Blackmore Area Local History

Stondon Massey (Essex)
"A stony hill and the Marci family"

Webpage devoted to Stondon Massey: people and places.
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Fryerning High Ongar Ingatestone Mountnessing
Blackmore Norton Mandeville Shenfield Stondon Massey Willingale Writtle
Baines family
William Byrd: a Stondon Celebrity.
John Carre: a Stondon Celebrity.
Giles Cottages
Garnham family
Gosling family
Parish Registers, Notes by Revd. Reeve (1900)
Parish Registers, Index of
A Song And Souvenir Of Stondon Massey. By The Rev. Canon E. H. L. Reeve, MA 
Stondon Massey in 1845.  Written by Revd. Alfred Inigo Suckling
Stondon Massey in 1861.  Written by D. W. Coller
Stondon Massey in 1887.  Written by Miller Christy
Through Changing Scenes: A history of Stondon Massey in words and music
Victoria County History
Nathaniel Ward: a Stondon Celebrity.

For more information on Stondon Massey, follow this link to the blackmorehistory.blogspot: Stondon Massey

Stondon Massey in 1887

The following is taken from ‘Durrant’s Handbook For Essex’ written by Miller Christy (Durrant & Co., Chelmsford, 1887).   

Ston’don Massey. A. 1155; P. 261; Rectory, value £500; 3 m. S.E. from Ongar.   

Literally Stone-dune Marci, the stony or gravelly hill of the Marci, or Marks, its owners in former times. The Place is a good mansion. The Church (SS. Peter and Paul) [left], though small, is a remarkable example of a
Norman church. It consists of a nave and chancel, to which a modern N. aisle and mortuary chapel with vaulted stone roof have been added. A timber framework in the W. end nave supports a tower with 3 bells and a spire. On the N. side were, until recently, two round-headed Norman loopholes, placed very high in the wall. Opposite were two similar windows, one of which, in the 16th cent., was replaced by a large square-headed 3-light (Perp.) window. In the chancel are two more loopholes like the others, not more than 2½ in. wide externally, but splayed internally to 3 ft. The S. door is a rude, plain, round-arched one, with square capitals, of Norman age, or possibly older. The rood-screen and pulpit (both perfect) are of fine 16th cent. carved oak. The E. window is poor; that at the W. is Perp., with a narrow lancet window over it, which is possibly original. The font is octagonal, with rose ornaments. There is a floor brass, with effigy and long inscription to John Sarre [Carre](1570), citizen of London ironmonger and merchant venturer, who was born in the parish; and another to Rainold Hollingworth (1753). The Register begins in 1708.

Stondon Massey in 1861

The following is taken from ‘The People’s History of Essex’ written by D. W. Coller (Meggy & Chalk, Chelmsford, 1861)    

We must consider ourselves as returned to Ongar; and, commencing out pilgrimage to the southward, we pass a little to the left the parish of STONDON – not mentioned in Domesday Book, and supposed to have been then incorporated with Ongar or Margaret Roothing [Roding], in which latter parish, though eight or nine miles distant, the rector still receives the tithes of the manor of Marks, so called from its ancient owners, the Marci family. 
Stondon Place, pleasantly situated, is the residence of the lord of the manor.

Stondon Massey in 1845 

The following is taken from Revd. Alfred Suckling’s book, ‘Memorials of the antiquities and architecture, family history and heraldry of the
County of Essex’ (John Weale, London, 1845).    

With the
church of Stondon Massey commences my eleventh volume of “Antique and Armorial Collection;” - and I hope opportunity sufficient will be afforded me to devote its entire contents to the county of Essex, in which it is situated. Few districts offer subjects of higher interest; and although I must admit the want of the beauties of a stately cathedral, yet its remains of Roman castrametation - its castellated and its monastic ruins - its ecclesiastical and domestic structures - present, in singularity of design and construction, unparalleled examples of ancient art. The Roman works at Chesterford, considered by some as the most entire in England; the castles of Colchester and Hedingham; the Abbey of Waltham and the Priory of St. Botolph, both exceedingly curious specimens; the round church of Maplested; and above all, the wooden church of Greensted, perhaps a genuine instance of Anglo Saxon Architecture; the houses of Layer Marney and Audley these, and various others that might be justly adduced, will, I think, bear me out in asserting that the county of Essex is not to be surpassed in the possession of those curious and interesting remains which constitute the riches of architectural antiquities. Nor will the church of Stondon Massey, upon a close examination, be considered as unworthy addition to such a list. Although its south side makes a drawing of but little apparent interest, yet its northern façade, uninjured by modern innovation, presents a remarkable display of the peculiar architecture of Anglo-Norman times, than I have hitherto met with. Three small round-headed loop-holes placed, with the most jealous precaution, in the very uppermost portion of the wall, alone admit light from this side of building; while a similar number, in a situation exactly corresponding, originally pierced the south wall, of which two still remain; the third has disappeared, having given place to a larger window in the nave, of a much more recent era. These six apertures, then, with one at the east and one at the west end, most likely of equal dimensions, afforded all the light which the devotees of that turbulent period thought it prudent to enjoy. The east end, I grieve to say, is now filled with a modern sash-window: the lancet-window, to be observed in the drawing, placed high up the gable, may he original, and was, perhaps, at first, round-headed, but I can offer nothing positive on this point, as recent masonry is apparent in this part of the edifice. Below are correct drawings of the interior and exterior of one of these loop-holes; the Saracenic or horse-shoe termination of which must not be suffered to pass unnoticed.  

