The Parish of Little Wigborough

THE PARISH OF ST. NICHOLAS, LITTLE WIGBOROUGH

From a booklet publshed in the 1970s

Little Wigborough is a small village overlooking the salt marshes and the estuary of the Blackwater River, 8 miles south of Colchester between Great Wigborough and the Mersea and Salcot creeks. Being so close to the sea, it is appropriately dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of the sailors. There has probably been a church here from Norman times, the list of rectors going back to 1272.

The population of Little Wigborough is very small. Its highest point in the last century was 125 (1831 and 1871) but it has decreased to about 50. The parish is now united with Great Wigborough.

The church was in all probability built and maintained by the Lords of the Manor of Copt Hall, which stands near the church. Little Wigborough is mentioned in the Doomsday Book under the name of WIGHEBERGA, with the land belonging to Hamo Dapifer. The Manor of Copt Hall was afterwards held by the Earls of Gloucester, who had as under tenants' members of the families of Septvans, Boudon, de le Lee, de Boys, Bucklands and Cotton. In the early 17th century Sir John Cotton sold it to the Governors of the Charterhouse, and it was held by them until recent times.

CHARTERHOUSE was a hospital for eighty poor and aged gentlemen, a school for forty poor boys and a chapel founded in 1611 by Thomas Sutton in Clerkenwell. It was on the site of the Carthusuan monastery founded there in 1371, and for a long time was the London house of the Dukes of Norfolk.

The school developed into a great Public School and in 1872 it was moved to Godalming. The buildings are used by the Merchant Taylors School and are still one of the great architectural remains of old London, with Sutton's elaborate tomb in the chapel.

THE CHURCH The present small but attractive building consists of chancel, nave, and west tower, and had probably been re-built in the late 15th century. It is all in the perpendicular style of that period. Much restoration work had to be done between 1885 and 1888 following the severe damage caused by the local earthquake in 1884, especially to the tower.

The church has a piscina and chancel screen. The registers go back to 1586. In the nave is a floor slab to Isaac Mezengarb, 1693, and his wife Mary, 1714. The church possesses a small Elizabethan Silver-gilt chalice. The church bell - 17" in diameter - dates from 1820. Also, in the church is the roll of rectors from 1272.

LOCAL FARMS In addition to Copt Hall, several farms are mentioned in early records. New Hall Farm is le Newhalle in Ancient Deeds, 1375. Grove Farm is the Great Grove in Rentall of 1588. Seaborough Farm is linked with John Saburgh in 1327 Subsidy Roll. The farmland of the parish was regarded as particularly good. John Norden's Description of Essex (1594) contains the following verse:

Baron parke is frutefull and fatt;
How field is better than that;
Copte Hall is beste of them all;
Ye Hubble down: may wayr the crowne.

Baron parke is Barn Hall, Tolleshunt Knights; How Feild is in Layer Marney and Hubble down in Peldon.

AGRICULTURE IN LITTLE WIGBOROUGH IN TUDOR TIMES In 1517, Commission appointed by Cardinal Wolsey (Lord Chancellor) reported on how common land had been enclosed and arable strip-fields turned to pasture, causing serious unemployment and depopulation of villages. The report on Little Wigborough read:

'Halfe Hundred of Winstre. Parrech of litell Wydeborrowe.
Item whe fynd that ther ys a farme of Sir Robert Cotton,
knyght, late decesed within the parraech aforesaid called
Copedhall: the Maner therof is decaid and pulled down by the
said Sir Robert and not in abytacyon wher ther was wont to be
kept on yt an good howseold and farm land plowid, and now
lyes no land plowid nor in howsold use wher was wont to be kept
in yt a farmer and his wife, and XVIII or XX persones found on yt,
and and now yt is returned to Pasteur and graseing and the
tenant and his wife kepyth, and the farmer thereof ys won
Wylliam hyll of Suffolk, marchant, and yt hath ley to pasteur
Thys XVII yeres'.

THE 1884 EARTHQUAKE The quiet of the county of Essex was suddenly shattered at 9.10 am on Tuesday April 22nd, 1884, by an earthquake with its epicentre near Peldon. The shock caused widespread damage in Colchester, and even more in the area to the south, particularly at Wivenhoe, Emlstead, Alresford, East Donyland, Fingringhoe, Abberton, Langenhoe, Peldon, the Wigboroughs, Mersea Island and Bradwell. Twenty churches and over a thousand other buildings were damaged, but no lives were lost. Little Wigborough church was badly damaged. The roof was completely stripped of its tiles, and several pieces of masonry fell from the tower. Many houses in the parish were also damaged. A Mansion House appeal fund was opened by the Lord Mayer of London, and Little Wigborough received £200 from it. The rector, the Rev. F. Watson, reporting to the Mansion House Appeal meeting said: "Little Wigborough church is perfectly riddled. The body of the church has separated from the tower, and I cannot think of ever having any more services in it."

Hopes were expressed of building another church nearer the population. Owing, however, to lack of support from the Charterhouse, the parish had to restore the church and tower, and this was done through the rector's own family donating £300, together with the £200 from the Mansion House Fund.

