An overview of the history of St. Mary's Church, Stebbing

Background History

Settling roughly along the east bank of Stebbing Brook; a tributary of the River Chelmer, (1) the village of Stebbing and its hamlets envelope a huge swathe of historical events, some of which have consequences still reverberating today. Being located just north of Stane Street, the major Roman road running from St. Albans to England’s oldest town Colchester (1) , has been a major influence in Stebbing’s on-going role and development. Pre-historic existence here is hard to find, but various excavations have proven Roman settlements in and around Stebbing – including traces of a Roman building beneath the Green (2) , slivers of Roman cement discovered externally on the church vestry, along with three fragments of Roman tegula (a flat roof tile) and rubble and debris in the foundations (3) .

The post-Roman era saw the arrival of the Saxons, then the Danes and Stebbing found itself in the historic Hundred of Hinckford. In the time of Edward the confessor (1042-1066) (1) The lands of this parish were in the possession of a Saxon thane named Siward. Following William the Conqueror’s successful arrival from Normandy in 1066, the general survey which formed the Domesday Book, show the lands of this parish belonging primarily to two Norman lords, Henry de Ferrers, and Ralph Peverel – with the de Ferrers family ultimately holding the longest lasting influence. (4 & 8) Initiated by William the Conqueror in 1080 and completed in 1086, The Domesday Book states regarding Stebbing: ‘a priest has always been on this place’ and lists under ‘Land of Henry of Ferrers’, that the households included ‘8 villagers. 33 smallholders … 1 priest’ (4) & (8). Today, the Domesday blue plaque issued in 1986 to celebrate 900 years of Norman heritage, can be seen on the entrance to the church tower (5).

The church’s early years

Archaeological discoveries have proven that a substantial building pre-existed on the current site. It is highly likely that, along with many other churches, St. Mary’s church was built on a pagan site. The history of the church and the Manor of Priors Hall, shows that there was originally a rectory, annexed to the chief lordship in Stebbing, which for many centuries was held by the de Ferrers family. In the time of King Henry II (1154-1189), William de Ferrers 3rd Earl of Derby, gave Stebbing church and its lands to the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem in 1181 (6). This fact was noted in Norman Scarfe’s Shell Guide of Essex 1975: ‘From the 12th century to the Dissolution, the church belonged, like Little Maplestead, to the Knights Hospitallers of St. John.’(p.165) The fact that the Order of the Knights Hospitallers were patrons to Stebbing church for nearly 400 years, helps to explain why, even today, the symbol of the Knights Hospitallers remains not only on the church board of past vicars, but is also displayed on the ornamental village sign itself. The substantial re-building of the church of St Mary the Virgin in the era of Edward III (1327-1377) and onwards, is well documented (1). Its architectural splendours record the ebb and flow of centuries of accumulated or alternating religious styles – including the tumultuous Reformation in the 16th century; and the results of Cromwell’s destructive forces during the Commonwealth period of the 17th century. During church restorations in 1883 a number of arrow heads and bullets were found embedded in its beams (7). The partial restoration continued into 1884, during which time whilst trenching up the nave, the foundations of a former church anterior to the aisles were visible (8 & 9). It would take another century before some of the uncertainty surrounding the historical dating of Stebbing church would be revealed. In September 1993 work began on laying a new floor in the vestry (3). Unexpectedly, the accompanying archaeological report confirmed that the most altered part of the church was the vestry (which was originally refurbished as a vestry in the later 17th century) (p.8 Andrews). The floor was found to contain at least four graves (p. 5 Andrews), and along with the masonry tomb (possibly for William Ferrers who died in Stebbing in 1371), it suggested the vestry was originally built as a mortuary or chantry chapel (p.6&31 Andrews). Also, the initial earthy fill in the tomb covering the coffin, contained a residual ‘sherd’ (a broken piece of ceramic material, especially one found on an archaeological site) of 12th to 13th century pottery, possibly early medieval ware (p.6 Andrews). Then, the discovery of a poorly stratified layer close to a hearth, between the early foundation and the east wall of the vestry, was found to contain fragments of medieval and post-medieval stained glass – so showing that before the 14th century rebuild, Stebbing church was in fact already a large building with a north aisle and an annex on the north side of the chancel; the ‘annex’ had been a chapel (p.9&28 Andrews/9), probably for the de Ferrers family, lords of the Manor; confirmed by the discovery of a piscina – the double piscina first became fashionable during the 13th century; one side was used for rinsing the chalice, the other for the priest’s hands (9). The 1993 excavation, together with more recently unearthed information linking Stebbing church to the Knights Hospitaller, makes the ancient chest in this church also highly significant. It had been dated as sixteenth century, but is now thought to be earlier – the manufacture of this chest style was decreed by Henry II in 1166 for offerings to the Holy Land, an order repeated by Papal decree in 1199 (9). In addition, the finding of coins from Henry II’s reign (1154-1189) (9), as well as the fact that St Mary’s Church board of past vicars commences with Richard Gyffard in 1245, finally settled the fact that a previous church was on the site which it still occupies. Since then, further evidence has come to light confirming Stebbing church’s pre-1300 existence. Evidence from historical and cartulary (10) research, has now helped to shape our understanding of the c 400 year period during which Stebbing church was taken over by the Knights Hospitallers who, rightly or wrongly, governed its way of life for this period (11). To comprehend Stebbing’s inclusion within The Knights of St. John (the Hospitallers), a brief summary of the Order is helpful.

