The New Church

The moving spirit behind the building of the new Church of St. Michael, Myland, was the Rev. P. Strong’s successor, the Rev. A. E. Julius, and although he was appointed to another living before it was completed, its commencement was largely due to his efforts. The following is an appeal for subscriptions which he issued in 1851:

The population of the Parish of ST. MICHAEL, MYLAND, COLCHESTER, which has rapidly increased during the last few years, is, according to the last Census, 870.

The present Church will accommodate only 86 adults, and from 20 to 30 children.

The necessity for providing a larger Church has long been felt, but the extreme poverty of the parish seemed to present an insurmountable barrier to the accomplishment of this desirable object; and conse­quently the undertaking has been delayed to the present time.

EARL DE GREY, however, the Patron of the Living, and a Proprietor in the parish, having recently intimated his willingness to render effectual assistance, it has been at length, determined to appeal to the Public, and to make an effort to provide a Church better suited to the Spiritual wants of this poor and increasing parish.

The many indications of poverty, which are well known to those who are best acquainted with the parish, will, it is confidently hoped, be considered a sufficient ground for this appeal to the friends of the Church.

Subscriptions will be thankfully received by the Rev. A. E. Julius, the Rectorv, Myland; Mr. W. Cant and Mr. Wyncoll, Churchwardens, Myland; the Rev. James T. Round, Rural Dean, Colchester; Messrs. Round, Green, and Co., and Messrs. Mills, Bawtree and Co., Bankers, Colchester; and at the Essex Standard Office, Colchester.

Plan of the interior of the new church

The site for the new Church and the sum of £500 was given by the Rt. Hon. the Earl de Grey. The Rev. A. E. Julius contributed £100 and the only son of the late Rev. P. Strong gave £200. The original subscription list, which shows donations from friends all over the country, still exists in the Church’s records and reached a total of £2,143 14s. 2d. Plans were prepared by Edward Hakewill, of Craig’s Court, Charing Cross, and contracts placed for the building with Mr. White, of Vauxhall-bridge, London, and for the woodwork with Mr. S. Grimes, Builder, of North-hill, Colchester. On the 17th March, 1854, we find the following notice in the “ Essex Standard and Eastern Counties Advertiser":

THE PROPOSED NEW CHURCH OF ST. MICHAEL, MYLAND

Sufficient progress having been made in the preparatory works of this building, it is proposed (God willing)
On TUESDAY, the 21st of March
TO LAY THE FOUNDATION STONE.
The Right Honourable the EARL DE: GREY, K.G.,
has kindly consented to perform the ceremony.

The existing Parish Church being in a dilapidated condition, and too small for the purpose, DIVINE SERVICE will be held at ST. PETER’S CHURCH, COLCHESTER, at Twelve o’clock, when a Sermon will be preached by the REV. HENRY MACKENZIE, M.A., Vicar of St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, London.
Carriages will be in attendance after the service to convey parties to the Rectory House. Myland, where the Procession to the site will be formed. 
Subscribers, free. Non-subscribers, one shilling each.

The subsequent account of the proceedings, in the next issue of the paper, is a long and interesting one. St. Peter’s Church was filled with a “numerous congregation”, including the members of the Corporation and a large number of the Clergy of the town and neighbourhood. At the close of the service (a copy of the hymn-sheet is preserved in the Church records) the various persons invited to join in the ceremonial of laying the foundation-stone assembled at Myland Rectory and repaired in the following processional order to the site of the building:

Band of the Essex Rifles
Choir
Children of the Parish
School Banner of England
Mayor and Corporation
Architect and Builder
Banner - “Church and State”
Rural Dean and Preacher
Clergy
The Patron - Earl de Grey; and the Rector - Rev. A. F. Julius
Gentry
Churchwardens
Parishioners Workmen employed at the New Church
Banner

The report continues:

Although called by courtesy the “Foundation Stone”, the walls of the new Church are already breast high, and have a very substantial appearance. .... A bottle containing coins (we believe of silver only, those of greater value having been found, in other instances, a temptation to robbery) was deposited in a cavity below the stone, together with a paper to the same effect as the following inscription upon the stone itself:

This stone, as the Foundation Stone of the Church of St. Michael, Myland, was laid by the Right Honourable the Earl de Grey, K.G., the Patron, on the 21st day of March, in the year of our Lord MDCCCLIV, in the presence of the Rev. James T Round. B.D., Rural Dean; the Rev. A. E. Julius, M.A., the Rector, Mr. W. Cant and Mr. W. Wyncoll, the Churchwardens, and many others, with prayer to Almighty God for his blessing on the work thus begun.

