No. 73.—BORLEY.
Like many of its kind to be found in the Essex and Suffolk countryside, Borley is a village, which, if lacking anything of out­standing interest so far as its own story is concerned, has certain historical associations because of its link with names of some conse­quence in days long gone. A village smaller than most, Borley is quite a pleasant little place, for, although recent building has occurred on its outskirts, the main part of the parish has changed but little in the course of many years, so that it still retains the peace and the serenity ever belonging to districts undisturbed by the oft-times un­necessary haste and hurry of the world we know to-day.
The "main part of the parish," of course, is the vicinity of the house of worship, which stands in very attractive surroundings, its churchyard rendered beautiful—more especi­ally at this time of the year—by magnificent chestnuts and other spreading trees, whilst yews, trimmed into all sorts of artistic designs, emphasise the quietude and the age-old dignity of this hallowed spot. And the view from the churchyard to the East is singularly appealing, for the countryside slopes downwards to the friendly Stour river, whose valley and the slopes beyond are decorated by spreading branches now in the glory of their early Summer foliage, so in that glimpse of silvery water below combined with the rich green of the pasture lands and the wealth of leaves, one sees a vista which reveals the natural allurement of England's rural districts.
By the church is the residence known as Borley Place, in whose grounds, against the road, stands a wonderful old barn. Near this is reared a snug and cosy cottage in close proximity to a pond in which trees, thickly growing, cast their reflections, whilst
almost opposite the house of worship is the rectory, a rambling and spacious residence which suggests the solid comforts of the better type of farmhouse so frequently to be seen in the Essex countryside.
Unfortunately, the dedication of Borley Church is unknown, but much of it dates from the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century, although undoubtedly the nave was built soon after the coming of the Normans. And this adds interest to the fact that most probably a house of worship existed in Borley during Saxon times, although where this stood there is no means of telling.
The building we see to-day possesses
merely chancel and nave, South porch and Western tower, and in the porch we find a very interesting item, even although it is the most modern part of the structure. For, as a glance reveals, the porch came into being during the days of the Tudors, and with its red bricks, toned and mellowed by time and weather, it contrasts—although the contrast is quite pleasant—with the grey flint of the main part of the building. A certain amount of restoration has occurred in Borley Church, but. fortunately, it still retains several intersecting items, whilst, despite the plain modern benches one of those attrac­tive survivals with a carved poppy head dat­ing from the fourteenth or fifteenth century
is preserved, apparently as a kind of re­minder of what existed formerly.
Amongst the few other ancient survivals are the piscina to the South of the chancel, and the roofs of both chancel and nave, but unfortunately, the font, unlike so many to be discovered in our houses of worship, is new and undecorated.
A brass, however, remains, in a splendid state of preservation, and it is certainly un­likely to suffer damage in the future, for this very wisely, has been placed on the North wall of the chancel, and from its inscription, still perfectly legible despite its years of exist­ence, we find that here is commemorated a certain John Derhame, whose death occurred in 1601, and who was the son of Thomas Derhame, of the Norfolk town from which he took his name, although to-day the spell­ing is slightly different.
Other memorials date from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and refer to some of the Hevinghams, two of whom were rectors of this pleasant little parish. But now we come to the most outstanding survival in Borley Church, a survival so outstanding and so immense—and the word is used here literally—that it seems almost to dwarf the little house of worship in which it was reared so many years ago.
This truly remarkable affair takes the form of a mighty monument commemorating a former lord of the manor here. Constructed of marble, it shows the life-sized effigies of ' Sir Edward Waldegrave, whose death occurred in 1561, and Prances, his wife, daughter of Sir Edward Neville, who out lived him many years, whilst smaller figures depict the sons and daughters of the marri­age The tomb itself, is surmounted by a canopy some fifteen feet high, and although the original brilliancy of the gold and red which grace it has faded somewhat through years of existence, the whole affair is really magnificent, and has suffered 'ittle by either the hand of men or by the less violent action of time.
A rather uncommon feature in connection with the effigies of the daughters is that over
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each her name is given and also that of the man she married. And this leads us to the other Waldegrave memorial preserved in Borley Church, for on the North wall of the:chancel, directly above the brass of John Derhame, already mentioned, is the very fine mural monument of Magdala, third daughter of Sir Edward Waldegrave, and although, of course, this is scarcely so im­posing as the other, it is certainly very striking, and again has suffered little, if at all. during its many years of existence.
