Chelmsford Chronicle - Friday 2 June 1865


The rural and picturesque village of Saling was on Ascension-day (Thursday last) the scene of a religious holiday celebration of the re-opening of the ancient parish church after having been thoroughly restored and apparently almost rebuilt.

The sacred edifice, which for many years seemed almost gone to decay, is, as it was evidently originally, neat and commodious fabric, dedicated to St. James; and consists of nave, square tower at the west end, chancel, and vestry, there being between the latter and the nave a mortuary chapel, which it is believed was formerly the burial place, of some possessors of the mansion and park called Saling Grove in by-gone ages, and which pretty domain is now the property, and after some extensive repairs are completed will be the residence of W. Villiers Fowke, Esq., the present lord of the manor. The architecture of the church is very Early Gothic, and on entering by the porch on the south side it is at once seen that the works have been carried out in a solid and substantial manner in all good taste and keeping, but without any meretricious ornament or gaudy decoration. The old roof which was in a sad state of decay has been constructed of new open timbers, in place of the unsightly lath and plaster.

The walls and windows have been entirely restored, the tower thoroughly cleaned, and the stone-work repointed; there is also a new and very elegant chancel window, below which is a stone reredos; and the pavements throughout are all new Minton's encaustic; the benches in the chancel and over the whole extent of the nave are of deal, stained and varnished, having supplanted the old, unsightly, and cumbrous pews, and there are a new gothic pulpit, desk, and lectern. From lithographic drawings published on the commencement of the restoration it appears that a handsome spire was intended to surmount the tower, but that for the present has been abandoned, and detracts in no way from the neat and appropriate model of the building.

There was an early morning communion at half-past eight as the opening service of the day, which was well attended, but the general company were invited to the forenoon service at eleven o'clock, and at that hour there was a large and highly-respectable congregation. The officiating clergy present in canonicals were the Venerable Christopher Wordsworth, D.D., Archdeacon and Canon of Westminster, Vicar of Stanford-in-the-Vale with Goosey in Berkshire; the Rev. T. W. Elrington, vicar of Great Saling; the Rev. W. S. Hemming, rector of Rayne; the Rev. R. H. White, rector of Little Bardfield; and the Rev. E. J. Hill, rector of Panfield. In the congregation there were also the Rev. B. E. Lampet, vicar of Great Bardfield; Mrs. and Miss Lampet, Mrs. and Miss Wordsworth, Mrs. Elrington and Miss Fenwick; the Rev. J. Groomes, vicar of Shalford; Mrs. and Miss Groomes; the Rev. R. S. Dobson, incumbent of Little Saling, Mrs. Dobson, Mrs. Monrose, and the Misses Dobson; W. Villiers Fowke, Esq., Mrs. Fowke, Mrs. Mitchell, and Miss Hanmer; Lieut.-Col. Brise, Mrs., and Miss Ruggles Brise; Mrs. H. R. G. Marriott and the Misses Marriott, Mrs. Marsh, and Miss White, Manor House Wethersfield; A. C. Veley, Esq., Mrs., and Miss Veley; Mrs. Hemming and Miss Tabor, Mrs. Hezekiah Smith, Beslyn House; R. C. Filby, Esq., Mrs. Filby, and family, &c, &c. The arrangements for the comfort of the visitors and friends were excellently superintended by Mr. Thomas Jeggo, vicar's churchwarden, and Mr. John Stock Legerton, jun., parish churchwarden. It is also due to mention with much commendation the needful services and superior singing of Mr. Amey and his choral class, including Mr. Arthur French, Miss Glasscock, Miss Ambrose, Miss E. Marecraft, Miss Adcock, and the two Misses Amey; Miss Marecraft ably presiding at the harmonium, which was a very sweet-toned instrument.

The Rev. T. W. Elrington, vicar, read and intoned the prayers, the musical portion of the service being that by Monk.

The Psalms were chanted throughout to Turle's music, the lessons were impressively read by the Rev. E. J. Hill, and the Athanasian Creed was from Monk's musical service. The Anthem, which was sung in a very superior style, was that by "Malan" from 1 Kings viii. The Rev. Dr. Wordsworth commenced the Communion Service, the Kyrie Eleison being very pathetically chanted; the Epistle was read by the Rev. R. H. White and the Gospel by the Rev. W. S. Hemming.

A very appropriate and eloquent sermon was preached by the Rev. Dr. Wordsworth, from Ezekiel xxxvi, 36, "I the Lord build up the ruined places," which was most attentively listened to, and at the conclusion of the offertory, while the congregation dispersed, Mozart's "Gloria in excelsis" was the concluding voluntary.

At a venerable building called the "Hall," closely contiguous to the church and uninhabited at this time except by cottagers, a splendid luncheon was given by W. Villiers Fowke, Esq., to the clergy, ladies, and gentry who had been present at divine service, the worthy donor presiding as chairman, supported by Canon Wordsworth.

The loyal toasts and the toast of "Church and State" were given from the chair, followed by "The health of the Rev. Dr. Wordsworth" and thanks for his able and suitable sermon, to which the Rev. Dr. responded, congratulating the parishioners on the restoration of their beautiful church, and heartily wishing for a continuance of the harmony and good feeling which existed among them, and passing a high eulogium on the vicar of the parish and the exertions he had continually made for the completion of the good work.

Canon Wordsworth also spoke in kindly terms of the Rev. Mr. Elrington as his former pupil and one who had diligently worked with him as a parochial clergyman.

The Vicar responded in a brief speech, and in the course of his remarks alluded thankfully to the assistance he had received from the respected churchwardens. The latter portion was acknowledged by Mr. Jeggo, the vicar's churchwarden.

Another excellent repast was given (as we understood) by W. Villiers Fowke, Esq., to the tenantry, farmers, and tradesmen connected with the church restoration and his estate, and this took place in a marquee near the White Hart Inn; the parochial school children, numbering upwards of 50, with the laborers and their wives, partaking of refreshment at the school-house and in another building.

The afternoon service began at three o'clock, when prayers were again read and intoned by the vicar, who also gave notice that divine service would take place in future every morning at half-past nine, except on Sundays, when there would be the usual morning and afternoon services. The lessons were read by the Rev. W. S. Hemming and the Rev. R. H. White; the Magnificat was chanted to Arnold's and the Nunc Dimittis to Aldrich's music, and a hymn of the early Greek church sweetly sung, appropriate to evening service. The sermon, which was an eloquent discourse, was preached by the Rev. E. J. Hill, from Matthew xxi., 13, "It is written my house shall be called the house of prayer." And the collections made after each of the services amounted to £40 3s. 1d.

The whole of the works have cost upwards of £1,000, raised partly by rate, partly by subscriptions from the parishioners and their friends, and partly by a generous public. The church now contains 360 sittings, partly free and partly to be allotted by the churchwardens.

The architect was R. J. Withers, Esq., and the building works have been admirably performed by Messrs. Parmenter and Son, Braintree.

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