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 The church and abbey

 

Waltham Abbey Church
The official Parish Church website, with lots of info and events listings.

Waltham Abbey (Victoria County History):
      Churches, Schools and Charities
      the Augustinian Abbey
      Houses of Austin canons - Abbey of Waltham Holy Cross

The Foundation of Waltham Abbey, by William Stubbs (The Internet Archive)
A complete downloadable copy of Stubbs' The Foundation of Waltham Abbey: "De inventione sanctae crucis nostrae in monte Acuto et de ductione ejusdem apud Waltham" with introduction and notes (first published 1861). Available in either PDF or DJVU format (broadband advisable), or in plain text for slower internet connections.

The Augustinian Canons (Bible Wiki)
Everything you could want to know about the religious order that ran Waltham Abbey.
See the Online Resources links for another essay on the Augustinians.

Cranmer and Henry VIII at Waltham Abbey
From History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, by J. H. M. D'Aubigne

BOOK 20
CHAPTER 12

Dissolution of the Monasteries (National Archives: Research Guide)
A succinct yet thorough source-guide to original documents held by The National Archives at Kew. This overview is part of a small collection in the new (beta-testing version) TNA: Your Archives website.

Researching the History of Monasteries
Another short but feature-packed online resource providing links, leads and pointers for anyone interested in the history of British religious houses before and during the Dissolution.

Researching the History of Parish Churches
A useful introductory guide to an often tricky subject, written by an academic lecturer.

Medieval Hospitals in Britain
This first page looks a little light, but it leads into an authoritative article on the history of medieval monastic hospitals, with sections on faith and charity, caring for lepers, poor relief, problems of accommodation, and the decline and eventual dissolution of the institution, the initial cause of which the author traces to the Black Death.

Waltham Abbey's Water Supply, circa 1250AD
A reproduction and description of an old tinted map from one of the Abbey of Waltham’s illuminated manuscripts. It shows a medieval water conduit that brought water to Waltham Abbey from Wormley in Hertfordshire - not a mean feat, considering that four miles of very marshy river valley separated the two settlements! There are links to large and more detailed images of the plan. Note that Wormley is of course to the west of Waltham Abbey, not east as stated in the description!

The Black Book of Waltham
One of the treasures found with the Holy Cross at Montacute.

The Holy Cross of Waltham and the Black Rood of Scotland (Catholic Encyclopaedia)
Holyrood Abbey, founded in 1128 by King David I of Scotland, once held a fragment of "the True Cross brought by David's mother, St. Margaret, from Waltham Abbey, and known thereafter as the Black Rood of Scotland". It was 'acquired' by the English in 1346 and became one of Durham Cathedral's relics - no doubt taken there because of Durham's strong associations with Waltham Abbey. The Black Rood of Scotland vanished at the Reformation - the same fate that befell Waltham Abbey's Holy Cross.
This story has two notable points. Firstly, the Holy Cross of Waltham, originally found buried at Montacute, seems to have been transmuted on its journey to Scotland into the actual Cross of Calvary; and secondly, it may be more than coincidence that both Scotland's Holy Rood and the cross dug up at Montacute were black.

Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh
A well-written modern tourist's guide to the abbey, with a good range of photos.

Holyrood Abbey (University of Glasgow)
A scholarly overview of this Edinburgh structure, written as part of a University of Glasgow course on Scottish Gothic Churches and Abbeys. It's also well worth following the site's navigation to other essays, which provide an intuitive and carefully drafted overview of northern ecclesiastical architecture, revealing one or two points relative to our own abbey at Waltham. Examples would be the authoritative discussion on Durham Abbey (see below), and another on the architecture of
Collegiate Churches.

Durham, Dunfermline, and Kirkwall (University of Glasgow)
A learned overview of Romanesque architecture, which discusses the striking similarities shared by both Dunfermline Abbey and Durham cathedral with Waltham Abbey. Several photos support the observations made.

