1 under Lay subsidy
In Ch 9 it is mentioned in the section referring to Queens College itself.

My present view is that the two major beneficiaries of King William the Bastard, of whom Hamo is by far the larger {some £ 9 in value as against 40 s for de Mandeville } were not in fact accorded all the land. A substantial proportion appears to have been left with its former Saxon Thegns under whatever feudal form of tenure was conducive to firm governance. The entry in Ch 28 Sn 11 describing his gift is far more detailed and complex than the others suggesting an intention to preempt any dispute.

In particular I am impressed by the statement that Alstan and xii freemen (though the xii is ill printed and may even be xxx) “held [land] before 1066 and still have” ; it was of value 40s. He does not appear to have kept his holding of Scoteneys so it will have been different land. This sounds rather as if a deal was struck to prevent a strong man and his xii freemen, perhaps in association with the 5 ‘milites’ from causing trouble.

Summary of these identifications

One of Hamo’s two manors in LDB 28.11 is our manor later called Grenvilles: this is on the border with Toppesfield if not partly within that parish.

I accept de Mandeville’s manor to be that of Moone Hall in the centre of the village though I can see no evidence in LDB or elsewhere to put this beyond doubt.

This makes Hamo’s annexation of Alstan’s land to be the Manor later called Stambourne Hall. It cannot readily be related to his holding in Scoteneys, which is at least a mile away to the East and almost into Gt Yeldham. It does however imply that he would have to abandon one of them to keep the other, as he appears to have done..

Though there is good evidence for their being a fourth part to the village in the LDB. This is the entry titled In Nortuna in the latin text which is translated as Cornish Hall but is almost certainly Ridgewell Norton. It probably was not itself an independent manor in the legal sense; certainly I have found no trace of any court deeds.

This is the basis for hypothesis that Stambourne was, even in 1088, really in five parts, not just three. From at least 1160 onwards there were church lands in the centre of the village; these constituted the fifth part. The Freeman Alstan, or at least one of the other xii, may well have been the antecedent of Tebald de Stanburn who first appears with that surname in Becket’s charter as giving land to the church in or before 1160, some 70 years after LDB. He probably occupied and maintained the central manor of the village on behalf of Hamo, for it is most unlikely that this Norman Lord [or for that matter, de Mandeville] spent any significant time here. The de Stanburns may well have built the first medieval hallhouse, though clearly not the present Elizabethan structure.

When Henry III gave Stambourne Manor to Paulinus de Pever in 1242, presumably depriving Hamo’s successors, if indeed there were any, it is probable that the de Stanburns simply moved to the lands they had retained in the southern part of the village whether or no they continued to maintain the Manor House. This family certainly retained land hereabouts until 1483 when all their property was finally sold to Queens College.
Magna Carta

The Magna Carta is closely associated with this area. In the ruins of the Abbey of St Edmund there are two plaques on one of the ruined walls that still stand, setting out that the movement for it was first formalised there.

Near this spot
on the 20th November 1214
Cardinal Langton and the barons
swore at St Edmund’s altar
that they would obtain from
ratification of the

There follows a patriotic poem, perhaps from Gray’s elegy.

The second plaque sets out the titles of the barons who attended with the names of the current representatives of the eight of the twentysix families extant.

Richard and Gilbert of Clare, Geoffrey de Mandeville, Roger Bigod, Robert de Vere and Richard de Mountfichet all have local connections. The Clare Lords are closely associated with our Patrons at Stoke. The de Mandevilles, at this time, owned Moone Hall.

It has been reported that the John de Stanburn was of the company. He may have been but was not a guarantor.

This great moment in the history of England seems to have had very little effect on our village and I have found no record that even the Lord of one of our manors left any impression of it here.

The Middle Ages

Though there appears to have been no further Norman building the major part of the present Church, its nave with the four massive oak beams was probably begun not much more than two centuries later. There is no sign of any earlier work such as, for example, altered roof lines or wall marks of them as are so often seen in very old churches. This hiatus may well have derived from the dynastic struggles of the time but there is ample evidence of clerical activity in both XII c & XIII cs in the charters of our patrons. A substantial confirmation of this is the muniment chest with the three typical hasps for locks which has been dated as being made some time in the XIII c [q.v.]

Many churches, if not all, were originally in private hands. The Duke of Grafton retains that on the Hill behind Euston Hall to this day. Ours was given by the De Grenvills to Stoke Priory very early on.

There are occasional references to faroff events in the archives. Eustace de Greinvill, a XII c Lord of That manor, was required to pay the tax known as scutage to assist in freeing King Richard I (reigned 11891199) from his imprisonment in Germany when returning from a Crusade. The family remained prominent in Stambourne for perhaps two centuries: in 1327 Johanna de Greinvill was our biggest taxpayer. The written records extend from Robert in c.1163 to Walter in 1351. The name then appears again in the area when the Marquis of Buckingham came to Gosfield Hall in 1783 but there is no clear connection of the two branches.