Though Stondon may he inferior in its masonry and finish to the celebrated
church of Barfeston in Kent, it far exceeds that edifice, in my opinion, as an example of Norman Architecture. A reference to the drawings will show that the church of Stondon comprises merely a nave and chancel, of nearly the same width: its eastern termination was originally circular I cannot determine, as a modern brick wall forms the present gable.   

In the interior are a few monuments, which may be thus briefly noticed. First, at the foot of two small figures, in brass, are the following lines in black letter: -   

Who liste to see and knowe himselfe may loke upö this glase, 
And view ye beaten pathe of death We he shall one day pase;   
Wc way I Ramold Holingworth w pacient mind have gone;   
Whose bodi here, as death hath changd, lieth covëed w this ston:  
Thus dust to dust is brought againe, ye earthe she bath her owne,  
This shall ye lot of all men be, before the trumpe be blowne.  
Obiit 17 Aprilis, A°. 1573.
Mors michi vita.   

To the memory of Johanna Hollingworth, Spinster, Lady of the Manor of Stonedon Massey who died April 12, 1829, at Stonedon Place, in this parish, and was buried in the family at Thundridge, in the county of Herts.  

On this monument are the arms of Hollingworth.   

A mural tablet, inscribed to the memory of the families of How and Taylor, who resided at
Stondon Place upwards of a century.  

John Leigh, of
Stondon Place, Gent., died 3rd of October, 1650.  

Hic jacet Jacobus Crooke nuper hujus ecclesiae Rector, qui vitam Deo resignavit suam l die Mensis Martij, A.D. 1706, annoque aetatis suae 67.   

At the west end of this church is a stone octagonal font, with the rose ornaments commonly met with in this shaped ornament; while a screen of wood divides the nave and chancel, which is in good preservation, but does not exhibit any peculiar tracery.   

A frame of oak timber, however, which occupies a considerable portion of the western end, and sustains the present tower and bells, is entitled to observation, on account of its singular construction.   

The north and south doors of the nave are perfectly plain, having neither column nor moulding in any part.

Pictures from top to bottom: (1) St Peter & St Paul Church, Stondon Massey (Essex); (2) Illustration of memorial brass to John Carre (taken from 'Reeve. Stondon Massey (1900)');  (3) Illustration of memorial brass to Rainold Hollingworth (taken from 'Reeve'); (4) Illustration of north side of church (taken from 'Suckling. Memorials (1845)');  (5) North side of St Peter & St Paul Church, Stondon Massey, showing chapel (c1873) and toilet extension (2005).  Below. St Peter & St Paul Church, Stondon Massey (taken from 'Suckling. Memorials' (1845)').

A Song And Souvenir Of Stondon Massey. By The Rev. Canon E. H. L. Reeve, MA    

The verses that follow were written for a village fête at Stondon last June [1924], The historical matter they contain may interest a wider circle of readers.


Do ye know little Stondon? she makes a brave show
With her great ones who strew the long ages; 
Give attention a moment, and int’rest will grow
we turn o’er her wonderful pages. 
Come whence you may  
Welcome to-day, 
And ‘Stondon for ever’ be ready to say!

Distanced but little more than twenty miles from London, the parish of Stondon has always numbered people of repute among its residents, and the old Hall near the Church has in its day rested many famous men. Some of these form the theme and inspiration of our song.

It was Marcy, the Norman, bequeathed her his name   
When the Church on the hill he erected;  
See its stout flinty walls stand for ever the same, 
Be his piety ever respected!   
Come whence you may, etc.

The Marcy family were possessors of the manor of Stondon soon after the Norman Conquest, and their Connection with it explains the otherwise mysterious appendage ‘Massey’ which became attached to the Saxon name of the village. The Spigurnells, who followed, became owners through marriage.