The Waltham Abbey Reredos
Produced by William Burges, defaced by an axeman in 2003, and since perfectly restored. Note the stonework frieze above, depicting scenes from Aesop’s Fables.

South-East view of the Abbey Church, 1795
This print and the one below, engraved by Francis Jukes (1745-1812) and dated 1795, come from Views of England published by Nicholson.

North-West view of the Abbey Church, 1795
It's actually a view from the east! Note the garden wall in the foreground; Abbey House (the residence of the Lord of the manor which stood in the present Abbey Gardens until the 1770s) would have stood just before it, being demolished only a couple of decades before this view was produced.

Waltham Abbey Walls (in the Abbey Gardens)
Speaking of Abbey House, the seat of the Lord of the Manor, this photo shows the house gateway which was punched into the old Abbey Walls. With some informed notes.

Waltham Abbey panelling (photographed in 1922)
Despite the misleading wording in this page, this panelling actually had no direct link with the Abbey Church. It was instead supposed to have been rescued from Abbey House when it was demolished in the 1770s. It was discovered re-installed in a modest local house about a century later, as that house was about to be demolished. The panelling (shown on the left of the photo) spent many years on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum, but was transferred to Epping Forest District Museum on its' establishment in 1981, and is currently on display there..

North-West view of the Abbey Church, 1818
A charming print of the Church, with the Abbey Gateway in the foreground. Yes, this time the view is from the North-West!

North view of the Abbey Church, 1848

External view of the South Aisle, Waltham Abbey Church, 1848

A View of the ancient bridge (called Stoney Bridge), 1848

Pilgrimage to Waltham
John Merrill, who gave our February 2008 lecture, is an avid walker who also researches routes that would have been walked in history, such as on pilgrimages for example. This page of his website details the research behind John's reconstructed pilgrim walk between the Abbeys of Waltham and Saint Albans.

Two Hurt by Abbey Axeman
The BBC News coverage of the damage caused to the Abbey Church in 2003.

A Window into the Abbey's past, by Daniel Barden
This article from our local newspaper, the Guardian, announces the discovery by WAHS of a colour slide of a stained-glass window designed by William Burges, which was destroyed in World War 2 and thought lost forever. See our own press release for more information and photos.

J. A. Reeve, St Mark’s Church & Salisbury
(Ecclesiology Today (the Journal of the Ecclesiological Society), volume 32, January 2004, pp24-39) - a PDF file.
Waltham Abbey Church's tower was rebuilt in 1905, to the designs of Joseph Arthur Reeve. This biography of the architect details many of his commissions around the country, and also provides much detail on his close working relationship with William Burges.
However, one notable commission omission from this scholarly article is his work at Waltham Abbey Church, initially under Burges' wing (Reeve had discovered the Doom Painting jointly with Burges, whilst helping him remove the Lady Chapel's old ceiling; he was subsequently commissioned to design the Lady Chapel's wooden screen).

Oakwood Hall, Bradford
Now a hotel, this large mill-owner's residence of 1864 has interior decoration by William Burges and stained glass by Burne-Jones, manufactured by Morris & Co. The text describes Oakwood Hall as "the only domestic house, apart from Waltham Abbey, where the work of Burges and Morris can be seen side by side", citing N. Taylor and A. Symonds, "Burges and Morris at Bingley: A Discovery", Architectural Review, July 1968, as the source.
But whether Waltham Abbey Church could be called a domestic building, and whether its Rose Window was manufactured by Morris & Co., is another matter!

The Abbey and Church in directory entries:

Wikipedia

Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911 edition)
The classic American publication.

The Catholic Encyclopaedia (1912 edition)
An oddly conservative and rather dry account of the founding of Waltham Abbey; for instance no mention is made of Harold's reasons for founding a college of canons here. Of all denominations, surely Catholics would have least problem in accepting the account of his miraculous healing of an affliction when praying before the Holy Cross at Waltham.

The St. Pachomius Library
In direct contrast to the above link, this article, produced by a church of the Eastern Orthodox denomination, speaks of the curing of Harold’s affliction with candour.

