Sun Dial Menu

Belchamp Walter Church

In keeping with many other pages on this website it is best viewed on a larger screen.

An attempt to add to the information in the church. St Mary the Virgin is the Parish Church of Belchamp Walter.

St Mary's Church, Belchamp Walter

This page is part of an on-going research project on the history of Belchamp Walter and the manor of Belchamp Walter. If you have found it making a web search looking for geneological or other information on the village then please bookmark this page and return often as I am likely to make regular updates. If you delve deeper into this website you will find many other pages similar to this one.

Top Menu

St. Mary's Belchmp Walter is located within the grounds of Belchamp Hall.

Areas of interest

Wall Paintings

Below is an image of St Mary, a medieval wall painting on the North Wall.

St Mary's Church

I have attributed the photo to - the url given seems to have expired.

Acccording to the informtion sheet in the church the Madonna mural and those above the remains of the Chantry were restored in 1962 by a Mrs. Baker (funded by the Pilgrim Trust)

I will have a page dedicated to the Wall Paintings, their fate in renovations and the Civil War.

Top Menu

The Chantry Chapel

The tomb enclosed by the chapel was that of John Botetort (Botetourt) The motifs on the remains of the chantry, are difficult to see due to the vandelism, are of both Bototourt and Otes.

According to The History and Topography of Essex, by Thomas Wright (published 1836):

The Botetourt family came from Normandy with the Conqueror nad were lords of Wiley Castle, Worcestershire. Sir John Botetourt had summonses to parilament from 1307 to 1329, and for his military achievements was rewarded and honoured by Edward the First. He was made governor of St Briavels Castle, Glocestershire, and warden of the Forest of Dean............... He held jointly with his wife Maud, this manor (St Briavels) and also the manors of Belchamp, St Ethelbert, and Walter, and of Ovington, Gestingthorpe and Gosfield.

I guess that there is little wonder that such a lavish chapel was erected in his honour. I find it interesting that the chapel was destroyed by Cromwell while the Clopton Chantry in Long Melford survived.

The English Civil War (1642 - 1651) probably means that the chapels demise was on the Raymonds watch but before the present Belchamp Hall was built (1720/21).

Top Menu

The Chancel

Described in the information sheet as being the "earliest" work in the church. Dating from the 10th and 11th century evidenced by the round top (Saxon) window opening.

The Raymond Memorial
Top Menu

The Raymond Family Memorial

Designed and built by Robert Taylor in 1720.

The Raymond Memorial

Above is the Raymond memorial seen in the early moring sun shining through the East window (above the altar). The text is in Latin and gives details of whom was interred in the family tomb below the chancel floor. The plague on the opposite wall of the chancel lists the family members interred subsequent to the memorial.

Top Menu
The Raymond Memorial Plaque - St Mary's Church

The Raymond family mentioned on the plaque date from the last entry on the memorial opposite to the 20th century.

Top Menu

The Chancel Arch

The Raymond Memorial Plaque - St Mary's Church
Top Menu

The Nave

Dating at least from the 12C, this where the Chantry is located. The nave has been "restored" up to the 19C. The Victorians were resposible for the installation of heating and lighting shown above. The "Turtle" solid fuel burning stove is still in use today as a supliment to the under-pew electric heating.

The Nave also is home to the Medieval Wall Paintings and the Chantry.

19th C Renovations

The Stained Glass in the Chantry arch

Dedicated to George Washington Brownlow, having four panels depicting Jubal, David, Mark and Luke.

The Chantry - St Mary's Church

Jubal is described as the "ancestor of all that played the harp and flute" and known for "forefather of all musicians", according to the WikiP page. The panel shows a figure playing a Medieval Harp and is unusual in that I cannot find a similar image on the Internet. Most of the depictions show Jubal playing a flute or pan pipe instrument.

It is also interedting to note the depiction of 2 Old testament figures, in fact what could be seen as a Jewish infuence, Jubal along with (King) David. One might have expected the 4 Apostles as seen painted by George Washington Brownlow on the Pulpit.

The Chantry - St Mary's Church
Top Menu

The Pulpit

Here we see the 4 Apostles, Mathew, Mark, Juke and John.

Picture coming soon.

The organ

A lovely example of highly decorated parish church organ. See my page dedicated to the organ

See newspaper article on the first playing: britishnewspaperarchive - 2nd July 1868

The Tortoise Stove

By Charles Portway of Halstead, the stove is still in working order and it a fine example of this basic model. The chimney stack is a distinctive feature of the Nave as it ascends vertically through the Nave roof and it is proabably the first thing to strike you when entering the church.

The Tortoise Stove - St Mary's Church

Top Menu

The Tower

Built in 15C and of 3 stages, flint and brick, has a lower room (now used as the vestry), a bell-ringers chamber (which houses the clock mechanism and room), Belfry and is accessed by a spiral staircase leading eventually to the roof. The tower is topped with a brick and wooden bell tower (cupola) with 18C weather vane.

The two western buttresses have each a quatrefoiled panel with a plain shield.

Althogh the bells are no longer in a condition that they can rung from the Ringers Chamber there is a Ellacombe apparatus, by Gillett & Johnston in the vestry.

Quote from, One of the acheivenets of the Rev. H. T. Ellacombe

One of his achievements was to invent the "Ellacombe Chiming Apparatus" by which a number of bells could all be chimed by one (Christian) man, saving the need for six or eight (atheist) ringers! There are drawings of the apparatus in the book. Many examples survive in towers to the present day, although rarely in use.