In the time of King Stephen there was some confusion, referred to as a depredation, in the ownership of de Mandeville’s estates. This was eventually resolved and though it may well have affected our land there is no specific reference to it in the few records that we have of it.
Annex 3; Stoke Cartulary & Patronage
These notes are from the Stoke Cartulary part 3 reprinted and translated by the Suffolk Record Office as No VI. It bears on the ownership of our church. My summary of the history of the institution which moved to Stoke juxta Clare is:

Roman times The earthwork to the north of Clare is 1 mi from the castle & quite unconnected
Saxon times: A rich collegiate church of St John the Baptist was founded by Earl Alfric in the
101666 time of Canute & Edward the Confessor. It is described as being within “Clare castle” presumably this was the present riverside site in the town.. It owned much property including the Parish Church of St Paul’s
1090c. Benedictine Monks of Bec arrived in England & Gilbert de Clare gave them this collegiate church
St John Baptist in Lt Yeldham is said to have the same foundation year
1124 they are sent to Stoke by Gilbert’s son Richard & given the church of St Augustine there; I guess this to be the medieval outline seen in recent aerial photographs 1 mi W of the present village in the field to the S of Chapel Farm. This was given them in exchange for St Pauls & on the understanding that they must build their own church of St John in their new grounds in Stoke; presumably this was built on the site of the present parish church
This did not occur in 1134 as is sometimes said.
11241248 the parish church was just the chapel within the Castle in Clare
11251136 They become an alien priory; list of Priors begins
1248 Augustinian Friars come to England they build the first Priory of their order in Clare
[A celebration of the 750th anniversary was held in 1998]
1304 Stoke cartulary completed with charters up to 1253
[that of Clare itself goes on to 1464]
1395 In July a charter of denization [= naturalisation] is granted for 1000 marks to be paid in instalments to the Abbot of S Peter Westminster to spend on his church
11251395 appears therefore to be the duration of the alienation during which time it seems that appointments to the client churches were made by Royal Patent.
1411 Wm Esterpenny appointed last Prior on 19 March
1414 Stoke Priory reverts to being a college of a Dean & six Canons on the orders of Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March I suppose these to be Austin Friars who by now do not greatly differ from Benedictines . The first Dean is Thos Barnesley, 141554, who immediately follows Wm Esterpenny
1510 approx During the time of Katharine of Aragon the College came under the patronage of the Queen’s of England
1530 approx This can explain why the dovecote has the Westminster (Tudor) portcullis in diaper; it is said to be Anne Boleyn’s badge v.i.
1538 Clare Priory is suppressed
1546/7 Stoke college is suppressed. the last dean was Matthew Prior following Dr Shyrton.
It is quite clear that the College was still free on the accession of Ed VI so can never have been a present from Henry to Anne.

This summary is in my Library Volume A in file Stoke5b. The individual charters which refer to Stambourne are abstracted in files Stoke1 to Stoke4.

There is a useful map of the churches owned by the Priory.
Some of the many vills giving rents are: Rgwl; B’brook; Claret; Ovington, Belchamp Otten; Tilbury; Gt Yeldham.
A prophecy of the present Upper Colne Benefice of five parishes can be seen in the two vills in bold type above and in the three on the map

Some of the main points from the following pages of the SRO VI Stoke Cartulary are listed below

p 15 A significant proportion of the Priory’s income was drawn from the possessions of the PreConquest Collegiate Foundation within Clare Castle

p16 Clare: the church of St John the Baptist here was the early anglo-saxon collegiate foundation. The Parish Church St Paul was annexed to the college later.

p21 Lt Yeldham: was granted by the founder, Gilbert fitzRichard de Clare, in 1090 (Charter#136)

p27 Stambourne: Rob de Grenville granted our church, then called St Peter, to Stoke saving the life interest of John the Chaplain: this was at some time before 1174. The wording suggests that this Cleric John was, in our modern terms, the first real Rector.

p28 Woking: Ingram d’Abernum first granted it: then in 121821 the bp of Winchester, Peter des Roches, appropriated it to the Priory of Newark nr Guildford for £ 6 14s p a. (There is a Stoke Priory just outside Guildford & I seem to recall a Stoke d’Abernon too)

p57 The great majority of the writing is in a single hand though there seem to have been 2 assistants. The last charter [#513] is 1253. The volume was completed & bound not long after 1304

Notes on The Monastic orders in England. by Dom David Knowles,1941

He does not mention Stambourne by name but it is he that quotes Archbishop Pecham on p 29 [v.i. chapter 8]
There is a further three books on The Religious Orders of England. There are four references to Stoke. His volume I of 1948 on 1216 1340 contains much detail & I have tried to elucidate the differences between them in the lines that follow.
Friars were mendicant; canons preferred a single building.
Friars, Franciscan & Dominican, came later than monks
Franciscans monks wore brown and were mendicant
Benedictines monks wore black, as did most others, but white surplices were specified in some of the Stoke deeds though I can’t now find where. They did not have lay brothers.
Carmelites also existed, colour unknown.
Cistercians monks wore white, were more severe & solitary and did have laymen in their order.
Latterly black & white were much less distinctive & characteristic.
Stoke by Clare was a house of Austin Hermits [= Friars] and so members were not monks.

The unique double dedication to St Peter & St Thomas Becket

The dedication of this ancient church is far from clear cut and has varied over its nine centuries. The history of and evidence for it is set out in Annex 7. It has now been settled in the form here given.

The earliest written evidence is from the turn of the XII c in a deed leaving us some ‘tythes of Hay’. This is to the Monks of St Peter. Other early references are to this major Saint but in the mid XIV c Thomas de Stanburn was dating one of his deeds to the Feast of the Translocation of the Martyr.

Following the murder of Becket a considerable following for him developed in this area and there was pilgrim traffic to Canterbury utilising recognised routes converging on the Thames crossing at Rochester. Miracles and relics are recorded. There is much evidence that one of the chapels on this route was in our village and dedicated to the Martyr. It appears to have been from the dissolution of this Chapel in 1546 that we acquired the second part of our title.

The many books on Becket and the massive Victorian 8 volume collection of Materials for the Study of Thomas Becket contain many vignettes that strengthen the association. Guarnier’s Becket, for example, has yet another version of the last words on p 148 @ #5576:
Now indeed St Thomas saw his martyrdom approaching. Hands joined before his face he gave himself to the Lord God, commending his cause & the cause of the Holy Church to the Martyr St Denis, to whom sweet France belongs, and to the saints of the church
Such hints as this combined with the otherwise unexplained, and probably unique hereabouts, painting of St Denis on our medieval screen, lend colour to the conclusion based on so much evidence.

