BELCHAMP WALTER, ESSEX

Grid Ref: TL 818 405
Date: 21 May 2010

 

Village sign   village pond
Village Sign   Pond at the centre of the village
Belchamp Hall   houses
Belchamp Hall   Propeties overlooking the pond
gatepost   stables
Top of the gatepost   Stables with Lovejoy sign
church   house
St. Mary the Virgin   House near the hall, built in 1717
nave   mural
North wall of the nave with remains of chapel   Details of part of the painting on the north wall
font   memorial
Font with Norman top   Memorial to Raymond family of Belchamp Hall: 1720

 

Belchamp Walter in Essex is a very attractive village a few miles south east of Sudbury in Suffolk. It has a manor house, church, and a few houses and farms.

St. Mary the Virgin at Belchamp is unusual in having no arcades. The wide nave was built in a singe span and believed to date from early 14th century. Much of the church dates from the 13th century but the tower is 15th century. There are eight bells but they have not been used fully since 1923 because their frame is judged too weak. They have been modified for use as clock chimes. A small window in the north wall of the chancel is thought to be Norman.

On the north side of the nave are the remains of a chantry chapel with a ogee arch. Sir John de Botecourt was buried here in 1324. He was the manorial lord under the de Veres, Earls of Oxford, who held nearby Hedingham Castle. The church was then under the control of the priory at Earls Colne. The chantry chapel was damaged during the Civil War. The medieval wall paintings are from the 14th century and have a number of scenes including the Madonna and Child, the Last Supper and Christ entering Jerusalem on a donkey. The top section of the font is Norman.

On the north wall of the chancel is a memorial to early members of the Raymond family at Belchamp, erected in 1720. The memorial records the first as John Raymond who died in 1635. The family after 1720 are recorded in three wooden plaques on the opposite wall; they cover the period up to the end of the 19th century when Samuel John St. Clere Raymond died in 1900. Some details of the family tree are accessible on the Internet.

The clergy at the church are known back to the 14th century. The patron was originally the Priory and Convent of Earls Colne. After the Reformation, the patron for a time was Elizabeth I, then St. Edmund's Hall at Oxford. From the early 1600s, with a brief lapse, the patronage has been in the hands of the Raymond family. The church registers go back to 1559 and are in the Essex county record office.

Belchamp Hall, built in the Queen Anne style, dates from 1720. It was used in the filming of the Lovejoy series of stories about an antique. The stables, now an office and a holiday let, still show a sign from the production.

Sources:

A pamphlet of three sheets of A4 is available in the church
Web page on British Listed Buildings

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