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History of the Church



2012 will mark the hundredth anniversary of the re-endowment of the parish of Epping Upland. This guide is designed to answer many questions people have about All Saints Church, its history and position in the community.

The church building serves many purposes. Its very existence glorifies God, and it serves as a home for a worshipping community (which is the actual ‘church’). It is also a depository of community memories. In the country the church building can be seen as a sort of thermometer which indicates the health of the community.

What is tantalising about such a brief history are the questions that one asks about those who are mentioned in it: Who were these people? What were they like? What else did they do? Descendants and direct relatives of those commemorated in the church are still to be found among the regular worshippers and this is a sign of continuity and permanence.

But improvements and additions are always being made, and these are symbols of the community’s aspirations and sense of purpose. What questions will be asked about us, I wonder; and what answers will the building give?



The parish church of All Saints, Epping Upland (and formerly of the ancient parish of Epping), is believed to be of medieval origin. According to Pevsner [1] the indications are that it originates from the 13th century by virtue of its lancet-type windows and the piscina in the nave. However, Dugdale [2] states that it could be even earlier, in so far as the church is first mentioned in 1177 as part of the possessions which were confirmed by Henry II to the Augustinian Canons of Waltham, together with other property formerly held by their secular predecessors. Later, in 1191, this church was assigned by Pope Clement III to the sacristy of the Abbey and in 1255 Pope Alexander IV exempted it from Episcopal authority [3]. It thus came under the peculiar jurisdiction of the Abbot of Waltham until the dissolution of Waltham Abbey in March 1540, when the rectory and advowson passed to the Crown. Until the suppression, therefore, there are no medieval bishops’ registers as the Abbey appointed one of their own monks, or a chaplain of their choice, to the church. Having passed to the Crown in 1540 the Bishop (of London) and his Archdeacon exercised jurisdiction, which was confirmed in 1550 [4]. From 1545 institutions to the living were entered in the Episcopal registers, Thomas Warren being the first (having previously been in charge of the independent Anglican chapel of St. John the Baptist, which was in the town). The immediate cause of this change for Warren was the closure of chantries, and by the same token free chapels, in 1545.

The chapel of St. John the Baptist had been under the jurisdiction of the Abbot of Waltham for as long as All Saints, and for many hundreds of years they were both served by the same parson living at Epping Upland (‘Walton’ next to the Church is a former vicarage). Gradually the population increase and economic importance of the town area of the parish put pressure on the chapel, until the Epping Church Act of 1888 changed the roles of the chapel and the church. This meant that the former became the parish church of Epping and the latter a chapel-of-ease. In 1896 the ancient parish of Epping was divided into town and rural areas when the Epping Urban and Epping Rural District Councils were created. This brought Epping Upland into being as a civil parish independent of the Urban Council but subject to control by the District Council. In 1912 the complete independence of All Saints came about when it was made the parish church of All Saints, Epping Upland with the advowson vested jointly in the Bishop and in Mrs Marter, a local landowner and benefactor [5]. The Bishop (of Chelmsford) is now the sole patron, the connection with the Marter family having ceased with the death of the sole surviving relative, Mrs Wilkinson.


The ancient parish registers for All Saints, Epping Upland are held in the Essex Record Office at Chelmsford, and cover the period from 1539-1896 for Marriages, 1539-1984 for Baptisms, and 1539-1892 for Burials. Those for St. John the Baptist, Epping are from 1839-1900 for Baptisms, and from 1891-1900 for Marriages. Other registers are kept in the Church, including the latest Burial Register for All Saints which was begun in 1893 (the Churchyard is now closed).


