The Church of St Leonard & St Mary is built mainly of rubble stone and is composed of a chancel, a nave of three bays, a north aisle which formerly was probably a Lady Chapel, a south porch and a western bell-cote containing two bells.
The Church is situated in the south-west part of the Parish, and all that remains of the ancient fabric – according to the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments – are the eastern buttresses and the chancel walls. These were probably built in the 14th and 15th centuries. The foundations are probably of the earlier date possibly 12th century. A writer in the 18th century states that the nave is of “one pace” with the chancel, i.e. there was no chancel step. The east wall of the Church was restored in 1950 while the nave and other parts not previously mentioned were restored in the 19th century.
In 1678 Moze Church was pulled down and some of the stone used to repair Beaumont Church. Tradition has it that the north aisle was repaired at this time. A stone Cross was erected within the precincts of Old Moze Hall on the site of St Mary’s Church, Moze in 1959: two mature oak trees mark the gateway. The name of St Mary was added to that of St Leonard, Beaumont in the same year. An open air Rogationtide Service was held at Moze until the 1970s, and was revived in 1989.
In 1922 the north wall, which includes the vestry wall, was underpinned and the whole of the roof was relathed and retiled. The white plaster was removed from the roof that was then boarded and felted throughout. The porch was restored and the two oak gates were erected at the western entrance to the Churchyard. Some underpinning was undertaken in 1947 at the south-east corner of the Church. In 1950, as a result of large cracks in the wall at the East End of the Church, practically the whole of the all had to come down, together with the window, and had to be rebuilt. The east wall was underpinned and 50 tons of Ferro-concrete helped to reinstate the foundations and support the wall and window. While taking out the
19th century window the builders came across the framework of a 14th century window. This had to be removed but some of the stonework was built into the east wall, and may now be seen on the outside.
In the south wall of the chancel is a 14th century priest’s door with chamfered jambs and a two-centred arch.
Items of Historical Interest
1. A TABLE with a modern top but with turned legs of the 18th century origin. Formerly this table served as an Altar.
2. COMMUNION RAILS are of the same design and date as the Table legs.
3. TWO FLOOR SLABS in the sanctuary under which were buried a former Rector and his first wife. These are the Reverend JAMES RATHBORNE who died in 1720 and Mrs R.E. Rathborne who died some thirty years earlier in 1689. This former Rector’s gravestone reads as follows:-
“Here lyeth the body of the late Rev. Mr James Rathborne, Master of Arts of Jesus College, Cambridge and Rector of this Church 50 years who first united the living of Moze to this Parish of Beaumont. He was venerable in his life, for his gravity and great Sanctity of manners, and his learning and prudence were so well known to his late Diocesan that he justly conferred on him the dignity of Rural Dean and in Respect of his great merit he was in the year 1706 preferred to the Parsonage of Lawford by the Rev. Dr. Thomas Dent of Lawford Hall and Prebendary of the Church of Westminster. While he lived he was a generous to both of the livings, having showed a bright example in his good works of Piety and Hospitality. He died March 30th, 1720 of his age 76 years. This stone in respect of to his Memory was laid over his grave by his Rev. Patron.
The Memory of the just is blessed”
On an adjoining slab is found:-
“Mrs R.E. Rathborne was buried
June 28th Anno Domini 1689”
Some doubt existed as to whether this former Rector and his wife were actually buried under the altar because at one time it was customary in Church. It was discovered, however, in 1949 during excavating work that there were two coffins containing human remains under the Rathborne and his first wife.
4. THE SOUTH PORCH built of ancient roof timbers and 15th century moulded wall plate. In the porch near the outer door is an indented gravestone in which formerly there was a 15th century inscription.
5. SMALL BRASS PLATE on Chancel Step inscribed “John Cooke and Isabella his wife”. Probably early 16th century.
6. AN ANCIENT STONE of unknown origin over the chancel arch inscribed with the monogram IHS.
7. A PISCINA or drain in south wall of sanctuary, with moulded jambs and cinque-foiled head. 15th century.
The Windows and Stained Glass
On the NORTH side of the chancel is a replica of a Norman window which contains a Puginesque medallion of stained glass of Christ Blessing The Children. It is quite possible that when the Church was restored in the 19th century this window replaced an original Norman window.
The EAST Window depicts the Nativity and the Resurrection. These are in memory of Mr & Mrs Wilson of Thorpe Green. The centre panel is of the Crucifixion and is a War Memorial window of the 1914-1918 War.
