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All Saints Church
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2017

Hempstead church and its parish are a member of the Matlaske benefice, which is a benefice containing seven churches in the Holt Deanery within the Diocese of Norwich.

Hempstead church is a Grade ll listed building, originally dated as late Saxon or Saxo-Norman but was almost entirely demolished and then rebuilt slightly to the south around the year 1300. The new church included the original Saxon tower, a Norman doorway and another doorway built in the 1200s. The chancel was then rebuilt in 1475 and the south porch was constructed in 1500s. The nave windows were replaced in the 1600s. The original and much taller church tower collapsed between 1728-1743 and was then rebuilt as a much lower construction in 1744. Somewhat unusually, the apse, which was added in 1925, has a thatched roof, which was rethatched in 2019. The chancel was built in 1930 funded by public subscription. The original tower contained three bells but the present, lower tower now contains one bell. The register is said to date from 1558.

A Saxon-Norman church with west tower, and perhaps a slightly later Norman south doorway stood to the north of the present building. It was mostly demolished, after it had received a new north doorway in the 13th Century, and the present church erected around 1300, perhaps following an attempt to make a nave with two aisles had failed.
The Chancel was rebuilt in 1471-5 on documentary evidence. The south porch was added c1550. The Chancel was demolished at an unknown date pre 1830; the western half of the tower collapsed and was rebuilt in 1744; the nave windows were replaced probably around the 17th Century. Various alterations took place in the 19th Century and the apse was added in 1925.

Edwin J. Rose, Norfolk Archaeological Unit - 29th November 1985


Please note -
Church Services are limited
until Covid-19 is under control

Rector Revd. Canon David Longe - 01263 577252
Lay Minister Gill Peat - 01263 734226
Lay Minister Judy Rosser - 01263 587584
Authorised Worship Assistant Dr. Alain Wolfe - 01263 577292
Church Warden Su Summers - 01263 710702
Church Warden Ann Udale - 01263 713656

The Church has a brick tower, built in 1744, and is a vicarage . . .
White's 1836
The stained east window is a memorial, and was inserted in 1876 by the Rev. Charles Louis Rudd M.A. vicar 1873-89, who also presented a carved oak reredos and massive brass lecturn
Kelly's 1892
In 1915 a memorial window was inserted to Richard Hardy, sometime churchwarden
Kelly's 1916
The chancel, which is of flint with brick facings, and which has a thatched roof, was erected in 1930 by public subscription
Kelly's 1933

c.1963. Nativity play - c.1963
c.1963
Nativity play - c.1963
Back row - ?; Linda Gidney; Gloria Baker
Front row - Sally Gee; ?; Gwen Baker; ?; ?

Church history

Sometime between the 1728 Corbridge map of Green Farm, which shows the Church with quite a large tower and 1744 when the (reduced) tower was put in order, there was a major collapse. This led to a decision by the Parish to rebuild the partially collapsed tower and to pay for the repairs by selling two of the three bells. In 1743 a Petition was prepared in the name of the Reverend John Grey the Vicar, John Staines the Churchwarden, Daniel Abill the Overseer and other parishioners. (This is exceedingly curious since according to the Revd Auden's researches the Vicar from 1742 was one Richard Chase!). For reasons unknown, the Petition did not proceed in its then form, there being endorsed on the outside of the Petition “Mr John Grey Vicar of the Parish of Hempstead having refused to sign, this Petition was prepared and signed by Robert Britiffe Esq Impropriator”. Furthermore his signature was supported by other parishioners, including John Wood, Gent of Green_Farm who was then almost certainly the most influential village resident. Despite the Vicar's refusal to support the Petition, the faculty was granted (NRO 23240 Z 92). The faculty of 1743 (NRS12994) partly reads as follows -

“Thomas by divine permission Bishop of Norwich to our well beloved in Christ Robert Britiffe Impropriator of the Tithe of Hempstead near Holt in this county of Norfolk and Diocese of Norwich and to John Staines Churchwarden there John Wood John Purdy Daniel Abill Miggott West parishioners of the said parish Health in our Lord everlasting. Whereas it has been humbly represented unto us by you the said Impropriator Churchwardens and parishioners aforesaid that the steeple of your said parish church at Hempstead hath been cracked time immemorial and part thereof fallen down several years since and that the other part is much decayed. That you intend with our leave to take down the decayed part which is standing as far as the roof of the church or thereabout and build the other side up to it. But as the charge thereof will be very great you pray our licence or faculty to run down your now Bells which are three and to run one of such bigness or size as shall be fit upon all occasions for the parishioners assembling together and to apply the money arising from the rest of the metal towards your finishing the work above said Know ye --

In witness thereof---Seal of office of our Vicar General in Spiritual in this behalf to be affixed to these presents this twelfth day of July in the year of Our Lord one thousand and seven hundred and forty three.

