Saturday, September 28, 2013

Holy Trinity Milton Regis

Holy Trinity Church Milton Regis

i took my two youngest grandchildren Poppy and George to to relatively new Milton country Park I say Val was in charge. While there i popped into the Church which is next to the park a church where my oldest grand daughter was baptised she is now 15 years old and taller then all the women in my family. Again a lovely old church, met the new vicar had a good chat about the history.

This Church is one of the three oldest in Kent, having been founded within a few years of the coming of St. Augustine in 597. 
The records of Ely mention that ‘Queen Sexburga, Abbess of Minster in Sheppey, left her life at the Doors of Mylton Church’ in 680. 

St. Sexbergha, dowager Queen of Kent, was first Abbess of Minster-in-Sheppey (and now co-patroness of the Abbey Church there), second Abbess (after her sister Etheldreda) of Ely. The porch and doors would have stood where the tower now is, with a small room above it, reached by rope ladder, for the priest. The door high on the west wall, which now looks out from the ringing chamber, enabled him to keep an eye on the church.

The original dedication is unknown - the name Holy Trinity could not predate the founding of Trinity Sunday by Pope Gregory IV in 828. 

In 1052 Earl Godwin, father of King Harold of Battle of Hastings fame, sacked the Royal Town of Milton during his revolt against Edward the Confessor and badly damaged the Church. Upon its repair the church walls were heightened and a chancel and south transept added. 

The present name of the church may well have been given at the re-dedication of the restored building, probably by Archbishop Lanfranc after the Norman Conquest. The same archbishop made the church the centre of an extensive Deanery in 1070. 
Exterior and grounds

The original building extended from the present chancel arch to the Tower arch and from the north wall, much of which is original, the width of the present nave.

It sits on traditionally religious ground. The large stone outside the front porch is said to be a pagan alter-stone. A Roman villa also stood near the site. The original church includes in its walls a high proportion of roman tiles from the villa ruins. 

The Porch

The Porch has a fine old chessboard pattern gate <presently removed and stored inside the church> and an oak kingpost roof, both original (c.1450). On the right of the Church door is a Consecration cross (another is on the West door entrance). 

The South Aisle

On the right after entering the church is a holy water stoop. 

Further east on the same wall is the entrance to a rood loft, its door partly destroyed by a modern window. High on the wall is the rood doorway, with the other end of the Rood Arch opposite. 

A rood loft was a raised platform with a rood (crucifix) in the middle - where the gospel was read for greater ease of hearing in days before amplifier systems.

Below the door is a small window (often found in the south wall of a church) from which a bell was rung at the Sanctus and Consecration so that those working in the fields might pause for prayer at the focal points of the Mass within.

Further east is a priest’s door providing direct access to the chancel. 

The organ was made by Bevington & Sons, one of the leading firms of the period, in about 1870. Its brilliant tone is reminiscent of an 18th rather than 19th century instrument. 

The organ is now in retirement, due partly to maintenance costs, being replaced by an electric organ.

The Norwood Chapel

The Norwood Chapel was originally built in the early 1400s as a Chantry chapel for the de Northwode family (where requiem masses were said for the souls of deceased Norwoods). Its dedication, if any, is unknown. 

It was restored by the Mothers’ Union in 1940 with a steeper pitch to the roof (the old beam supports may be seen on the wall). The incorrect main window was put in during the mid 19th century to replace one blown out in a gale.

The alter rails, once thought to be Queen Anne, have recently been identified by an expert as Tudor. The light on the north wall of this sanctuary is over the aumbry where the sacrament of Holy Communion is reserved for the Sick. 

 There is a good Decorated sedilia with Purbeck marble shafts.  The sedilia left arch contains fragments of a brass to Thomas Ayleff <now unfortunately missing> and his wife Margaret Ayleff, owners of Coleshall in the early 1500s; in the right arch now hangs an oak board set with brasses (original site unknown) to Sir John and Lady Norwood (c.1496) with their coat-of-arms. 

On the wall tomb between the chapel and the main church is the brass of an unknown knight of the Norwood household (c.1480). The armorial bearings were pilfered in the 18th century so it is impossible to identify him. 

High on the north wall of the chapel is the support which formerly held the gauntlets and jousting helm of Sir John Norton, High Sheriff of Kent and brother-in-law of Sir John Norwood. The gauntlets have long since perished however the Norwood Helm is now in the Armouries of the Tower of London on extended loan from the parish. The altar tomb beneath is that of Sir John Norton. 

(Details of the Norwood and Norton families are on a plaque on the south wall outside the sanctuary.) 
The Chancel
The East window is a recent addition, being a memorial to a parishioner killed in the South African War (1899-1901). 

The face of the knight in armour is said to be that of the man commemorated and the dog in the lower right section is the man's pet dog which is said to have followed him everywhere. Its description on the north wall is worth reading. 

There is a piscina in the south wall of the sanctuary. 

The door outside the Communion rail leads to a vestry and room above it which was once an anchorite’s chapel and cell (an anchorite was a priest who lived in the room - the 'cell' - above)

A licence from Henry III authorising the parish to maintain an anchorite, dated 1255, is in the library of Merton College, Oxford. The piscina and mural paintings in the vestry date from his occupation, though the altar step reflects renewed use of the room as a chapel in the 19th century. 

The anchorite would have been walled up into his cell, living in the upper room then reached by a rope ladder and preaching through the large window there to people below, on whom he relied for gifts of food on which to survive. The existing doorway into the church would at that time have been walled in.  
The Jacobean Vicar’s Stall in choir (and possibly the two high-backed chairs in the Norwood sanctuary) were probably made from the wood of a former rood screen.

The Nave is much modernised with large Perpendicular style windows. The small blocked window near the Pulpit held the Easter Sepulchre in which the Reserved Sacrament was placed between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Perhaps there was a side altar where the pulpit now stands and the Sepulchre was within its sanctuary. 

There is also a Devil’s Door in the north wall. A portion of plaster has been removed from the wall (opposite the Porch door) to reveal the Roman brick in herring-bone pattern of the original early 7th century church. 
The Tower

The Tower is the largest in Kent and third largest in England in girth (25’ square internally at the level of the Ringing Chamber with 4’ thick walls). It is 78' high - nothing unusual but the highest in the area and an Ordnance Survey Reference point.

The tower was built between 1310 and 1330. <The porch and south-west section of the church are from about the same date. The porch door, the chequerboard gate now at the back of the church and most of the woodwork in the ceiling of both nave and chancel (apart from a few obviously machine cut beams) belong to this period.>

There are six bells, five of 1682 and one of 1934. 

The Font

The 14th century font formerly stood on a dais at the west end of the Church. 

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