THE WINSTREE HUNDRED In his book 'Place names of Essex' P.H. Reany gives the meaning of the names of parishes within the Winstree Hundred:

WinstreeWynsige's Tree
AbbertonThe tun of a woman named Eadburh
FingringhoeThe long spur or hill
LayerThe River of Layer or Leire
      Breton )
      De la Haye       )       The Norman Lords of the Manors
      Marney )
MerseaIsland of the pool (Mere)
PeldonPylta's hill
SalcottSalt cottages
VirleyDe Verli (Norman Lord)
WigboroughHill of Wicga

WIGBOROUGH'S ZEPPELIN Little Wigborough's other claim to fame relates to the German Zeppelin L33 which crashed in fields at 1am on Sunday, 24th September 1916. This was the first airship to fall on English soil in the First War. The countryside was suddenly lit up by the flames from the huge gas-bag as the commander fired his ship. Nearby cottages narrowly escaped being hit or burnt.

A framed account of the destruction of the Zeppelin hangs in Great Wigborough Church.

RECTORS OF LITTLE WIGBOROUGH

Adam, parson of Parva Wyggebergh1272
Philp1308
Simon de Romenhale1329
Richard de Glenton1331
Roger Poppe
Nicholas Downe1390
John Gale
John Philipp1430
Richard Kylworth1445
Henry Scot
Peter Marshall1459
John Bokenham1493
John Parke1513
Christopher Warton1532
William Dobson1551
Thomas Gleson1573
Richard Bridgman, M.A.1586
William Nicholson, M.A.1613
Ralph Parris, M.A.1640
Robert Sterrell, B.C.L. (removed - Civil War)       1641
John Coe (approved by the "Triers")1655
Roger Turbridge, M.A.1662
Christopher Wragg, M.A.1686
Richard Lidgold, M.A.1690
George Trotter, M.A.1708
Samuel Urlwyn, M.A.1721
Benjamin Woolaston, M.A.1729
Frederick Richards, M.A.1734
John Temple, M.A.1761
Fyge Jauncey, B.C.L.1764
James Hargrave, M.A.1773
John Maule, M.A.1774
William Bird, M.A.1776
John Lane, M.A.1796
John Stewart, M.A.1811
Henry Yeomans, M.A.1812
Charles Thomas Heathcote, D.D.1814
Richard Pain, B.C.L., M.A.1820
Edward Bowen, M.A.1854
Frederick Tyrwhitt-Drake, M.A.1856
James J. Martin-Cunynghame, M.A.1866
          United with Great Wigborough, 1878
Frederick Watson, M.A.1879
Frederick Theobald, M.A.1886
Llewellyn Christopher Watson Bullock, B.A.1925
Frederick Yates, L.Th., Hon C.F.1933
Arnold de Quincey, B.A.1952
Roland Hall (Priest-in-charge from 1961)1963
Arthur Edward Brand1964
Laurence Henry Lamprell, B.A.1970
John Carpenter, M.A.1972
James Edward Seddon, L.Th1974



We are indebted to Mr T. B. Millatt of West Mersea for the historical data contained in this leaflet and for all the research involved.

James E. Seddon
Priest-in-charge,
Little Wigborough

[ Rev. James Seddon left at the end of October 1980 and Rev. E.C. Lendon was instituted June 1981.

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Parish Church of St Nicholas, Little Wigborough


Transcribed by Anne Taylor February 2020
There is a copy of this booklet in Colchester Library, Local Studies

c1980

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 Historical Notes about St. Nicholas Parish, Little Wigborough.
 Published by James E. Seddon, Priest-in-charge, Little Wigborough. Historical Data by T.B. Millatt.
 Cover picture from Colchester Library, Local Studies.  SG01_011_000SG01_011_000
Historical Notes about St. Nicholas Parish, Little Wigborough.
Published by James E. Seddon, Priest-in-charge, Little Wigborough. Historical Data by T.B. Millatt.
Cover picture from Colchester Library, Local Studies.
c1980
 The Parish of St Nicholas, Little Wigborough. Page 1 of A5 size booklet.
 Published by James E. Seddon, Priest-in-charge, Little Wigborough. Historical Data by T.B. Millatt.
</p><p>For a full transcription of this booklet, see <a href=mmresdetails.php?col=MM&ba=cke&typ=ID&rhit=1&pid=SG01_011 ID=1>SG01_011 </a>
 There is a copy of this booklet in Colchester Library, Local Studies.
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The Parish of St Nicholas, Little Wigborough. Page 1 of A5 size booklet.
Published by James E. Seddon, Priest-in-charge, Little Wigborough. Historical Data by T.B. Millatt.

For a full transcription of this booklet, see SG01_011
There is a copy of this booklet in Colchester Library, Local Studies.


c1980
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The Parish of St Nicholas, Little Wigborough. Page 2.
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1884 Earthquake.
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The Parish of St Nicholas, Little Wigborough. Page 4.
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Leaflet - The Parish of St Nicholas, Little Wigborough. Page 5.
Rectors of Little Wigborough.
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ID: SG01_011
Source: Mersea Museum