The Church

This stands on an elevated site in the geographical middle of the parish and consists of a flint rubble name and chancel in one unit, with an added red brick west tower, north vestry and timber south porch. The roof, including the porch, is tiled, and the north, east and south walls covered with pebble dash. The nave probably dates from the early 13th century. Near the east end of the north wall of the nave there is a square rebated recess which was possibly an aumbry; on the south wall, nearly opposite, is an arched recess with a two-centred elaborately moulded head, contemporary with the aumbry. Both are probably of 13th century origin. The indications are that this was the original chancel of the church and that it was extended later in the 13th century. On the south wall in the sanctuary is a double piscina with stop champfered sills of Purbeck marble, again of probable 13th century origin, and re-set in a modern recess under a single stained glass lancet memorial window. There are eight single and one double type lancets on the south side, six of which are stained glass memorial windows. On the north side there are five single plain glass types, with two similar in the vestry, and a stained glass memorial lancet in the sanctuary.


However, what we see today is not what our ancestors’ saw, because of alterations and restoration carried out in the early part of the 18th century and in the early and later years of the 19th century. In 1722, we have on record from the accounts of the Baker Charity (set up under the will of John Baker who died in 1545) that a new pulpit and other work was provided. Further items included taking up an old pavement in the nave and re-laying a new pavement of Purbeck stone, and laying Portland stone and white marble in the chancel (where eight feet high Norway oak wainscoting was also added). A new alter and lectern were also provided, as well as cloth for communion and surplices. Morant [6] refers to all this as “thoroughly repairing and beautifying the church”. Of interest, too, is the reference to payment for “wrighting ye Commandments”. This was done in gold lettering on two black boards which can be seen today in the nave.


Our knowledge of the period of change relating to the early 18th century is based on engravings of 1806 [7] showing the north wall of the nave and chancel without windows, and the south wall with two three-light windows and one single light in the nave: two single lancet windows were in the chancel. Later, in Ogborne’s “History of Essex” [8], another view of the south side in 1814 shows three three-light windows in the nave, one lancet in the chancel and a dormer at the east end of the nave, which was also there in 1806. If these drawings are accurate then work must have been carried out at the east end of the church during that period.

In 1878 the repairs and alterations to the church were on a massive scale. The window changes, the disappearance of the dormer and of the west gallery, and complete reconstruction of the interior took place. Some of the old fittings survive, e.g. at the rear of the modern pews are five seats with moulded top rails and damaged poppy heads, early 16th century.


Pevsner described the church as ‘badly over-restored’. Certainly it would appear that the Victorian restoration removed many of the fine features of the work done in 1722. However, thanks to benefactors since the restoration we still have much of the beauty in the church, particularly at the east end. Here the carved Communion Table and Reredos were given in memory of Major-General RJC Marter (d 1922) and the oak panelling in memory of his widow Salome Catherine Marter (d 1923). Either side are stained glass memorial lancet windows to George and Hannah Creed. In front are the handsome Roman Doric colonnettes, probably late 18th century, of the communion rail. The stained glass east window was a gift from the Conyers family – possibly by Edward Conyers during his ministry – but the splays and rear arch are probably 14th century.


The South Porch

This remains outside the ‘over-restored’ designation as it is of late 15th century date with timber framing only partly restored, and plastered dwarf walls. The roof is of two bays with cambered tie beams and king posts with two-way struts. The sides were originally divided into ten lights by diamond shaped mullions of which the mortices remain. The door leading into the nave is probably of early 15th century date with moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a squared head with sunken spandrels and a moulded label with blank shields as stops.


The Steeple

Whilst this is no longer in existence it seems probable that the original early church, under the authority of Waltham Abbey, had a steeple built in the time of Henry II or his son Richard I [9]. Furthermore, in 1623 an entry was made in the Baker’s Charity [10] accounts as follows:

‘To Richardson for tyling the church porch and steeple there being upon them 29,000 tyles which at 3d per 1,000 comes to ….. £4-7-0’.

This indicates that the tower also had a spire when first built, or it was added soon after.


The West Tower

This tower is of red brick, late 16th century, with diagonal buttresses and stone dressings: it is of three stages with a moulded plinth and an embattled parapet above a corbel table. The tower arch is two-centred and of two champfered orders with semi-octagonal responds having moulded capitals and bases. The memorial west window of stained glass is modern except the splays and rear arch. The second stage of this tower has in the north, south and west walls a window of single pointed light with a moulded label.

