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All Saints' Church
Nazeing Parish, Essex County, England
by  Raymond L. Hodson  
(Nazeing Vicarage 1977- )



Check Ian's website of Anglican Church Photos


Ed. Note: Since there is a lot of interest in knowing the origins of the Pegram family, I thought this might be of interest.  The first known reference to the name Pegram is found in the Doomsday Book which shows one William Pegram and wife Agnes living immediately west of Nazeing.  Although the early parish registers are very incomplete, there is a reference in the 1600's to a George Pegram who donated a considerable sum of money to the repair of the church.  Further, the earliest parish records found for Pegram births, deaths and marriages in England are either in Nazeing or in adjacent parishes.  It is also in Nazeing that we find a will of George Pegram during the early 1600s where George Pegram refers to his daughter, now living in New England and a son, John, now "visiting in New England."  While we know that all Pegrams in America are descended from George Pegram of Williamsburg, Va., we do not know if George Pegram was the first to settle here or whether our George may have been a son of John who was here  earlier.  However, after many years of research, it is our best guess that our common ancestor, George Pegram, was probably the son or grandson of George Pegram who died during the middle of the 17th century in Nazeing.  Even today, most Pegrams in England and other countries can trace their roots to this area of Essex Co. in England.  Note the reference in this article of the church bell that was donated by John Pegrum. 

"The first appearance of its name appears in Domesday Book , completed in A.D. 1086, when it appears as Nassingam, and in later documents as time went on, it came to be described as follows: Nasinga, Nazing, and latterly Nazeing. Before the Norman Conquest it would appear that even then it had been known long as a village on an elevated position in a clearing of Essex Forest, afterwards called Waltham Forest.

The population of this little colony can be taken to have been considerable for the middle of the sixth century, by which time the saxons had founded the kingdom of Essex (i.e. East Saxons).

It is not known whether the first Church building was erected about the time of  Saint Augustine's arrival in England at the end of the sixth century or whether it was in existence half a century later, when the Pope sent a visitation to this country to lay down the ritual to be followed by Christians.

Other authorities think it possible that a Church was built on the site of the present one as far back as the fourth century.

Most of the inhabitants would remain pagan, but a number would worship in this little Church. When Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire (A.D. 313) a larger number joined the Church, and it is possible that practically all the people in Nazeing became Christians.

The Romans stayed 360 years in Britain and towards the end of the fourth century they started withdrawing legions to defend Rome against the attacks of the Goths. In 407 the last legion set sail and Britain was left to defend herself as best she could.

Fierce pirates, Angles and Saxons, came and ravaged the land. Saxons settled in Essex and the little Church in Nazeing must have suffered the fate of others all over the country. Those inhabitants who were not killed became slaves and worked for their conquerors. It was some years before there was a Church in the Village again.

In 604 the Overlord of Essex was Baptised, but eight years later the men of Essex drove out their Bishop. At length Anglo-Saxon heathenism was broken down and the whole country acknowledged one Church.

The two mediaeval coffin lids now in the floor of the porch of our Church indicates a close connection with a Church of that period, and not far removed from it, but in any case, by the end of the ninth century, a Church was established on the site of the present one.

The conversion of England was largely the work of missionary priests, men who lived in a centre and went about preaching the Faith to all around.

Nazeing owed much to the priests of the Church at Waltham.

Waltham Abbey was built in 1030 by Tovi, Standard Bearer to King Canute the Dane. Tovi was Lord of all this part of Essex and Hertfordshire.

On the death of Tovi, 25 years after the erection of the Church at Waltham, the property was given to Earl Harold, who built a large and magnificent Church there, and founded a college of Secular Canons.

The land in Nazeing and its Church were presented to the Canons of Waltham by Harold, and later the Abbot of  Waltham became Lord of the Manor of Nazeing. Nazeing is described as land allotted to purchase clothing for the Canons of Waltham.

About 1060 part of our present Church was built, an oblong building, quite plain, and no doubt with a thatched roof. Building materials were at hand, for wood in plenty was available, sand and stones were obtainable in large quantities along the river Lee, and implements necessary for the work could be obtained by bartering with the itinerant pedlars, who roamed the country in sufficient numbers to supply the needs of the inhabitants. The structure as it is to-day is, no doubt, Number 3 Church (excluding early wooden structures) with additions.

To have stood the test of time and our climatic conditions for so long a period on such a prominent headland speaks well for the thorough workmanship of its builders, and the pity is that at some period or periods, the interior has been at the mercy of vandals who despoiled it of everything that would have told us matters of interest relating to past Nazeing worthies. The mural tablets of the Palmer and Bury families cover comparatively recent periods.

This Church was the one permanent building dating back to Roman times, to be rebuilt as age and weather weakened it, and to eventually rise again in the l2th century a portion of which edifice is embodied in actual material in the existing nave, although it had to be again largely rebuilt in the l5th century.

Sometimes during the l4th century, there were stirrings in the religious life of the village. The population had increased, and it was felt that there ought to be a larger Church. It may have been about 1340 or even earlier that the work of enlarging the Church started, and the present North Aisle and Chancel were added to the Old Norman building. If you will inspect the arches of the Nave you will see what is called a chevron near the top of one. This was probably a carved stone which was taken out of the Norman Arch over the door or Chancel.

Other Authorities say that the stone is a l 2th century one with chevron ornament, so that if this is the case it can be taken that the present Nave dates from the l2th century, and that it was lengthened later towards the west.