The press reports give a full account of the speeches made by Earl de Grey and the Rev H. Mackenzie. The latter carried the thoughts of his hearers one step further by saying:

…they were doing what the neighbourhood had long cried for - providing a house of God for the accommodation of His Christian worshippers; but he implored them not to be unmindful of one step more, which it seemed to him must inevitably follow: the erection of schools near the present building - the raising, next to this paternal mansion, a filial abode, where their children might be gathered together for generations to come to enjoy the blessings of Christian teaching, and the happiness of a holy and religious life. (Applause.)

This suggestion was realized in some measure at a later date, for, in 1873, a piece of land to the south of the new Church was given for this purpose and the remains of the walls of the old Church were carted to the site and used in the construction of a School. This School continued to serve the village until 1906, when the Local Education Authority erected new Schools in Mill Road, and thereafter the old building continued in use as the Church Hall, for the Sunday School and for parish purposes generally. Under the Education Act of 1944, however, the Minister of Education claimed the building as a “school building” and the Church Council were required to buy it back if they wished to retain it for their use; after protracted negotia­tions with the Diocesan Authorities terms were arranged in 1954 and the user of the building as a Church Hall and Sunday School was once again secured to St. Michael’s Church Council.

The year following the laying of the foundation stone was one of great activity. During this period the Rev. A. E. Julius was appointed to another living, and it was left to his successor, the Rev. E. Hall, to make arrangements for the consecration of the new Church, which took place on Friday, 18th May, 1855. We read in the “Essex and West Suffolk Gazette”:

The quiet and rural parish of Myland, Colchester, was this morning the scene of no small excitement and animation, consequent upon the consecration of the new Church of St. Michael. Fortunately the weather was very fine, the chilling north winds having subsided, and the genial warmth of a summer’s sun was not without its influence upon the fairer portion of the population of Colchester, who were consequently enabled without inconvenience to witness this interesting ceremony. The service was announced to commence at eleven o’clock, and long before that time the bells of St. Peter sent forth a merry peal, and the neighbourhood of Myland wore the appearance of a general holyday. . . .

The “ Essex Standard “ continues:

There was a very full congregation, and a large attendance of the neighbouring clergy, including Rev. J. T. Round, Rural Dean; Rev. Dr. Wright, Head Master of the Colchester Royal Grammar School; Rev. Dr. Taylor, Dedham: Rev. Dr. Seaman; Revds. H. Caddell, F. Curtis, R. Corfield, G. R. Medley, L. W. Owen, B. Lodge, D. B. Wells, W. Laing, R. Bewick, C. S. Lock, J. Papillon, E. F. Ventris, J. Bates, G. H. Cutler, R. D. Duffield, J. B. Magennis. H. R. S. Smith, H. B. Newman, W. Wilson, C. Fisher, C. Norman. J. H. Swainson, C. Bannantyne, J. Brett, C. Golding, W. R. Browell, S. T. Mosse, H. Johnson, &c. Among the laity we observed C. G. Round Esq., C. H. Hawkins, Esq., R. S. Nunn, Esq., G. B. Clark, Esq., Savers Turner, Esq., J. Ambrose, Esq., &c.

The Right Rev. the Bishop of the diocese (who was accompanied by his son, the Rev. F. Murray, as Chaplain, the Chancellor, Registrar, and Apparitor) was received at the door by the new Rector (Rev. Edmund Hall) and the Churchwardens (Messrs. Wyncoll and W. Cant). Having taken his seat in the chancel, the petition for consecration was read, and his Lordship then proceeded with the service in the usual form; the Rector taking the prayers and lessons for the day, and the Bishop’s Chaplain and the Rural Dean assisting in the communion service.

The Sermon for the occasion was preached by the Rev. Francis Hessey, D.C.L., Incumbent of St. Barnabas. Kensington, from Psalm CXII, 1 to 4: - “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together: whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord.”

The consecration of the burial ground took place immediately on the conclusion of the church service.

A large party of the clergy partook of luncheon at the Rectory and in the afternoon there was again service in the church. the sermon being preached by the Rev. G. R. Medley, Rector of St. Nicholas.

