Belchamp Walter Church
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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.
St. Mary's Belchmp Walter is located within the grounds of Belchamp Hall.
Areas of interest
- The Chancel
- The Chantry Chapel
- The Nave
- The Virgin - Wall Painting
- The Tower - The British History Online description
- Bells - and Belfry
- Vicars - and Church Wardens
- Heating - Charles Portway, Tortoise Stove
- Filming May 2021
Below is an image of St Mary, a medieval wall painting on the North Wall.
I have attributed the photo to thepaintedchurch.org - 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)
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.
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 Raymond Family Memorial
Designed and built by Robert Taylor in 1720.
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.
The Raymond family mentioned on the plaque date from the last entry on the memorial opposite to the 20th century.
The Chancel Arch
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.
The Stained Glass in the Chantry arch
Dedicated to George Washington Brownlow, having four panels depicting Jubal, David, Mark and Luke.
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.
Here we see the 4 Apostles, Mathew, Mark, Juke and John.
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.
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.
Quote from whitingsociety.org.uk, 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.
The 8 bells have not been rung since 1923
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.
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.
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||"" ""|
|John Crispe||1403||Local timeline|
|Nic Baker or barker||1404|
|Joh Gilliot (or Gyllet)||1529-1560 (died)|
|Edward Riggs (or Rigges)||1580||Our lady Queen Elizabeth I|
|Tho Crobett||1583||St Edmunds Hall Oxford|
|William Smythies (Resigned)||1623-1643||Raymond Family|
|John Wright||1650||Our Lord the King Charles I (by lapse)|
|Richard Bate||1679||William Ayliff and William Raymond|
|William Kent||1723||The King - George I|
|Samuel Raymond (senior)||1758-1767||Raymond Family|
|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|
|Reverand Trevor Howard||1959-1993||Also Rector, Belchamp Otten and Bulmer|
|Eoin Buchanan (Team Rector)||2004-2012|
|Margaret King (Team Vicer)||2005-2013|
|Margaret King (Team Rector)||2013 -|
|Sally Womersley (Team Vicar)||2014 - 2019|
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.
|1873||Robert Firmin||Post Robert Wright|
Pre Raymond Junior
|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|
|1940-1945||Walter G Deal|
|1946-1965||S P St Clere Raymond|
|1956-1993||Ian R K Smith|
|1986-1998||Michael (Joe) Brown|
|1994-2012||Terry A. Raybould|
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.