Top Menu

The Bells

The 8 bells have not been rung since 1923

St Mary's Church belfry

There is a Peel Board in the "Silence Chamber", the first floor of the tower. This was where the bell ringers would have rung the bells, the ropes would have decended into this room. The Peel Board is largely uniteligible and is located on the South wall of the tower behind the ropes for the chiming mechanism. You can see the underside of the belfry, where the main bell ropes would have been and the chiming ropes now go in a photogrpaph on my page on the bells.

Top Menu

George Washington Brownlow

Churchyard and cemetery

Names on graves, include Symthies, Firmin, Brownlow

Information Sheet in Church

There is an information sheet inside the church, copies of which are presumeably for sale. I will quote from this information and I may transcribe some of it here.

The information sheets are divided into areas of the church such as the Chancel, the Nave, the tower and other items such as the bells and the medieval wall paintings.

Top Menu

Vicars and their dates at St. Mary's

Table taken from the information sheet and (hopefully) annotated for what was going on at the time.

Name Date Patron / information
Jon. Clark 1370 Priory and Convent de Colne
Richard de Oakham 1370                "" ""
Robert Eede 1387
Richard Wright 1387
John Crispe 1403 Local timeline
John Man 1404
Nic Baker or barker 1404
Nic Gyan 1465
Joh Forthington 1469
Rob Hochinson
Hugo Fetherston 1526
Vicent Wharton 1528
Joh Gilliot (or Gyllet) 1529-1560 (died)
Edward Riggs (or Rigges) 1580 Our lady Queen Elizabeth I
Tho Crobett 1583 St Edmunds Hall Oxford
John Colloinso 1584
Name Date Patron
William Smythies (Resigned) 1623-1643 Raymond Family
John Wright 1650 Our Lord the King Charles I (by lapse)
John Firmin
Richard Bate 1679 William Ayliff and William Raymond
Jon Thomas 1680
John Goodwin
George Rutherford
William Kent 1723 The King - George I
T Chapman 1731
Samuel Raymond (senior) 1758-1767 Raymond Family
Robert Wright 1767-1764
S Raymond (junior) 1784-1826 also Rector of Middleton and Vicar Bulmer
John Mayne St.Clere Raymond ????-1889 J.M.S died in 1893 so probably stepped down
F.W. Kelly 1889-1893
T.L.V Simkin 1893-1899
A.P. Panell 1899-1942
E.W. Hammond 1942-1946
G.E. Adams 1947-1956
G.T. Beale 1956-1959
Reverand Trevor Howard 1959-1993 Also Rector, Belchamp Otten and Bulmer
Aidan Harker 1997-2000
Eoin Buchanan (Team Rector) 2004-2012
Margaret King (Team Vicer) 2005-2013
Margaret King (Team Rector) 2013 -
Sally Womersley (Team Vicar) 2014 - 2019
Gill Morgan 2019-
Top Menu

Church Wardens

Here we have a more complete list of the recent past.

Registers of Christenings, Marriages and Funerals were kept, particularly by William Smythies under order from Queen Elizabeth 1 in 1559. He also transcribed earlier registers and these are apparently held in the Essex County Archives

The first Church Warden, Robert Firmin, has a dedication on bell #7 in the belfry. There is a Firmin headstone in the graveyard.

Date Name Vicar/Rector
1873 Robert Firmin Post Robert Wright
Pre Raymond Junior
1873-1881 Charles Adams
1882-1923 CM Stunt
1905-1914 J Pannell
1924-1926 A Skey
1915-1917 F W Wilson
1927-1929 Walter G Deal
1918-1932 R C Mauldon
1930-1932 A J Daniel
1933-1939 A J Pearsos
1933-1950 H Rowe
1940-1945 Walter G Deal
1951-1955 J Morton
1946-1965 S P St Clere Raymond
1956-1993 Ian R K Smith
1986-1998 Michael (Joe) Brown
1994-2012 Terry A. Raybould
1999-2010 David Cox
2011 Martin Runnacales
2013-2018 Rebecca Poynter
Top Menu

Film Location

Belchamp Hall and the Church of St. Mary's Belchamp Walter have been the location for the filming of a major UK period drama, May 2021.

British History Online

British History Online is a digital library of key printed primary and secondary sources for the history of Britain and Ireland, with a primary focus on the period between 1300 and 1800. We aim to support the learning, teaching and research of our users from around the world.

The BHO dscription of the church I have reproduced here. In many respects the BHO descriptions are in more detail, however, as the presentation is more in the form of an inventory I have reformatted the text so that it is more readable.

Top Menu



  • Fitz-Otes Botetort - 🔗 British History Online, St Mary, Belchamp Walter - has a more detailed description of the chantry.
  • Thomas Fitz Otes - 🔗 Son of Otho fitz William and Otes L l'Arcedekne
  • Otho fitz William - 🔗 b. 1198 Belcham, Essex, England d. 1257 Belchamp Otton, Essex, , England
  1. John (Botetourt) de Botetourt - 🔗 Wikitree (abt. 1307 - abt. 1339) married to Maud Fitz Thomas
  2. Joan (Botetourt) Swinburne - 🔗 Wikireee (1353 - 1433) Born 1353 in Belchamp Walter, Essex, England
  3. Alberic de Vere II 🔗 - the lordship of the manor of Belchamp Water
  4. Alberic de Vere I 🔗 Father of Alberic de Vere
  1. - 🔗 Craig Thornber, Belchamp Walter - Celbrating Emgland
  2. Simon Knot 🔗 - Essex Churches
  3. The Pilgrim Trust 🔗
  4. Historic England advice for Places of Worship 🔗
  5. National Churches Trust Building advice 🔗
  6. Listing for St Mary the Virgin 🔗 - British Listed Buildings
  7. The image above: Virgin suckling the Child, with donor(?) and birds, Belchamp Walter, Essex (Chelmsford) c.1350 - dead 🔗
Top Menu

Site design by Tempusfugit Web Design -