There is a detailed account signed by John Staines and Daniel Abill listing the cost of the demolition and rebuilding which came to £67 - 02 - 9½

Then appears
“Sold our bells for £7- 02-8
The bell we bought cost £19-12-3
So the balance due to us was £55-10-5

Our disbursements were £67- 02-9½
We recovered by the bells £55-10-5
So there is due to us £11-12-4½

It would be interesting to know who paid the deficit but this the account does not reveal (NR 23240 Z 92)

John Stones, the churchwarden, having completed his task, despite the disapproval of the Vicar, no doubt proudly put up the date stone on the tower -

John Staines
Chuichwardin
1744

The reconstructed bell seems to have cracked and more damage occurred to the fabric because in 1767 another faculty was obtained, this time to sell the bell. Another one was bought and the purchased bell is one made by W. Brend of the family of Norwich bell founders. The inscription on it is “Anno Domini 1599 W”.

What is not commemorated is the building of the gallery. This is supported by very ancient beams (in some cases moulded) which are believed formerly to have supported the rood screen which would have been destroyed when the chancel was taken down - pre 1830. The front of the gallery is made up from panels from box pews. The choir seats in the gallery are carved with the names and initials of bored choirboys. Galleries in the 18th Century were common enough but many were destroyed by reforming parsons toward the latter half of the 19th Century, when surpliced choirs singing in the chancel became fashionable. Presumably the reason for the survival of the gallery was simply that with no chancel the choir had no choice but to sing from the gallery as had been done for centuries.


The Revd Auden records “Before the harmonium was placed in the church a village band led the music. A Mr Wright father of the Clerk and Sexton (1886-1916) was conductor, and a brother also played. Miss Beckett was organist for sixteen years 1890-1906. In 1901 a new Estry organ costing £17 took the place of the harmonium. This was replaced in 1932 by the present American organ”

The Church Chalice is dated 1568 and is inscribed “FOR THE TOVN OF HEMSTED”

In notes left by Mr Auden appears the following: -
“When Thomas Hendry who had been one of the Churchwardens who lived at Church Farm was retiring he had a sale of his goods. A pile of what he thought useless articles and refuse was made in the yard. Edmund Ling of Hempstead_Hall discovered on this rubbish heap a battered silver cup much tarnished. He begged it from Mr Hendry and had it cleaned and repaired in Norwich when it was seen to be the Church Chalice. When Edward Ling died his sister Mrs Alfred Ling happened to show the cup to Mr J H Gurney who promptly told her it was church property and should be returned to the church. Much against her will this was done under pressure in 1913”.

The sad shortage of memorials came to an abrupt end with the arrival as Vicar of Charles Louis Rudd in 1873 who must have been a man of enormous energy and, presumably, wealth.

In Hugh Bryant's “Norfolk Churches'' under the heading of “Rudd Memorials'' appear the following:
“East Window (on South Side) given by the Rev C L Rudd in memory of his three brothers
James Sutterwaite Rudd late HM 323nd Light Infantry and late Sub Lieut RN died 7.8.66

John Trohear Rudd Capt HM 59th Rgt died 27.6.75

WM Frederick John Rudd Lieut Colonel Royal Scots died 13.8.68

(this window was executed by W C Constable FSA of Cambridge)''

The Carved Reredos and brass lecturn were also given by Rev C L Rudd as was a brass chandelier “in memory of Jane Rudd died 1 1 .8. 1 882” (NB this circular candle holder has disappeared: it was probably taken down when the Apse was built in 1926. At the same time the two tablets each side of the former altar table which like the candle holder appear in pre 1926 photographs were removed to the Vestry).

