Woodford Halse Archive

St Mary’s Tomb: Matilda de Holland
St Mary’s Tomb: Matilda de Holland

Woodford Buildings

St Mary’s

Work commenced on pulling down the old building on 28th January 1878 and the rebuilding was finished by 28th October, the same year. During the excavations for the foundations of the tower and the north aisle, two coins of Edward II, one of Edward VI and one of William III, were found, also two Nuremburg tokens. Whilst clearing the ground for the vestry, a recumbent figure of a lady was found, perfect, except that the feet were missing. These were found later in the masonry of a buttress and it would seem that they were broken off when the buttress was built. The figure was subsequently placed in a recessed arch in the chancel, the work being paid for by the architect Mr. Hartshorne. It was thought that the figure was of Maud Holland, Lady of the Manor in 1330, as the figure is judged to be of the 14th century.

During the renovation paintings were found on all the walls, but with the exception of part of a figure, thought to be of St. Christopher, the patches were too small to show what they were meant to be. The tower was built one foot broader and wider than the old, it is five feet higher and is set on six feet of concrete and stone as a foundation. The church was re-opened on 29th October 1878, by the Bishop of the Diocese and the bishops of Rochester and Cape Town, assisted in the service.

A report by the committee appointed seven years before, is given in the Vestry minute book and it records the work done in these words:

“The actual work done at the church consists of the rebuilding and enlarging of the tower, with a new window and door and a large arch between the tower and the nave: the rebuilding of the clerestory, in which three old windows have been preserved, one of which has been taken as a pattern for the new ones; the rebuilding of the north aisle, adding a new parapet like that of the south aisle; building a new vestry and organ chamber on the side of the chancel; putting new roofs to the whole of the church; repairing the south aisle and building a new porch.

The church has been entirely reseated; the old oak seats of the 15th century have been used as far as possible in the nave, only altering them sufficiently to make them comfortable; the seats in the aisles are of deal, of somewhat the same character as the old ones. Two stained glass windows have been inserted in the north and south sides of the chancel, by Messrs Burlinson and Grylls, the one on the south side in memory of the Reverend R. Walter, for 27 years curate and vicar of this parish, (tradition has it that this vicar fought at Trafalgar.) the subject is the Marriage at Cana.

In the north window are the figures of Elijah and the Widow of Sarepta. It is hoped that from time to time, other windows may be inserted descriptive of scriptural events in the life of the Virgin Mary, (To whom the church is dedicated.) from the Annunciation in the west window to the Crucifixion in the east. Presents have been made to the church of kneeling cushions for the table and the font, linen for the Communion table, a cover for the Credence, a Bible and prayer book and a flag of St. George Cross for the tower. It is hoped that an organ may be purchased according to an estimate by Mr. Speechley, as soon as subscriptions have reached the sum of £160.

The lay rectors, Sir H. Dryden and G. Hitchcock, Esq., have restored the chancel according to Mr. Hartshorne’s plans, at an expense of £548-15-0d. The lay rector of Farndon, G.T. Grimsdick, Esq., has subscribed to the general church fund. In conclusion the committee regret to point out that there is a deficit in the accounts to the amount of 378-11-6d. and beg to say they will be grateful for any help towards paying it off.


“G. Hitchcock, R.W. Tew, W. Ganderton, R.W.P. Tew, H.H. Minchin”

By kind permission of Woodford Halse Archive