The structure of the Church is today essentially the same as in 1854 although some additions and improvements have been made. It is in the Early English style of the 13th century built of Kentish rag stone with Caen stone dressings for the windows and porch, and the roof is of red tiles. The interior consists of nave, chancel and north aisle, the latter separated by a stone arcade.

The width of the nave and aisle is 37 feet and the length 61 feet, the height from the floor to the pitch of the open-timbered roof being 39 feet. The chancel, 32 feet in length and 21 feet wide, is elevated one step above the nave. The Tower is 40 feet high and the broached spire of cedar shingles is 50 feet to the summit of the cross.

The pulpit is of stone, carved and ornamented, and in the centre panel is carved an angel bearing a scroll with the words:  “The Everlasting Gospel”.

In the chancel are two small sculptured groups, the one on the north side representing St. Michael and the Dragon, whilst that on the south side depicts St. Michael and two other angels bearing a scroll which reads: “ He shall give His Angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways “.

On the chancel arch, on zinc tablets, are the Lord’s Prayer, the Commandments, and the Apostles’ Creed, in illuminated letters.

At the time of the consecration of the Church, the tower contained only one bell, but a tablet on the north wall, inside the Church reads:

The Church Clock with Hour Bell was put up at the Jubilee in 1887 by the Parishioners of Myland and their friends and two other bells for Chiming were added in l897 in thankfulness to God for the Sixty Years Reign of Queen Victoria.

The carved stone baptismal font was given by Miss Henrietta Strong in memory of her father, and around the base is the inscription:

In memory of the Revd P. I. Strong. M.A.. R.D., 32 years Rector. Died Nov. 28. 1849. Interred in the Chancel of the old Church. The glory of the Children are their Fathers.

The font is surmounted by a carved wooden cover given some 54 years later and bears the inscription:

To the glory of God & in loving memory of Edmund Hall. 48 years rector of this parish, who fell asleep Feb. 7th 1903, also of Katherine Mary his wife who fell asleep March 26th 1902 : R.I.P.

The stained glass window at the eastern end of the Church was presented by the Rev. A. E. and Mrs. Julius. It consists of five compartments, the centre containing the figure of Our Lord, to whom on the right and left the Law and the Prophets do homage, whilst the remaining two illustrate the ministry of Angels.

It is interesting to note that all the other stained glass windows in the Church are in memory of the Strong family. At the time of the consecration of the Church there were three stained glass windows on either side of the chancel, each depicting an Angel, and under the one nearest the altar on the north side is a brass tablet bearing the words:

“These three windows are dedicated to the Glory of God and in the blessed memory of his servant Philip Thistlethwayte Strong M.A. 32 years Rector. He departed this life 28 November 1849.”

The other two windows on the north side appear to have been removed when the vestries were added in 1933, and were placed one above the other to give light in the vestry. The inscription reads:

“The Glory of the Children are their Fathers. A.P.S. 1854.”

The initials are those of his elder daughter, Anna Philippa Strong, who gave the six windows. A brass tablet was latter affixed under the first of the three windows on the south side of the chancel, bearing the inscription:

“These three windows are dedicated to the Glory of God and to the blessed memory of His servant Bridget Charlotte widow of Philip T. Strong. She departed this life 14 March 1882.”

Of the three large stained glass windows on the south side of the Church, the one nearest the pulpit depicts the raising of the widow’s son at Nain, and the raising of Lazarus: a brass tablet below is inscribed:

“’To the Glory of God and the beloved memory of Sydney G. R. Strong (only son of the Rev. P. Strong). This window is dedicated by his bereaved Mother and sisters. He departed this life March 26th, 1862.”

Beneath the middle window. which depicts the raising of Jairus’s daughter, and the healing of Peter’s wife’s mother, is inscribed:

“To the Glory of God and the beloved memory of Henrietta de la Garde (second daughter of the Revd. P. Strong). This window is dedicated by her loving Mother and Sister. May 8th.1874.”

The window near the south door, which is in a different style, being conjectural rather than historical, bears the words:

“To the Glory of God and in loving memory of Anna Philippa Strong who entered into rest 16 August 1900. This window is erected by her nieces Constance and Effie Owen and Beatrix Strong.”

Among the Church’s title-deeds, a copy of the “Instrument substituting the New for the Old Church at Myland, Essex” is dated 1st August, 1855. The deed is sealed by the Right Rev. George, Bishop of Rochester, in whose diocese the parish was then situated, the Right Hon. Thomas Philip Earl de Grey, Patron of the old Parish Church, and the Rev. Edmund Hall, Rector.