The Ecole Initiative
This website states its aim as "Creating a hypertext encyclopaedia of Early Church History." The article is comprehensive, as these quotes suggest: "William the Conqueror sent the wealth of Waltham to St. Etienne in Caen..." "Waltham had the largest monastery buildings in the British Isles."

Thomas Tallis
A lengthy and detailed biography of Thomas Tallis, organist and composer at Waltham Abbey just prior to the Dissolution, "where the excellent choir and acoustics probably inspired him to compose his early Latin motets". He later tutored William Byrd.

The Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland (CRSBI)
“The CRSBI is an evolving electronic archive of British and Irish Romanesque stone sculpture. Romanesque sculpture marks a high point of artistic production in Britain and Ireland, corresponding to the boom in high-quality building that followed the Norman Conquest in 1066, and reflecting a new set of links with mainland Europe.
"The aim of the project is to photograph and record all the surviving sculpture, making this important part of British and Irish heritage available over the Internet.”
They haven’t got round to Essex yet, but what has been produced so far is fascinating! As well as pages on specific sites, there are also some very useful tools tailored to the research of Romanesque sculpture and architecture. For instance:
 

A Glossary of Chevron Ornament
More like a thorough classification of all the subtle differences to be found in Romanesque chevrons, such as the ones decorating the arcade arches of Waltham Abbey Church. In fact, a glossary proper is to be found in the last of six parts to this work.

A Glossary of Romanesque Architectural Features
An unusually comprehensive glossary of Romanesque architectural features. It describes for example 18 different types of capital and 13 varieties of arch. A clickable thumbnail next to almost every entry opens up a decent photo illustrating the subject - this feature alone is worth a thousand paragraphs!

The Church Monuments Society
The Church Monuments Society was founded to encourage the appreciation, study and conservation of church monuments both in the UK and abroad. The website has a small but very interesting collection of themed articles, including the following:

A Brief History of Church Monuments in England
This short essay uses differences in form and decoration to illustrate the historical development of church monuments.

Symbolism in church monuments
A useful glossary of monument embellishments and motifs, and their meanings and significance.

Geology in church monuments
An invaluable guide to identifying which stone a monument is made from.

Courtauld Institute of Art
Some views and an early 19th century plan of the Abbey Church. Note the dividing wall in the Crypt; it was then in use as a boiler house and lumber room.

Church Plans Online
'The Incorporated Church Building Society, founded in 1818 to provide funds for the building and enlargement of Anglican churches, has built up an extensive archive, now deposited in Lambeth Palace Library.
'The archive includes over 15,000 files dating between 1818 and 1982. These include application forms, correspondence, plans, building specifications, engravings or artists' impressions, certificates of satisfactory completion, parochial subscription lists, parish magazines, and photographs (from 1867 onwards). Some 12,300 plans are included in these files which, in some instances, are the only surviving evidence for the layout of the church before restoration. Where the church has since been demolished, it may be the only extant plan. The Church Plans Online digitisation project gives online access to the catalogue database and digitised images of the 13,000 plans in the archive.'
The database includes several records relating to Waltham Abbey Church, plus some for Upshire Church and for the old St. Paul's Church, High Beech.

Ecclesiastical sites and structures in Essex
By Warwick Rodwell
The author discusses the current state of archaeological knowledge of the numerous regular houses, alien houses, friaries, preceptories, colleges and hospitals of Essex. He raises the point that many have not been studies as complete entities, with all their outbuildings, ancillary facilities and "adjuncts." Rodwell is, however, very complimentary to the work done at Waltham Abbey:

"Only Waltham Abbey has been the subject of continuing archaeological investigation in recent years. The results of this well published series of excavations have been important in two aspects: first, in providing details of the lesser buildings within the monastic precinct, and secondly in shedding light on the early history of the site, prior to the foundation of Harold’s abbey."

 

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Copyright Waltham Abbey Historical Society, 2007.