The History

Ancient Map of Thundridgebury
Topographical Map – Dury & Andrews, 1766

The church of All Hallows and Little St. Mary

“THE Rectory is impropriated to the perpetual Use of the Masters and Fellows of Trinity Colledge in Cambridgc; and this Vicaridge Anno 26 H.VIII. was rated in the King’s Books at the yearly Value of 6l [£6]. of which the Masters and Fellows aforesaid are the Patrons. This Church is dedicated to the Honour of the Virgin Mary, from whom it is called Little St. Maries, and is situated in the bottom of the Hill, near tile Mannor-house in the Deanery of Braughing, in the Diocess of London: The Chancel and Body of the Church are tyled, and at the West End of the Church is a square Tower, wherein are four small Bells, and a fair Shaft or Spire cover’d with Lead is erected upon the Tower.

Here lieth the Body of Roger Gardiner, elder Son of Edward Gardiner, Esq. and Martha his Wife, who departed this Life the 13th of April, 1658. Aged 21 Years and 9 Months:

Roger lies here before his Hour,
Thus doth the Gardiner lose his Flower.

Source: Chancy – 1700.

TL 31NE THUNDRIDGE OLD CHURCH LANE (north side) Thundridge Bury 2/19 Remains of Old Church of St Mary and All Saints 24.1.67 II*

Church. W tower only remains. C15 tower with C12 doorway and C14 window set in blocking of tower arch when church demolished in 1853. Flint rubble with stone dressings and clunch moulded frames to openings. Roofed by a concrete slab at former parapet level. A tall 3-stage square W tower with diagonal buttreses at W corners. An internal spiral stair rises in the SW corner. W front has weathered string courses at each level with sloped plinth and protecting string course just above it. 3-light cusped C15 W window immediately over contemporary W door with 4 centred depressed head, hollow moulded jambs, spandrels, square surround and moulded label with grotesque heads as stops. Pointed loop to middle stage and 2-light traceried openings on each face of the bell stage. Large oval cast-iron tie plates at 2 levels on side walls. Chevron and dogtooth moulded arch and 2- light square headed, ogee traceried window with ferramenta and label with caved headstops, in blocking of equilateral C15 tower arch with hollow moulded imposts. Frame of hatchment fixed hiqh inside tower. Quatrefoil in circle dial stone on S face of tower. Stone slab dial fixed higher up on same face. Many carved C18 gravestones in surrounding churchyard with C17 and C18 brick wall. (RCHM (1911) 221: VCH (1912) 379: Pevsner (1977) 364).

Source: Historic England

Following the collapse of the nave roof – after the “new” church had been consecrated in 1853 – the remaining portions of the church save the C15 tower with the C12 doorway (which was repositioned in the tower) and the C14 window were demolished, and portions of the salvageable materials used to repair St. Catherine’s Church in nearby Sacombe. (Source: CRSBI)

Francis Jukes (1745-1812)
This print of Thundridge Bury House with the Old Church in the background was given by Miss Maria Ford, the Wadesmill postmistress, to Jane Amy Matilda Hanbury (1854-1925 – née Leslie), wife of Edmund Smith Hanbury (1850-1913), owner of Poles Estate in Thundridge (n.b. it is possible, but less likely, that it was given to their daughter, Amy Rhona Hanbury, who would have been about 11 years old at that time). In 1901, Miss Ford was probably about 77. We say “probably” as it seems that perhaps there might have been a little age-related shyness on her part, as she reports her age in the 1861, 71 and 81 census’ consistently as 38, 47 and 57 respectively, but then undergoes a startling slowing down, reporting her age to be only 60 in 1891 and 74 in 1901!
It seems that the state of repair of The Old Church is not a new topic! In 1843 – before the demolition of the main part of the church, and prior to the construction of the new church – Mr. Thomas Smith was approached to provide an estimate and recommendation regarding repairs. The above is the transcript of that correspondence, and as we can see, he is not overly optimistic about the process! Of interest is reference to the inclusion of the “iron ties lately introduced”, but which he considers to be only of “some assistance to keep the work together for a short time”. Thankfully, in this he appears to have been wrong, as the same iron ties are still visible today – some 175 years later – having apparently done an admirable job in assisting the structure to remain present and standing!