Section Footnotes

(1) https://www.hundredparishes.org.uk/FreshFiles/PDFs/STEBBING.pdf (2) Norman Scarfe, Essex A Shell Guide, p.165 (3) Stebbing Church’s archeological report into the vestry work 1993 – DD Andrews (Essex County Council Field Archaeology Group) – (unbound document) (4) Thomas Wright, The County of Essex, vol 2, p.50 (5) https://opendomesday.org/place/TL6624/stebbing/ (6) Thomas Wright, The County of Essex, vol 2, p.52 (7) Durrants Handbook for Essex/Millar Christy, p.199 (8) RS & RL Greenlee, Stebbing Genealogy, page 15-21 (9) 6 page typed document c 1990’s (10) A cartulary or chartulary is a medieval manuscript volume or roll, containing transcriptions of original documents relating to the foundation, privileges, and legal rights of ecclesiastical establishments (11) Michael Gervers, The Cartulary of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in England, part 2; Prima Camera Essex (12) Michael Hodges, The Knights Hospitaller in Great Britain in 1540 (13) Great tithes were corn, hay, wood (p.14 Hodges/p.111 Fry). A tithe is 10% of production. Small tithes included livestock, butter, cheese, fruit, vegetables, honey, wax, flax, wool, hemp, rushes, game, fish (14) SJB Fry, Function, Tradition, Ideology or Patron: What influenced the architecture go Knights Hospitaller Commandery Chapel and associated Churches in Britain 1140-1370

Founded around 1070 as a hospital caring for sick and poor pilgrims (12), the warring crusader armies soon propelled the Hospital of St. John into an on-going battle zone. Originally based in the east Mediterranean (with its final headquarters being in Malta from 1531 – 1798), the steadily increasing militarisation of the organisation of The Knights of St. John (the Hospitallers) required a vast network of lands and revenue in Western Europe to support them during the Middle Ages. Commanderies were set up to supervise these lands – with England also having them from the 12th century. Commanderies (or preceptories, as they were also known) were small units of knights administering adjoining groups of properties; they were set up in Europe and grouped into priories. They were given their own churches and they were exempt from episcopal control. As part of the shifting complexities throughout this turbulent period of history, the authority of the Pope was integral to Hospitaller operations. (p.11-12 Hodges) The period 1096 to 1272 was when the 1st to 9th crusades (15) were fought intermittently. This was followed by on-going battles through the following centuries between numerous states and nations. All this warfare, often for political reasons, continued to pitch countries and religions against one another – and needed never ending funding; one small example of this was when the commanderies were ordained in the 13th century, to send one third of their revenue to Outremer for the military use of the Order (p.11 Hodges). An added dimension to the Hospitallers oscillating fortunes, was the cessation of the Knight’s Templar’s in 1307 by France. They had been originally set up as a separate entity in 1120 (arriving in England in 1128; with their suppression in 1312) as a specific crusader military order under Hugues de Payens. Their demise in 1307, primarily for financial as well as sacrilegious reasons, led to the majority of their Templar lands eventually being given to the Hospitallers by 1329. Once fulfilled, this transfer represented a vast accumulation of wealth. (11 & 12) Although in England, the Norman noble family of Clare was one of the Hospitallers earliest and most generous benefactors, it was the accession of Henry II in 1154 which saw the rise of donations to the Hospitallers, over the originally preferred Templars. Donations tended to be made either by knights who had been on crusade, or to assuage their guilt for not going. However, it was a visit to England in 1185 seeking help to free the Holy Land that brought the Order to greater prominence. With the English Hospitaller Priory finally wresting control from St. Gilles in France, to St. John’s Priory in Clerkenwell, their influence was complete. (11 & 12) Over time, the Coeur de Lion Richard I granted the priory a beneficial charter in 1194. Under Henry III between 1236-9 knights were given precedence over priests serving in commanderies. In 1262 it was ordained that knights must be of noble birth and arms. In 1268 England was mentioned as being one of the Order’s richest sources of revenue. Then the Statute of Mortmain in 1279 under Edward I made grants to religious houses subject to royal licence. Finally, the Hospitallers possessed land in all the counties of England – with their holdings, in terms of high income, concentrated in only six counties including Essex. (p. 11-13 Hodges) By 1338 the Knights Hospitaller were the greatest individual ecclesiastical landlord in England, followed probably by Glastonbury Abbey (p.14 Hodges) (whose many historical claims to fame include the Legend of King Arthur; a particularly rich vein of inspiration during this period of history).