The other Thomas who had a major following hereabouts was the Blessed Thomas Netter of Saffron Walden. He too connects with our screen for he was a companion of K Henry V and tutor to K Henry VI, the Saint of Lancaster, who also appears on it. I do not regard Netter as a serious contender for he was never formally canonised and there are no records of dedications to him, despite the popularity of his cult.

In 1995 I rewrote my index and reviewed all the authorities that gave evidence as to the dedication. Perhaps two dozen sources I do not copy in my annex do not use dedications at all. I have formed a strong impression that, save in towns large enough to have several parishes, dedications were not put to any practical use. There never was any formal central registration nor regular procedure for confirmation. Dedications were what the local divines said they were. Our predecessors venerated saints for pictorial, artistic, liturgical, devotional and salvationist reasons & above all for the economic value but they made little use of them for the purposes of identification or organisation.

The later history of the rededication is quite clear.

In 1993 the Archdeacon the Venerable Ernest Stroud, who has given me much support, wrote the letter of appointment to Rector John Suddards stating plainly without comment that the secondary dedication was to Becket.

On the second Sunday after Epiphany in the year of our Lord 1995 I provided at the Rector’s request a paper for him to submit to the Parochial Church Council. This is annex 4. After discussion, not without some dissent, it was agreed to support an approach to the Bishop. This was made and a service of rededication was arranged for the 11th day of July.

On that day, the new Area Bishop, †Edward Colchester came to the church for Evensong. He presented to me an instrument of Dedication which is reproduced here as annex 5. The original copy is entered into the vellum book left to us by Alfred Master and preserved in the Churchwarden’s chest in the vestry. Bishop Edward’s prayer and homily is reproduced here as Annex 6.


Annex 4; Submission to Stambourne Parochial Church Council

This paper sets out the views in January 1995 of Dr J B Enticknap, a warden of the church of

Saint Peter & Saint Thomas in the Parish of Stambourne in Essex

on our unique double dedication. These views are derived from seven pages of information from some 900 years, though much of the data are negative.

Our primary dedication is now and has been since the earliest records to the great apostle

Saint Simon Peter

Our massive squat Norman Tower of 1085 was probably built originally for defence. The early records are close to that time and probably indicate when it was first used for ecclesiastical celebrations.
Wills & deeds of XIIc to XVc use this as the sole dedication. The first known to me was witnessed by Dean Gilbert de Gelham; this deed is our oldest connection with the major parish of the five in our newly conjoined benefice.
Thus, dedication to St Peter clearly pre-dates our subsidiary dedication.

This secondary dedication is to the minor, but fully canonised, Saint

Thomas Becket, Archbishop & Martyr of Canterbury

This dedication was acquired, along with a small bell inscribed

“Sancte Thoma ora pro nobis”

from a suppressed Gild chapel situate on the south side of the road leading from our church to that of St Andrew in Great Yeldham in about the Year of Our Lord 1549.

By this time we had been a Royal Living for a decade. In response to the Henrician ukase our loyal subjects would have suppressed the name of Becket while, doubtless, venerating the Saint in their hearts. The dedication to St Thomas, without qualification, has been in variable use ever since. The inscribed bell was recast in 1734; the new one bears no text. I find no records in the XVIIc. In the XVIIIc both names appear, with Thomas taking precedence. XIXc divines seem to have used Thomas exclusively. The double dedication, with St Peter in his rightful pre-eminence, is regularly used from some time after the beginning of XXc.

A majority of our records, from the earliest times, do not use the name of either Saint. For example, a Pope, several kings, an Archbishop and several Diocesans, the clerk of the Rolls, three patrons, three silversmiths, a testator and many others have all used variants of, simply, Stambourne Parish. Neither Saint’s name appears in any part of the church fabric or property now surviving made before 1946. In our paper records the earliest mention of St Thomas is in Master’s appeal of January 1874.

It seems to me that dedications, while not much in every day use in rural parishes, were historically what the local divines said they were to be. Our present Rector celebrates 29 December. We have three times had Eliot’s version of Becket’s Christmas sermon read to us.

It is my view that we should formalise our unique double dedication in the form of

Saint Peter & Saint Thomas Becket

by whatever means are ecclesiastically and in canon law appropriate.

Dated: The second Sunday after Epiphany in the Year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred & ninety five.
Annex 5; Authority of Bishop to Rededicate


THIS DOCUMENT is to authorise the formal change of the dedication of Saint Peter and Saint Thomas, Stambourne, to be in future Saint Peter and Saint Thomas Becket.

THIS IS to recognise the evidence and belief that while in recent years it had been thought that the dedication of Saint Thomas was to Saint Thomas the Apostle, in fact originally it was to Saint Thomas Becket.

IN ORDER to rectify this mistaken identification which had been received and established over some centuries I DO NOW GIVE AUTHORITY to the Rector and Parochial Church Council in future to recognise and honour their dedication as being to Saint Peter and St Thomas Becket.

Signed …………………………………

Bishop of Colchester

Dated this 11th day of July 1995
Annex 6; Bishop Edward’s Prayer and Homily

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost

The Lord be with you
And with thy spirit

Holy Father, you sent your son, Jesus Christ to redeem the world from sin and suffering.
Your have given to him holy witnesses who have been lights to the world in their several generations, to encourage those who follow after

We praise you for the witness of your son’s forerunner, John the Baptist, of the holy apostle Andrew, and of Margaret of Antioch, martyr for the faith, who each show us our true obedience.