In 1927 the tracery work of the EAST window was filled in with stained glass depicting the Holy Angels and the Dove – the symbol of the Holy Spirit. This stained glass was given by Mrs R.J. Wyatt of Thorpe Green. During restoration work in 1950 the Dove was replaced, in error, upside down.
On the SOUTH side of the chancel are two 19th century stained glass representations of St Peter and St Leonard and a more recent one of the Virgin and Child. The latter was placed in memory of Sarah Marrington in 1935.
In the NORTH aisle are two small windows depicting Our Lord as the Light of the World and as the Good Shepherd. The former was given by Miss K. Marrington in memory of her father and the latter was given by Mrs R.H. Mathews.
The window by the pulpit was given by the Mathews family in memory of the Reverend H.G.S. Mathews, M.A., Rector of Beaumont- cum-Moze 1907-1944. It depicts St Francis and St Leonard.
The Byng Memorial
Field-Marshal Viscount Byng of Vimy died in 1935 and was buried in Beaumont churchyard. The following inscription appears on a brass tablet to his memory.
“In loving memory of Julian Hedworth George Byng, Field-Marshal, Viscount Byng of Vimy, who worshipped here for 20 years. This Church was restored redecorated and re-furnished in 1936 by his wife, his sister and some of his
closest friends. Opposite hangs his banner of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, which during his life hung in King Henry VII’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey and at his death was presented to Beaumont Church by his wife.”
Lady Byng, as a memorial to her husband, bore the cost of renovation and of supplying the blue Brussels carpet and hassocks. Captain P. Hudson formerly A.D.C. to Lord Byng and Lady Margaret Boscowen, Lord Byng’s sister, each gave a wrought iron chandelier fitted with electric candles*. The altar curtains were given by Lady Susan Birch of Beaumont Hall and other curtains by Miss Eva Sandford of Thorpe Hall. The wrought iron lantern outside the porch was given by the Hon. Bernard Yorke.
This was presented to Beaumont Church in 1854 by Robert Canham Salmon.
ALTAR BOOK STAND. Inscribed “Presented in loving memory of A.C. Cooper by her husband, the Revd. John Cooper, Rector of this parish from 1868-1907″.
LITANY DESK. An old oak door formerly attached to the present pulpit was taken off and made into a Litany Desk, the cost being borne by Mr F. Pullen.
CARVED OAK CHAIR. This chair in the Rector’s stall was presented to the Church in 1933 in memory of William Carter, a former Churchwarden who held office for 33 years. The inscription will be found at the back of the chair*.
CREDENCE TABLE. Presented by Lady Byng in 1948.
GREEN PULPIT FALL given by Mrs H. Carter in memory of her mother.
PRAYER BOOKS. Given by the Revd. W. Wade, Priest-in Charge of Beaumont.
LECTERN. Given in memory of Mrs Rose Mathews, wife of a former Rector and Organist at the Church.
WROUGHT IRON FLOWER STAND. Presented by Rosina and Barbara Purkiss of Frinton-on-Sea.
ALTAR KNEELERS – made and presented by Mary Barton on 21st Sepember 1991. The design incorporates the:-
Chalice – the Cup of Communion.
Cross – the accepted symbol of Christianity – represents The Passion (and Resurrection) of Christ.
I.H.C. (or I.H.S.) – represents the first two and last letters of the Greek word for Jesus.
Vine – The tree of life – supplying the wine representing the blood of Christ.
Fleur de lis – symbol of royalty, especially in France. In Church, represents the Holy Trinity.
Dove – birds of Aphrodite and Venus – Took men’s souls to heaven, hence their association with the symbolism of the Holy Spirit. Emblem of love and religious ardour.
The oil painting “Christ Blessing the Children” was presented to Beaumont Church by the Hon. Claude Yorke in memory of his wife, and was placed on the North wall. This was cleaned in 1976 by Mr L. Lawrence in memory of the wife of Mr Felix Bayley of Frinton-on-Sea.
Revd Derek Tilston, a former Rector, presented the Church with a print “The Virgin of the Rocks” by Leonardo da Vinci, on his retirement in December 1992.
Organ and Choir
The ORGAN was built in 1872 by Walker and Sons and in 1949 was fitted with an electric blower in memory of James Martin Acland Wyatt. This was given by his wife. In 1927 the Bourdon stop was added together with the necessary pipes.
