|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:
|Abberton||The tun of a woman named Eadburh|
|Fingringhoe||The long spur or hill|
|Layer||The River of Layer or Leire|
| Breton ||)|
| De la Haye ||) The Norman Lords of the Manors|
| Marney ||)|
|Mersea||Island of the pool (Mere)|
|Virley||De Verli (Norman Lord)|
|Wigborough||Hill 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 Wyggebergh||1272|
|Simon de Romenhale||1329|
|Richard de Glenton||1331|
|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 Brand||1964|
|Laurence Henry Lamprell, B.A.||1970|
|John Carpenter, M.A.||1972|
|James Edward Seddon, L.Th||1974|
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
[ Rev. James Seddon left at the end of October 1980 and Rev. E.C. Lendon was instituted June 1981.
Read more ...
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