Section Footnotes

 (11) Michael Gervers, The Cartulary of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in England, part 2; Prima Camera Essex (12) Michael Hodges, The Knights Hospitaller in Great Britain in 1540 (15) The crusades are sometimes referred to in numerical order, but historically are also known by differing names. Date-wise: the 1st (1096-1102); 2nd (1147- 49); 3rd (1189-92); 4th 1202 -4); 5th (1217-29; 6th (1228-29); 7th (1248-54); 8th (1269-72); 9th (1271-72) crusades, were then followed by continued battles – for full date chronology 1095-1892, see Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A History

Local churches

During this period of history, many churches were appropriated (i.e. taken over without appropriate permission) by the Hospitallers (11). These parish churches served as a valuable source of revenue to the commanderies (central administration centres) and so to the Hospitallers, who usually retained the following sources of revenue: great and small tithes (13 p.111 Fry); as well as altar dues, marriage fees, offerings on the occasions of funerals and vigils; oblations and offerings on special feast days. The Order, through its Prior in Clerkenwell (the Hospitallers headquarters in England), also nominated its chosen appointee to the living when it became vacant. (12) The Hospitallers, amongst other things, were also responsible for the maintenance of the chancel, as well as for provision of bread and wine for the Eucharist. (12)
The Knights Hospitaller’s, as well as the Knights Templar when operating, held the unique position of being excluded from the payment of any normal taxes of the land to the King, and they did not pay ecclesiastical taxes. (12 p.13 Hodges) As time passed, communal religious life outside Clerkenwell ceased during the15th century and no other commandery is known to have had more than one brother in residence after 1460. In the meantime, the Grand Prior (as the Prior in England became known in the 15th century) managed increasingly to gain control of individual commanderies for his own financial benefit. (p.15 Hodges) Eventually, it was the lure of finance, assets and ultimately absolute determination to break Papal control in England for his own ends, that resulted in Henry VIII dissolving the Order in 1540, as part of the general Dissolution. By the time of Elizabeth I (1558-1603), despite various brief resurgences, the Knights Hospitallers were finally dissolved for good in England.

Section Footnotes

(12) Michael Hodges, The Knights Hospitaller in Great Britain in 1540

Appropriated Churches

The properties of Stebbing church as well as Chaureth church in Broxted, which is also part of the Pilgrim Parishes, are listed as ‘appropriated’ churches in ‘The Cartulary of The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in England, part 2; Prima Camera Essex’. (11) Chaureth

Chaureth, with its administrative role, was the first Hospitaller commandery established in Essex (11, p.lvii/ch 3). It came into being following the conveyance of Chaureth church and land of Richard Pigot (or Picoti) to the Order, by Alfred de Bendaville and his wife Sibyl in 1151, with the grant confirmed by Gilbert of Clare, first earl of Hertford in 1152. Further grants were added, and grant of the church re-confirmed by succeeding generations of Clare’s still being recorded at 1268. (p.lvii/lviii ch.3 Gervers) Around 1255, Chaureth became subordinate to the new Essex commandery at Little Maplestead, meaning that all lands administered by Chaureth, which at its height included eighty parishes in Essex, were then all under the jurisdiction of Little Maplestead. Additional administrative changes led to the appropriation of Chaureth church to Clerkenwell at some point prior to 1338 (p.lviii ch. 3 Gervers). In fact, it would appear that Chaureth’s more isolated location away from key road or water transportation, was the reason it eventually lost central administrative control, in favour of Little Maplestead (p.xcvi ch.5 Gervers). A transcription relating to the manuscript entries connected with and Chaureth church (pages 124 to 176) can be read in ‘The Cartulary of The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in England, part 2; Prima Camera Essex’, edited by Michael Gervers