CHOIR STALLS. The carved ends of the Choir Stalls are worth noting as are also the two squirrels carved at the ends of the pews in the North aisle.
It is very unusual to find a memorial to local men who fought in the Crimea as generally speaking war memorials were not in vogue until the time of the Boer War. On this memorial are mentioned the battles of Alma 1854 and Inkerman 1854 and also the hospital at Scutari 1855 where Florence Nightingale nursed the wounded.
A Royal Visit
On 22nd June 1938, Her Majesty Queen Mary with the Earl of Athlone and H.R.H. Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone attended Mattins at Beaumont Church. Later in the day they returned to the Church to inspect the building, the 16th century registers and the Elizabethan Church Plate. Queen Mary’s visit is commemorated by a small brass plaque which was inserted into the back of the pew where she sat for the service. This pew is in the North aisle.
To mark the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II a Sundial was placed on the outside of the South Chancel wall.
To commemorate the Silver Jubilee Queen Elizabeth roses were planted in the flower beds by the Porch.
The flagstaff and Diocesan Flag were given in memory of Peter
and Peggy Raby by their family in 1950; the present Flag being presented in 1967.
A Maple, a White Beam and a weeping Silver Birch were planted on November 1987 in the North-east corner of the churchyard, by the sons of Picton and Nancy Warlow to mark the place where their parents’ ashes were scattered.
There are two bells in the Steeple, one large and one small. The former is inscribed as follows:-
“John Darbie made me in 1684″
The smaller bell is considered to be a great deal older.
The earlier steeple at Beaumont Church at one time had three bells according to an inventory of 1553. At Moze at this time were four bells “hangying in the stepll”.
Byng of Vimy
1862 – 1935
The funeral was on 8 June at the little church of Beaumont-cum-Moze which he and Evelyn attended and it was she who chose Psalm 15 to be sung at the service. His plain oak coffin, covered with a Union Jack, had been brought there from Thorpe on a gun carriage, and eight sergeants of the 5th Royal Inniskillin Dragoon Guards had borne it into the church. The regiments with which he was most closely connected were each represented by two officers: -
The 10th Royal Hussars
The 3rd Kings Own Hussars
The Suffolk Heavy Brigade Royal Artillery
The 5th Territorial Battalion of the Essex Regiment and
The Metropolitan Police.
No one but the bearer party and artillery drivers wore uniform and there was no military ceremonial. At the service and committal in the churchyard, only the family representatives of his regiments and public bodies were present. All this was in accordance with Byng’s wish for simplicity, set out in his will.
But all along the route from Thorpe to Beaumont, hundreds of ex-servicemen and residents of the district lined the road. The British Legion branches of Thorpe, Clacton, Walton and Frinton had formed a guard of honour at his house and his gamekeepers lined the path into the church.
A week after his death a memorial service filled St Martin-in-the-Fields. Field-Marshal Lord Allenby represented the King. The Duke of Gloucester and the Athlones were there, the Army Council, the Canadian High Commissioner, representatives of the fighting services and the police, and a host of old comrades. Among them were Col. Harden of the South African Light Horse, de Rougemont, his CRA in the 3rd Cavalry Battalion and Roger Keyes of Gallipoli, Farmar, Burstall, John Dill and Hoare-Nairns of the Canadian Corps, Louis Vaughan, Haldane and Braithwaite of Third Army and Hugh Elles of the Tanks. Among the soldiers sat writers and artists and businessmen, and many of the Canadians who lived in England.
In Canada there were memorial services in Ottawa and Montreal and prayers were said in churches across the country.
Byng might have been surprised that so many gathered to pay tribute to him and give thanks for his life. One can almost hear him say, “Please! – no fuss.”
The obituaries in papers in Britain, Canada and the United States reminded people of the debt they owed to Julian Byng as a soldier, a governor and a wise administrator and for his example of integrity in public life. There were many who would like to have written, as John Buchan had:
“My dear Julian,
Yours is the kind of career which does one good to think about, just as whenever I am depressed about human nature, I think about you yourself.”
Taken from ‘Byng of Vimy, General and Governor-General’ by Jeffery Williams. M.E.B.
Acknowledgement is made to the work of the Reverend Canon J.B. Allen B.A., Hon. C.F. Frequent reference has been made to the excellent booklet he published in 1950.