|St Andrew's Churchyard and The Dell||Havering|
St Andrew’s Church still retains elements of a C13th building and is on a site where there has probably been a church since Anglo-Saxon times. Hornchurch was one of the three parishes within the Royal Manor and Liberty of Havering. In 1158 Henry II granted the church and land to the monks of St Bernard in Montjoux who built Hornchurch Priory, which survived until 1390/91. The monks’ seal, a bull’s head, may be why a horned bull’s head can still be seen on the east exterior wall of the church, and is possibly the origin of ‘Hornchurch’. St Andrew’s churchyard was for a long time the only place authorised for burial in this area and monks from Hornchurch Priory are purportedly buried here. The churchyard contains C18th headstones and its lych gate and war memorial were erected after WWI. It has been managed as a nature reserve since 1986. Beside the churchyard is The Dell, since 1965 an electricity substation but which was previously a site popular for fairs and other recreational events including prize fights.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/10/2010
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St Andrew’s Church, which still retains elements of a C13th building, stands on a site where there had probably been a church since Anglo-Saxon times. Hornchurch was one of the three parishes within the Royal Manor and Liberty of Havering, along with Romford and Havering Atte Bower. In 1158 Henry II granted the church and land to the monks of St Bernard in Montjoux, reputedly in recognition of the assistance which the Mother Priory of St Bernard in Savoy, Switzerland, gave to royal parties travelling through the Alps, or perhaps for political motives - to gain support from the Count of Savoy against Louis VII of France. Hornchurch Priory, which the monks from Montjoux built here, was dedicated to St Nicholas and St Bernard and survived until it was dissolved by Richard II in 1390/91. The monks’ seal was a bull’s head, which is probably the reason why a horned bull’s head, rather than a cross, can still be seen on the east exterior wall of the present church. This may be the origin of the name ‘Hornchurch’, which is encountered as early as 1222.
After the dissolution of the Priory the king sold land and property in Hornchurch, including the church, to William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, for 4000 English gold nobles and 500 French francs. In the 1390s the Bishop endowed New College Oxford partly from rents from the land, an endowment which included the right to appoint the Chaplain and Vicar Temporal to the living at St Andrew's. Hornchurch Chaplaincy was situated opposite the church and may have been built on or adjacent to the former site of Hornchurch Priory. In the late C20th the remains of a wall dating from 1400 was discovered within the interior walls of the house opposite St Andrew's Church and, since it is known that a house was built on the site of the Priory in c.1400, it suggests that this is it. The Bishop is thought to have built the church tower, at the top of which is a seated figure reputed to be him. The copper spire was added in 1605 and was partially reclad in 1974. Along with the spire of All Saints’ Church in Cranham (q.v.), the spire of St Andrew’s was used as a navigational aid by shipping on the Thames and indeed Trinity House contributed to its repair. There are various notable memorials in the church including that of Richard Spencer (d.1784) and his wife Maria (d.1772) by the famous Neo-classical sculptor, John Flaxman. C17th memorials include the Withering Memorial of 1651 commemorating Thomas Witherings, the first Postmaster General who lived in Great Nelmes (q.v. Capel Nelmes/Emerson Park Estate). He was responsible for the first postal network in this country, reputedly reducing the delivery of a letter from London to Edinburgh from one month to 3 days.
St Andrew’s was the ‘mother’ church of the Liberty of Havering-atte-Bower for centuries and Romford remained part of the parish of Hornchurch until the C19th. St Andrew’s churchyard for a long time was the only place authorised for burial in this area. Monks from Hornchurch Priory are purportedly buried here, for example Boniface de Hart de Aosta, one of their canons. The churchyard still contains C18th headstones and also has the graves of four Maori soldiers who were among the New Zealand forces stationed in the area and died in World War I. The lych gate and war memorial were erected after World War I. The churchyard has been managed as a nature reserve since 1986; plants such as St John’s Wort and Lady’s Bedstraw flower here in the summer.
Abutting the churchyard to the east is Hornchurch Cemetery (q.v.) and to the south is The Dell, since 1965 an electricity substation but which was previously a site popular for fairs and other recreational events including prize fights. In 1795, the famous boxer Daniel Mendoza was beaten here by Jackson, 'The Gentleman Boxer', in a fight watched by an audience that included ‘Lords and Knights of the Realm’.
Church Guide; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993), p404; Upminster Walk leaflet (LBH); B Evans; Hornchurch's Heritage, LBH booklet 1998; 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)