Section Footnotes

(11) Michael Gervers, The Cartulary of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in England, part 2; Prima Camera Essex

In the time of Edward the confessor (1042-1066) churches appropriated by the Hospitallers needed to offer excellent transportation links. (1). ion networks (11 p.xcv/ch.5 Gervers), and when listing examples of churches that were well sited, ‘Stebbing on Stane Street’ is specifically mentioned in the Prima Camera, Essex (p.xcvi/ch.5 Gervers). As already noted, ‘William de Ferrers 3rd Earl of Derby, conveyed to the Hospitallers the church of Stebbing, together with advowson (the right to appoint the parish priest) and tithes, in 1181/2’ (source: Prima Camera Essex, Gervers) p.185. Interestingly, this same source states ‘in 1274 the Hospitallers’ right to the advowson of Stebbing was unsuccessfully disputed by William (IV) de Ferrers, a descendent of the donor. The dispute arose following the death in, or slightly before, 1273 of Richard Giffard, who had been a rector since his appointment by Prior Theodore de Nussa (1235 – 47) some thirty years before.’ It goes on to state that ultimately the Hospitallers successfully maintained their hold on Stebbing church following Richard Giffard’s death, ‘when Prior Joseph de Chauncy (12) was inducted into corporeal possession of the church; and that Jospeh in turn, presented Roger of Buckland to the vacant vicarage before 6 July 1276.’(lxi-lxiii/ch.3) St Mary’s Church board of past vicars confirms (with historical spellings), that not only is Richard Gyffard the first incumbent named, but Roger de Bokland is indeed the second – both were appointed by the Hospitallers.

The Prima Camera Essex notes (11): ‘the great majority of the entries under Stebbing titulus pertain to land which supported the church, namely War field’, which is located where the church’s car park is now located. ‘In the late twelfth century this field belonged to the monks of St. Mary of Hambeye in Normandy, whose second abbot Rocelin, held it of the alms of Thomas Coulonces. In 1180, Rocelin and the monks leased the land to Warin, son of Guy the miller …in 1256 the (Hospitallers) conveyed the entire field to (the vicar) …Ricardi Gifferd … for rent of 32s. The Order was to render half this amount to the abbot of Hambeye and would retain the other half for itself (p.lx11/ch.3 Gervers) … War field contained 50 acres.’ (16) Noting various ‘claims and quitclaims’ etc, Prima Camera Essex concludes from a ‘document attributed to c1255, Ralph North conveys homage and service arising from land in Alnoldshey field in Stebbing to the Hospitallers at Chaureth… The church of Stebbing and the lands associated with it, seem to have been administered … for the entire period from its donation in 1181/2 to the time, probably in the third quarter of the thirteenth century, when Cheruth was replaced by Little Maplestead as the sole Essex (commandery) and when the two appropriated churches were undoubtedly absorbed by Clerkenwell.’ (p. lxiii/ch.3 Gervers) A transcription relating to the manuscript entries connected with Stebbing church (pages 185 to 216) can be read in ‘The Cartulary of The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in England, part 2; Prima Camera Essex’, edited by Michael Gervers

Section Footnotes

(11) Michael Gervers, The Cartulary of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in England, part 2; Prima Camera Essex (15) According to the tithe map of 1839, there were 17 acres 56 silicons in Upper War field, 15.75 acres 26 silicons in Middle War field, 10.75 acres 8 silicons in Ten Acre War field, and 5.25 acres 35 silicons in Green War field (ERO D/CT 332 and D/CT 332A) – p.lx111 footnote/The Cartulary of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in England, part 2; Prima Camera Essex, Gervers