The memorial window was in 1926 transferred to the east end of the church. There is no reference on it to the names of the three brothers of the Vicar. The inscription merely says that it “Is dedicated to the memory of three brothers by Charles Louis Rudd MA Vicar of this Parish 1876''.

The Reredos is equally uninformative saying that it “is erected to the memory of three sisters by their brother Charles L Rudd MA Vicar of this Parish 1886''.

On the Pulpit appear the following:
“This pulpit and desk are erected in loving memory of James Winter who died Feb 16th 1876 and of Mary Ann his wife who died Dec 16th 1883 by their daughter Georgiana E Rudd Easter 1884''.

On the Lecturn (An Angel and a Serpent) is written "Presented to Hempstead Church July AD 1886" (It was in fact also given by the Vicar).

On the font appears - Presented to this church by Georgina Eliza Rudd to the glory of God and in memory of

Mary Ann Winter
William Parker Winter
and
Anna Adelaide Winter
Her sisters and brother
AD 1886

It is curious that the Vicar's memorials do not list the names of those commemorated (ie “three sister”) while Mrs Rudd's memorials are more explicit.

Charles Rudd also gave the harmonium in memory of his brother Captain John Rudd. He had died just after the Vicar was inducted when maybe a harmonium was urgently required. But why was John Rudd given a second commemoration in the window?

Fifty years later the Auden family also contributed to the interior interest of the Church. The Vicar did the research on the list of incumbents (the board apparently being paid for by Lord Rothermere) while has daughter Ruth Wilson did the etching of the Church dated 1934.

The Revd A. M. Auden had a son Jack who emigrated to Canada. Jack's sister Rachel later commemorated him with a flower stand (first given to Sheringham Church but later removed and given to Hempstead Church). The inscription reads -
“This gift of his sister Rachel in loving memory' of Jack Auden M.F. Pioneer and Founder of the Town of Auden Ontario. He went about doing good. Acts 10 Verse 36
What does M.F. stand for? Jack had a son who died young and two daughters. Auden turns out to be a railway station on the Canadian National Line (now amalgamated with the CPR). lt is supposed to have a population of 25. It has no roads. What record of Jack Auden will be found there?

The stained glass window on the south side was given “In loving memory of Richard Hardy, Churchwarden of this Parish who entered into rest December 8th 1914 aged 70. This window was erected by his wife and son”.

There are other modern memorials. The stand to the Lectern commemorates John Hagen 19l0-1935 and D.W. Hagen 1932-1954 throughout which years they were Churchwardens.

The wooden cross over the altar was given in memory of Ethel and Gertrude Money by their brother and sister.
Claude Fowle 1890-1980 is commemorated on the reading desk. The crucifix above the pulpit was given “In memory of Barry William Wisken 25.9.60.'' The Bible was the “Gift of DW and RM Hagen and their sons. Easter 1926.''

The wooden hanging lamps (beautifully made by Margaret Durst) were given by Michael Levete in 1999 in memory of his wife Sally.

Photographs of the interior of the Church towards the end of the 19th Century show the effect of the collapse of the Chancel which took place before 1828 when a Ladbroke drawing shows only a low shed. (Likewise tile Gurney Estate Map of 1833 shows the Church without its Chancel) The end of the Chancel was simply walled off making the then Church a simple rectangle.

Mr Auden left various notes saying that in 1940 the Clerk William Money remembered a three-decker pulpit fixed on the north wall about sixty years previously. This was almost certainly removed by Rudd who replaced it by a modern conventional version paid for by Georgiana Rudd. He added that in 1898 the roof was match boarded in replacement for plaster and that open pews were substituted for box pews.

Following the taking dowm or collapse of the Chancel, the outline of which can still clearly be seen on the ground, the oblong shape of the Church with a flat east wall must have seemed rather dull - more like that of a chapel that most parish churches with their chancels and aisles. Sir Alfred Jodrell of Bayfield Hall may well have thought so and (so it is said) it was he who suggested that the thatched apse be added in 1928 to the east end of the church to replace the long-lost chancel and the existing East Window moved. The architect was C. Upcher and the builder Bullen of Cromer, the cost in excess of £430. Subscriptions raised £319 and it is believed Sir Alfred Jodrell provided the difference. There seems to be no precedent for such a thatched apse in East Anglia - certainly not one with a tall East Window giving the effect of the prow of a ship with a figurehead in front. It seems that Sir Alfred encouraged improvements in many local churches. Certainly the church at Letheringsett was almost entirety rebuilt by him as were most of the buildings in Glandford.