And we thank you for the inheritance of faith in this parish and community of Stambourne.

For the patronage of Saint Peter, first amongst the apostles, whose strength and warmth and courage inspire us to seek your forgiveness when we fail so that we may share the resilience of his witness for your son Jesus Christ.

And we praise you too for your holy martyr Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was steadfast in his defence of our Holy Mother Church against those who sought to subvert her mission and her purposes, and who showed in the simplicity of his sacrifice, his openness to God alone, and not to the world.

We honour the devotion showed to Saint Thomas Becket in this parish in former times, by giving to this Church the title “The Parish Church of Saint Peter and Saint Thomas Becket”. We pray that these two patron saints will have this Church and Parish and all its people under their special protection, to encourage them, support them and sustain them in the years that lie ahead, that they may walk in the way of Christ and in the glory of his heavenly kingdom.

And we remember before God our benefactors and forerunners in the faith in this place down the ages praying that with them we may receive the crown of life, aided by the prayers of Saint Peter the Apostle and Saint Thomas Becket and the whole company of the heavenly host.

And in thy name I pronounce and declare that this Church and Parish of Stambourne rests under the protection of the holy martyrs Peter the Apostle and Thomas Becket.

Christ give you grace to follow his blessed saints in faith and truth and love, and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.
Annex 7; Analysis of the sources which relate to the origin of our Dedication

Late in the 1st century AD (Ic) S Thomas the Apostle was killed by a priest’s sword in Madras (J de V). His emblem is a single vertical spear, blade upwards or alternatively a Tsquare. Two spears are said to indicate torture, not death. I find this rather vague but crossed spears were used in 1946 in Stambourne on a carved oak reredos & on a green frontal some time after 1934