The Stone Screen

There are only three in the world of this impressive design – and Stebbing, along with local village Great Bardfield and further afield Trondheim in Norway, boast one of the magnificent great stone rood-screens c 1340 (archaeologists dating Bardfield’s screen to be slightly later). Over the years, speculation has arisen that possibly the noble Norman families of the area played a central role in their construction, with marriages as well as Royal patronage, connecting the de Ferrers, de Clare’s, de Burghs, de Veres and others to the architectural feat. However, a further study of the historical records and manuscripts of the Knights Hospitaller’s, suggests that it was in fact the Order that played a key role in building Stebbing’s stone screen (14). With the Knights Hospitaller commanderies possessing jurisdiction over the management of appropriated parish churches (12), it has been suggested that this area of influence included architecture. ‘Some parish churches, such as St. Mary’s Church, Stebbing, Essex … were entirely rebuilt under the Hospitallers,’ (p.115 Fry). Whilst including a photograph of the decorated stone screen in St. Mary’s church, SJB Fry states ‘only a cursory examination has been carried out of the architecture of the Hospitallers’ associated parish churches … it seems to present a considerable contrast to the austere and functional commandery chapels. Both significant expense and ornate decoration could sometimes be afforded to a parish church. One example is the phenomenal 14th century stone chancel screen at St. Mary’s Church, Stebbing, Essex, which is embellished with ball-flowers, trefoils and gargoyles, among much else.’ (p.116 Fry) This aspect of architectural funding and influence, seems to explain why Stebbing church is such a substantial building within this lovely but small village. It seems that Stebbing benefited from far greater investment than even the patronage of the powerful de Ferrers family. Sadly, very little now remains of the original stone screen, which it is feared suffered considerable damage by Cromwell’s Puritan troops.


https://www.hundredparishes.org.uk/FreshFiles/PDFs/STEBBING.pdf Essex, A Shell Guide, Norman Scarfe, reprinted 1975 Stebbing Church’s archaeological report into the vestry work 1993 – DD Andrews (Essex County Council Field Archaeology Group) – (unbound document) 6 page typed report c 1990’s Thomas Wright, The County of Essex, vol 1, 1831 Thomas Wright, The County of Essex, vol 2, 1836 Stebbins Geneology, RS & RL Greenlee, vol 1 1904 / Domesday book National Domesday Committee https://opendomesday.org/place/TL6624/stebbing/ Durrants Handbook for Essex/Millar Christy 1887 Philip Morant, History & Antiquities of the County of Essex Michael Hodges, The Knights Hospitaller in Great Britain in 1540, 2018 Michael Gervers, The Cartulary of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in England, part 2; Prima Camera Essex edited1996 Joanthan Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A History 2014 Third Edition SJB Fry, Function, Tradition, Ideology or Patron: What influenced the architecture go Knights Hospitaller Commandery Chapel and associated Churches in Britain 1140-1370, 2013

The rood screen

stebbing church rood screen

One of the chief architectural glories of St Mary’s is the stone rood screen that fills the Chancel arch.  It consists of three smaller arches and  richly carved canopy work.  Only three examples of this style of screen exist, and Stebbing is the earliest example.  The other examples are in Great Bardfield, and Trondheim Cathedral in Norway.

In the 15th Century, the screen suffered considerable mutilation to admit a wooden screen, which was erected on the East (Chancel) side of the stone screen. Access to the top of the wooden screen was granted by a door in the north wall of the Chancel, which can still be seen, along with the remains of the stairs up within the vestry. The stairs in the South wall of the nave most likely connected with this rood screen, passing over a canopy covering a chapel in the south aisle. It may be noted that the pulpit is made from old oak, suspected to be taken from the 15th Century wooden screen when it was removed in the 17th/18th Century.

The Stone rood screen was heavily restored and rebuilt in 1884.  It was noted by the Rev. C.E. Livesey in 1924 that they soon hoped to complete the rood by instating the two missing statuettes missing from the plinths either side of the central cross. Almost a hundred years on and these figures are still missing!  Evidence of the rebuilding of the rood screen in 1884 is all throughout the church; chunks of fine faced stone removed during the repairs sit on may window sills and the credence table in the North East corner of the Chancel consists of two original stones with grotesque figures that came from the springing of the arch in the rood screen.

The blocked doorway at St Marys Church

The doorway, now blocked, that granted access to the 15th Century wooden screen.

The Credence Table at St Marys Church

The credence table, made from ORIGINAL stone of the rood screen.