The Ringing Chamber is partitioned from the nave. Displayed on the walls are various memorials which have been moved from other parts of the church. Of particular interest are the probably 16th century wooden inscriptions, one of which is to John Baker and his wife Elyn. Much of this is illegible as some of the raised letters have been removed. Additionally of interest is the board erected by the Essex Association of Change Ringers which commemorates the peel of Grandsire Doubles involving 5040 changes, which was rung at All Saints on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary on 6th May 1935. The original door into this chamber is best seen from outside, but the massive original lock should be seen from inside the chamber, where also can be seen the small 16th century door leading to the higher stages.


The Bell Chamber

There are six bells here as well as the clock bell, which can be seen protruding slightly from the tower on its east side, from ground level. The six bells have inscriptions as follows:

1. John Warner & Sons, Founders, London 1914. ‘Surge Qui Dormis’ Ephes V 14. Rev Edwin Green, Vicar, Luke James Furse. Salome Catherine Marter, Churchwardens. (This bell appears to have replaced one dated 1793).

2. Mr John Searl Anno 1707

3. Mr John Waylett made me 1707

4. John Waylett made 1707

5. Mr Androw Searl Anno 1707

6. Tenor: Prayse The Lord 1611 (and crest bearing initials RO: Robert Oldfield)

Fortunately, there are manuscript records relating to the Baker Charity Accounts which were transcribed by CB Sworder in the ‘Essex Review’ 1905 Vol 14 pp 36-44. References are made to the making of the 1611 bell, and also to the four dated 1707. As early as 1595 money was paid to the Churchwardens towards the ‘newe makynge of the great bell’. It took several years to commission, and in 1636 it seemed to have needed re-tuning. The other four appear to have been cast from some older bells, as well as one from the new metal. In addition the accounts show that money was paid in 1708 for the timber, ironwork and labour involved in getting them hung.


The Searles were two members of a family who from 1573 for approximately 200 years were Lords of the Manor of Chambers, as well as being Lords of other Manors (Campions, Gills, Takeleys and Hayleys) at various times during that span of years.

In 1765 bellfounders Lester & Pack were paid approximately £24 ‘for repairing the bells’. This may give the clue to the bellfounders who made the 1707 bells but for which nobody was named in the accounts.


The Clock

It has already been mentioned that the clock bell is in the bell chamber, but the mechanism for driving the hands and striking the bell is in the stage below. Once again we find information of relevance from the Baker’s Charity Accounts. The first item is a reference in 1596 for fitting up a ‘Dyall’ in the church. Later in 1793 we have the under noted:




The bill of Messrs Thwaites for a new 8-day Church Clock affixed at the parish church of Epping




Ditto for a new Dial to the Clock




Ditto for a new Bell for the Clock to strike upon




Ditto for a new set of irons



Out of which was deducted the value of an old bell belonging to Epping Church




The bill for the carriage of the above from London to Epping




The carpenters’ bill for cases, frames and assisting in putting up the clock




This clock evidently took the place of the ‘Dyall’ fitted up in 1596, which would appear to have been a clock and not a sundial.


From Mr Finn Bryde-Williams’ previous history we learn further that John Conyers of Copped Hall was instrumental in arranging for the clock to be installed, and that the carpenter involved was William Champneys. The Thwaites were father and son.


The dial of this clock was fixed on the south face of the tower, so that the people who came from Epping Town would know whether to hurry or not! A footpath led uphill from near Cobbins Brook through the churchyard and it still exists. In 1902 a second clock face with its hands linked to the original mechanism was erected on the north face of the tower. It can be seen from the road and was installed to provide a permanent memorial of the Coronation of Kind Edward VII in 1902 [11]. The work was carried out this time by Mr Kind of North Weald, the cost of £20 being raised by subscription. For the coronation celebrations of Kind George V and Queen Mary on 22nd July 1911, the face of the clock on the south side was renovated and re-figured at a cost of £3-5-0, the work again being carried out by Mr King of North Weald [12].