779 – 794 St Ethelred was never formally canonised [Oxford Dictionary of English Church] In the early church the faithful venerated the martyrs, then the confessors & in time a culture of a saint, frequently of local origin, developed, which spread. Most of the East Anglian Saint Kings were created only by local consent.
993 Pope John XV made the first historically attested Canonisation of Ulrich of Augsburg
1085 Our Norman tower was built; from its character I feel sure it was originally for defence
1088 Stanburna is in the Essexia section of Little Domesday but it does not mention the church
1118 21 December; birth of Becket
1146 to 1154 Becket was with Theobald who made him a deacon & then Archdeacon of Canterbury.
1165 made Archbishop of Canterbury. Soon after this writes ‘the charter of Thomas Becket’ (as per quotation by Newcourt) which records:
Theobald de Stanburn giving 3 acres to Stoke prii.(sic) &
two parts of the tythes of Fulco de Blenda in the same par.(sic)does
1170 29 December; Becket murdered in Christchurch Cathedral, Canterbury.
Before this time Geoff de Mandeville, 3d Earl of Essex, who was also the owner of our Manor of Moone Hall had been given a warrant by the King to arrest Becket & bring him to Winchester for trial [the title & estates, principally @ Walden, removed by Stephen, had been restored by K Hy II to his friend; he was also owner of Moone Hall]
Richard Brito [de Brito; Bret; &c] was probably the actual killer. A William Brito, at about the time of the murder, gave lands in Yeldham to the monks of Stoke. It is suggested he had lands in Somerset but the name is common & signifies only a man of Breton origin.
In this year P Alexr III writes to Canute of Sweden that noone should be venerated a saint without the authority of the church. Gregory XI put this in his decretals and it became Western Canon Law after Becket was canonised. v.i.
1170 fl.(sic) Wm Fitzstephen writes a, purported, eyewitness account. He gives the first of several versions of the Archbishop’s last words but he does not mention S Denys.
1173 Pope Alexander canonises Becket in Lent as a ‘ Holy Martyr of the Church ‘. He was therefore one of the very first formally to be canonised & probably the first in England.
1174 2 July Alexander III (1159 1181) in his Bull of Conf. of all the Churches &c confirms that our Rectory was with the College of S John the Baptist at Stoke by Clare. I do not know whether this Bull (ex Newcourt) gives us a dedication too. The College was a cell of the Abbey of S Peter at Westminster & there is still a portcullis in diaper on the dovecote by its main gate.
11891206 The Cartulary of Stoke by Clare was written between these dates. A photocopy from vols 4 6 of the edn of C Harper Bell & R Mortimer was sent to me by Melanie Barber, Archivist at Lambeth Palace Library. It says:
Eustace de Greinville, to the monks in free alms of St Peter’s church, Stanburn, his tythes of hay
The charter was placed at Stoke. Dean Gilbert de Gelham (now Gt & Lit Yeldham, with which last year we formed a combined benefice) et all testibus. This is our earliest reference to S Peter. It is also the only one I know of referring to our having monks: I had deduced that we did from evidence of worn beams in the upper structure of the nave suggesting that there had been a dormer there.
1200 (circa) The Legenda Aurea of Jacobus de Veragine quotes Becket’s last words as:
I commend myself and the cause of the church to God, the BVM, S Denis & all the saints…
This is the same as in the account of Fitzstephen with the addition of S Denis. Eliot quotes it thus but with the addition of John the Baptist & SS Peter & Paul. Anouilh does not mention S Denis, nor does the account in the historical novel of Thomas by Shelley Mydans.
1220 7 July Becket’s shrine completed & his remains translated. Stambourne is on a natural route from Lincoln (which has a large concentration of dedications to Becket , second only to Somerset) via Cambridge, Shenfield (where 2 miracles are recorded) & Grays ferry to Canterbury
The first site of the martyr’s tomb [not the overnight resting place of the bloody corse] was between the altars of St Augustine & John the Baptist within the Cathedral, the patrons of the twin churches in Stoke belonging to the Priory that owned our advowson at the time.[This Augustine is however, probably Hippo, not Canterbury; the Baptist had many dedications hereabouts, e.g. Lt Yeldham].
12778 Robert de Redeswell was here: (Hennessy quoting the de Banco Roll, no 23, m 50) He was probably a lay rector who owned the church property . There is a canting reference to Ridgewell in the medieval stained glass of our great East window
1291 Taxatio Ecclesiasticus Angliae et Wallae published “auctoritate Pope Nicholas IV” which had been given in 1288. It was reprinted for King Geo III in 1802 with a preface by John Caley
Stanburn is included on 16b Decanat de Hengham
It is spelt Stanebourn is on 18b Archid: Lond. & Middx.
Stoke juxta Clare is on 8b but mentions only Syburne (sic) in Dioc. Roff [is this us ?]
The only dedications I can see in this text are in small parishes in the large cities
XIIIc 2 miracles in Becket’s name are recorded in Shenfield nr Brentwood 20 mi down the London rd
XIVc Fine & interesting allegorical, bestial & floral carvings were cut into the ends & brackets of our massive beams in the nave. I see no unequivocal emblems attributable to specific saints but a case can be made for the A L O E of the evangelists.
1307 onwards In a dozen mentions of Stambourne in the Patent Rolls & Inquisitions postmortem there is no mention of any dedications before 1549 q.v.
1327 The name of Smyth is not among the two dozen landowners in the Lay Subsidy
1340c. Q 12 is dated by Thos Stanburn on the Feast of the Translocation of St Thomas the martyr 1375 The Blessed Thomas Netter was born in Saffron Walden. He became a Carmelite monk and proceeded DD Oxon in 1400. He travelled with Hy V, to whom he was confessor. The king died in his arms @ Chinon in 1422. Netter was then appointed tutor to Hy VI. He died @ Rouen on 2 Nov 1430 when on a visit with this King. Though he was never formally canonised a strong local cult of ” St Thomas ” developed in North Essex. Were this man the Seynt Thomas of our Gild [an attractive but quite unsubstantiated hypothesis] it would provide the only explanation I can conjure up for a picture of the St of Lancaster on our screen.
1389 Westlake (p 150) quotes certificates nos 53 60 of parish gilds in Essex. These 8 gilds are all in big places; none is nearby and none is dedicated to St Thomas.
XVc The massive bell cage which still exists was made for the four bells then hung (Sloman)
[The dedication to Becket rests heavily on the bells; see chapter 7 pp 2430 for this evidence]
1450c. There is no actual date. The Cartulary of the Augustinian Friars of Clare mentions Stambourne right at the end of fo.61a no 200.A We are quoted as the first stop in the limitation of Finchingfield which journeys through some 30 vills via Dunmow, Takeley, Chigwell, Hatfield & Gosfield: for none of these vills is any dedication given.
[Limitors were individual Friars going on various circuits begging; hence I suppose ‘Limitations’ & possibly ‘mendicancy’ too]
1457 The will of Margaret Stoteville(surely this “t” must be a misreading for a “k“), quoted by Challoner Smith in his book of Newcourt addenda leaves a bequest to St Peter’s church Stambourne
