|All Saints' Churchyard, Cranham||Havering|
All Saints’ Church, the small parish church of Cranham, was built between 1873 -1875 largely paid for by the then owner of Cranham Hall, Richard Benyon. However, a C13th church previously occupied the site, relics of which remain including a number of monuments, a C17th brass inscription on the chancel floor to Nathaniel Wright and his daughter Susannah, and an C18th railed tomb in the churchyard commemorating Thomas Woodroffe. A marble tablet on the south chancel wall commemorates General James Oglethorpe (1696-1785), philanthropist and founder of Georgia, who had married Elizabeth Wright, the heiress of Cranham Hall in 1743. The churchyard is semi-wild with long grass in some areas and has 5 ancient pollarded horse chestnuts along the churchyard wall in the south-west corner.
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All Saints’ Church, the small parish church of Cranham, looks the epitome of idyllic country life, constructed in the Decorated style with a slated roof and comprising a nave and chancel with a north-east tower, spire and south porch. Cranham is one of the parishes of the Chafford Hundred, with a church recorded in 1254. The C13th church was replaced by the current ragstone church in 1873 -75 to the designs of Richard Armstrong. The cost of £5,114 was largely donated by the then owner of Cranham Hall (q.v.), Richard Benyon MP, a local benefactor. Among their many charitable works, the Benyon family donated the site for a new school in St Mary's Lane and also funded the restoration of North Ockendon parish church of St Mary Magadalene (q.v.). The church has various relics from the old church. All three bells of c.1460 have been re-hung, two of which were cast by a John Danyell and the third by London bell founder, Henry Jordan, who provided bells for King's College Cambridge. Monuments retained from the old church include a brass inscription on the chancel floor to Nathaniel Wright (d. 1658) and his daughter Susannah (d. 1664), who was the wife of Charles Potts and then Francis Drake. A railed tomb in the churchyard to the west of the church commemorates Thomas Woodroffe (d.1746) - a ‘square base with cornice and inscribed tablets, surmounted by a square sarcophagus on moulded feet, rising by moulded stages to a crowning vase’ and surrounded by cast-iron railings with spike and vase finials. A marble tablet on the south chancel wall commemorates General James Oglethorpe (1696-1785), philanthropist and founder of Georgia. Oglethorpe married Elizabeth Wright, the heiress of Cranham Hall in 1743. Prior to this he had served in the Austro-Turkish war and then, as MP for Haslemere, had instigated prison reforms and in particular organised the colonisation of Georgia with the dual purpose of relieving poor debtors and of countering Spanish aggression in the region. Sailing with 35 families in 1732, he chose the site for the first settlement and concluded a treaty with the Creek Indians. He forbade slavery, the drinking of spirits and exploitation of the native Indians. He was accompanied on his second expedition by John and Charles Wesley. When war broke out between England and Spain in 1739 he successfully defended Georgia. In 1925 the suggestion to re-inter his remains in Georgia was refused, but American interest has continued and the church has altar rails and choir stalls donated by the National Society of Colonial Dames. A 9-foot bronze statue of Ogilvie was erected in the main square of Savannah, Georgia.
The settlement of Cranham can trace its origins back to at least the time of the Domesday survey of 1086 when the parish contained two manors. Records of worship on the site go back to 1310 when a John de Wokydon was rector. The church spire, along with that of St Andrew’s Church (q.v.) is likely to have been used to guide ships on the Thames.
The churchyard is semi-wild with long grass in some areas and five ancient pollarded horse chestnuts along the outside churchyard wall in the south-west corner. The churchyard is of importance for nature conservation, with nettle beds retained to attract butterflies. A small area of dense scrub/woodland along the southern boundary includes large field maple and hazel coppice; also a few mature oaks and a line of large common limes.
Victoria County History of Essex vii p108; Havering Countryside Management Services leaflets; Arthur Mee 'The King's England: London North of the Thames except the City and Westminster' (Hodder & Stoughton, 1972); John Drury, 'Treasures of Havering', (Ian Henry Publications, 1998). Paul Drury Partnership for LB Havering, 'Cranham Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Proposals' (February 2007). See www.allsaintscranham.co.uk/history.html