Canterbury, in exchange for other property, and in the possession of that religious estab­lishment it remained until the Dissolution, eventually being acquired by Sir Edward Waldegrave, whose monument we have noticed.
And I call it "monument" as distinct from tomb with set purpose, for actually Sir Edward seems to have been buried in a : place far less peaceable than this little church on the Essex and Suffolk borders. Before going any further, however, it is as well to trace the origin of the Waldegraves, and in the first place the family took its name from the village of Walgrave, in North­amptonshire. The earliest Waldegrave of whom history makes mention seems to be John de Walgrave, a sheriff of London Town in the early years of the thirteenth century, whilst Sir Edward Waldegrave, who in­herited the Borley estates, was a descendant of Sir Richard Waldegrave, Speaker of the
House of Commons when the third Edward was king.
Sir Edward Waldegrave, of Borley, filled many posts of importance, and flourished exceedingly in consequence, although, like many others who dabbled in the affairs of state, he suffered several vicissitudes—some of a very unpleasant nature. Becoming attached to the household of Princess Mary —afterwards, of course, the misguided queen whose intolerance in religious matters led her to such terrible extremes that she became known as "Bloody Mary"—Waldegrave found himself in the Fleet prison for refusing to prevent his royal mistress from holding mass —a thing she was forbidden to do by order of the Privy Council. After two days in that far from salubrious place of confinement, Waldegrave was removed to the grim Tower of London, where soon he was so desper­ately ill that in a month or two he was per­mitted to leave and to "reside in some
Having mentioned the Waldegraves, a fitting opportunity is provided of discover­ing something about the manor of Borley, and at the time of the Domesday Survey this was held by a half-sister of the Conqueror, and in her hands and those of her descend­ants, it remained until the reign of the first King Edward, apparently through the fact that the last of her line, who had married a brother of Henry the Third, had no issue.
Afterwards, the manor was granted by the Crown to the Convent of Christchurch,
honest house where he might be better tended."
Eventually, however, he received the privilege of returning to his own home, and in due course received his freedom, and what is more, was allowed to take up his old position with Princess Mary.
His reward came soon after the death of the conscientious but fragile Edward the Sixth. The sufferings of Waldegrave had impressed Mary greatly; his loyalty in the face of imprisonment and ill-treatment touched a tender spot in the lady's heart Upon her succession to the throne she made him a member of the Privy Council and Master of the great wardrobe, whilst also he was handsomely compensated by the gift of manors in counties as far apart as Essex and Somersetshire.
Three times did Edward Waldegrave sit in Parliament, and in 1553, the same year that he was knighted, he received an important appointment in connection with the Duchy of Cornwall. Despite his loyalty and alle- giance, his strenuous work and afflictions on the Queen's behalf, however, he was strongly opposed to that lady's marriage with Philip of Spain, and with others, equally deter­mined, threatened to leave her service if she made such an unwise choice—as, indeed, it eventually proved to be.
And it is then that we find a weakness in the armour of Sir Edward Waldegrave, but a weakness which affects high and low alike. For it is said that a pension from Charles the Fifth of Prance made this—apparently in every other respect—honourable man with­draw his opposition, with the result that Mary and Philip were wedded, and Sir
Edward Waldegrave received further official posts of an important nature.
The death of Mary, and the succession of Elizabeth, however, brought to an end a career, which, if not ousbandingly dis tinguished, was at least loyal. A devout Roman Catholic, Sir Edward Waldegrave celebrated mass in his own house, with the result that for the second time he found himself in the Tower, where he died, and. according to all accounts, was buried.
But his memory is perpetuated by the magnificent monument in Borley Church, a
monument which assists to dignify this little house of worship standing in its serene and pleasant surroundings overlooking the green valley of the Stour, and because of this monument, and the man it commemorates, Borley possesses an intimate link with the bad old days, when difference of opinion over religious matters oft-times led to imprison­ment, to vile ill-treatment, or to the horrors of the stake itself.
ReprintedJromJJTe Suffolk Chronicle & Mercury, Tune 4th, 1937