Shall I sing of a soldier? – there’s Belknap the bold,   
Who in France for his valour was knighted,   
Two Kings in their pride ‘neath his draped cloth of gold  
Their friendship eternally plighted.  
Come whence you may, etc.

Sir Edward Belknap, lord of the manor, served in the French war, and was knighted by King Henrv VIII at Tournay in 1514. The arrangements for the meeting of Henrv with his rival, Francis, King of France, at Guisne, were largely in his hands. Everv one, including the great English Cardinal, knew Sir Edward well. He received instructions to be sure to pitch Wolsey’s tent in a dry place! (State papers).

Do ye love civic splendour? Behold ye John Hende,  
Twice lord mayor and beloved by the people;   
The King sought his aid his exchequer to mend,  
And he built for our village a steeple.  
Come whence you may, etc.

Sir John Hende, an earlier lord of the manor, was Lord Mayor of London in 1391, and again in 1404. King Richard II borrowed money from him.  The belfry of the church dates from his time, and probably owed much to his benefaction. The oldest of our three bells, bearing a maker’s mark of about A.D. 1400, is dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, who may have been Hende’s patron saint. His two sons bore his name John.

John Carre for a bountiful magnate may stand,   
In his will half the city was mentioned;
To his birthplace he turned with a prodigal hand
And ‘tis still with his Charity pensioned. 
Come whence you may, etc.

John Carre, a Stondon lad, became an affluent man, and as an ironmonger and merchant adventurer was a prominent figure in city circles. He died in 1570, leaving a charity to the parish which bears to-day the name of Henry Giles, his nephew and executor.  Carre was buried with great pomp by representatives of the Ironmongers Company within the sanctuary at Stondon Church, where a fine brass monument still commemorates him.  By his will a sermon was to be preached annually in the church at Whitsuntide for twenty-one years in memory of him.

Men of learning and lore Stondon records supply, 
For a Judge if you make requisition -  
Both Spigurnell and Shelley great causes could try, 
For each held his Sov’reigns commission, 
Come whence you may, etc.

Henry Spigurnell, a cousin of Edmund and John, successively lords of the manor, was between the years 1295 and 1327 constantly employed as King Justiciar. Sir William Shelley, two centuries later (1527 - 1548), held the estate as the heir of Sir Edward Belknap already mentioned, and was a famous judge in the time of Henry VIII.

Sir Nathaniel Rich was a statesman of might,  
Laying well our great Empire’s foundations; 
He fathered at home the Petition of Right, 
And abroad the New England Plantations.
Come whence you may, etc.

Sir Nathaniel Rich, lord of the manor, was for some years a member of Parliament, and holds an important place in its records in connection with the Petition of Right presented by the Commons to King Charles I in 1628. He was also a great promoter of the New England Settlements in Virginia, and from 1619 to his death in 1636 was in constant correspondence on the subject, and held shares in several large trading vessels.

Do you ask us to give you a musical treat?  
We’ve in Byrd a musician right famous,  
For Sonnets and Psalms or for Madrigals sweet,    
You’d be puzzled a better to name us.  
Come whence you may, etc.

William Byrd, musician and composer, 1543 - 1623, was a gentleman of the Queen’s Chapel Royal, and is of more than national fame. His works are world-renowned, and the tercentenary of his death was observed in July 1923, both in England and abroad. He lived at Stondon Place - first as tenant and then as owner - for some thirty years (1595 - 1623) and a mural tablet has been recently erected in the church as an outcome of the tercentenary celebrations by a committee of his ardent admirers.

The King’s High Commissioner lived at the Hall   
Men might blame ‘Master Hollingworth’s’ malice;   
For the King’s use he claimed broidered vestment and pall, 
And sequestered the obit and chalice
Come whence you may, etc.

Reynold Hollingworth and his wife lived as tenants at Stondon Hall for some thirty years. A brass monument in the Church commemorates his death in 1573. In the reign of Edward VI he was largely employed in visiting parish churches and monastic houses, and his name constantly appears as that of an unwelcome intruder. Droves of sheep and cattle held as ‘obits’ were often claimed ‘for the King’s use.’ And the greater part of the Church vestments, plate, sacring hells, and incidentals was similarly removed; only the bare necessaries - paten, chalice, and surplice, etc - being left for present use.

Colonel Rich was hold speaker and fighter withal   
The lord Cromwell esteemed him a treasure,   
He gave him his portrait to hang in his hall –   
Though he sometime confined him at pleasure!
Come whence you may, etc.