The Font

The Font is Octagonal, with a panelled stem, dating from the 15th Century. The cover is of fine oak, and has a plaque dedicated to The Rev. A. R. Bingham Wright, 31 Years vicar of this parish, died June 12 1906 and Mary Sophia Cecily Bingham, his Daughter, Who died Nov 26 1905.

The Font currently stands at the East end of the North Aisle.  It was moved to it’s current location in 2000, having previously stood at the West end of the South Aisle, by the South door.  It is recorded that prior to the internal re-ordering in 1884, the font stood in the middle of the Chancel.

the font

The Porch

The main entrance to the church is through the South door of the nave. The porch stands at this entrance. Standing in the porch, you can see the original dripstone, which shows that the porch roof was raised up from a gable roof to it’s current flat configuration. The brickwork that raises this roofline dates to the 16th Century.

The porch was refurbished in 1923, where the East window was repaired. The current west window had a brick cross inserted at some point, most likely to stop people climbing through the opening. Inside the porch there is the broken remains of a stoup for holy water.

There are well worn holes over the door, probably a socket for a perpendicular bar to secure the door. It would seem from the groove on the arch that the doors opened inward to the porch at one time.

The rood screen in St Marys Church Stebbing

The interesting double piscina and one of the sedilia arches in the chancel

The Stained glass in Stebbing church

Stained glass window in Stebbing Church

The Stained glass in Stebbing church

Very little, of the original 14th/15th Century-stained glass remains, much of it having been destroyed at the hands of the Puritans.

Fragments which have been recovered, have been fashioned together into the window to the side of the font. A few windows contain other fragmentary remnants of their former past.

Stebbing church has one stained glass window. This was commissioned to mark the approximate 600th anniversary of the present building. The window was designed by A.K Nicholson and installed in 1924 and it seems that this was paid for by the Stacpoole family; (The novelist and writer Henry de Vere Stacpoole who was a former resident of Rose Cottage at the foot of the church drive).

Stained glass window in Stebbing Church
Stained glass window in Stebbing Church
Stained glass window in Stebbing Church
Stained glass window in Stebbing Church

A design for the beautiful East window in the chancel was commissioned by the renowned stained glass artist William Glasby, this design is now in The V&A museum in London.

It can be seen that his design is echoed in the window designed by A.K. Nicholson

Hatchments at Stebbing Church


In Stebbing church, behind the altar there are 2 hatchments.

Hatchments were particularly popular in the 18th and 19th century. They are lozenge shaped boards bearing the heraldic details of a particular person. They were a type of funeral flag or banner, historically used to display the coat of arms of a deceased person.

When a notable person died, their hatchment was hung outside their home between their death and their funeral, (sometimes for the whole period of mourning) and they were often carried as part of their funeral cortege. Hatchments were traditionally diamond shaped and were made of wood or canvas, with the coat of arms painted or sometimes embroidered onto them.

The hatchments in Stebbing church are for Arthur Batt and his wife Frances. Arthur died on the 3rd of February 1730 aged 47.

Summers (‘Hatchments in Britain’ vol 6) describes this hatchment as ‘dexter background black, sable a fess ermine between three dexter hands coupled argent’. The crest is a demi lion rampant. The motto reads Mors Janua vitae (death is the gateway to life).

The second hatchment is for Arthur’s wife Frances, who died on 23rd of February 1744.

To the side of the altar, below these hatchments, there is a memorial stone for Arthur and Frances Batt. This too bears their family crest. Frances left a sum of money from which each year money should be given to the poor of the parish.

This charity is still in existence today.

Graffiti in St Mary's Church

Below are examples of just some of the graffiti to be found in Stebbing church. Some of which dates back to about the 15th Century!

Medieval graffiti is often seen as a lost voice, it represents many different things including prayers for the sick and the dead. There are heraldic badges, including a De Bourchier knot and The DeVere mullet. There are games of 3 men’s Morris, compass drawn designs, which were thought to be associated with ritual protection, a family leaving a prayer request, to ward off evil or ill fortune, and there are prayers to Mary.

Here are some examples of what you can see.

Stebbing Church scale model

Scale models of Stebbing Church

Stebbing church has 2 beautiful scale models of the church made by Henry Fitch in 1850 for an exhibition in 1851. These were presented to the church in 1924.

View the gallery below and look at the inside and you can see the original west end gallery!

Painting of a Wedding at Stebbing’

From an original painting by Bernard Sickert 1910 ‘Painting of a Wedding at Stebbing’.