13th August 2017

Church Charles II Will. Petre Robt Petre John Petre Troughton The Poor Goodbye Read Me

Ingatestone Parish Church

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.

Here is the church, with its Tudor tower, as seen from Ingatestone's adjacent communal "Fair Field".

A war memorial stands between the church and Ingatestone's High Street.

The church contains some distinctive monuments to the Petre family,
whose ancestral home, Ingatestone Hall, is nearby.
If you pronounce "Petre" as "Peter", the locals will think that you are a local.

Charles II

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.

The Royal coat of arms in Ingatestone's parish church goes back to Charles II, as indicated by the letters "C" (Carolus) and "R" (Rex) on the top left and right of the coat of arms, as well as the year 1673 at the bottom - the year in which the coat of arms was painted.

Sir William Petre (ca. 1505 1572) and his Lady

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".

Here is the general view of the tomb watched over by Sir William Petre's crest.

Here is a close up of the couple with their respective head rests:
a helmet for him and a pillow for her.

Here is a view from the lady's side.

And here is Sir William Petre's crest. This is described in the following way. "Gules, on a bend or between two escallops argent a Cornish chough proper between two cinquefoils azure on a chief of the second a rose between two demi-fleurs-de-lis pale wise of the first." So there you are!

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 († 1593)

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.

His inscription, in old Elizabethan English reads as follows.


Tomb of John Petre (1549-1613) & Mary his wife (†1624)

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 those distant days it was all about expressing humility by kneeling.
Having identified Lord and Lady Petre and their seven offspring, the identity of the two ladies behind Lord and Lady seems to be shrouded in the mysterious mists of time.

Here is the same tomb on another day with different lighting conditions.
The ladder is still there.

A closer view of Lord and Lady Petre.

Here is a sideways view of Lord and Lady Petre.
On the right, in the background, is part of the Royal Coat of Arms of Charles II.

Captain Trougton († 1621)

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 inscription tells us that Captain Troughton died on the 19th April, 1621, aged 66.
66 was a respectable age at the time.

Benefactors to the poor

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.

Rural concerns in early 19th Century England were certainly different from today's early 21st century concerns. In those days, things were much more at a local level. This intriguing text, from 1805 and 1806, reads as follows.

BENEFACTIONS 1805 M. Rosemond Bonham
Widow Late of this Parish Bequeathed One Hundred
Pounds Stock three Pr Cents to be invested in the Names
of the Ministers and Church Wardens of this Parish, For
the time Being, the Interest of which is to be Applied
annually to the use of the Sunday School, so long
as such In?????tion shall Continue: and after the
Discontinuance of Such, then to be given to the Poor
of this Parish in Bread for EVER.
1806 Mrs Hanah Rayner Gave in her Life Time
Fifty Pounds in the Navy Five pr Cents such
Stock now Standing in the names of the
Revd Ino. Lewis, Josh. Crush, and Heny. Finch for the
Benefit of the Ten Almshouse Poor, the Interest of
which to be paid at Christmas in every Year for EVER.


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.

The sun-drenched leaves show that there is life yet in the old brick work ...

... of the church tower!


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!