Tree: 1. Essex Ennevers
Notes: East Hanningfield
(OS Ref: TQ 7665 9990)
The original All Saints church was sited behind the Hall about a mile south west of the present village centre. It stood on this site for upwards of 600 years until disaster struck in the late 19th century.
The chancel was 23 ft by 17ft 6 ins, built in the early 16th century of red brick. It had two brick windows in the south wall. The nave was 41ft by 22ft 6 ins and built in the 13th century or earlier of pudding stone and pebble-rubble. The north aisle was built in the 16th century and was 13ft 3 ins wide. A 15th century piscina was sited in the chancel.
Morant described the church as consisting "of a body and a chancel both tyled. The steeple, containing 4 bells, is only a boarded frame standing on the west end, with a shingled shaft. At the north side of the church and part of the chancel, is a chapel or chantry built [in] brick." He also describes in some detail the painted glass in the south and west windows.
On 30 December 1883, at about one o’clock in the afternoon, some time after the Sunday morning service, a fire broke out. The doors were locked. With nobody able to gain entrance, the fire spread rapidly. An elderly local was immediately sent to Chelmsford to raise the alarm with the fire brigade.
Parts of the roof fell in and the wooden furniture quickly ignited. Soon after the fire began, a bystander broke a window and a young lad was persuaded to climb into the burning building. Not only did he re-emerge; he managed to save the plate and some clerical garments. The firemen took just under an hour to arrive. By this time, there was little they could do. They simply stood by and watched the sad spectacle. One braved the flames to save the 16th century stained glass from the east window. The building continued to burn for the rest of the day and throughout the night.
The communion table was allegedly recovered from the flames - quite how is not known. Thankfully, a double disaster was averted as the parish registers dating from 1540 were at the rectory at the time.
The fire was thought to have begun in either the roof or the steeple. Some young boys were accused of striking matches near the church - an accusation they strenuously denied. Others believed that the fire started from the burner in the nave. No definite cause was ever fixed upon.
On first sight, the fire appears to have been an unmitigated disaster. However, a wonderful find emerged as a consequence of the blaze. It revealed some magnificent 13th century wall paintings. These had been hidden behind the plaster for hundreds of years. They depicted Adam with his spade, Eve with her spindle and St Katherine of Alexandria with her wheel. Sacrifices of Cain and Abel and the death of Abel were also shown.
The Rector had a glass case made to protect these historic wall paintings. Vandals subsequently destroyed the case so for many years the painting was exposed to the open sky in the ivied ruins of the nave. In 1933 the expert, Professor Tristram removed a portion of these paintings from the wall for preservation. He made detailed drawings of those paintings that could not be satisfactorily removed. These rare examples of medieval church paintings are now preserved in the Victoria and Albert museum.
The church had been insured for £1,000. The money was used, not to restore the old but to build a new church nearer to the new centre of the community, at East Hanningfield Tye. This new church was built in a remarkably short time. Work began on 16 July 1884 and it was consecrated less than a year later on 16 June 1885.
The shell of the old church was left to stand as a ruin, with the exception of the chancel. This was repaired for use as a mortuary chapel some years later. The ruins of All Saints were left open to the elements for many years until they underwent a partial demolition in the 1930s. The rest was demolished at a later date. The site is now farmland and inaccessible to the casual passer-by.
HW King learnt of the destruction of All Saints whilst transcribing Holman's parish notes. This caused him to record with dismay "Alas! before I have seen it." He’d had a visit planned. He gives a description of the memorials and inscriptions as recorded by Holman in the early 18th century. I sympathise with King. I too would have loved to have seen this church. Even the ruin, in all its glory, would have sufficed. Just a few graves remain in what is now a copse. With the help of old photos, it’s just possible to discern where the original church was sited.
Location: Take the A130 from Chelmsford. About 2 miles south of the Howe Green roundabout turn left down Pan Lane. Head east for about a mile, then take the next right turn towards East Hanningfield Hall. The church was situated just behind this hall. A public footpath skirts the site. Nothing of the building remains to be seen. A handful of graves reside in a thicket. Check with the owners of the Hall before visiting the site.
Latitude: 51.6793694, Longitude: 0.5604694
Matches 1 to 6 of 6
|| Last name, First name(s)
|| Person ID
|| INNOVER, Abraham || 28 Nov 1757||Parish Church, All Saints, East Hanningfield, Essex ||I17115 |
|| INNOVER, John || 25 Apr 1756||Parish Church, All Saints, East Hanningfield, Essex ||I17114 |
|| INNOVER, Nion || 3 Feb 1764||Parish Church, All Saints, East Hanningfield, Essex ||I17118 |
|| INNOVER, Richard || 7 Jul 1759||Parish Church, All Saints, East Hanningfield, Essex ||I17116 |
|| INNOVER, Roger || 25 Oct 1761||Parish Church, All Saints, East Hanningfield, Essex ||I17117 |
|| INNOVER, Sarah || 23 Mar 1766||Parish Church, All Saints, East Hanningfield, Essex ||I17119 ||