1503 Prior to this date a chapel of the Crutched Friars at Gt Welnetham, which is some 15 mi NE of us on the road from Bury to Melford, was dedicated to Seynt Thomas Becket. This dedication now attaches to the parish church there. A will of 1462 shows this church was earlier dedicated to S Mary the Virgin (& another will in the same year says that the Lit Welnetham church was to S Mary Magdalen). In a letter in 1988 Rector John Hobbs opined that our dedication was probably to the two great apostles with their contrasting modes of faith. He claimed for his church the ‘much rarer’ dedication to Becket transferred from the Crutched Friars as he is on the pilgrims route to Canterbury. I find the stories of the two villages very similar we too are on pilgrim route & had a chapel; the main difference is that we have added back our earlier & main dedication after a period of Victorian apostasy (vide 1549 & 1899 for figures; in fact Becket is the commoner dedication)
(150947 Hy VIII reigns; 152632 Bainbridge was Rector)
1530c The last major extension was carried out by Bainbridge & financed by Hy MacWilliam. The Rector was cultured & powerful being also Dean of Aula Sancta Katarina in Cambridge. McW owned all 3 manors by now & was ” the good benefactor of this church” of the legend on the rail of the south part of the screen. The 4 panels on the north part retain their paintings of S Denys; S George; S Edmund; Hy VI: the 4 on the south side are plain & were probably replaced by Master in 1874. (I allow myself to hypothesise that these may have been S Peter; Becket; John the Baptist for Clare; S Catherine for the Rector ; but there is absolutely no evidence. The similar state of the screen in S Andrews, our sister church has no relevance whatsoever). The otherwise unexplained S Denys painting is another hint at a connection with Becket.
1534 The Act of Supremacy abolished papal jurisdiction
1535 Sir Thomas More was executed ” in midyear ” Since he was not however canonised until 1935 he cannot be the Thomas of our dedication
1538 16 Nov: Hy VIII wrote in his own hand that ‘ Becket’s images be avoided out of all churches, chapels & other places ‘; that ‘he be no longer esteemed a saint ‘; and his ‘ name to be erased from all liturgical books ‘
Temp: Henry VIII Valor Ecclesiasticus has this form of dating on its cover. I understand from Sarah Dodgson & the London Library catalogue that this is the same work as Liber Regis. Melanie Barber’, a librarian of Lambeth Palace says in her letter:
‘the dedication is still given as S Peter ‘ quoting from an edition of 1786 by John Bacon in her library. The edition in the Athenaeum Library is of 6 vols printed for the Record Commission 181034; Ed J Caley; introduction by Joseph Hunter. J H refers to a previous edn having done some damage to the material; which damage he has tried, but not been able completely, to repair. In this edn:
Stambourne, spelt thus, is on p 441 of vol I
Our entry is also listed on p 58 of the index vol VI
Stanbourne & Stanbo’r’n are listed under Stoke on p 469 of vol III
I cannot see any other category in which we could appear; even these 3 entries are not all in the index. In our edn then I cannot find any reference to our dedication
as an aside I see it gives the spelling of the name of the last Dean of Stoke, whom I take to be Bainbridge’s patron, as Robt’us SHYRTON Doct’ Decanus IB’M)
Letters & Papers (= L & P) of Hy VIII in the Camden edn say Becket’s bootes & penneknyfe’ are at S Edmundsbury.
(There were six guilds in nearby Long Melford one of which was dedicated to Becket, thus further strengthening the local connection with the Martyr.)
(154753 Reign of Ed VI; RGSG charter was 1552 155978 Rector Thos Paynell cl.)
1546 Dissolution of the Coll: de Stoke. 90 colleges were closed in the later wave of 15467 when K Edwd VI appropriated the advowson. The data on when it came into the administration of the Duchy of Lancaster are contradictory; V.C.H. says it was 1546/7. 90 colleges, 110 hospitals & 2374 gilds closed; on the death of Hy VIII the process was reinstated & they were transferred to Ed VI
1549 10 April Ed VI grants Seynt Thomas Free chappell to Ralph Aysgarde & Thomas Smythe (v.i.1761) There was a court official of this name at the time.
Smith, Smyth & variants is one of our oldest names. It first appears in the registers, which survive from 1559, in 1563. Though Thomas Smythe is not himself there it seems probable that he was a local man of substance. I hypothesise that he gave the bell to the parish church together with the dedication to St Thomas on the demolition of the chapel he had bought.
I believe this to have been a grant of the ‘gild’ chapel on the south side of the Yeldham road but I can see no trace of it now. The two probable sites are:
i) among the barns of Mill Farm, an old site, now rebuilt, near the border with Toppesfield
ii) just W of Greenfields cottages where modern barns occupy part of the site of the manor house of Greinvilles; these cottages have some massive old beams
Muilman in 1770 seems to have copied Morants account just published. He adds “ the wooden lanthorn looks very mean…. it contains one small bell. “ Though this seems to refer to the church it is so improbable that it probably describes the chapel. There are other errors of fact in his text so it is probably all secondhand
There is a persistent legend, first appearing in Morant in 1761, that: ” the 5th bell, which is the oldest, bears the inscription “Sancte Thoma ora pro nobis” Our oldest bell now is dated 1583. It has no inscription. I guess this legend refers to the chapel bell.
There is a later suggestion that it was incorporated in the final recasting of one of our existing bells in 1734. See chapter 7 & Kelly’s Directory 1926.
1629 The only surviving Bishop’s Transcript for our parish that I can trace was written by a clerk & signed by Rector John Paynell it is an exact copy of the register for 1629 and bears no dedication.
1643/4 6 Jan Will Dowsing went to Clare as Parliamentary Visitor for East Anglia even though the Commonwealth did not begin until 1649. He did much destruction there, in Haverhill & elsewhere. There is however no written evidence that he came to Stambourne though our window was clearly largely destroyed somewhen after 1540.
1662/3 Two appointments in Lib: Reg: Henchman & one in the Patent Rolls are to the Rectoria of Stambourne & give no dedication for the church (Guildhall Library & PRO, Chancery Lane)
1664 6 September Primo visitatione Humphredo Henchman to Hedingham deanery gives simply: Stamborne Rect: Mr Robert Cock (this may be Cock’s signature; there is no dedication) It is ref 9537/16 in the Guildhall library; 9537/17 is on churchwardens and is undated; so is 9537/21, said to be of 1677. I could not find either of the last two in 1987. 9539C is titled ‘ Assenters ‘. Its pages are much frayed & do not appear to be arranged in a geographical order. I could find no dedications therein & it did not seem to be worth more study. 99531/15 is Juxon in Reg: Lib: Laud
166367 Hearth Tax records in the PRO have variously: Stamborner Stamborn Stamborn. The pages mention, variously, Havers Gent (sic) & Mr Robert Cork but not the church itself nor any dedication for the parish. See chapter 6.
1700? White Kennet has a long paragraph on Cook & Havers with marginal notes but describes them simply as of ‘ Stamborne Parish ‘
1700 Newcourt writes the text for Stambourn which is later published in vol II of Repertorium Ecclesiasticum in 1710. In his own brackets he has:
(ded. to S Thomas Ap, or as I find in the London Registry, S Peter, Ap.)
1705 3 bells have no dedications
1730 Our lovely Geo II silver cup & patten are finely engraved with a sunburst & the words