This eight day clock has a very loud tick every two seconds and the weights and pendulum are splendidly visible in the ringing chamber.



Apart from the memorial windows and those in the sanctuary, to which reference has already been made, there are several others in the church. Some of these are late 19th century and early 20th century. The latest memorial windows are those given this decade by the Atkins and Goulding families.

The oldest and most striking memorial is the brass on the south wall of the chancel in memory of Thomas Palmer. He was Professor of Common Law at Cambridge, and died in 1621, having lived at Gills, the moated farmhouse 1500 yards south west of the church. The Latin inscription reads:

You who behold (this tomb) are dust destined to die.

I am dust that is dead.Your fate is much worse than mine.
The tainted world has you in its grasp, I am held by the starry heavens.
Your life is death for you; my death is life for me.Learn how to die while you (yet) live, that you may be able to find life when you die.
Thus will life not be burdensome, nor death sorrowful.

The left hand banner reads

‘Life is the way into death; death is the gateway to life’, and right ‘Do not deem him dead who is alive in heaven.


The chancel lights are in memory of Eenie Creed and were presented by her brothers in January 1945. The lectern was a gift in 1959 by Herbert George Toseland.

The desk in front of the north door of the nave was given in memory of Caroline Millard (d 1922) and Albert Millard (d 1925) by their only son; whilst the pulpit lectern was given in memory of Anne Stannett.

Memorials to parishioners who died as the result of war, are to be seen on the partition between the nave and the ringing chamber, as well as on the north nave wall. The several memorials in the ringing chamber itself have already been mentioned.


Plate and Almsbox

In 1639 in her will, Lady Katherine Wentworth left money for a gift communion cup with cover (which was also a paten). It is inscribed in Latin, has on it her coat of arms, and weights 29ozs. It was re-gilded in 1770. In 1768 a silver gilt flagon with the Conyers coat of arms was given to the church by Lady Henrietta, the wife of John Conyers. The church was also given a silver paten and salver from the private chapel at Copped Hall, made in 1739, together with books and furniture for the communion table and pulpit. Much of this is in use.


An almsbox originates from the days of Jeremiah Dyke as Vicar (1609-1639), and is dated 1626. It is made of oak, and painted green with gilt lettering ‘Remember the Poore’ on the inside of the lid. It was restored in 1826 during the incumbency of Henry Neave.


Unknown Brass

At the back of the nave is a piece of free-standing Purbeck marble dated about 1460 AD. It has a matrix which is an impression for a brass (probably missing since the 17th century). It appears to be of a man and wife with the symbol of Trinity.



There are two fonts in the church, one of which is very large and stands at the west end of the nave. It had a large Jacobean cover which has now displayed in a nearby window arch. The smaller of the two is of early 14th century date, with no cover, and is at the east end of the nave near the pulpit. It is the one currently used for baptisms.



The church possesses several pieces of furniture of beautiful workmanship, chief among them being a handsome 17th century chair which is used by the Bishop for confirmation services and at any other time he is in attendance. In addition, there is an armchair and four upright chairs, all of matching carved oak. It is thought these were a gift from the Marter family. The Church also possesses a sixteenth century communion table which is at present in the vestry.


The Mounting Block

In November 1968 ‘Essex Countryside’ published a photograph of a mounting block, which can still be seen, outside the east gate leading to the churchyard and the path to the church. It was used in earlier times by those who attended church on horseback.



This is approximately three acres in extent and surrounds the church, except at its east end. We are indebted to Miss Ruth Haslam for a record of the memorial inscriptions, and description of the stones for each grave on the south side of the church. One hundred and sixty one graves are detailed, many of which include more than one individual.

Of interest is the oldest, namely that of the widow Mrs SUSANNAH STACE “who deceased ye 29 of November in ye year of our Lord 1679 age 54 years”. The family of Stace were prominent in the business community of Epping for many years during the 18th century. This family has sixteen members buried on this south side between 1679 and 1810.