Colonel Rich, nephew of Sir Nathaniel, was lord of the manor, 1636 - 1701. He fought for the Parliament in the Civil War, and reduced the royal strongholds of Deal, Sandown, and Dover, for which he received the thanks of the House. As a Fifth-Monarchy man he incurred the displeasure of the Protector, who had previously given him his watch and a portrait of himself, which now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.  For some years he was under surveillance and was confined in several State prisons. Good relations were restored between the two men before the Protector’s death in 1658.

Do ye look for a Preacher? our Puritan Ward
Was the pride of the House that derived him;
His name lives at Harvard, though stern Bishop Laud
In his zeal of his Living deprived him. 
Come whence you may, etc.

Nathaniel Ward was Rector of Stondon 1626 – 1633.  He had been educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.  The Bishop of London, of whose diocese Essex then formed a part, deprived him for his puritanical leanings. Ward emigrated to Masschussetts, where he received a grant of 500 acres for his capable assistance in drawing up a ‘Code of Liberties.’ Returning to England he left his farm to Harvard College, then recently founded, whose benefactor, John Harvard, he had known at Emmanuel. The pulpit in Stondon Church was erected by him and bears date 1630 and shows also a scroll and carvings which clearly associate it with a little volume of sermons produced by Ward’s brother Samuel in 1628.

Five Sheriffs at least men of Stondon have been,   
Of the stamp legal dignity prizes;
‘Twould have pleased you right well these our squires to have seen
In their robes at the
County Assizes!
Come whence you may, etc.

Our Stondon Sheriffs have been Sir Thomas Gobyon as early as 1323, John Hende, jun. 1443, John Hende (his brother) 1456, Walter Writtle 1469, and John How 1730. All were in turn lords of our manor.

We had bold desperadoes who followed John Cade, 
Little reeking that trouble was brewing; 
And the fair Queen of Scots one could pledge undismayed
Till his gallantry proved his undoing! 
Come whence you may, etc.

Followers of Jack Cade in 1450 were William arid Richard Reynolds, tanners; John Whepyll, smith : John Camp and William Edwyn, husbandmen and others from the parish of lower degree. The individual alluded to is William Shelley, who risked and staked all for the cause of Mary Queen of Scots.  He was arraigned for high treason against Elisabeth in 1585, condemned and sentenced, and all his estates were confiscated. By some means he must have obtained a reprieve as he died in 1597 among his friends, though still under surveillance. The family seat was at Michelgrove in the parish of Clapham, near Worthing and the little church there contains some important monuments. It was in one of the Patching copses overlooking the Sussex coast that William was detected ‘whispering‘ with abettors from across the sea. He was a grandson of the Judge.

Now I think I have shown you from history true
- Some with might, some with counsel and leading –
Stondon men have come forward their duty to do
When their country their talents was needing.
Come whence you may, etc.

We cannot suppose that Stondon has had a monopoly of fame though, as I have said, circumstances have frequently introduced her to persons of wide celebrity.

Rise youngsters of Stondon, and carry her on, 
Nor let your applauses be hollow;
You shall worthily honour the days that are gone
By making those worthy that follow.
Come whence you may, etc.

Is it too much to ask that we shall still maintain our good name? A legacy of honour such as we have received may well stimulate our younger friends to go forward and add to it. May we never want good citizens to represent us like those giants of old!

June, 1924.

Taken from ‘Essex Review’, October 1924.

Giles Cottages

These are the Almshouses of an ancient Charity, still in existence in Stondon.  

Ruth writes:   

“We seem to recall that Giles Cottages were some kind of almshouses. Did Albert and Rosa Gosling qualify for assistance and move in there when they married in 1887? They were among the “poor of the parish” and at some point they were given gifts of a sack of coal and money, possibly ten shillings, at Christmas. Who actually owned the cottages?”   

“Number 5 was the family home for at least 80 years. I can’t quite work out how Rosa junior was allowed to stay there after the death of her father Albert in 1944, or if she was, why they were apparently so keen to get rid of her later on. When she moved out she was already in her mid seventies, so I would have thought it could have been a waiting game, with her surely not having too many years left. As it turned out she lived on another eighteen years!”  

The Giles Charity still exists for the benefit of parishioners in hardship.  The Stondon Massey parish magazine advertises that the Trust gives money towards

- the cost of travel for the patient who has to travel to and from hospital for treatment, or family members, who are visiting the person who is sick in hospital over a period of time   
- equipment in the home for the patient   
- provision of bedding, clothing, food, fuel, furniture, including comforts and other aid for the sick   
- educational assessments and other needs e.g. speech therapy   
- expenses for people doing further studies 
- assist purchase of school uniforms and educational trips.

In more recent times all the cottages were sold off, because they were in need of refurbishment. The Charity therefore invests a capital sum. 

