13th August 2017
|Church Charles II Will. Petre Robt Petre John Petre Troughton The Poor Goodbye Read Me|
Igatestone's parish church is dedicated to St Edmund and St Mary. It dates to the 11th century, although sometimes described as being "in the perpendicular style of the 15th century". There were further modifications in the 17th century. Victorian restoration took place in the years 1886/7, thankfully preserving the history of the church. The church itself may look plain on the outside, but, within, it contains a wealth of history, which these pictures can only touch on very fleetingly.
Almost all traditional English churches contained at least one royal coat of arms, painted during the reign of the ruling monarch. Sometimes, churches might be the proud possessors of two or three royal coats of arms. In later centuries, the coat of arms was usually painted in rectangular format, but during the reign of Charles II, it appears that the "roof" format was generally preferred.
Here is the "altar tomb" of Sir William Petre K.G. (ca. 1505 – 1572) and his lady. This finely crafted tomb is made from "Parian marble" and was, for the time, an artistic masterpiece in its own right. A helmet supports his lordship's head, and a pillow his lady's. William, was Privy Councillor under the four sovereigns, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth I, adeptly surviving the different religious views of these monarchs.
One source suggests that Sir William's dates should read (1505 - 1571) with no "circa". Yet another source says that he, not his son, was "Second Founder of Exeter College, Oxford".
In the Middle Ages, men were often considered more important than women, obviously totally contrary to today's striving for gender equality. However, I still find it most surprising that I could not even find the name of "his lady", let alone her actual dates or even a statement that she was officially his wife! This information probably resides in some archives, but shortage of time, on my part, suggests that I do not dwell on this apparent mystery, but rather, that I leave this task to the professional historians!
Robert Petre was the youngest brother of Sir William Petre. His life's story is an example of the service of the Petre family to the reigning monarch of the time, in this case, Queen Elizabeth I. The kneeling pose, hands clasped in prayer and the suit of armour, are typical of monuments of the age. Gilding and colourful painting are further hallmarks of such monuments.
Against the west wall, almost hidden away in the North Chapel off the main nave of the church, is this splendid marble monument to John, 1st Lord Petre of Writtle (1549-1613) and Mary, his wife (†1624). Below them are kneeling figures of their three sons and eight daughters. John Petre was sent seven times as "Ambassador to Foreign Courts". Sources contradict each other, as to whether he, or his father William, was the "Second Founder of Exeter College, Oxford". Anyway, John Petre married Mary, daughter of Edward Waldegrave, Knight and of Queen Mary's Privy Council. This emphasizes the connection of the Petre family with several Tudor and Stuart monarchs.
In addition, John was also known as the 1st Baron John Petre. John's additional claims to fame were that he was J.P. as well as High Sheriff, Deputy Lieutenant & Knight of the Shire. He was patron of the composer, William Byrd. So the 1st Lord Petre was a busy man, by all accounts.
The Petre family remained loyal to the Catholic faith despite serving successive monarchs from Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary, Elizabeth I to James I with their changing religious views. John Lord Petre, whose monument you see here, was promoted "on his merits" by the monarchy from Edward VI to James I; for example, Elizabeth I made him a knight and James I a baron.
In 1599, Captain Trougton commanded the 560 ton British galleon 'Elizabeth Bonaventure' with a crew of 250. A year later, the Lord High Admiral, and Robert Cecil both instructed Captain Troughton to sail to the Straits (probably of Gibraltar) to attack Spanish and Portuguese shipping.
The poor of a parish were often mentioned in churches. It was, of course, fitting in a religious context, that this should be so. Mainly it was a question of benefactions being left by wealthy locals in their wills. Perhaps this was so to show that these wealthy locals wanted to use their wealth for doing good, even after their demise.
As we leave Ingatestone's time-honoured parish church and head for the High Street, we take a last look at the Tudor tower, basking in the mid-day sun. We have gathered many impressions and absorbed another slice of the rich and varied history of Essex.
These pictures were taken by me at various times including on 2009-03-01, 2010-01-17 and 2017-08-13, on walks including my many walks from Wickford to Ingatestone, especially those in 2011 and 2013 and Paul's excellent IVC walk on 13th August 2017. Historical items for the text were gleaned from within the church as well as from on-line sources too numerous to itemize!