Also of interest in the churchyard were the monuments to members of the COTTIS family, now on loan to the Epping Forest District Council Museum, Waltham Abbey. These were moved in 1986 for an exhibition organised to bring the Cottis story to the notice of the public. This centres on the founding of the Archimedean Iron Works, Epping by WILLIAM COTTIS Snr early in the last century. He died February 1894, aged 84 years, and was buried with his wife, Mary Ann (d. 1885), and eldest daughter, also Mary Ann (d. 1904), in a grave marked uniquely by an iron tombstone. This is now in the garden of the Museum accompanied by his photograph.


One further grave of interest is a “stray” from Wales. The memorial inscription is on a very large slab of thick slate resting on a rubble foundation and in very fine condition. The reading is as follows:


lie the Remains of


late of Madryn Isaf

in the county of Caernarfon


who died the 21st day

of November 1835

aged 55 years

This memorial lay hidden for many years and only came to light following the removal of undergrowth. The story behind this impressive grave is now lost, but surely Epping market plays a part.

Reference and Notes

[1] Essex by Nicholas Pevsner

[2] Dugdale Monasticon

[3] Br. Mus. Hare MSS folios 132, 164

[4] Newcourt Repatorium 247-8 (see VCH Vol V pxxi)

[5] Local Act of Parliament

[6] Morant The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex 1, 52

[7] Gentleman’s Magazine

[8] E Ogborne The History of Essex

[9] Epping Monthly Record 1900

[10] VCH V P138, Essex Review XIV

[11] Epping Upland Parish Council Minutes

[12] Ibid

[13] Information kindly produced by Mr B Bunting

Vicars of All Saints, Epping Upland

(Before 1379 this Church was served by monks from Waltham Abbey)


John Palgrave


Stephen Waller


John Hawkeston


Roland Roper

William Howlett (Dominus)


William Lockwood


William of Thornbury (Magister)


Edward Conyers


Thomas Ende


Henry Neave

Thomas Boteler


Forbes E Winslow

Benedict de Sutton


Edward Buckmaster


John Coppehalle


RL Allwork

William Panfield


Edwin Green


William Hawe


Walter A Limbrick


Robert Fenne


Herbert L Eves

John Maplicon


George C Rubie


Ralph Chaloner


Harry Treble


Thomas Warren


Frederick Hart


John Bennett (deprived)


Richard C Taylor


Richard Ward (deprived)


James F Cotton


John Kellett


Frank Derbyshire


John Bennett (restored)


Paul Chalmers

William Cayster


Chris Bard

Edmund Audleser


Bryony Morrison


Roger Hieron


John Overall


Roger Dodd


Valentine Carey


Jeremiah Dyke


Edward Rochester


Thomas Holbeck


H Wilkinson


John Harper


Thomas Holbeck (restored)


James Lomas


John Lloyd

The parish church of All Saints, stands in the middle of the parish of Epping Upland. The walls are of flint rubble with dressings of freestone, but are mostly covered with pebble- dash. The west tower is brick, the roofs are tiled.

The architectural history of the building has been almost entirely obscured by modern alterations and restorations, but the present nave appears to date from the first half of the 13th century and may originally have included both nave and chancel. The present chancel was probably added in the second half of the 13th century but the north and east walls appear to have been entirely reconstructed and the north vestry is modern.

The south porch was added in the 15th century.

The west tower was probably built late in the 16th century. The chancel and nave are structurally undivided.

Features and fittings:

14th century windows and window details; early 16th century south doorway with 15th century door; 15th century south porch roof; 13th century piscinae; early 16th century oak seats in nave; fragments of window tracery etc in churchyard, apparently 15th century; late 15th-early 16th century wood inscriptions in tower.  Pevsner suggests 13th century origin for the church because all of the windows were restored as lancets.  Red brick west tower early 16th century according to DOE (all other sources place it later). 16th century door to turret in west tower, and another in west doorway. Second stage of tower has four original windows. South porch roof has two crownposts. Some 13th century brick reused in buttresses at east end.