The Churchyard was enlarged in 1906 to include a portion of the Glebe and “ground given by Mr J H Gurney”. It was consecrated by the Bishop of Thetford on November 21st. £51-3-0 was raised by subscription most of which (£31-16-10) was spent on the rather elegant railings made by Ling Brothers, the Saxthorpe iron founders.

Hempstead, A Norfolk Village - Robin Carver, 2000


2020
17th February 2020

2020 11th March 2020
Font and balcony - 11th March 2020
Church chancel and apse - 11th March 2020

Vicars and Vicarage

Where did the earlier vicars and curates live - if indeed they lived in the Parish at all?

In East Anglian Archaeology Report No 8 (Norfolk) Andrew Rogerson and Nick Adams have written a fascinating report on the excavation of the moated site to the south-west of the church which they concluded was the site of the lost medieval Lose_Hall. ln that report they considered also the possibility of the site being that of the original vicarage and recorded the following information:-

''The Prior of Norwich had land in Hempstead in the late l2th Century. In 1249 the rectory was appropriated to the Priory and a vicarage settled. There was an estate which produced £1 a year and a farm rented to produce £2-13-4pa.''

Rogerson goes on to state ''The Glebe Terrier of 1613 places the vicarage to the south of the church and between the road and the manor close and described it as "a dwelling house and a barne with one little outhouse . . .''

In 1629 the rectory, parsonage house and barn were mentioned in a leasing agreement between Edmund Britiffe, senior and junior, and the Dean and Chapter of Norwich.

ln 1677 the Glebe Terrier states that “in the late times of the unhappy rebellion -- the vicarage house fell down to the ground and was utterly demolished so that we had no house upon the vicarage ground.”

By 1704 the Dean was leasing “the scite of the rectory'' to Edmund Britiffe.

In 1761 and 1781 the Dean was leasing “the scite of the rectory'' and the “ruins of the barn'' to the Earl of Buckinghamshire (who had become Impropriator on inheriting the Britiffe estates in Hunworth, Hempstead and Stody). The lease to the Blickling Estate was renewed in 1837, 1844 and 1865.

So somewhere underground to the west of the village playground there must still be the foundations of the original vicarage, its “barne'' and outhouse.

Presumably it was Robert Watson, vicar between 1599 and 1649 but also Vicar of Bodham and Baconsthorpe, in one of which villages he may have lived, who let the former vicarage fall down so that since the mid-l7th century to 1876 there was nowhere in the village for the vicar or (unless he took lodgings) for the curate to live.

Historically many parishes were held in plurality - a practice increasingly under criticism in the middle of the 19th Century as can be seen in Trollope's Barchester novels. In any event, before that, it was commonly said that “In the 18th Century the Church slept”. Hempstead seems to have been typical with the tower being allowed to fall down in the seventeen-thirties. At the time of its rebuilding in 1744 the Vicar was conspicuous by his absence with the responsible churchwarden being permitted to record his own success in rebuilding it with his own named and dated plaque so prominently displayed.

Oxford Movement and the great wave of reform that so changed the Church of England in the latter part of the 19th Century, Nowhere else did this wave operate more spectacularly than in Hempstead with the arrival of Charles Louis Rudd in 1873 after the death of the Rev. J. C. Leak who had been Curate of Hempstead for 14 years but Rector of Birmingham Parva for no fewer than 45 years.

Within three years, in 1878, the new vicarage, built by public subscription, was erected on the Glebe Land adjoining the Church. The architect was J. B. Pease of Norwich and the builder R. Cornish of North Walsham. The whole of the Church was furnished at the expense of Mr. & Mrs. Rudd with pulpit, reading desk, lectern, font, chandelier, reredos and harmonium as memorials to members of their family.

Not content with their achievements the Vicar, one year after building the vicarage, built the infant school (later to become the Reading Room). In the parish magazine for October 1877 it was recorded that “a room capable of holding 80 people has just been erected by public subscription. It is built of stone and red brick and has a neat appearance. The want has been long felt in the parish of a building which would answer the two fold purpose of an infant school and Parish Room. Mr. West of Holt is the builder'' A hundred years later Mrs. Diana Spalton when converting the school (bought from the Diocese) into a house for herself discovered a number of letters from former pupils thanking the Rev. Rudd for educating them there.