The North Aisle was added in the middle of the l5th century at the rebuilding, and in the North Wall is a l5th century window of two lights with vertical tracery in two-centred head .

The Chancel was built at the same time, but the East  window is modern, except for the l5th century splays and two-centred rear arch.

East of the Arcade of the four bays of the Nave is a l5th-century upper doorway to the former rood loft, whose sawn off ends are clearly visible. The old nail-studded door to the steps which led up to the rood beam is still there. One or two panels from the old screen have been fixed to two bench ends, remarkable for the carving of the gruff and humorous faces springing out of them, and there are other bench ends with poppyheads also to be found behind the font.

In the south wall are four windows, the easternmost is of early l4th century period, and of two trefoiled ogee lights with a quartrefoil in a two-centred head. The second window is l5th century - the third is modern except for the splays and the semi-circular rear arch of the l2th century. In between two of the windows is the l3th-century South Doorway with jambs and two-centred arch.

The Porch is l6th century origin was completely restored in 1928 by Frederick William Green.

The Font is of two periods, the base being of the 11th century Norman period, whilst the top is l5th century.

There is an extraordinary old iron-bound chest about 600 years old, which has a great lockplate, which may have held ancient documents sealed by our last Saxon King, for Harold owned Nazeing, and gave it to the monks of the Abbey of Waltham.

We do not know when the work of enlarging the Church was finished, but we do know that Nazeing was at this time served by a resident priest. It is thought that our Nazeing priest lived in the old house now occupied by Miss Starling, Upper Town Post Office, the oldest house in the Parish. The Vicarage which was occupied until 1956 when a new one was built, was not built for many years after this, although part of it is about 500 to 600 years old.

The Organ was built in 1878 at a cost of 170.

An electric blower was installed in 1948 and the organ was overhauled and cleaned in 1953, when a new stop was added to the swell organ - a Cornopean Stop. In 1965 a l5th  stop was kindly presented by an anonymous Church-goer. On September l8th,1966, a Mixture stop was dedicated in memory of the late Tom L. Franklin, Chorister. It was the gift of his widow, sister, and many friends.

High up the turret of the Tower is a sundial, oddly inscribed with its exact position on the map of England, Latitude 51 degrees 32 minutes. The Sundial was placed there in the l8th century.

        The walls of the Church are of flint rubble, faced with brick and dressed with a mixture of clay and lime, except the west embattled tower of l5th century which is a red brick.

Mention should be made of the Church door to the South Aisle, this is l7th century construction; another door of interest is that of the Turret to the Tower which is l6th century work.

The whole of the roofing of the Church is early l5th century, several times repaired, and restored, and treated for the ravages of Death Watch Beetle in 1955 at a cost of nearly 1,000.

The Piscina in the Chancel near the Altar is l5th century contruction and this takes one's mind back to Pre-Reformation times.

Five hundred years ago all the seat ends were carved with grotesque head figures, but at a restoration in the last century they were found in such a mutilated and poor condition, that it was impossible to work them into the new seating, and all but the two to be seen by the font were destroyed.

The North Vestry was added in the last century  and in addition to the maker's name (Pack and Chapman, Whitechapel) they bear the names of John Pegrum, and John Walker, Churchwardens, and also those of Thomas Banks and Jane Martin, Overseers - these last named no doubt levied a rate on the inhabitants to bear the cost, just as their successors, Robert King and Thomas Crawley did, 16 years later, for the upkeep of the Church and the Churchyard. (Note:  A cousin on a visit to England was able to see the actual tower bell bearing the name of John Pegram.  There are also numerous family members buried in the churchyard.)

Elizabeth ordered that a copy of the Ten Commandments should be hung each side of the Altar in every Parish Church in England. You will find the Nazeing copies hanging in the Belfry. They were taken down within living memory.

In Elizabeth's day the Church in Nazeing fiourished, and the people decided to build a tower. This may have been done as a thank-offering for the defeat of the Armada - of this we cannot be sure - but a tower was built and everyone in the village helped to build it. These were the days when pressure was brought to bear on everyone to attend Church. It was enacted that all parishioners must attend Church on Sundays under payment of a 12-penny fine.

A 6th Bell was added in 1952 in memory of Captain Archdale Palmer, and the other five bells were also restored.

The pair of hatchments on the walls at the west end of the Church are the arms of the Palmer family, the late Captain Archdale Palmer being the last squire of Upper Nazeing.

A memorial window in the south wall was dedicated in 1951 in memory of Rev. J. R. Sutherland, Vicar 1933-50.

The land in Nazeing was held by the Abbot of Waltham until 1540, when Henry VIII dissolved the abbey, and sold or gave its land to one of his courtiers, Sir Ralph Sadler, who later sold it to Sir Anthony Denny.

Most of Waltham Abbey was destroyed at this time, and its plate sold. With it went the plate of Nazeing Church, so we have no Pre-Reformation plate in Nazeing - save for a silver Chalice and Paten given by Lady Hargreaves in 1926, our plate is of little value.

On September l9th, 1965, a handsome red leather-bound lectern Bible was presented and dedicated in memory of the late Colonel Richard Hynman Andrew, C.B.E.., M.C. - the gift of friends, relations and parishioners.

On November 27th, 1966, a plaque was unveiled in the north transept by Major Sir Hereward Wake. Presented by him in memory of his father, the inscription reads : "In Memoriam Sir Hereward Wake, l3th Baronet 1876-1963, Lord of the Manor of Nazeing, Vigila et Ora."