Stambourne Parish

& bear no other text or dedication
1734 Thomas Gardiner made our 5th, great, 33″ tenor, bell; it bears no dedication.
1731 The Cole Bequest, by the wife of a nearby farmer, is left to 4 parishes; our portion is to the Rector of Stambourne the will does not mention the dedication of his church.
1742 Ectoris Thesaurus Rerum Ecclesiasticum written by Browne Willis. It is said that the tables in this book form the basis of Foster’s Dedications (v.i.1899) Willis says that ” monastic dedications are not changed as frequently as parish churches ” clearly he thinks the latter often were.
1761 Morant publishes on Hinckford separately; see text in chapter 27, p 7.26. I interpret these data to imply that the Smythe bell was hung in a lighter weight addition to the cage about 1549; it was recast in 1734 and incorporated into our present tenor bell, the inscription on it not being replaced.
1770 The Muilman publication discusses the wooden cage on the roof, probably of the gild chapel.
1777 Chapman & Andre printed a map @ 1 in to 1 mile. The churches drawn on it are not named.
1786 Liber Regis vel Thesaurus Rerum Ecclesiasticum by John Bacon Esq, Receiver of the First Fruits. It was printed privately for him so is presumably the work to which Caley refers disparagingly. It calls us Stamborn R. (St Peter) but neither Sturmer nor Tilbury are given dedications. He gives in his L H Column: ‘ King’s Books ‘ £ 15 0 0 and on the R H S ‘ Yearly Tenths ‘ £1 10 0 . These are the same figures as in the nearfacsimile Valor where they are written £ xv & £s xxx d.Bacon also gives five other figures and ends ‘ The KING as Duke of Lancaster ‘ Clearly he was publishing data that he was entitled to have together with some additions & new material. They did indeed originate in the Valor but the evidence I have does not justify saying the two books are the same. v.s. Lambeth Library.
1802 K Geo III has Taxatio Ecclesiastica of 1291 q.v. reprinted. I see no dedications herein. Also about this time our two Sheffield plate salvers were engraved simply
Stambourne Parish.
1810-1834 The six ” Auctoritate ” volumes of the Valor Ecclesiasticus were printed; v.s. “Temp H VIII ” & 1786.
1821 Dugdale’s Monasticum, in the reprinted edition in the Athenaeum, does not mention Stambourne, even in its entry on Stoke. This is quite long and records that it is a cell of St Peter’s Abbey, Westminster. To this day there is a Portcullis in diaper on the large, square Tudor dovecote close to the main gate. It is said to be Anne Bullen’s badge but H VIII did not own it in her lifetime.
1837 Our Tithe Survey and map were made. It bears a drawing of the church but it is not named.
1840 Ordnance survey of Essex started, based on Chapman & Andre. Of the many editions I have or have seen, those up to 6″ do not name the church. The 23″ of 1873 clearly has St Peter as does the 19″ of approximately 1920.
1841 The census records that the 88 y.o. clerk Parminter occupies Chapel cottage. His was such a staunch Anglican family, deriving from Rector Wm Thompson in 1680, that this must be the house represented in the Tithe map by a blob in a copse on the Yeldham Road: not one of Spurgeon’s almshouses in Chapel End. It confirms the story of a Gild Chapel & suggests its site.
1848 Whites Directory; the earliest I have seen. It says:
The Church (St Thomas) massive tower containing five bells It is an ancient structure and has a guild or free chapel dedicated to St Thomas
This is the only suggestion known to me that the guild chapel belonged to the parish church. The bells are not described.
1860 The deeds of gift of land for the school refer exclusively to St Thomas. They say that it first met in an old chapel in the Hall but noone now knows where it was. The land of the Quaker Fry’s of Bristol did then extend down the Yeldham road and this could be the chapel referred to by Morant. They were however Quakers and may have built themselves a Meeting house that has now become just another farm building.
1868 3 November Alfred Master became Rector.
1869 The wheel of the tenor bell was made by S. Coppin (Church Bells of Essex: Master’s diary) This could have been the time of resiting the tenor bell in the central position v.s.1734.
1874 January Master distributed a printed subscription sheet headed


for a copy of which I am indebted to M.B. of Lambeth Library. Master left us a clear copperplate foolscap vellumbound notebook but no sheet had survived here. He never uses any dedication in it even for his own installation.
1876 P.O.Directory repeats Sancta Thomas &c
1895 18 May Foundation of the Fransiscan Church of St Thomas of Canterbury in Woodford Green so the Martyr was still in the Roman Catholic calendar then. The centenary was on 29 December 1995
1899 Studies in Church Dedication by Francis Arnold Foster. v.s. 1742. In her list of parishes we are given the dedication of St Peter, category A [A = ancient or prereformation]. This saint does have 11 double dedications but none is conjoined with any of the possible thirteen Thomases. Becket has 3 double dedications and Didymus, one. None is with Peter & we are not included in any of them.
She says on p 86 that dedications to St Thomas the Apostle are characteristic of modern times . In ancient times there were seventy dedications to Becket but ” it is difficult to find seven to his greater namesake.” There are thirty more unqualified dedications & ” experience shows that St Thomas is usually a shortened form of St Thomas of Canterbury”. This gives us 100 to 7 odds in favour of Becket. She gives a private letter from a Mr Kerslake (an authority I have been unable to identify) as saying: ” I would not venture to say that all dedications to St Thomas were to St Thomas of Canterbury, but most English ones were and possibly all.” She also notes that as in the Mercer’s chapel, Becket sometimes appears as St Thomas Acon (i.e. Acres). I have not encountered this soubriquet elsewhere but the word does appear hereabouts in the priory in nearby Clare for Joan of Acres lived and is buried there. Foster’s figures do not correspond closely with Bond’s q.v. though he quotes her extensively .
1902 Kelly’s Directory repeats the canard
1904 The Royal Commission on Historical Monuments gives us simply as St Peter
1911 Sale map of Berwick Hall has our church at its margin as St Thomas (t.c.)
1912 Dedications & Patron Sains of English Churches by F Bond. We are not mentioned by any form of the name of our parish. He has two main tables both of which seem to be based on prereformation data, perhaps even XIIc. The earlier table [p17] gives an order of popularity and the later lists bell dedications in churches and chapels it is difficult to distinguish which is which.