The last resident vicar to live at the vicarage was the Rev. A. M. Auden who died in 1944. The Audens came from Derbyshire. The poet W. H. Auden (who went to Gresham's School) was a cousin. For three years afterwards the non-resident curate in charge was Rev. John Norman but from 1947 onwards the parish became joined with Baconsthorpe and Plumstead. The Audens had two daughters, one of whom, Ruth, later married the Rev. Wilson, Rector of Barningham, and lived at Barningham Rectory. Ruth Wilson has left some useful jottings about Church life in the thirties and forties in Hempstead and Baconsthorpe.

Mrs. Claudine Fuller (1916-1998) who lived in Hempstead all her life, recalled the Vicarage in her childhood - particularly the much loved Gleave family. They organised for the village children tableaux and picnics in the woods. All the village took part in the money-raising for the Apse in 1925 and 1926. The Sunday School every year had its outing at Sheringham, being taken in Mr. Hagen's Waggon.

The vicarage then went into limbo. It was let for a number of years. Colonel Philip Shirley was a tenant and was Church Secretary and Treasurer from before 1960 until 1977. At one stage it was occupied by schoolmasters at Gresham's. It was really sold in the late nineteen-seventies and became owned by Mr. John Thomson.
Hempstead, A Norfolk Village - Robin Carver, 2000


11th March 2020
Church cottages backing directly onto the churchyard - 11th March 2020

Incumbents
Ralph de Birstin
1301
William M. Marcon Curate of Hempstead and Rector of Edgefield
1814
Simon de Eggefield
1332
John Gunton Curate of Hempstead
1833-1839
John Chatres
1338
John William Methwold also Vicar of Wighton and curate of Wetheringsett
1835
John Wright
1351
J. C. Leake Curate of Hempstead for 45 years
1859
John
1370
Charles Louis Rudd
1873-1889
Michael Crow
1385
Thomas Webster Whistler
1889-1911
Record lost.
1385-1520
James Robert Hamilton
1913
John Estmond
1520
Claude Tennant Eastman
1923
Henry Yarham
1523
Paul Rogers Cleave
1924
John Walett (deposed 1553)
1543
Francis John Prior Wallis
1932
John Cooke
1544
Alfred Millington Auden
1933
Robert Watson
also rector of Bodham & Baconsthorpe
1610
John William Leneve Norman Curate in charge
1944
Nicholas Bacon
1662
Walter Percival Tippen also Rector of Baconsthorpe with Plumstead
1947
John Gray (Instituted)
1694
Charles Scott Little also Rector of Baconsthorpe with Plumstead
1953
Richard Chase
1742
Francis C. S. Allen also Rector of Baconsthorpe with Plumstead
1960
John Custance Curate of Hempstead
1744
Stanley F. Hooper also Rector of Barningham, Matlaske, Baconsthorpe & Plumstead
1979
William Pierce
1746
Piers W. E. Currie lPriest in charge, also of Baconsthorpe
1983
Thomas Meux Curate of Hempstead
1766
David C. Candler also Rector of Barningham, Matlaske, Baconsthorpe & Plumstead
1985
Edward Tilson
1768
Paul J. Bell
1995
William Tower Johnson
Curate of Plumstead, Rector of Beeston ministered more or less frequently
1770
Michael L. Banks
2003
John Smith
Rector of Holt ministered at Hempstead from time to time
1772
Philip W. Butcher
2006
Francis Bransby
Curate of Hempstead and Rector of Edgefield
1778
Michael Cartwright
2009
John Ambrose Tickell
1787
Marion J. Harrison
2015
Stephen Frost Rippingale Curate
1814
Michael Cartwright
2018
John Lang Girdlestone Curate of Hempstead and Rector of Baconsthorpe
1814
Rev. Canon David Longe
Present
1385-1520 - at that time vicars were often laymen. Such vicars appointed priests as chaplains whose names were not always carefully recorded.
1301-1960 1979-2018

If you have any memories, anecdotes or photos please let us know and we may be able to use them to update the site. Please or telephone 07836 675369

Website copyright © Jonathan Neville 2020
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