I am advised that the records of the Charity are held at the Essex Record Office.  A quick look at SEAX did not reveal much. A more diligent search might.   

Revd. Reeve’s book (1900) includes notes about the charity and its officers from its founding in 1575. 

Baines family

I have notes of a Baines family in Stondon Massey.  There was an Ernest Baines junior and Ernest Baines senior, who was 44 in 1915.  Revd. Reeve (Rector of Stondon) wrote: 

27th July 1915

“Ernest Baines, of Stondon, who has for some years been doing duty as Bell-ringer and Verger at the
Parish Church left on Monday July 19th to join the Transport Corps of the Royal Engineers.  A man of 44 and accustomed to horses, he was anxious to place his services at the disposal of his King and country.

Baines is a married man with a large family, some of the children are now old enough to earn their own living: and he hopes that his example may lead some of the single men who are still holding back to come forward and enlist.  So far the Government have procured the services of a vast army without conscription.” 

20th September 1916   

“The War Office is calling men up.  Lads who are now eighteen are finding themselves called for, and among them Leonard Hasler, Ernest Baines, Alfred Baines, of Stondon, and Thomas Roast, formerly of Stondon School, now living in Blackmore.  Our Church Clerk Ernest Baines, (father of
E Baines junior) is now discharged, having done good service, chiefly at Welsh centres, in the Army Training Corps.”  

In June 1918 we find Ernest Baines junior serving in Italy but by Armistice Day “His son, a young fellow of 19 bearing the same name, has recently been wounded in one of the last engagements on the Italian Front and is in Hospital in Italy with injuries (as we at present understand) to both legs”. Ernest Baines returned home in July 1919 after a long spell in hospital. His father rang the bells at Stondon “with all the old vigour” once the Armistice was announced on
11th November 1918.  

Ruth remembered Ernest (Ernie) Baines junior around Stondon Massey when she was quite young. “He only had one leg, which ties in with the reference to his leg injuries in
Italy [in 1918], but could move surprisingly quickly with his crutches.” 

Garnham family: Follow this link

Gosling family

Ruth writes: 

“Albert Gosling [father of Alice Larke] was illegitimate, father unknown, but his mother was Susan Gosling, born 31st January 1847 in Stondon Massey, the daughter of William Gosling, born 1843 in Kelvedon Hatch. Susan later married Philip Baines, who was a widower with several children, including Ernest Baines, who I remember around Stondon Massey when I was a child.  The Gosling family of course disappeared as they only had daughters who survived but they are also related to the Lagdens who I believe are still in evidence around Kelvedon Hatch.” Ruth  

This picture of the Gosling family (right) was taken c1908 on the doorstep of their home at Giles Cottages.  They are back row Edith (1889 – 1980) married Standish and lived in London, Rosa (1864 – 1934), Alice (1891 – 1972) wife of Billy Larke and my grandmother, front row Rosa (1898 – 1992) lived in Giles Cottages until 1974, Eleanor (1905 – 2001) lived in Kelvedon Hatch and Emily (1896 - ??1960s) lived near Ashwells. 

“My grandmother Alice did mention Stondon Massey School but only to tell me how easy it was for me – no cane, no learning by rote etc.   

“Albert Gosling died in 1944 and his daughter Rosa still lived at Giles Cottages. She married and raised her step-children and her own daughter (illegitimate and fostered until
Rosa married) there and we moved her out in 1974. The owner(s) had been putting pressure on her for some time to leave, but she was a very private and independent person and didn’t say much.  Even then she only moved to Soames Mead. She died in 1992 and is buried in Stondon Massey churchyard. Most of the family are, although some of them had their ashes interred instead, apart from my grandmother Alice.  For some reason her husband was cremated and she just went the same way when she died.  No one thought about what to do with the ashes. The last ones to be buried there were in 2003 when we buried the ashes of my grandmother’s sister Nellie and her daughter. As there were only daughters (Albert and Rosa had a son but he died in infancy) that was the end of our Goslings.  

This Gosling might be related. to “James GOSLING born Blackmore Essex enlist Romford 30144, PRIVATE, Died, Home, 05/11/16, FORMERLY 23863, ESSEX REGT., Suffolk Regiment, 2nd Battalion”.  James Gosling was not living at Blackmore, to my knowledge, at the time as he is not commemorated on the War Memorial. He is buried at Felixtowe according to the ‘Commonwealth War Graves Commission’ (citation). Unfortunately cwgc does not give his parents or family address.

Ruth added: “The Goslings used the name James several times, and spread out a bit around Doddinghurst and Kelvedon Hatch as well.”

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Last updated: 16 June 2011