order saints dedications bells
1 BVM 2335 900
2 All saints, 1217 + All Hallows 38 = 1255 40
3 S Peter 1129 + S Peter ad vinc: = 1140 154
6 S John the Baptist 495 260
22 Becket[Foster gives 69] 80 most of them’
26 S Catherine 62 170
31 S Thomas Ap: [Foster gives 29] 46 0

Bond claims that there is a rough agreement in order of frequency of dedications of churches and of bells but that there is little correspondence of identical dedications within a steeple & its bells. This seems to be based on the high figures for the common corresponding dedications to St Catherine. For Becket, at least, he specifically says most of the buildings did have identically dedicated bells as, originally, I suppose, did the gild chapel in Stambourne and later, our Parish church [v.s. 1549]
1916 Transactions of the Essex Arch: Soc: 2d ser:XVI p117 has an early reference to the existence of St Thomas Chappell.
1919 Parish Gilds of Medieval England by H.F.Westlake says that dedications were mainly to Becket before the Reformation v.s. 1389 & 1546
1925 Church Plate of Essex Canon Pressey heads our entry: Stambourne St Peter
1926 Kelly’s Directory has:
A Norman Tower,…. a clock & five bells one of which is inscribed*”Sancte Thoma ora pro nobis”* this bell was recast in 1734.
This ambiguous statement, for which no authority is given, is the first since Morant wrote in 1761 that there was this inscription, to suggest that none of the bells is, now, in fact so inscribed. The reference to the Jubilee Clock of 1887 suggest that someone may actually have seen the church. The Rector 1923 1930 was Hy Taylor, B.A.Durham, who is one of our more shadowy figures.
19341959 In the Rectorship of H E A Horn, MA a beautifully worked green frontal was made; the gold thread is still brilliant but the green colour much faded. I guess this to be the work of his sister, Miss Horn who lived here. v.i.1962. Later they had a housekeeper, Miss Thomas [the name keeps recurring; many girls have also been christened Thomasina] who is recorded in the Council minutes as ‘contributing’ to the frontal’. It bears three roundels:


This seems to be a representation of a phrase in Morant and the crossed spears are used for symmetry & artistic effect. The central symbol may be a reference to Becket, for he instituted the Feast of Trinity to commemorate his own installation: the liturgical colour for it is green. I deduce from other references that Horn did own a copy of Morant but I do not value this lovely work as evidence.
1933 & 1937 The entries in Kelly repeat that of 1926.
1946 This date is carved on an oak reredos [now used as an altar footing] 6 ft x 6″ x 6″. It is carved:


I cannot tell which was made first; clearly both had the same inspiration, probably from Rector Horn.
1952 March 5 Notes on the History of Stambourne Church & Parish published by Horn. He writes that the church is dedicated to St Thomas [unspecified] and St Peter, in that order. He also prints
5 bells, one of which is inscribed ‘ Sancte Thoma ora pro notis’(sic)
There are also some other errors; it was these that sent me up into the bellchamber.
1962 July 17 Miss Horn left a small bequest to ‘The Parish of St Peter & St Thomas’ (in that order).
1963 We came to Stambourne. The notice board, which seemed to be of an age to have been erected by Horn, had a triangular cap with the legend:


This board blew down in the gale of September 1994; it was repaired using the back of a pew and preserving its cap.
1975-1986 In a correspondence with the Church Commissioners concerning a sum of £ 41,968.03 of endowment monies they made no mention of any dedication.
1980 The Alternative Service reinstated Becket into the liturgy but he was not put into the Book of Common Prayer from which he had been absent since its inception by King Edward VI.
1986-7 Correspondence with Peter Clarke of the office of the Duchy of Lancaster produced only these references from the Deputy Keeper of the Records:
Halstead Manor granted to Marquis Macllaughlin; 3 Eliz I
Rentals & Surveys Essex Public Record Office DL 43
Colleges & Charities: Certificates of all in Essex DL 38/3; 2 Edward Vi
The last of these will be the source of Westlake’s table. I did not pursue the other two improbable sources. We are not mentioned in the Official History of the Duchy in the Athenaeum library.
1988 The 7th edition of my notes on the Church says ‘ No unequivocal attribution has been found “.
1988/89 The ‘Bennett’ Crockford confirms that our dedication is still unique. Analysis by PME shews that in the churches existing in 1988 there are 50 dedications to Becket against 128 to Thomas designated the Apostle or unspecified. This is the reverse order to Prereformation foundations alone. She found no dedications of any kind to Peter and Thomas jointly.
The distribution of dedications to Becket by Diocese is :

Exeter 7 dedications
Lincoln, Bath & Wells, Sarum 5 each
St Albans 4
Chichester 3
Bristol, Hereford & Oxford 2 each
15 other dioceses 1 each

East Anglia is therefore quite a common area for this dedication but the main concentration is in the West country nowadays.
1990 The purple hangings made by Christine Hoad in memory of Alan show the crossed spears and keys copied from the reredos & green frontal. I agreed to their use at that time as I had not sufficient evidence to counterbalance the existing tradition; like the earlier work, they are not historical evidence. Furthermore, two spears crossed are held to indicate torture & do not signify the Apostle who claims one only.
1994 Melanie Barber, Assistant Librarian @ Lambeth Palace, writes that the Guildhall is more likely than themselves to be the London Registry of Newcourt’s note. My studies there have not yielded the source he quotes: as he was writing not long after the ukase of Henry VII the official record would not have mentioned Becket in any event. She also says that Halstead is a Canterbury Peculiar so we probably were dedicated to Becket. Braintree is but I cannot confirm this for Halstead. She sent the leaflet by Master & directed me to the reprint of the Stoke charters on which much of this is based.