Welcome to the Gestingthorpe History Group website

The Church

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History

The Domesday survey of 1086 tells us that 'Ge∫tingetorp' was held by Ledmer the priest before 1066 so it is possible that there was a church here before the Norman Conquest.

The oldest part of the present building is that part of the fabric containing the 13th century blocked-up lancet window in the North wall of the Chancel. Otherwise most of the Chancel, Nave and South Aisle dates from the 14th Century.

The Tower was constructed in about 1500 - William Carter, in 1498 bequeathed forty shillings towards its cost. It is 66 feet high, of red brick with diaper work in blue bricks in its North and South sides. The West door, set in a stepped brick arch, is original.

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BELLS & WINDOWS

A set of six bells is hung in the Tower, the first four were made in 1658-9 by Miles Gry, a Colchester bell founder and were given by Peter Elliston and Judith his wife. The fifth bell - 1581 and the 16th century tenor bell, both originally cast at Bury St Edmunds - were re-cast in 1901.

The tracery of the East window is unusual and consists simply of arches placed on top of the apexes of the arches below them. The clear glass of this large window floods the Chancel with light.

The glass of the coloured windows in the Nave and Chancel is comparatively modern. The only piece of old glass is high up in the St Francis window - a small picture (restored) of the Madonna and Child. This window is a memorial to Francis Oates, and explorer who dies in Africa in 1875, it depicts St Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order and a great lover of nature.

Another window in the North wall is dedicated to William Edward Oates, Lord of the Manor of Overhall and 19th Century explorer. Coloured glass depicts Jesus walking on the water at Lake Gennesaret (Sea of Galilee). Peter walks to meet him but begins to sink.

South Wall memorial window to Mary W. Elwes, in coloured glass. Another Mary sits at Jesus' feet listening to his word. Busy Martha wants her sister's help with the serving. Jesus said Martha cares about many things, but Mary hath chosen the good part. Surrounded by 14th Century stonework.

Next to this is a memorial window to the Reverend C. T. Bromwich - coloured glass depicts the Good Samaritan tending the man who was injured by thieves on the road to Jericho. A priest and Levite look on him but pass by on the other side.

Chancel North wall memorial window - John E. Collis aged 14. The disciples rebuke those who bring children to Jesus, but he welcomes them, puts his hands on the children and blesses them.

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The Roof

The Nave roof (late 15th/early 16th Century) is of the double hammer-beam type and one of the finest examples in Essex. Carved in the timber work on the North side are the names 'Peter Barnard and Marget has Wyf' and on the South side the names 'Thomas Loved and Alys has Wyf'. Earlier regarded as benefactors, it is now believed that Loved was the actual builder.

We cannot but admire the skill of the craftsmen who fashioned and created this massive roof. The best view of it is to be obtained from the floor of the Tower.


THE FONT

The Font is late 14th Century, the faces of its octagonal bowl have carvings of a lion, ox, eagle, shield, rosette and quatrefoil designs. We do not know why one face is blank.

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PAINTINGS & MEMORIALS

There are 18th Century pictures on each side of the Tower arch depicting Moses carrying an incense burner and his brother Aaron holding the wonder-performing rod.

Three tombstones in the floor of the Tower were originally in the Chancel floor - one to John Elliston of Overhall, aged 31 and two sons Peter and Oliver, all 3 died in 1691. On one brass plaque replaced is inscribed John Coo 1495-1533.

On the South Aisle there is a hatchment including a coat of arms of the Walker family of Overhall. Three crescents and a chevron with three bezants. Hatchments were displayed at the dwellings of prominent persons after death.

Next to the hatchment is a memorial to John Elliston of Overhall - died 1741. He succeeded his father John as Lord of the Manor. In Latin - 'a man with integrity of mind and simplicity of manners'.

The Rood Screen is a reproduction of the original which was destroyed during the Reformation in the 16th Century. The present screen was constructed in 1907 and incorporates some surviving parts of the original screen that were discovered during maintenance work.

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There is a wall plaque memorial to John Brewer, Barrister at Law of the Middle Temple. It shows the figures of a man, lion, ox and eagle - symbols of the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

Memorial to John Sparrow, soldier and one-time owner of the Manor of Overhall. Died 1626. His kneeling effigy once faced East before the memorial was moved from the South wall in the 1890's. Captain of a company of foot soldiers, his monument depicts items of a soldiers equipment.

Memorial to Captain L. E. G. Oates who died in the vain attempt to save the lives of his companions on the ill-fated Antarctic Expedition of 1912.

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THE ORGAN

Built by Binns of Leeds, it was dedicated in 1910 and the opening recital was given by Sir Frederick Bridge, organist of Westminster Abbey and singer Frederick Ranalow.

Projecting from the exterior wall of the South aisle is a small gargoyle-like figure. It holds its head in its hands in an attitude of despair or perhaps, to close its ears to evil talk.

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THE LYCH GATE

Benefactors over the years have helped to create the parish church building which we have today. One of the most generous has been the Oates family whose gifts include the Lectern, provision of the Organ chamber, reconstruction of the Rood Screen, restoration of the Bells and the building of the Lych Gate, dedicated by the Bishop of Chelmsford on the 4th of July 1915.

Two Oates memorial windows in the Nave display the family coat of arms.